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I recently bought an Ninebot Elite+ in Ninebot's sale - concerns about the battery

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Hi,

First post. After a bit of advice, thanks. :)

I'm not sure if there was a sale in every country, but I recently bought a new Ninebot Elite+ relatively cheap in Ninebot/Segway's recent pre-Christmas sale, direct from their site.

But I have some concerns, mainly about the battery, how long it's been in storage, and it's current state because of this.

So my concern started when I first got the box delivered. On the side there was a date hand-written with permanent marker, in Asian format, i.e. YYYY-MM-DD..The date written is...June 2016. There's printed writing next to date in Chinese, and as my Chinese isn't so hot (i.e. non-existent), I don't know what it says, but I can't believe this date can be anything other than the manufacturing date – there were white boxes provided for the YYYY/MM/DD fields, so it wasn’t just graffiti'ed on. I can only assume Ninebot can't have sold as many Elite+'s as they were expecting to?

Anyway, this naturally worried me, as although opinions seem to vary on this, I've googled and some websites say the shelf life of lithium-ion batteries is only 2-3 years. And as I'm sure anyone knows, and I know from personal experience, devices powered by lithium-ion batteries tend do reduce in battery life as you use them.

Personally, if I'm buying a product that's new, I'm really expecting it to be somewhere around 6 to to 9 months after manufacture at most, maybe a little over 12 months if it's on sale, but assuming this date is correct, June 2016 is a whopping 30 months / two and half years ago. Is this acceptable for a product with a lithium-ion battery?

In the hope this date was wrong, I've tried to verify it by checking elsewhere on the product. I checked the silver label on the E+, but strangely there's no date – at least in a standard numerical format I can recognise. I think there was also a similar silver label on the battery, but I carelessly failed to take note before unwrapping and installing it – although if there'd been a date printed, I suspect I would have spotted it when installing it.

So, anyway, after some misgivings, I decided to take the plunge and assemble it and charge it.

I obeyed the instructions to the letter and fully charged the E+ and waited for the charging light to turn green before even turning the E+ on. Took around 5 hours, as expected.

And everything went well, it's worked reliably and was good fun...except how long the E+ actually ran for. Because I had concerns about the battery age, I decided to test what distance I could get before 10 bars went to zero. It came in at just under 11 kilometres to the last bar ran out and alarm sounded, which is obviously a lot less than I was expecting. Ninebot’s website states up to 30km - although I’ve heard a YouTube reviewer specify it’s more like 12 miles/20km.

For this test, for most part I’d decided to test the E+ on grass with some occasional slight mud (no puddles or water), because I was worried about trying the E+ on hard surfaces, for falling off until I got used to it. I also decided to test it going up and down a fairly steep, grassy road where I live, which is close to the 20% gradient limit specified for the E+. I figured maybe these two factors might be a plausible the reason for the poor distance performance (although obviously I was also suspecting the aged battery).

So I decided to recharge fully and go again. This time, I decided to avoid hills and just try and stay on the level – still on the grass, so I was hoping for better results, as although I know the E+ recharges when going downhill, I very much doubt it’s less taxing on the battery overall than staying on the level. This time, though, as I was a more confident rider, I’d taken off the speed limiter, occasionally getting up to about 15km/h.

The result? Instead of more distance, I got even worse again, less than 10km! So unless going faster on the E+ causes a significantly greater inefficiency/battery drain, I’m now worried that not only is the battery reduced in capacity, but also potentially rapidly degrading each charge cycle. Possible?

Something that alarmed me more, this 2nd charge cycle, was that this time, I’d decided not to go down to zero bars, but just to 1, as I figured always going down to zero would be bad the battery’s longevity (although I figure even at zero bars, they must keep 5%+ in reserve to stop the battery being damaged).

So this time I was diligent, and when I got down to one bar, I quickly noticed – literally 30 seconds earlier it was on two bars. At this point I decided to check the bar again after getting off (I noticed it sometimes has a habit of going back up when you dismount), it stayed at one bar, so decided to ride a small distance, then put the E+ back in the garage for charging. So I rode the E+ about 40 yards, maximum, then dismounted and use the powered walking mode (not sure what it’s exactly called) to get the E+ to climb a very small step into the garage. In the process of climbing this small step, the Ninebot then suddenly went from one to zero bars and the alarm goes off again! What I tried to avoid this time round by being very conservative with my usage on one bar, happened again.

