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Discussion Starter #1
Just curious what kind of longevity folks are getting from Bumblebee packs.
I started getting P1449 codes and IMA lights after 4 1/2 years, even with balance charging every 3-6 months. I'll try a discharge when I get a chance, but I was surprised to be encountering issues on a pack with such a good reputation after not even 5 years. The Dorman pack of the same age in my other MT seems fine so far.
 

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My only direct experience with a Bumblebee is with one that I installed for a friend. I advised him to buy a grid charger to do periodic maintenance, which he never did.

The battery went 2 yrs and 9 months before it flashed the IMA light. I think the batteries will do a bit better with periodic maintenance, but still expensive for the apparent life.

HybridRevolt is no better in my experience. My own lasted just 3 years, and one owned by a friend lasted even less.

They don't seem to be any better than the original Panasonic material, and perhaps worse. Unfortunately, there aren't any accurate statistics. Probably impossible given the wide use patterns.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Longevity of aftermarket packs

Thanks for your perspective, Jim. Very interesting. Hopefully others will chime in with their experience.

For the failing pack throwing the codes I have been able to get through town to the highway without an IMA light, then switch off with a clutch switch for the 55 mile highway leg. It almost seems like i get as good or even better mpg with IMA turned off on the highway, and that includes running a bit higher rpms and mph. I plan on adding a clutch switch to the MT with the apparently healthier Dorman pack and experimenting with mpg with and without IMA.

For me a big question is, does switching off IMA with a clutch switch for extended periods on the road help extend, or does it diminish, pack life?
 

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I think a clutch switch is a very good way to manage a fragile battery. As others have pointed out, a badly ailing battery has a very narrow voltage operating window since the weakest cells will drop out with very little use, causing the taps to become unbalanced.

Opinions probably vary a bit as how to best way to use the switch. It seems to me that it is best just to use it to keep the battery SOC as full as possible. Of course, we are talking here of batteries which no longer respond well to deep cycling. I don't really think it is going to do any real damage to use the switch in that way, and by keeping the SOC high, you retain some of the nicer aspects of the car. JMO.
 

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For me a big question is, does switching off IMA with a clutch switch for extended periods on the road help extend, or does it diminish, pack life?
I've found that on my last car with a weak battery that would throw a code within 10 miles, I could keep the IMA light off for weeks by switching it off. This still allowed AutoStop which was the main reason to do it.
 

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Boy, I caught hell two weeks back from a troll aftee I shared my disgust on the Bumblebee pack I bought.

It went three years and a couple of months/46k miles before it began acting up. They use Chinese batteries, and it shows.

I specifically called Bumblebee in 2015 and asked two questions and got two answers:

1) I hear it is better than OEM. My OEM lasted 15 years, 200,000 +miles. Will this go longer? "Yes."

2) I hear that my mpg will improve and be better than original. Is this true? "(Insert a guy's name I forgot) who works here installed one and is getting better mileage (than he got originally)."

I cannot prove that guy's mpg did not reach new highs, but mine only got into the mid-fifties (with no underside panels and with standard tires), so I did not get better than original mpg, and my battery seemed to begin significantly weakening after just one year.

So those are tall claims.

I am guessing the Chinese factory rep told them everything they wanted to hear, and they passed it along to us. It is not like they had 20 years of experience to go by. I do not mean to imoly they lied. But the facts are the facts, and my Bumblbee batter pack was a bad purchase. It is akin to having to replace your head gasket and water pump every 50,000 miles. Who would not be upset by that?

In hindsight (for my Insight), I wish I had just bypassed the IMA or even replaced the engine with a used Fit engine, which would deliver mid-40s mpg, but much better acceleration. If I had known then...

Hopefully, the new ultra-capacitors will be offered to upgrade these old hybrids. An ultra-capacitor not only doubles the life of a lithium-ion battery, it also vastly improves brake regeneration and acceleration. Not sure how it works on the nickle-metal-hydride batteries. A 100 kW pack is about the size of a truck starter battery and is pretty light, if made with graphene. Skeleton Technologies makes them for various applications.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'll try a deep discharge when it warms up this spring, but its still disappointing for a pack with such a buildup to crap out after 4 1/2 years. Even with balance charging, it's one negative recal after another now, and IMA light if I leave it on for any length of time.

I emailed Bumblebee for advice quite a while ago and they never responded. Also disappointing.
 

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I got reemed a month ago when I dared to criticize Bumblebee for exaggerated sales claims (longevity, mpg yield). Sad now to read several people are getting no response/help from Bumblebee after premature failure.

We all bought our replacement packs several years ago because we were told they were better than the original packs. They weren't.

