Zeon Batterry Replacement

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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Christopher rhode » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:32 am

Jake- From everything I've read thats really good performance for an older battery back. My break even point over gasoline is three years, so it looks like I have a shot at getting there. I have been curious about the deck cut off point too. When mine cuts out each battery is in the 11.65-11.78 range. (I will measure the pack total next time) That's measuring when I get back to the garage, so it's probably going lower than that. As Bob mentioned, I'm wondering if we should let it go down that far. Nice chart by the way.

Bob- if you don't mind sharing, why did you leave the stock charger? I've read about problems with them not shutting off if the water is low, and boiling the batteries. This is what happened (I suspect) to the last owner of my machine with only 44 hours on the pack. The stock charger went bad about a week after I brought it home, and I ordered a new one ($155). My concern is this: 1) Was the stock charger going bad and ruined the last guys pack, 2) Did the guy running the batteries dry ruin the charger, 3) or did I ruin the charger by putting in cheap 'dual purpose' batteries that maybe pulled too much current. Probably won't ever know for sure, but I find myself crossing my fingers everytime I turn the charger on. FYI I took apart the old charger and found two fuses (neither blown). I suspect one of the two transformers have failed, prolly the smaller one that's supplies DC to the Chargers electronics (small fan, LEDs, etc.).

I'd like to put together a website just for Zeon owners, where we could combine all Zeon information in one place. As it is now, you pretty much have to search all over to find bits and pieces here and there, and most of your search results are old propaganda from 2009 when the machines were first introduced. If anyone has the expertise to set up a website let me know, I would be willing to cover a portion of the web hosting fees.
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Jake » Thu Sep 03, 2015 1:35 am

I'm still using the stock charger, but with care, had a couple times that a power cycle caused it to restart so I always unplug it after either the green light is on or it has charged for about 24 hours. It's connected behind a kill-a-watt so it's kind of neat to see how much energy the mower really consumes. Theoretically a 50% discharge of the batteries equals 75 amps over 57 minutes (source Trojan) so if the cut-off point is correct and it stops after 1 hour the amount of energy spent is roughly 75A * 46V * 1hr = 3.5 kWh. Over the last 2 years the stock charger used 4.7 kWh per charge cycle so the energy efficiency of the charge/discharge cycle of charger+battery runs at about 75%. As long as I don't see the charge cycle use more energy and I can finish about the same yard area each mowing round I assume I'm on track. To improve the charge method and keep better track of battery status I'd like to make the battery bank smart: put a current shunt on it and measure both charge and discharge combined with a programmable charger that only charges back the lost energy plus the corrections for temperature and battery efficiency. I haven't found anything off-the-shelf yet that allows me to add this on a 48 V lead-acid pack so I'm contemplating whether it's worth building that given that it seems that Li-xxx batteries are still rather costly for this application.

As for a Zeon specific website, yes, that'd be nice. I don't know what the total number of machines is that are in use but they are very sturdy built and when taken good care off they may last quite a while. Given the battery maintenance requirement of the current lead-acid technology I expect that they eventually end up in people's hands that don't mind that part of it and also may need other maintenance info and tips and tricks to keep them going. I haven't configured a forum on a website yet but do host some other material, having time for it is my bottleneck now.
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Bobhutch » Tue Sep 08, 2015 5:57 pm

I Went with a Noco Genius 4 bank charger after reading a lot of posts on this site. What I learned was the first thing to do when buying a Zeon is to get rid of the stock charger and buy a smart charger. I found the stock charger would run at a constant amperage (monitored with a Kill -a-watt meter) for 22 hrs then give me the green light. Didn't matter if I mowed 10 minutes or 2 hrs. I would call that a dumb charger. When I first got the mower and was running it to the time the deck would cut out then the Zeon charger wouldn't boil much water, but when I started to mow for an hour the Zeon charger would boil a lot more water off.
Now with the Noco Genious smart charger I see the amperage fluctuate during the charge process and settle down to a low trickle amperage when I get the green light. The time it takes to get the green light varies depending on how long I've mowed. Now thats smart! And I'm not adding as much water.