So clearly the battery reading of one bar was too optimistic, this second charge cycle. The first charge cycle, one bar had lasted a fair while and I’m sure I was able to ride for good 5 minutes at least. Again, another indicator of battery degradation, perhaps? It’s a little worrying that the battery meter seems less accurate on the second charge than the first. I would have thought it would be improving accuracy with each charge cycle.

So, what I really want to do is work out what’s going on with the battery, particularly with it’s capacity, maybe a reading in kw/h, mA/h or the like? Is it possible to somehow get an accurate reading of the battery’s capacity after a full charge and compare it to what it should be? And also to check if it’s not degrading / reducing capacity rapidly each charge cycle?

Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the bluetooth connectivity and app working, yet. Can the Ninebot app give me this sort of information, or do they not reveal such raw data to owners?

Also, have you any thoughts on the E+ and it’s battery being in storage for 30 months before it was sold to me? Is it inevitable that the battery is significantly degraded after this length of time, or do E+ batteries keep better than I thought?

Also, any thoughts/advice on what my next course of action should be, if the battery is on it’s last legs, would be appreciated. Just ask Ninebot to replace the battery with a new one? Hopefully they are still making them.

Thanks in advance for any help, opinions or advice.

To help with the picture, here are a few product details:
Ninebot Elite+
620W battery
Firmware ver: 1-4-4


P.S. Apologies if I’ve gone into too much detail and this is an overly long read.

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Go on youtube and look up speedyfeet ninebot. He's probably reviewed the wheel and he always does a range test. Your weight might be a factor if you are close to the limit. I don't know about the testing of the battery but i'm sure there's someone else here who has done it.

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Posted (edited)

To my knowledge, if the batteries have been sitting around for 2.5 years, the maximum charge capacity has most likely degraded, how much depends on their storage conditions and voltage (charge %). I'd try to get the reseller/manufacturer to replace the batteries, although they may require you to show that the battery capacity has degraded.

Fully charged batteries (cells) lose capacity permanently over time faster, and especially if they're stored in elevated temperature, the loss is even greater. Degraded batteries cannot really be "rejuvenated", although some people have claimed that cycling the batteries (charge all the way to full, discharge all the way to empty) has helped a little (my best guess would be that in such a case it's some type of software "fuel gauge" in the device/battery BMS that gets to calibrate itself over the cycling, rather than the cells themselves regaining lost capacity?). If stored totally empty (or the voltage has dropped during storage to critical levels), the cells can get severely damaged (internal short circuit through dendrite buildup), at which point they may even become really dangerous (trying to charge such cells can overheat them and cause a fire/explosion). Typically the suggested more or less "optimal" charge state to store lithium-ion cells for prolonged periods is somewhere around 30-50%. Usually the BMS (battery management system) -board inside the battery packs draws some current, so the voltage will drop over time, and the cells also (very slowly) self-discharge, but I've never had to recharge the batteries when the wheels are unused over winter (typically around 7-8 months in storage per year), the voltage drop for high quality cells isn't that much.

Temperature

40% charge

100% charge

Table 3: Estimated recoverable capacity when storing Li-ion for one year at various temperatures. Elevated temperature hastens permanent capacity loss. Not all Li-ion systems behave the same.

0°C 98% (after 1 year) 94% (after 1 year)
25°C 96% (after 1 year) 80% (after 1 year)
40°C 85% (after 1 year) 65% (after 1 year)
60°C 75% (after 1 year) 60%
(after 3 months)

Source: https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

 

For testing how much capacity they actually still hold, probably the easiest way would be to first discharge the batteries to empty and then charge them with a device that can measure the amount of watthours (or milliamphours) during charging, such as a Charge Doctor.

Edited by esaj
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Well you should be getting close to 30km from a 620Wh battery, BUT riding on grass is energy sapping.  There was a stupid 3 wheeled piece of shite from China that claimed to be a rival for the original Segway. but as soon as it hit grass, it stopped, where the Segway had no problem.  Conclusion grass offers higher rolling resistance that a smooth hard surface.  Still, from 30km to 11km sounds a bit extreme.

