100 Amp Fuller Leisure Battery

Taking old electric vehicle batteries and using them to store solar energy

Here is an interesting way to use a product that is no longer of serviceable use in the product that it was designed for then recycled to do another job The question is will it work?

Part of my work at County Battery Services Ltd is to look at new and innovative products that the Company can bring to Market some time ago we launched the Powerbank a device that captures the solar energy from photovoltaic cells and stores it to be used when the sun goes down.

Old batteries and solar I think this all sound a great idea, but in reality is it feasible? If the battery has come from a crashed damaged car that is an insurance total loss then I could see it working, but the suggestion is that you take a battery that is no longer of use in a car and expect it to perform in a solar application.

I am aware that studies are being carried out no one talks about the battery life after is has left the car, It would need to be reconditioned in some way or the correct voltage could not be maintained. When ever we have swapped cells in fork truck batteries the others soon start to fail not long after and they are of low voltage with typically no more than 24 cells

The battery could be dismantled and any faulty cells could be replaced but that is a time consuming and dangerous job (400V DC). As there are lots of cells in one of these packs It would be easy to miss some, or have others fail within days of the others being replaced. It is possibly cheaper to buy a new battery and definitely more reliable.

The quest to find a cheap way to store energy I think must carry on maybe a water tower and an Archimedes Screw would be better?

BMW i3 What I like most!

I think I will tell you the thing I least first! The first is  the looks! The i3 is not the best looking car on the road in fact I think it looks a little like some small Korean run around, but perhaps it will start a change in car design.

As the car is built using large swathes of carbon fibre the car does not need door pillars hence the back doors open the opposite way to conventional ones which does give a lot more space for getting into the back but I worry about my passengers shutting them the wrong way around and damaging something. As there is no door pillar the seat belt are connected to the door so if someone wants to get out of the back the seat belt has to be unfastened.

The car is a 3 platform and is deceptively spacious,. The boot is very small and this would cause some problems if you had the vehicle with four adults that all had large suitcases.

img_2368The instruments are all very clear and of good quality the information provided is good with useful information like if there is enough charge in the battery to reach the destination (assuming you have used the satnav). The look of the inside is very pleasant  modern and comfortable. There is a great heating system which appears to work very well and has been perfect in the freezing weather in January (when this was written)

There are no gears and it is I suppose it is not classed as an automatic as there is no gears to change only forward and backwards. This is  mounted on the steering column at about 2 o’clock in the picture. The central column has therefore no gearstick. ThIMG_2370.JPGere is a circular dial which works as a mouse. The other is the travel mode three different types Comfort Economy and Economy plus. The use of these gives different mileage options which are displayed on the dash board in front of the wheel.

Whilst running in economy plus mode the milage is at the optimum the speed is restricted to 56 miles per hour and the heating does not work at full the car does not seem so lively.

Driving the car is brilliant it covers 0-60 in 7 seconds and you dont need to be the Stig to get that kind of performance just have a heavy foot! The steering and handling are very positive. It is possible to turn off the traction control but if you do the car will still not allow itself to drift, so with all the speed and handling perhaps not one for boy racers

The car can be controlled from an app there are a number of remote functions, setting the time that the vehicle charges ( to get the most from Economy 7) The app will also show the state of charge of the battery and the distance in Comfort Mode available. There is a tracking system so the car can be found should if have been parked and that place be forgotten. The app will integrate with the diary allowing meeting and address’ to be planned so that the meeting will be added to the satnav.

The battery performs better at the correct temperature the best thing on this car is within the app there is a setting to allow you to warm or cool the battery and the car before you leave for a journey. I live about five miles away from our offices http://www.countybattery.co.uk . When it was frosty in the mornimg_2372ing it used to take me about five minutes to defrost the car with a scraper and the car was just about warm when I got to Kirkby in Ashfield. That is not the case now I get into the car and it is warmed up to the temperature that is specified as it is warmed there is no ice on the vehicle there is no condensation on the windows and when I get in it is as warm as toast.

If you are interested in the other blogs on the car please follow the links



BMW i3 The Electric Highway

In earlier editions of this blog I talked about charging well I have had my first experience of charging on the motorway. I had driven down to Luton Airport parked in Airparks and they charged the car for me for free. Charged at no charge is confusing!

Before I left I fully charged the car batteries but the outside temperature was below freezing and the lithium batteries like all the other batteries I have encountered with my work at County Battery Services don’t charge as well when cold. The reason for this is quite simple chemical energy converting to electrical energy and heat is the catalyst.


When I left the distance on the car said 92 miles and the sat nav said it was 111 to Luton. I pressed on and used the range extender for the extra milage. When I arrived back to Luton again it was really cold so I decided it was time to check out the charging on the M1.

The BMW has quite a good icon on the dashboard that tells you when it does not think there is enough charge in the battery to get you to your destination. When you click on it allows a search for charging stations along the route. I pulled into Leicester Forest East Services and just followed the instructions on the charger which involved downloading an app and adding my credit card details.

I was really surprised how fast the car charged I plugged in used the  convenience then went for a coffee before I had finished the coffee the app messaged me to tell me only five minutes to go! Within 30 minutes and £6 later my range was back up to 88 miles I felt refreshed it was good to stop.

I have two more blogs that link with this

BMW i3

The Charge of the i3  please follow me to find more!

The Charge of the BMW i3

My i3 came with two charge leads a type 2 to three pin, and a type 2 (Mennekes) to type 2,

Type 2 to three pin, the three pin refers to a standard three pin plug (yes you can plug into a standard house socket).The type 2 is the attachment to the car! This connection is the slowest charge and would generally take over night dependent on how flat the battery is it is a 13 amp charge which equates about three electrical units which if you need 27 kwh should take about  9 hours however I would expect that the chargers work at different stages bulk charging upto 80% and then trickling in for the last 20% at a slower rate so the battery does not overcharge over heat and go into thermal runaway (more about this later)

The other lead is a type 2 to type 2 this is normally the type used in public charging and the type you would possibly have fitted at home or at your office. It is suggested that it should charge in 3 hours I think the figure may be four especially if the battery is totally discharged.

