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Old 11-25-2015, 02:07 AM   #31 (permalink)
2011 Honda Insight EX
 
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RedDevil, that charger goes for $400. In the Smalls article

You can build a grid charger/balancer for around $100. Insight guru Mike Dabrowski came up with this design, which is an adjustable 174V-210V, 350mA constant current power supply.

where "this design" is a link that is now defunct.

Anyone know anything about that charger? Says you have to apply it for 36 hours at a time.

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Old 11-25-2015, 02:27 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Hi Nowackim,
The Mike Dabrowski link may be defunct but you'll find others at InsightCentral.net.
You could not use that particular design without adaptation anyway as the second gen has a lower pack voltage.

The HybridAutomotive charger may not be cheap, but it is a neat and safe design that adds value to your car should you come to sell it again.
Homebrew chargers may not...
It is not hard to make your own grid charger, f.i. by using LED drivers. But, at least in my opinion, it is not necessary either - not for the 2nd gen that tends it hybrid battery better than other Honda hybrids.

If only it were as kind to its 12V lead acid battery - those die frequently and may need monitoring.
A bad 12V battery causes all kinds of problems, even with the IMA system - as its control unit gets power from the '12' Volt system.
I keep the voltage on a permanent gauge on my UltraGauge.
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2011 Honda Insight + HID, LEDs, tiny PV panel, extra brake pad return springs, neutral wheel alignment, 44/42 PSI (air), PHEV light (inop), tightened wheel nut.
lifetime FE over 0.14 Gm or 0.09 MM.


Last edited by RedDevil; 11-25-2015 at 02:35 AM..
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Old 12-02-2015, 04:20 PM   #33 (permalink)
2011 Honda Insight EX
 
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I just spent a half hour on the phone with a guy who apparently is an engineer at Bumblebee Batteries here in Portland, OR.

I am trying to find out if there is a sure-fire maintenance operation that I can or should perform in order to prolong the battery life. He said that the grid charger is not necessarily this. While it is a trickle charger, making the highest voltage cells burn off excess energy as heat while the low cells catch up is damaging to the high cells; so it becomes a question of lesser of two evils. Which is to say that you would not want to use a grid charger more than a few times a year. His customers mainly use grid charging to wring another several months life out of a battery that has the warning light on, meaning it is already down to 10% capacity. Just can't say that it is a good idea for a battery that is not close to end of service.

The premise, that grid charging during the early part of the service life "should" prolong life is not straight-forward, in his opinion. But he would perform it on my car, needing an overnight service, for $100. I am not the type that would be happy to buy a $400 grid charger when it is advisable to minimize its use.

He said they are in process of developing a G2 Insight battery, as they are just now getting requests for replacements.

I am intimidated by just the owner's manual for this car; not likely going to get up to speed with the technical knowledge of posters here. So I'd appreciate opinions about the feasibility of attempting to prolong battery life, and whether having a one-time grid charge operation (2011 EX, 52k) has a higher probability of helping than hurting.

FWIW he drives the 2010 G2 with tires at 50 psi, his wife drives the G1 and he sets at 40 psi (for "safety"). Said Insights are particularly sensitive to tire pressure.
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Old 12-02-2015, 06:12 PM   #34 (permalink)
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I have not had any personal experience with the good people at Bumblebee, but I would trust my life on their opinion - their clients are unanimously satisfied.

The Insight uses NiMH batteries, you can look up the properties of those batteries.
You'll find that overcharging them at a gentle rate (300 mA is about 5% of their hourly capacity) does not harm them much. It does bring the cells in line, if they are unbalanced.

I am experimenting with my parallel buddy pack. I see that even when the buddy pack is feeding it the IMA decides once in a while to top the IMA pack charge. It does its own balancing act, so to say.
After that it gets through a phase where it draws from it pack and recharges in rapid succession. Then it just starts depleting its pack until it reaches a 'normal' state-of-charge (still quite high with the buddy pack).
In short the IMA system tends the pack actively.
Why not trust Honda it does that good enough to not need additional grid charging?

2nd gen Insight batteries failing is new to me. It always was due to 12V battery trouble. Even so, some Insights must have been baking in the desert sun for ages, and we know the NiMH battery chemistry does not like that much; just for that there should be a few bad ones nowadays.

The insights are particularly sensitive to low tire pressure and seem to handle better at tire pressures higher than specified on the door sticker.
That said, it remains a matter of taste. I see no real gains of any kind above 40 PSI, so I keep it round that.

To summarise:
If your Insight has not been parked in desert heat conditions there's little chance you'd get a bad IMA battery anytime soon.
You can grid charge but it is not necessary, you won't gain the investment back.
Air up the tires, that will save you a tankful of gas over every service interval.
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lifetime FE over 0.14 Gm or 0.09 MM.

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Old 12-02-2015, 08:03 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Thanks for your comments. My eyes glazed over trying to take in all of the content of your buddy pack project. It was not clear to me if you had or were trying to correct a deficiency in the on-board computer management. You seem to be confirming here my hunch that you are an out-of-control hobbyist, and that there is not such a big shortcoming with the basic system.

The Bumblebee guy was clear that they sell new batts at a much higher rate to customers in the very hot southwest climate, as opposed to where I am, which I imagine is fairly comparable to The Netherlands.

Next adventure is to check with a dealer and see if they will verify the software updates have been applied w/o charging me, since with a reconstructed title I understand the warranty is void.

Have never tried any hypermiler shenanigans. Plugging the grill openings really has a measurable effect??

(Now on my 2nd tank of fuel; will set tires to 40 and see </hypermiler-shenanigans>)
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Old 12-03-2015, 04:26 AM   #36 (permalink)
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Hi, yeah those IMA error codes are the result of my out-of-control hobbyism
The IMA system monitors battery voltage and usage and is sensitive to unexpected currents flowing to or from the pack like when connected to my buddy pack.

It is especially sensitive on key-on. If there is any current flowing in at that moment it throws the error immediately.
Once running it can take over 10 Ampere no matter - but a direct linkup to my >30 Amp capable buddy pack was too much in some conditions.

Tire pressure up to 40 PSI is the easiest and most effective mod. The Insights tires are relatively narrow and small for the size and weight of the car, so it should have higher pressure to compensate for it anyway.

There were 3 updates that affect 2010 and early 2011s, but a year ago a new update was made available which improves the way the CVT reacts and helps smooth out the phase changes between EV/non EV mode and slipping clutch/lock around 9 mph.
The effect is subtle though, and the result is not perfect, as in not as smooth as a Prius.

Grill blockin does help when it gets really cold and it does improve the efficiency a bit, mainly because it raises the air intake temperature.

It is necessary to monitor the air intake temp because it can go through the roof in a traffic jam. As the Insight has EGR, it does not really benefit from high intake temp once it is fully warmed up; when it goes beyond 40C or 105F it even starts to hurt FE.
On top of that, high underhood temperatures are bad for your 12V battery, which is a weak point on the Insight anyway.

You can block some grill all year round with no harm done, but mind the temp sensor in the badge and the air flow towards the air intake snorkel.

HIDs save power and produce 3 times as much light as the standard halogens.
I was disappointed with the halogen output; projector lenses put out less light than a conventional headlight. Also they produce so little stray light that other road users seemed to overlook my car at night (we do not have side running lights here).
A cheap HID kit solved both. The beam is powerful, the stray light is still lowish but acceptable.

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2011 Honda Insight + HID, LEDs, tiny PV panel, extra brake pad return springs, neutral wheel alignment, 44/42 PSI (air), PHEV light (inop), tightened wheel nut.
lifetime FE over 0.14 Gm or 0.09 MM.

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