MAILBOX: E-Motorcycle

Jim White's Zero electric motorcycle charging by sunshine.

After many years of being absent, I finally renewed my subscription to Home Power magazine. In light of your recent article on electric motorcycles, I thought I’d share the system I came up with for charging my 2010 Zero electric motorcycle directly with solar. The $30 DC-to-DC maximum power point charge controller charges the 55-volt lithium-ion battery pack directly from the solar module. The charge controller steps the solar module’s voltage up or down to maximize the amount of solar going into the motorcycle’s battery. To keep the battery from being overcharged, the PV array’s output is automatically reduced when the battery’s maximum voltage is reached.

The charge controller’s output connects to the wires feeding the battery which is inside the motorcycle’s Delta-Q battery charger. [Ed. Note: For safety and the health of a Li-ion battery, never bypass the battery management system. Also be sure to check to ensure that these modifications will not void the manufacturer’s warranty.] The battery pack holds 4 kWh of storage, so it would take a long time to charge the motorcycle with a single 165-watt module, but the charge controller can handle two 165-watt, 36-volt modules connected in series, and then connected in parallel with two other modules connected in series.

My 2010 Zero uses about 0.11 kWh per mile (newer Zeros go farther on a charge). While 36 miles may not sound like much, it is plenty of range for all of my daily driving needs. And I love the feeling of riding on sunshine!

Jim White • Wenatchee, Washington

Comments (2)

James White's picture

Hello Greg,
The charge controller I used is some Chinese brand (MingHe?). You can find it by searching MPPT Solar Charge Controller, Model MPT-7210A. I purchased mine for $30 plus shipping.
Sorry it took so long to reply to your question. I was in Kenya installing an AC solar power system for a sewing co-op in Kenya.

Greg Sherwood's picture

What charge controller are you using?

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