EV Basics II – An Electric Vehicle Primer

Important Acronyms:

BEV – Battery electric vehicle, a vehicle which uses only batteries and one or more motors to provide the force that makes it go.

EV – Electric vehicle, any vehicle that uses electric power to provide some or all of its propulsive force.

FCEV – Fuel cell electric vehicle, an electric vehicle which uses a hydrogen fuel cell as its source of electric power.

HEV – Hybrid electric vehicle, a car or truck that uses both an ICE and an electric motor.

ICE – Internal combustion engine, the powerplant of choice for the dirty, inefficient vehicles of the 20th Century.

PHEV – Plug-in hybrid vehicle, a hybrid vehicle with a battery pack that can be charged from a wall socket.

Have you just developed an interest in electric vehicles? Are you looking to learn some EV fundamentals? You’ve come to the right place! Read on, and you will start your education on the wonders of EVs. In this article, I will introduce readers to some of the various different types of EVs and explaing some of the advantages and issues associated with each type. Note that this article is only an introduction. I will go into more depth on different aspects of the subject matter in future installments of the “EV Basics” series.

There are several different power trains available which use electric motors. The simplest of these vehicles is the battery electric vehicle or BEV. This is a pure electric vehicle which uses only a battery pack and an electric motor to store energy and create the power necessary to make the car or truck move. BEVs have been around for a long time. In 1835, Thomas Davenport built a railway operated by a small electric motor. In the early years of the 20th Century, BEVs competed quite successfully with ICE-powered vehicles. It was not until Henry Ford started building the Model T that gasoline-powered cars that BEVs faded from public view.

In the 1960s, BEVs began to make a comeback. Interest in electric vehicles has grown steadily since then as concerns about pollution and dependence on foreign oil have permeated mainstream consciousness. Currently, BEVs are being designed and built in a wide variety of styles and layouts, from electric scooters, to low-speed electric cars such as those produced by Zenn Motor Company, to high-power freeway burners such as the two-seat Tesla Roadster or the family-friendly, five-passenger eBox by AC Propulsion.

BEVs must face a few hurdles if they are to replace ICE-only cars as our primary method of transportation. Historically, they have had limited driving range, significantly less than the range of a gasoline-powered car. Additionally, BEV have generally taken several hours to recharge the battery pack. In a world in which people have gotten used to instant gratification, this poses a real problem. The good news is that many people are working on these issues, and dramatic improvements are being made in both range and recharging time. Current EV designs have achieved ranges of more than 300 miles and charging times have been brought down to two hours or less in some models charged with high-powered “smart” chargers.

In the 1990s, Honda and Toyota introduced the American driving public to the hybrid electric vehicle or HEV. These vehicles use both an ICE and an electric motor. There are different types of HEVs which layout the engine and the motor in either a parallel or a series configuration. In a series configuration, the ICE acts only as an electrical generator. In a parallel configuration the ICE again acts as a generator, but it also drives the vehicle’s wheels just as the engine would do in an ICE-only vehicle.

HEVs provide significant benefits over ICE-only cars in two distinct areas. Firstly, the electric motor allows engineers to operate the ICE more efficiently because an HEV can rely heavily on the electric motor at points in which the ICE would be operating very inefficiently. Secondly, the battery pack in an HEV can be used to recapture the energy used while braking. To accomplish this, engineers create regenerative braking systems which used the electrical resistance of a generator to slow the car down long before they mechanical brakes come into play. The energy from the generator is then stored in the battery pack for future use. In a car without regenerative braking, all this energy is wasted by creating heat and wearing down the brake pads.

HEVs also have some problems. Unlike BEVs, they require some gasoline or other liquid fuel to operate. Also, they are more complicated then either a BEV or an ICE-only vehicle because they require both types of drivetrain components under one hood. However, they eliminate the range and recharging issues associated with BEVs, so HEVs can be viewed as a good transition step to the vehicles of the future.

Recently, much attention has been paid to plug-in hybrids or PHEVs. In essence, a PHEV is an HEV with a larger battery pack, a plug which allows the battery pack to be charged from a wall socket, and a control system which allows the vehicle to be operated in electric-only mode. The wall-charging feature allows a PHEV to get some of its power from the utility grid (or from a local power source such as a photovoltaic array or wind turbine) and some of its power from gasoline. Recently, several companies and individuals have been working on creating plug-in versions of the Toyota Prius. These conversions allow the Prius to run in all-electric mode until it reaches roughly 35mph. They give varying traveling ranges in all-electric mode, depending on which type of batteries are used and how many extra batteries are installed.