BTW In the last year I've been measuring the voltage on the batteries a lot. Like anytime I mow and charge or just walking by the mower. When I get time I want to wire up 4 voltage meters on the mower.
With the new Trojans I start with a voltage of 12.88 volts after a 24 hr rest from charger. I mow 30-35 min trying only to run them down 25% for breakin period.my battery gauge shows 7 bars. And I take a voltage reading after 2 hrs rest 12.63 volts
I found this link in these discussions http://www.cartsunlimited.net/ When his home page pops up, look at the sidebar on the LH side and scroll down to the 3 articles on batteries: how batteries work, charging tutorial, and breakin methods.

FYI My old batteries would run for 20 mins then cut out the deck. If I got the meter on it right away one of the batteries was down to 10 volts but after cooling for 5 mins would bounce back to 12.54 I suspect that the plates in one cell would short then after cooling would bend back and clear the short. I just took a voltage reading on my old batteries after trickle charging and rest 24 hrs and there all 12.50 volts I plan to connect some solar panels, inverter and use it as a portable power centre.

One Last Thing
When is there going to be an App that connects to this mowers brain?
Last edited by Bobhutch on Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Jake » Wed Sep 09, 2015 12:32 am

@Bob, your measurements for full and 70% discharged battery sound exactly right. Regarding the stock charger I was curious what the charge curve was too and connected it to a modified kill-a-watt that posts the power consumption to a database every 2 minutes. Here's the charge curve recorded a year ago for my charger after a normal mowing cycle (50% DOD):
Image

Your remark on constant charge current over the entire cycle makes me question whether there are different versions of "stock" chargers out there. I stuck to the stock charger after seeing this 3-stage charge profile and seeing that the total time my charger spends before the green light comes on varies. I certainly do agree that it's not smart enough, a reset somewhere in the middle of the charge cycle will still cause it to start all over again without properly measuring the start charge state of the batteries resulting in a bad overcharge.

I like your question about the App, one day I hope to get there but for now an extra dashboard and datalogger on the mower gets me enough data already:
Image
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Christopher rhode » Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:04 am

I was reluctant to admit that I was putting on my slippers in the middle of the night to go measure battery voltage at 2:00 in the morning. I would have been even more ashamed to admit that I was recording voltages on a sheet of graph paper with a stub of pencil from a putt-putt golf course that closed twenty years ago... But now I don't feel so bad. You guys are over the top. LOL.

But seriously, I'm on the fence with my charger. Mine acts like Bob said his did. It will charge twenty hours (exactly) then the green light will come on, it doesn't matter if the batteries were run to 50% or I just took it for a ride around the yard. It will charge twenty hours period. I don't like the charger (mostly because it says made in China right on it), but am hesitant to get a third charger after having just plopped another $155 on this one. Does anyone have experience with the $600 charger they offered? Not that I would buy it just curious about how good it is.

I've noticed that the stock charger will go to 14.5-14.7 volts on each battery near the end of the charge and hold there. Some would call this equalizing the batteries AND this also dissolves sulfation on the plates. Something that normal battery chargers won't do. THAT is my single biggest reason for not using a different charger.

Here's a good example I forgot to mention. I brought home my new batteries, put them in, and forced myself to top them off (recommended by the dealer and everything else I've read) because they lose charge sitting on a shelf. (I really fought the childish urge to take it out and use it, and I made myself wait) After an hour I could smell the batteries gassing and shut off the charger myself. It was definitely trying to overcharge them.


Two things I am SURE ABOUT with the stock chargers:
1) I don't trust them.

2) If there was any one thing that killed production of the Zeon, I suspect that the charger (directly or indirectly) was the Achilles heel of the machine.

Are there different versions of the same charger? I suspect you're right Jake. My first charger would run as you might expect it to, it would charge based upon how depleted the batteries were. Sometimes two hours, six hours, sometimes sixteen. But it always correlated with the amount the battery was used.