My conclusion, they were on sale because the seller knew the batteries were dying through age.  There's rarely a free lunch in this world.  See if 1Radwerkk in Germany can build you a pair of batteries at a reasonable price (I doubt it) or try and return it for a refund.  You're in Europe so your supposed to be covered by consumer rights, but we all know that that can be an uphill battle to enforce.

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Posted (edited)

edit: I thought you talked about the Ninebot One E+ EUC, ignore this.

Hi!

Are you sure that it's 620Wh? Even 320Wh, the standard battery (I guess 620 counts as two of these), should easily give you 15km.

I also think the batteries are old and you should return the thing. How much did you pay? Replacement/new batteries are absurdly expensive and the E+ isn't exactly a great wheel anyways, as you say, 3 year old model, the stone age of EUCs.

Get a better, current wheel if you can.

--

Side note: EUCs don't have fixed specs, it all depends on the rider (weight, mostly) and riding conditions, there's a fixed power ceiling and a rider can utilize it however he likes.

So even if the manufacturers wouldn't lie like crazy (about range and everything), specs mean very little. For example, your 20% grade rating makes absolutely no sense, and I'm pretty sure you could fry your wheel if you went 20% long enough, the cables are too thin (if they're the same as the S2). Some light 50kg Chinese guy went up a 5 meter 20% incline and it worked, that's where that number comes from.

So what I want to say, do not put too much trust in any specs. These may be exaggerated or just make plain no sense for how EUCs work. You can get realistic info from this forum:efee47c9c8:

Edited by meepmeepmayer
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1 hour ago, meepmeepmayer said:

Hi!

Are you sure that it's 620Wh? Even 320Wh, the standard battery (I guess 620 counts as two of these), should easily give you 15km.

I also think the batteries are old and you should return the thing. How much did you pay? Replacement/new batteries are absurdly expensive and the E+ isn't exactly a great wheel anyways, as you say, 3 year old model, the stone age of EUCs.

Get a better, current wheel if you can.

--

Side note: EUCs don't have fixed specs, it all depends on the rider (weight, mostly) and riding conditions, there's a fixed power ceiling and a rider can utilize it however he likes.

So even if the manufacturers wouldn't lie like crazy (about range and everything), specs mean very little. For example, your 20% grade rating makes absolutely no sense, and I'm pretty sure you could fry your wheel if you went 20% long enough, the cables are too thin (if they're the same as the S2). Some light 50kg Chinese guy went up a 5 meter 20% incline and it worked, that's where that number comes from.

So what I want to say, do not put too much trust in any specs. These may be exaggerated or just make plain no sense for how EUCs work. You can get realistic info from this forum:efee47c9c8:

Agreeing with you otherwise, but this is not an EUC, it's not Ninebot E+ but Ninebot Elite+, which is a 2-wheeled Segway-type device:

ninebot-by-segway-elite.jpg

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Oh dear, then forget everything I wrote:whistling: Didn't look which forum this was posted in:facepalm:

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Sorry, still getting the hang of the forum, and still haven't quite worked out how the quotes system works, but I'll try my best.

@esaj Yeah, re the picture. that's the one. Sorry for the confusion with the name. It is an Elite+, but also has E+ on side of the box in one place, so I was copying Ninebot's shorthand. Ninebot seem to have a habit of giving their products multiple names, which doesn't really help. Apparently it's ALSO know as a Ninebot Mini Flight, just to add to the confusion.

Also, regarding Charge Doctor. I'm not sure exactly what that is or where to buy one, but it sounds like what I need. I really need to find out what the capacity of the battery is when fully charged. I haven't managed to get the Ninebot app working, but I suspect even if I did, it wouldn't give me the raw details of the capacity of the battery, as it could well lead to too many returns with some batteries not being up to stated specification. So I suspect I need some additional hardware, like a more sophisticated charger, if I decide to down the path of investigating further.

Thanks for the replies. Replying to a few questions:

I paid £995 for it, direct from Segway/Ninebot's website, which I think is about $1,200-$1,300 USD. The regular price on their website is £2,695. It looks like a great bargain in comparison, but why's the price normally so high compared to say, the MiniPro (£699)? - obviously it's quite a bit bigger, physically, but most of the technology in the Elite+ is in the MiniPro for much less money, at least normally.