While these plug-in Priuses are a good start, PHEVs as a genre have even more potential. General Motors recently introduced the Chevrolet Volt E-Flex concept car, a PHEV which can travel up to 40 miles in electric only mode. It has a large electric motor and a one liter, three cylinder ICE. PHEVs of the future could follow this trend even further, maximizing the electric elements of the drivetrain while reducing the ICE to a tiny power plant which gets used only as a last resort.

In the last few years, fuel cell electric vehicles or FCEVs have grabbed many headlines. These are electric vehicles which use a hydrogen fuel cell to provide power, eliminating the need for a battery pack. Proponents point out that hydrogen is the most abundant of the chemical elements and that the only gas emitted from an FCEV is steam made from pure water. Detractors point out that nearly all hydrogen currently available is made from natural gas, a petroleum product. Hydrogen is also difficult to store in quantities sufficient to give FCEVs adequate range and it can present safety hazards when pressurized in tanks. Finally, FCEVs currently require complex, bulky support systems which take up excessive space and result in power delivery systems which are far less efficient than those present in BEVs.

Fuel cells have some potential to become part of the overall energy scenario in the future. However, many feel that FCEVs have been used primarily as a distraction and a stalling device. Companies and politicians keep telling us, “We’ll have FCEVs in the near future, but until then keep driving your Hummers!” These tactics keep people from demanding BEVs as soon as possible. As one saying puts it, “Practical, viable fuel cells are ten to twenty years away, and they always will be.”

One other type of electric vehicle is the human-assist hybrid. The most common example of this vehicle type is the electric bicycle. These are commonly-available, inexpensive, and they give people the health benefits associated with exercise while providing an additional boost when needed. Legally, they must be limited to 20 mph in electric assist mode, and the electric-only range of electric bikes now available is almost always less than twenty miles.

However, readers should ponder the fact that a small, aerodynamic vehicle can cruise at 65 mph on a flat road while using only five horsepower. Imagine the roads covered with small, efficient vehicles that use tiny electric motors and human power to achieve freeway speeds without putting a significant burden on the utility grid. While no major corporations are working on vehicles like this, small groups of dedicated individuals are working to make this type of vehicle available to the general public. These low-power vehicles could become the ultimate transportation solution for an energy-conscious society.

So there you have it! You now have enough information to join EV-related conversations at your next social gathering. You can talk about the different types of EVs, letting people know what is available now and what is coming in the near future. If you are still curious for more details on the benefits of electric vehicles and the advances which are being made in the field, please see the other articles in this “EV Basics” series.

Eliminate Chronic Car Problems With Electric Vehicle Conversions

Regardless of where you travel to in Australia, you will always be putting miles on your car. Unfortunately, the parts used in high performance engines found in modern cars wear out much faster than the ones used years ago. For example, the fuel pump in modern cars often dies out after 60,000 to 90,000 Km of travel. If you check your warranty information, you will most likely find that the fuel pump is not covered after 60,000 Km, even on an extended warranty plan. If your odometer reading is approaching this number, electric vehicle conversions may represent a cost effective way to get out of chronic expenses associated with a high mileage vehicle.

Critical Car Parts and High Compression Engine Wear

Not so long ago, fuel pumps were one of the easiest things on a car to replace. All you really needed to do was search around near the carburetor, take the old pump out, and then put the new one in. Typically, it was a job you could accomplish in under an hour, right in your own back yard. At the same time, fuel pumps tended to cost well under 100.00.

By contrast, today’s vehicles use fuel injectors that require a very high compression ratio from the fuel pump. This type of pump is almost always housed in the fuel tank. They also cost several hundred dollars per unit. In order to replace the pump, you will need to take out the fuel tank, and then hope the mechanic will not damage the neck of the tank while removing the old pump. Because it tends to be a difficult job, you may wind up paying well over $1500.00 to have a new pump installed. On top of that, if they do damage the gas tank, you may wind up spending an additional $1000.00 to solve that problem.

Once the fuel pump is replaced, it can significantly alter the electrical system of the vehicle. For example, a number of cars and trucks develop computer problems, as well as a tendency to die out randomly once the new fuel pump is installed. Electric cars are virtually maintenance free. Electric vehicle conversions are worth exploring, and much safer in this type of situation. At the very least, you won’t have to worry about the motor dieing at an inconvenient time.

