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2011 Leaf with Muxsan 17.6kWh battery, curt tow hitch fitted for bikes or buzz rack P10
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was going to post this on mynissanleaf but they don't allow attachments till you pay to be a support so it will go here instead.

My car is a 2011 leaf
Tire Wheel Car Land vehicle Vehicle

we did have a 2013 gen 1 leaf too but we sold it and have the 2014 outlander seen behind above. (I think I'm going Japanese).

Anyway we love this little car and have had its range extended by Emile and Sjaak at Muxsan in the Netherlands. It has a curt tow hitch and yakima rook bars and is a properly capable little car EXCEPT...

The PTC heater is the weakest piece of automotive junk that I am yet to come across.

As such my aim here is to outline how I intend to make the budget gen1 leaf into a warmer more pleasant vehicle without breaking the bank.

Those of you unable to see shades of grey with the argument against installing diesel heaters into EV can stop reading now. I will say that it will only be being used when absolutely necessary and that is better than me driving a full petrol or diesel car or even our outlander which is rarely driven on petrol too.

I intend this thread to be a bit of build log and whistle stop tour of how one might make such improvements to their gen1 leaf with ptc heater.

A fortnight ago My friend Tim and I set about changing the ATF (single speed gear box fluid) with redline ATF as per DALA ev's yt video.

{insert link}

Motor vehicle Hood Automotive lighting Automotive tire Bumper

here is the top of Tim's head as he uses his well calibrated wrists to provide the correct torque after draining the ATF. I would have been under there too but someone has to take the photos. Also he is an aircraft mechanic so I trust him to bodge it far less than me.

Anyway we took this opportunity to sort out the clips holding the under tray and repair the splash guards which had holes in from before our ownership with some duct tape. We also used new copper crush washers ala Dala's advice when reinserting our drain and fill bolts.

At nearly 90k miles this job was a little overdue as apparently the recommendation is every 24k kilometres to inspect it. Unfortunately the following Tuesday the car had its MOT and required two new front tyres. Thus the before and after efficiency comparisons were not really obtainable. It's a nice tick off the list and the job served as an initial foray into recce the engine(motor) bay for where to locate the other two heaters to follow.

So that day we decided the nicest looking location is behind the crush bumper, lots of space but obviously heaters heat so some consideration will have to be given to shielding the radiator from the heaters during operation to avoid heating the inverter coolant loop.
My next job was to figure out how to remove the bumper. Fortunately there is another youtuber Leafma who provides some great footage of how to do this to the background of some questionable music.

{insert link}

It should be noted that all this would be easier using a garage with a proper car lift but we didn't have that so ramps, concrete flags, hydraulic jack and stands were employed to lift the car and get it level.
 

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2011 Leaf with Muxsan 17.6kWh battery, curt tow hitch fitted for bikes or buzz rack P10
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
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what you see above is an Lf Bros 2kw ac heater (which has a Schuco style 16a plug). Purchased from somewhere in china from Alibaba I think. I went for 2kw as a 3kw would most likely overload my 13a 3pin socket but for those in Europe with 16a plugs or UK folk with 16amp commando socket 3kw may work better for you.

The bumper has been fully removed here and I am offering up the heater with its bracket to see where the bolts might end up. fortunately the reservoir in this shot is for the heating loop we want and we can redirect the out under it to come toward the heater which with its internal pump will propel the water sideways along the crush bumper when in operation. When not it will act as piece of benign pipe and not a valve (tested). What I don't yet know is whether the Nissan water pump will also behave this way or whether it needs a bypass one way valve to allow water past it when the AC heater is working and the car is off.

Tire Automotive tire Hood Automotive lighting Motor vehicle

here are the marks made with a sharpie pen when we made a decision on where to drill some holes in the crush bumper.

To make sure a good attachment point was made I chose M6 rivnuts and on a sunday morning dashed down to machine mart in Openshaw and bought this. Thanks Emma. Located a rivnut tool for sale locally at short notice is not as easy as you might think.
Brown Rectangle Textile Gadget Sleeve

modelled her upon Tim's excellent mechanics carpet roll perfect for lying on under a leaf. Luckily it comes with aluminium rivnuts too of various sizes.
 

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2011 Leaf with Muxsan 17.6kWh battery, curt tow hitch fitted for bikes or buzz rack P10
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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
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Here are the bolts which hold the right hand side of the crush bumper to the frame, a mirror image of these are on the left. We removed these and took the crush bumper off, a) because its cleaner to drill away from the car with aluminium swarf b) because its impossible to get to the back side where we needed the holes and insert the rivnuts with it insitu.

Musical instrument Art Wood Asphalt Road surface

here is my black and decker workmate and chunky chinese vise. Also this is the actual bracket for the eberspacher D3WZ hydronics heater we are installing. Thankfully Tim looked up the orientation that VW install these into their campers and this was also best for us behind the crush bumper. we used a hammer and wrench to bend and fold the steel into the perfect hanger shape to hang on the crush bumper.

Wood Automotive tire Gas Brick Bumper

before we removed the crush bumper we made sure to test fit the bracket and its hinge to see that it didn't foul the radiator behind it. Once we were happy we got mr sharpie out for some more work.
 