So I'm wondering if it's possible that they regularly discount the Elite+, and don't shift many at the full price. I also spotted a UK reseller selling them new for quite a bit less than the full price, at £1,400 (out of stock). Also, I was wondering if they were possibly selling off the last stock because it's no longer being made? Hence why I was asking about that. Or maybe they found some old stock that had been sitting in some warehouse, forgotten about since 2016, and decided to only sell that stock off relatively cheap when they saw it was pretty old and were worried about the batteries. I don't know, I've pondered a few things.

But hopefully I haven't been too suckered into thinking I was getting a great bargain when maybe it was not so great...Thoughts? Be honest.

As it's straight from Segway/Ninebot, hopefully it's been stored at sensible temperatures though.


With regards to the hill. It's a bit tricky avoiding it, as it's the way out of my property, so if I don't go up with the E+, I'd have to take the E+ out via car, which kills a lot of the purpose. Yes, it is a bit steep at about 20% and it's about 50 metres long. But the E+ apparently does have 2700w of power and it seems to cope ok with it. But I'm a bit worried now that I'm eventually going to burn the E+ out (it was the main reason I went for the E+ over the MiniPro, as I figured the MiniPro definitely wouldn't be able to cope with it).

Thanks.

 

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On 1/4/2019 at 4:36 PM, esaj said:

Agreeing with you otherwise, but this is not an EUC, it's not Ninebot E+ but Ninebot Elite+, which is a 2-wheeled Segway-type device:

ninebot-by-segway-elite.jpg

Ok, I get how the quote feature works, now. Bit too late for my post above though. Yes, that's the right model. Thanks esaj.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Segbyte said:

Ok, I get how the quote feature works, now. Bit too late for my post above though. Yes, that's the right model. Thanks esaj.

Well if you manage to get that to work and still keep the cost below £1000 that would be a stonking good deal.  When I bought a First gen Segway back around 2002 it was over $4000, that's 4000 2002 dollars not 2019,  and essentially the same thing. Good luck.

Edited by Smoother
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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Segbyte said:

Also, regarding Charge Doctor. I'm not sure exactly what that is or where to buy one, but it sounds like what I need. I really need to find out what the capacity of the battery is when fully charged. I haven't managed to get the Ninebot app working, but I suspect even if I did, it wouldn't give me the raw details of the capacity of the battery, as it could well lead to too many returns with some batteries not being up to stated specification. So I suspect I need some additional hardware, like a more sophisticated charger, if I decide to down the path of investigating further.

Hobby16 sells the Charge Doctor (various versions, afaik the only difference is the charging connectors, as different manufacturers/wheels use different connectors, and the beefier versions can use two chargers at the same time to charge faster):  http://hobby16.neowp.fr/buy/

The device sits between your actual charger and the device you're charging, measuring the voltage and current, and using that information to calculate the amount of amphours/watthours that go into the batteries during charging:

 

zXrX0kE.jpg

Above: Testing batteries of used KS16B 680Wh with dual chargers. The charging is pretty much finished (0.02A = 20mA going into the batteries), and the total watthours charged to the batteries is 672.3Wh. To get correct reading, you first need to discharge the battery to as empty as possible.

No idea if the Ninebot / Ninebot Mixte -models are compatible with NineBot Elite+, as all of these were originally made for different EUCs. Still, I'd expect it to, as from manufacturing economy point it would make sense for them to use same batteries and chargers across different products, but better check at least that the connectors are correct beforehand. The price is around 27-29.50 in British pounds (shipping included). In addition to just measuring the amount of amphours/watthours going into the batteries during charging, it can also stop the charging at certain current to make it possible to charge the batteries to less than 100%, for example to charge the batteries to a lower charge state for storage or expand the battery lifetime if you don't need the 100% charge always. There's also datalogging for drawing charge plots with a computer & spreadsheets or other graphing software (but that's rarely useful, nice "gimmick" though ;)).

Charge Doctor V2 features

  • Voltage: 20.0V – 100.0 V
  • Current : 0.00 – 10.00 A
  • Charge : 0.000-1000 Ah with automatic decimation
  • Energy : 0.0-10000 Wh with automatic decimation
  • End-of-charge adjustable current threashold : 0.1-8.0 A
  • Datalogging serial output 9600 bauds TTL
  • In/out with 3-pin GX16 aviation connector (Airwheel & clones, TG, iezWay, Gotway, Firewheel, most e-bikeboard…) or Lemo connector for Ninebot
  • Dimensions : 85x50x20 mm
  • Weight : 65 g

If someone with a Ninebot Charge Doctor lives nearby, you could of course ask to borrow theirs, if you just need to measure the battery charge capability once.

