FutureFolly
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:22 pm

Propane EV Heaters

Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:26 am

Does anyone else feel like having a built in propane heating system would help EVs dramatically? I just don't think asking someone to choose between freeze there butt off and knowing you will get to your destination. It's just not civilized. Of course the technology would have to be engineered from scratch, but it shouldn't take up much space and the safety risk seems minor.

Secondary question, how much would you pay for a propane heater as an add-on feature?

xylhim
Posts: 222
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:12 pm

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:30 am

I don't think burning more hydrocarbons, even to heat, is in the spirit of the vehicle. Are the electric seat warmers not adequate? I hope in future models they put in a solar panel like the Prius to help run the auxiliary equipment.

Heating wouldn't be a concern for me, just put on some more layers to stay warm. I would be more worried about hot summers, and having to roll down windows to stay cool, which would increase drag above a certain speed. Guess I could put in some misty mates with cold water to get a swamp cooler effect.

emv
Posts: 193
Joined: Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:47 pm
Location: PDX

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Mon Mar 10, 2014 12:35 pm

I wouldn't buy it with a propane heater, period. It defeats a good part of the purpose of the car. :o

The heated seats go a long way to making the cabin comfortable. Why they even seem to be therapeutic for an aching back. ;)
2014 Spark, 2005 Prius. When we take the Prius we say we're taking the gas hog.

FutureFolly
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:22 pm

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:18 pm

It's true that propane heaters would mean the Spark wouldn't be a true "Zero Emissions Vehicle." What is largely missed by this label is that it is almost entirely ideological in nature. Even in California the carbon emissions from electricity are not negligible. Using a heater in any form will always result in carbon entering the atmosphere.

True, if you have solar on the roof of your house and never use public charging, someone can say they personally are net carbon neutral, and I fully support that personal philosophy. I am very pro-environment, but I want the technology of EVs to grow to reach everyone that can personally benefit from buying one. That means removing weaknesses, not just improving efficiency and range. People are selfish, and engineers will never change that.

Currently, EVs are fair weather vehicles, which is fine for California but not the Northeast or the Rustbelt. It's just an inherent weakness of battery vehicles. Cold weather cuts range just from running the battery heaters. Also, as the air temp drops the seat heater are less satisfying. With a propane/water heat exchanger, both Winter range and comfort could be almost as good as the rest of the year.

Hot weather has also shown to prematurely age batteries of Nissan Leafs in Texas. The Spark's battery cooling system maybe enough to counter this, but it's another part of the stigma that future EVs will have to counter.

I am trying to think as mass market as possible. Of course, I wasn't really thinking about California with the propane heater idea. It doesn't get very cold here, and EV buyers are more likely to be motivated by ideological reasons. I totally accept that wearing layers is the environmentally friendly way to drive an EV in the Winter.

Something people don't realize about the hydrocarbons is how much heat can be produced from a very small amount fuel. The equivalent of one tank of gasoline would probably be enough propane to heat the Spark for 10 years of Winters.

I just love the Spark EV so much I want it to be perfect. : )

Skullbearer
Posts: 25
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:47 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:01 pm

This technology doesn't need to be engineered from scratch, its existed for a long time.

Off the shelf diesel-air heater: http://www.espar.com/fileadmin/data/cou ... _sheet.pdf

Including 100% biodiesel: http://www.eberspaecher.com/en/fuel-ope ... ducts.html

Safer than compressed natural gas in accidents. There are also compressed natural gas heaters from Eberspaecher and its competitors being used in prototype EVs in Europe, if I can find the link again I'll post it.
Development Engineer
EVs, PHEVs, CVTs, ECVTs (Don't know it, look it up!)

High Voltage and Low Voltage;
They both bite, but only one is a funny story. Don't mess with the orange.

gra
Posts: 249
Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:52 pm
Location: Inner East S.F. Bay Area

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:15 pm

I've been convinced for some time that until BEV batteries get a lot bigger, or else insulation and heating/defrosting get a lot more efficient, offering a fuel-fired auxiliary heater for BEVs is the way to go in climates where the current heat pumps and resistive heaters are energy hogs. For everyone except ideological purists, staying warm and comfortable while being able to get to their destination is more important than being able to say "I'm greener than thou, because I will happily freeze or bundle up, and/or drive at ridiculously slow speeds rather than compromise my principles". If BEVs are ever to expand beyond the tiny niche represented by the ideological fanatics/lunatic fringe, they'll have to accept that 80% purity of a lot is far better than 100% purity of very few.

That being said, having considered the advantages and disadvantages of various fuels, I don't think propane is the way to go. I don't see the auto company lawyers signing off on the liability issues involved with swappable tanks or their threaded connections, even though availability at 7-11s and hardware stores etc. is fairly good. And there aren't a whole lot of direct propane refueling hoses accessible to the general public, which suffer from the same threaded connection issue. There can also be safety and operational issues in cold temps.

I think it's got to be widely available liquid fuels with permanent tanks, low pressure supply and storage and no threaded connections, and that means gas or diesel. Starting diesel in cold weather can be a problem, so I think gasoline wins by process of elimination, although ideally we'd have a multi-fuel heater than could burn everything from ethanol, methanol or other biofuels, gas, diesel, or kerosene.

buickanddeere
Posts: 146
Joined: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:27 pm
Location: East coast of Lake Huron

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:13 pm

Why not install a fuel tank and an engine with a generator too? That way we load the batteries even less.

tigger19687
Posts: 204
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:24 am
Location: Boston

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:23 am

Just curious where you are from and at what Temps you are complaining about.

I live in New England, cold but not that bad... Then again my daily commute is 16 miles round trip. But I plan on keeping my pick up for Winter driving. The town I work in SUCKS at plowing :(

FutureFolly
Posts: 141
Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:22 pm

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:40 am

tigger19687 wrote:Just curious where you are from and at what Temps you are complaining about.

I live in New England, cold but not that bad... Then again my daily commute is 16 miles round trip. But I plan on keeping my pick up for Winter driving. The town I work in SUCKS at plowing :(
Well, I live in Santa Barbara, California, which has some of the best weather in country. Never particularly hot or cold, which makes it ideal EV territory. I'm mostly thinking of the North-East and Rust Belt states.

I just plain don't like electric heating because I hate inefficiency. An electric heater can never be more efficient than the power plant that produced the electricity to power it. In California, we have a lower carbon footprint for our electricity, but combined-cycle natural gas plants are still only about 60% efficient. A propane heater could easily beat that.

I understand if you go electric with solar or have strong ideological reasons behind going electric then this logic doesn't matter to you, but I want electric cars to grow beyond the hardcore environmentalists.

tigger19687
Posts: 204
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:24 am
Location: Boston

Re: Propane EV Heaters

Thu Apr 17, 2014 11:05 am

Yeah, I too would not buy it if it had that.
It is all about savings on gas and Propane is not what I would want on a car anyway.

I could deal with it being a little chilly, I mean I love in Boston haha.

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