My suggestion is that one of the wiz electrical engineers here figure out how to incorporate a Skeleton Technologies graphene ultracapcitor with our existing packs.

I have already seen YT videos of people using supercapicitors coupled with tiny 12v batteries to use as starter "batteries" that will be prolonged well beyond a lead-acid battery's normal life. So it stands to reason we can greatly extend our existing IMA packs, while vastly improving our regen and acceleration, using the ultracapcitor as the workhorse, and the stable IMA battery as the reserve of electrical storage.

Hey, we might even be able to use this ultracapcitor to replace the IMA battery outright.

- It would eliminate a lot of weight.

- It would last 2200+ years.

- It would not hold a charge for weeks, but it would charge up in a brief time at the start of a drive if the car has been sitting unused long enough for the UC to discharge.

Anybody?
 

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The problem is that is that you don't hear about the many cases where everything works correctly. I have Bumblebee batteries in two of my cars and both are out of warranty. Both are doing fine.

I do a pre-emptive grid charge on them roughly every six months.

Sam
 

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While it is good to know that grid charging works, it should not be required. My original battery lasted 15 years, 200+k miles without grid charging once.

Also, for this small volume of sales, nobody should ever get ignored when they have a problem.

I have been in sales for 36 years and even after an 1100 mile move and career change nine years ago, I keep my cell # the same since 2000 for old customers, in order to help them with any questions.

My sales rules:

1) Under-promise
2) Over-deliver
3) Do not exaggerate performance
4) Face complaints and questions, head-on, no matter how uncomfortable.

Last thing, adurable good that should only be expected to last until just a year or two beyond warranty is not a durable durable good. The warrant on my car was three years. I would have gone oostal if it died amd was a total loss after 3, 4 or 10 years. Agreed?
 

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I do a pre-emptive grid charge on them roughly every six months.

Sam
And, that may be the real answer, but how would we ever know. So many folks, in so many different environments do so many different things there seems no way to really know. I do share your suspicion that preemptive cycling does work.

I would note that a retired gentleman of leisure, you may not be putting a lot of cycles on the batteries. I think that hurts longevity.

And yes, we don't hear about the good cases ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I did preemptive grid charges every 6 months or so as well, with a Genesis One charger (Mike Dabrowski's former personal charger, as it happens), and drove 135 easy highway miles a day five days a week, so lack of temperate balance charging or regular driving would not be factors in premature degradation in my case. Now, balance charging seems to have no positive effect.

Hard to tell what caused mine to fall off the cliff. It's a complex system, so who knows.

I just wanted to get some perspective from the community to get some idea if mine is an unusual case. Thanks for the input, guys.
 

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Late to the 'game', but I feel like I should write something here. I rarely if ever stray from the couple main Insight forums, but I just happened to stray over here today... So, here's my cent or two...

From what I've read at IC about aftermarket packs over the last 7 years or so, and from very limited testing, it seems pretty clear that at least earlier aftermarket cells, like ones bought 5 years ago, aren't as good as the original Panasonic ones. They can leak, they can 'explode' (end caps can pop off), both things I've never seen with the Panasonic cells; they can exhibit the same or worse 'degradation' problems as OEM - and it seems like it's happening or has happened earlier. The build quality isn't as good as OEM, and I'd guess the consistency from cell to cell isn't as good as OEM... So basically, despite what has appeared to be genuine improvements, such as more welds and lower internal resistance as a result, the aftermarket cells seem like they have a high chance of being shoddy, too high.

Having said that, it's possible the cells have changed over the years. Off the top of my head it seems like maybe there were some shoddy early ones, then some kind of improvement, and then perhaps another iteration entirely. Early cells were not 8 amp-hours for instance, despite vendor claims otherwise. But not too long ago (maybe a year ago?), I noticed that vendors started advertising two options: 6.5 amp-hour and 8 amp-hour. I couldn't fathom legitimate vendors offering those two products side by side unless the cells were in fact different, something that didn't happen in the earlier days. So, maybe there are new, different, maybe genuinely improved cells. I know Peter P. once mentioned that he had a new supplier that offered different, better cells, and I trust that...

So, one's experience with the aftermarket packs could vary depending on when it was purchased.

I guess the other, sort of important thing to mention here, is that usage - whether the car model year, the environment, the type of driving - can make all the difference in whether a pack succeeds or fails, early or late. From a consumer, idealist, not-very-informed perspective these things should last forever regardless (or at least say 10 years). But the truth is that usage can WIDELY vary and makes a big difference. The vendors, the manufacturers, can't produce a product that can handle the varied usage scenarios consistently, and of course they have little to no control over those scenarios.
 
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