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2011 Leaf with Muxsan 17.6kWh battery, curt tow hitch fitted for bikes or buzz rack P10
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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
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drawing around the bracket meant we could easily drill the holes perfectly in place with the bumper away from the leaf.
Automotive tire Bumper Automotive exterior Wood Automotive wheel system

the original bracket needed a bit of weight reduction and removal of extraneous attachment points so out came the titan angle grinder with cutting disc.
Automotive tire Hood Road surface Asphalt Grey
 

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2011 Leaf with Muxsan 17.6kWh battery, curt tow hitch fitted for bikes or buzz rack P10
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
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On top of my wheel bin I was offering up the bracket to once again mark up with the sharpie, this time for the holes to drill on the inner edge of the crash bumper opposite the radiator. I was mindful here to measure the width of a rivnut and the thickness of the extrusion wall of the crush bumper to put the drill pilot holes low enough to not clash.

Automotive tire Road surface Asphalt Grey Tar


holes drilled.

Water Bumper Road surface Wood Asphalt


rivnuts inserted and crimped. For the record Left hand thread (which the rivnut tool had) mess with mine and Tim's heads.
 

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2011 Leaf with Muxsan 17.6kWh battery, curt tow hitch fitted for bikes or buzz rack P10
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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
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This is the top of the crash bumper drilled through the new bracket with a pilot hole of 6mm for the shaft of the bolts, then widened this out to 8mm and a wiggle for the m6 rivnut we has in the aluminium.
Automotive tire Wood Bumper Road surface Automotive exterior

Here are the diesel heater bracket holes prior to rivnuts and you can also see a bit of metal building strap that we made into our bracket closer which works surprisingly well to hole the dw3z snug.

Wood Road surface Grave Plant Gas

The bracket in place before bumper going back on.
 

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Wally, have you considered an oil filled radiator? Depending on size, and metal thickness these stay warm for up to an hour after switching off.

I have one in my Fluence behind the passenger seat. While plugged in, the seat is fully forward. When I unplug, I put a folded blanket over the radiator, and jam the seat back, so there will be no movement in an accident.

You can take the radiator out during the summer months.
 

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2011 Leaf with Muxsan 17.6kWh battery, curt tow hitch fitted for bikes or buzz rack P10
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
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AC heater bolted on before bumper back on leaf.

Wood Gas Concrete Metal Machine

the d3wz bracket after crush bumper bolted back to leaf.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive exterior Vehicle Gas


DW3Z held snug in recycled bracket with the tightening latch just missing the rad on open and close, meaning the heater could be taken out without removing the bumper for maintenance. Luckily I have two DW3Z heaters so a spare if this one craps out.
 

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2011 Leaf with Muxsan 17.6kWh battery, curt tow hitch fitted for bikes or buzz rack P10
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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Automotive tire Hood Tread Motor vehicle Automotive exterior

here is the lf bros 2kw ac heater, dry fit in place.

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Trunk Bumper Gas

cable tied up the wire will it is all plumbed in which may be a month away.
Wood Gas Tints and shades Automotive tire Metal

removed the dw3z heater before replacing all the bumper. no point in carrying the extra weight until its plumbed in. unfortunately the screws in the lf bros heater are seized in so left that one on.

Well still to do is;

run the coolant pipe,
drain and refill the system
connect up the 12v electrics to the battery and some switchable 12v.
make the ac plug accessible from the front
replace broken 5kw dc heater
test the nissan pump and implement bypass if required
fit kerosine tank and pump.

things to think about
the dw3z has a shutdown routine and interrupting it too many times can brick the control module, thus initially I will switch the alternator wire manually and the disconnect the 12v to its carefully. but in the future I will rig some automated delayed relay based system to turn this off after a predetermined time to prevent unnecessary phantom drain on the 12v system and avoiding bricking the controller through lack of paying attention.

The leaf (and all evs) use wires in the evse to disable the car from driving when attached. I will have to be mindful that the ac to the heater doesn't do this and i am wondering whether to implement a system that mimics it with a magnet and reed switch which in turn holds the proximity pilot in the evse socket high to ensure no one can drive off when the ac heater is plugged in.

Also there is a thought that using a 12v to 240v ac inverter to run the ac heater might be possible even when driving so i may not have to replace the expensive failure prone Nissan one.
I also wonder whether to put in switch over switch from external mains to the one behind the socket so that at a 7kw post with a 32amp cable I would be able to preheat the car whilst charging. The gen1 only has a 3.6kw heater but its whether the cable is thick enough behind the socket and do I really want to compromise the ac charge port, especially when I plan one day to upgrade it to 22kw 3phase too.

A pen pal of mine Mo who is now based in Germany had done lots of great work on the linbus of the nissan heater making it possible to refurb old nissan dc heaters, they are still rubbish though so i wonder whether one from an egolf or ampera 2012 (thanks Damien Maguire for that idea from his new L200 triton mitsubishi build) might be able to be used instead using Mo's linbus controller. Just need someone who has an egolf or ampera to send me linbus logs for the messages to turn them on and off so no biggy there.
{insert link for Mo's website}

{insert link to 007johnx d3wz vid}

{insert link to my bench test of the heaters}

Thanks all who have read so far, hope this helps some one else. Also this car has a pre-charge resistor mod as it broke so I improved to too. Maybe one day I will get round to details on that too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Wally, have you considered an oil filled radiator? Depending on size, and metal thickness these stay warm for up to an hour after switching off.