While you may not be aware of it, compression gaskets, valves, fuel injectors, and engine heads wear out faster when exposed to higher combustion temperatures and compression ratios. No matter how well you maintain and service your vehicle, it will not change this aspect of modern engine performance. Once your car passes the 100,000 Km mark, the best of the engine and transmission lifespan will be used up. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why very few manufacturers will guarantee a vehicle engine and transmission past 100,000 Km. Under these conditions, electric vehicle conversions offer a viable, safer, and cheaper alternative to help you maintain reliable transportation.

Deep Engine Computer Problems and Internal Combustion Engines

Even though the computer modules in your car are often housed in easy to reach places, they obtain data from sensors deep within the engine. For example, oxygen sensors may be positioned within the cylinder head. There are also some sensors that may be housed deep in the engine block. In some cases, these sensors monitor the flow of oil and coolants through the block. Once these sensors malfunction, they can cause piston heads to seize up, as well as ruin other critical parts of the main engine. At the same time, replacing these sensors may cost several thousand dollars if the engine has to be taken out, or the warranty on the electrical system is up.

Therefore, when the fuel pump causes changes in the electrical system, it can have hidden consequences. As with other electrical devices, when a new component is added, it can disrupt the pattern, and lead to serious consequences. When you make use of electric vehicle conversions, you will not need to worry about disrupting the electrical harness or the engine sensors. In fact, you will no longer need to worry about an engine block at all. Instead, your vehicle will run on a nice, quiet electrical motor that requires very little in the way of maintenance.

The Best Cars for Electric Fuel Conversions

If you buy a used car, you will always worry about repairs if you do not take steps to change the engine, transmission, and fuel pump. That said, if another used car is in better shape than the one you have now, you can always see about getting an electric car conversion in the near future. At the very least, you can have peace of mind knowing that you will get many years of trouble free driving out of it.

People that own cars today do not realize they could have a financial time bomb sitting on their hands. Regardless of whether the fuel pump dies in the middle of traffic, or the engine gaskets blows, it will cost you to have the vehicle repaired. When you are under pressure to get your car back as quickly as possible, you will most likely go on paying bigger repair bills, rather than evaluate the expanded benefits associated with electric vehicle conversions. Take the time now to evaluate your financial commitment to owning a petrol car. Switching to all electric is easier than you realize.

Today, electric vehicle conversions are available right here in Australia. You can easily extend the life of your current vehicle, and help do your part in providing for a cleaner more sustainable future, especially in your part of the world. When it comes right down to it, if you own a car or two, the best thing you can do is look into electric vehicle conversions today.

Don’t Be Shocked by – Hire a Qualified Electrician

is something that should be done by a qualified professional who has the proper training and skill set to do it. Doing this job yourself can be unsafe if you are not trained in the correct way. If you find yourself in need of an electrician, consider these valuable suggestions.

Ask around

Recommendations are very helpful when it comes to looking for a specialist for . Talk to everyone you know and find out who they call for these types of household issues. Ask pointed questions to narrow down your choices. It would also be smart to stop by electrical supply shops in your area and ask for some trusted names in the business. You can also to take a look through the yellow pages of the phone directory. Look under “Electrical Contractors” or the section on “Home Repair.”

Evaluate your options

Getting one estimate is simpler, but it is not always the safest course of action to take. jobs require well skilled workers and finding such individuals could take some time. Even if you are busy, it still pays to be diligent in your efforts. To hire the first one could be to put yourself into the path of trouble with your finances.

To play it safe, call up at least two to three contractors in your community. Ask them how long they have been working in this field and what their availability and rates are. There is nothing wrong with asking for references. In fact, getting references is always a good idea when you are looking for experienced home repair professionals.

Get an estimate

may be something that you can plan for, but electrical emergencies are not. The last thing you want is to be gouged when you are feeling frazzled and stressed to the max. When you find a contractor through the phone book, you should request to be given a flat-rate price. This enables you to obtain quotes from a variety of other contractors and then establish the appropriate price for the job.

Make sure they are properly licensed

You do not have to be an electrician yourself to learn a little something about the industry. If you know someone who can teach you the basics, ask them to educate you. Electrical contractors who are licensed and bonded have permits for their work. They assume responsibility for all of the duties that they perform. Electricians who are certified are hired by contractors to do various jobs for them. In most instances, when you need work of an electrical nature done in your residence, you must hire a contracting specialist, who will then send an electrician to come over.

It is good to know what to do, but sometimes knowing what not to do makes a difference as well. There are times when being suspicious will serve you well. If you as the homeowner are asked by the worker to get building permits, warning bells should go off in your head. Permits are the responsibility of the contractor, and not the responsibility of the individual requiring the work.