 

Edited by esaj
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1 hour ago, jojo33 said:

@Segbyte Try this app (only android device) 

 

That looks VERY interesting. Will try that out, thanks.

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5 hours ago, esaj said:

Hobby16 sells the Charge Doctor (various versions, afaik the only difference is the charging connectors, as different manufacturers/wheels use different connectors, and the beefier versions can use two chargers at the same time to charge faster):  http://hobby16.neowp.fr/buy/

The device sits between your actual charger and the device you're charging, measuring the voltage and current, and using that information to calculate the amount of amphours/watthours that go into the batteries during charging:

 

zXrX0kE.jpg

Above: Testing batteries of used KS16B 680Wh with dual chargers. The charging is pretty much finished (0.02A = 20mA going into the batteries), and the total watthours charged to the batteries is 672.3Wh. To get correct reading, you first need to discharge the battery to as empty as possible.

No idea if the Ninebot / Ninebot Mixte -models are compatible with NineBot Elite+, as all of these were originally made for different EUCs. Still, I'd expect it to, as from manufacturing economy point it would make sense for them to use same batteries and chargers across different products, but better check at least that the connectors are correct beforehand. The price is around 27-29.50 in British pounds (shipping included). In addition to just measuring the amount of amphours/watthours going into the batteries during charging, it can also stop the charging at certain current to make it possible to charge the batteries to less than 100%, for example to charge the batteries to a lower charge state for storage or expand the battery lifetime if you don't need the 100% charge always. There's also datalogging for drawing charge plots with a computer & spreadsheets or other graphing software (but that's rarely useful, nice "gimmick" though ;)).

Charge Doctor V2 features

  • Voltage: 20.0V – 100.0 V
  • Current : 0.00 – 10.00 A
  • Charge : 0.000-1000 Ah with automatic decimation
  • Energy : 0.0-10000 Wh with automatic decimation
  • End-of-charge adjustable current threashold : 0.1-8.0 A
  • Datalogging serial output 9600 bauds TTL
  • In/out with 3-pin GX16 aviation connector (Airwheel & clones, TG, iezWay, Gotway, Firewheel, most e-bikeboard…) or Lemo connector for Ninebot
  • Dimensions : 85x50x20 mm
  • Weight : 65 g

If someone with a Ninebot Charge Doctor lives nearby, you could of course ask to borrow theirs, if you just need to measure the battery charge capability once.

 

Looks a great little device. I think I could be out of luck with connector compatibility though. The connector on the Elite+ is actually oblong shaped, and is genuinely the weirdest and non-standard looking connector I've ever seen. It looks like Ninebot might have switched connector styles for their one wheel devices.

I might email them to see if there's any chance they do an Elite+ connector though. But looking through the site I can't see one.

Thanks.

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17 hours ago, Smoother said:

Well if you manage to get that to work and still keep the cost below £1000 that would be a stonking good deal.  When I bought a First gen Segway back around 2002 it was over $4000, that's 4000 2002 dollars not 2019,  and essentially the same thing. Good luck.

Well historically, yes, in that context it's a bargain. Then again, you'd probably pay £1,000 for a 33Mhz PC in 2002. :D

And to be honest, I have to say the original/classic Segways seem to be made to a higher standard. e.g. I don't think there's the same level of redundancy protection on the Ninebots. There was pretty much two of everything in a Segway, in case anything failed.

It's great that prices have become more affordable, but I think there is a trade-off.

I really can't work out how much of a bargain I've got, to be honest. Mainly because I don't know recent price histories. It's looks cheap, but then I also saw a post on here from a guy saying he'd picked up a returned Elite+ on ebay for $400...after reading that, I wasn't so convinced. :o

There's also potentially the issue of parts. If even a small thing breaks just out of warranty in a year's time. If it's the case that the Elite+, as I suspect so, is no longer being made, and parts are hard to come by, I might be sitting on (standing on?) £995 of scrap metal and plastic, which is another thing that's got me thinking.

Thanks.

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