There are a growing number of charge points all over the country. BMW themselves recommend Chargemaster they issue you with a swipe card that is free to use for the first six months. The most popular app for finding charge points appears to be Zap Map this seems to have the most comprehensive list of charge points.Zap Map also will tell you if the point is in use what type of charge connection there is and the speed of charge plus much more. Your i3 does have the charge points on the sat nav but I have found Zap Map better.

Charge points connectors  are another point of interest you can have tethered or untethered the former means that the charge lead is connected to the charger the later the opposite so with an untethered charger you would carry the lead with you.

Once you have had your charger fitted at home you will want to know how much the cost of charging at home is. This obviously depends on how much you flatten your battery the BMW battery is a 94ah 360 volts making a 33kWh battery with the battery extender taking over at 6.5% battery capacity that gives a useable capacity of about 27 kWh (or 27 electrical units) From here it is quite simple to work out the cost of the charge. At home I pay just under 12p per unit so the cost to charge a flat battery would be 27 x 12p £3.24 we do however have economy 7 at home the cost of this is 6.5p per unit the same sum adds up to £1.75. One of the things I have learnt at County Battery Services is that chargers and batteries are never 100% efficient and the faster they are charged the less efficient they become I would assume the lithium battery in the i3  at the low rate of charge 95% efficient but there seems to be little data published.

There are a multitude of different chargers with government grants available as long as you are prepared to share your charge data with the bureaucrats. I decided not to bother as it was cheaper to have a charger with no meter than it was to get the grant and share the information, I also have an issue with bureaucracy. It is worthwhile to note that there are grants available of £300 for both home and business metering. I have ordered a basic model from Rolec for work at a cost of about £360 inc vat just need a friendly electrician (Ross Stoneman) to fit it! There are quite a few adverts on the web for home chargers but I am quite happy to use the three pin plug.

Just whilst we are on the charging of the batteries I guess we should look at that side of the car. There are numerous types of Lithium batteries used in electric vehicles for this article I will only look at the three marques I consider to be market leaders which in my opinion are are the Tesla  and the BMW i3. Each manufacturer uses a different technique and battery type to get the range it requires for the job.

The heavier the vehicle is, the more energy will be needed to drive it. Different manufacturers handled this is different ways. Tesla has an aluminum body (heavier) with Panasonic high-energy 18650 cell of  nickel cobalt aluminium these cells are virtually the same as you might find in and electric drill or laptop computer only in the Tesla there are 7000. I am not sure that there is much chance of improving the battery capacity with these as they are already high energy and in my opinion a battery with 7000 cells is far too complicated . The BMW i3 has a very light body being made of carbon fiber, but  a lower energy-density cell. The battery consists of eight modules of 12 batteries. When BMW wanted to increase the range Samsung the battery manufacturer increased the energy density of the battery and the capacity increased by 50% I am sure it will not stop there!

There is still more to come please follow me to find out more about the BMW i3







BMW i3

Happy New Year I have just taken delivery of my new BMW i3 and thought I would write a number of blogs about how I am coping

I have been selling batteries for over 35 years and until recently have been sceptical about the electric car. After all we all know that batteries are heavy they take too long to charge and that the range once you have one is rubbish! That was my view at least until a couple of my friends purchased them. One a  Tesla and the  other one an i3

When I started looking at them I realised they were serious contenders. The Tesla claims 253 miles on the 60kwh model  where the BMW claim 125 miles  on the new 94ah 360 volt but another optional extra is the range extender which could add a further 85 miles.

I looked at the cost I did not wish to buy one of these cars outright because the speed at which technology is changing is phenomenal so a two-year lease  sounded great to me  BMW quote £300 per month on the basic model with 8000 miles usage and no deposit, Tesla wanted £2000 deposit and £2376 per month https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/support/financing-and-leasing-model-s

looking at all the other models of EV they mostly were in the same 125 mile range which for me is not quite enough so I ordered the i3 with range extender. The range extender is basically a motorcycle engine that kicks in when the battery has fallen to 6.5% state of charge. The motorcycle engine acts as a generator and charges the main battery as opposed to a hybrid that generally has a separate electric motor attached to the gearbox of a standard petrol engined car.


I went to two places for quotes Sytner in Nottingham and Stratstone in Derby both quotes appeared to be the same I assume they both use BMW leasing. I asked both if they could do a test drive Stratstone allowed me to take it for a couple of days Sytner took over 3 weeks to get back to me ( I had given Stratstone the order by that time) I dealt with Chris Whitmore (01332 369511) who is the i specialist at Stratstone and very helpful and knowledgeable.

As with all cars the optional extras are extensive and with the extra mileage my i3 cost is £350 + VAT per month.

I ordered the car at the beginning of November and was told to expect delivery the second week in January 2017 I collected the car on the 28th December 2016.

As the car was two weeks early I had neglected to arrange a charge point at home or at County Battery Services  fortunately the vehicle comes with a charge lead that connects to  a  normal 13 amp plug it can take between 6-9 hours to charge this way

At County Battery Services we run a Kaizen system which we call lean this is a system very much about eliminating waste and development of staff. We are also very passionate about Investors in The Environment  (Ella MCManusella@netpositive.org.uk) which is a system for measuring and lowering the carbon footprint in a company. The BMW i3 fits into both these systems very well both in efficiency and the recycle factor.

The car drives like a dream and the charging is all too easy see more blogs coming soon!