I have one in my Fluence behind the passenger seat. While plugged in, the seat is fully forward. When I unplug, I put a folded blanket over the radiator, and jam the seat back, so there will be no movement in an accident.

You can take the radiator out during the summer months.
Its not an awful idea, I have in the past when my ptc heater failed a few winters ago the first time used a halogen oven on the front seat which was in retrospect properly shady.
yours is a cracking idea for say anyone taking an ev long distance in the cold wanting to minimize number of stops. especially if you could plug it in on the way.

My issue with an oil rad is size and I have two young sons and dog to fit in too so I probably wont got that route.

What I have done is after market heated seats installed from Paul Kennet's yt howto vid which i run from a 40v b and q battery via a step down inverter. Sort of a nano range extender.

(mods would it be possible to move Tandy0 's post to after the reserved ones. So that the build log is complete. he was quicker than me in replying than I was to reserve enough initial space for the photo posts.)
 

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Is the heater in the 2011 somehow different to the later cars? I find the heater in mine perfectly fine, the main issue I find is the control algorithms seem really poor. It'll blow nice and hot for a while, then decide the cabin is warm enough and start blowing lukewarm air instead, which then gives you a bit of a chill and makes you feel colder.

Its perfectly capable of blowing nice hot air continuously, as if you run the heater and AC together it'll produce a constant stream of hot air, however that obviously uses loads of power. End up just turning the temperature up higher than i actually want and find some sort of equilibrium.
 

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Yes. The 11-12 cars only have a resistive heater, the majority of later cars have a heat pump. I suspect that it is practically impossible to retrofit the heat pump to the early cars. Sadly the heater element in the early cars seems prone to failure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yes. The 11-12 cars only have a resistive heater, the majority of later cars have a heat pump. I suspect that it is practically impossible to retrofit the heat pump to the early cars. Sadly the heater element in the early cars seems prone to failure.
to this end I'm looking at the possibility of replacing that ptc heater with a different one from an ampera/e-golf/tesla but that's far more work than i really want to do and for now I'm going for low hanging fruit and high value return.

ac heater is cheap and simple and doesn't have to take any juice from the battery. maybe even viable to run off a acdc inverter from the 12v or a 40v bank if 2kw is sufficient to maintain the temp over winter.

heated seats are already installed but I don't like the switches as they don't look stock. £30 is cheapest I've found for 2 so far and some Nissan cars shared the leaf's heater switch so not always cheapest looking for leaf parts that aren't ev specific. Its funny though cause the complete heater kit from china was less than £25 shipped.

Next couple of jobs on the car are two sway bar linkages (mot advisory and bloody noisy) and then also clean a lube the rear hand brake drum to remove any unwanted inefficiencies from there plus noise when reversing off the drive.

Downed tools recently due to half term and relatives visiting plus a wedding that was in the south of France. should be some progress in the next few weeks.

Consequently my friend Tim who has been helping me work on the car borrowed it on friday to get to work, he shares his with his family and they were doing a long weekend to Wales. Good to have it being used to its fullest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
@Tandy0 I bought a 500w oil filled rad from screw fix. Used it this morning to defrost the car inside by balancing it on the centre console/armrest. When i unplugged it I strapped it upright to the passenger seat to go do a quick shop. Worked really well and my mods have come to a halt recently due to busy weekends on my part and my friends. Also colds and whatnot have hampered outdoor activity as has house renovations.

Together with the heated seats the screwfix oil rad works great and so that will get me through another winter if needs be. I am wondering about running some 3wire flex from the front charge port through a grommit in the firewall to allow 240v ac in the car without need to jam a door on an extension cord. At the front i am thinking about an aviation style connection that should pull out if the car is reversed without disconnecting.

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@Tandy0 I bought a 500w oil filled rad from screw fix. Used it this morning to defrost the car inside by balancing it on the centre console/armrest. When i unplugged it I strapped it upright to the passenger seat to go do a quick shop. Worked really well and my mods have come to a halt recently due to busy weekends on my part and my friends. Also colds and whatnot have hampered outdoor activity as has house renovations.

Together with the heated seats the screwfix oil rad works great and so that will get me through another winter if needs be. I am wondering about running some 3wire flex from the front charge port through a grommit in the firewall to allow 240v ac in the car without need to jam a door on an extension cord. At the front i am thinking about an aviation style connection that should pull out if the car is reversed without disconnecting.

View attachment 153370
Hey hey. Well done buddy. Mine is left on low all night, so the car doesn't even need defrosting. I set it to max about half an hour before I get in.

With a heater as small as yours, I reckon you could get away with some 'figure 8' flex used for lamps if it doesn't need an earth. That would not be such a lump to jam in the door. Make sure you use a power breaker though, won't you?
 
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