I'm honestly not sure what to do about the whole charger issue, but until I decide I will keep my slippers close by. :lol:
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Bobhutch » Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:56 pm

@Christopher Rhode- I've said many times that Hustler should have used a 4 bank smart charger, installed in the mower. And install an automatic waterer to make keeping the water topped up easy. Myself and others on this site have been happy with making the switch to a smart charger and putting our slippers away :)

@Jake Love your Data Logger and Dashboard, and, and, your Joystick! Where can I get these? I can see a new thread starting on this topic.
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Christopher rhode » Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:40 pm

Bob, I've decided to ditch the factory charger. I mowed 66 minutes yesterday of fairly heavy grass, then plugged the charger in at exactly 1:00 pm. At 9:00 pm the voltages on the batteries were 14.35-14.80. The batteries were barely warm. I checked again an hour later and they were equalizing 14.50-14.78. When I got up at 5:00 the charger was STILL running, and all the batteries were 14.60-14.69. The batteries were cool to the touch, and the charger wasn't pulling any current, so I unplugged it. It's my opinion that it will run through the twenty hour cycle regardless of the depth of discharge. Tired of worrying over it.

I just noticed that joystick too, that's a pretty nice mod. If Hustler had done that it would have added $1000 to the already hefty price tag. It does add a very nice 'high-end' look to the machine.

FYI, I just ordered the Zeon light kit. (Not that I will ever mow at night). I will post some pics of the kit, instructions, and the finished installation. This carries the same part number as the light kit for the Hustler Sport.
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Jake » Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:00 am

8-) getting up at 2:00 AM to check the charger? Ouch, I admit I'm a freak at requiring all this data before drawing any sort of conclusion about the batteries and chargers but I'm way too lazy to try to find my slippers at any time of the day to go out to measure something, so I'll simply leave that chore to the electronics :geek:

Anyway, I agree the stock charger is the weakest part. Mine has a serial number starting with a 201001 date code (Jan-2010?) and at least does a 3-stage charge when undisturbed and starting at about 50% DOD. For the fun of it I opened it up and it appears to have the hardware to (in theory) do a decent job: common microcontroller, PWM charge controller, current shunt and sufficient I/O to measure temperatures and voltages and the micro even has non-volatile memory on board to keep track of battery data and cycles. So if anybody has access to the source code for it I'd love to take a dive into that and make it a bit smarter like remembering where it is in each charge cycle if it gets hit by a power reset.

The joystick mod on this mower? I indeed need to start a blog for that. Long story short: it's unique, hooked up with custom electronics to trick the Zeon into seeing it as a set of ordinary drive handles. The main reason it's on this mower and and the best feature right now is that on the open areas in my yard I don't have to use it to steer anymore: the button on top of the joystick engages or disengages the auto steering that keeps the mower on track pass to pass all by itself. Ah yes, I told you I'm lazy :D
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Christopher rhode » Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:40 pm

Jake, that is awesome. I mow three and a half acres, and two of those are big empty squares of pasture. The 'Zeon [i]auto-stick' feature would be fantastic to have. I won't even ask how it works because I know the answer would cover several pages. All I will say is that is waaaaay cool and could certainly be a marketable feature or add-on for any zero turn mower.

As for the charger, my original is coded: 200911-0392, and my newer one is: 200911-0124. I can tell that it is charging in stages, but lack the skill/tools to firmly answer this question: "trust? Yes-No". Which brings me to my next point, I wasn't dissing you for the detailed graphs, analysis, and computerized logging. Quite the contrary. I was simply comparing your methods to mine. Put simply: "I suddenly found myself a very small man in a land of giants". :mrgreen:

Somewhere down the road, (much like Elec-track owners), there will be some demand for individuals familiar with all the aspects of Zeon electronics. Including the Chargers. As a collector myself I always want the OEM stuff with the machine. So if you can figure out how to repair the Chargers you might have a small but steady following of customers. If you would like to experiment on a failed charger, I have a dead one you can play with. It's already boxed, just PM me your address. I don't want anything for it.
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Re: Zeon Batterry Replacement

Postby Jake » Sat Sep 12, 2015 5:54 pm

@Christopher Rhode, no worries, I'm just sharing some findings same as you do for the benefit of Zeon owners.

Due to Bob's and other's experiences I'd be very reluctant to just repair stock chargers as they are, the risk that more valuable batteries fail early due to these chargers being in use appears to be too high.

Experimenting with a charger to improve the charge state assessment and control the charge stages better may be a worthwhile endeavor. It will save anybody doing this a lot of time though if the charger schematics and code are available to start from. Let's see whether more reactions in this direction show up and if so I'll leave a note to get a "donor" unit. The microcontroller in the charger is a PIC16F676, from an internet search and the datasheet info it is a commonly used micro for battery chargers and solar energy systems.
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