Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How to build a DIY quick charger for your Zero Electric Motorcycle

   As promised here is my step by step on how to build a fast charger for your Zero motorcycle. My configuration will let you charge at 34-38 amps up to 80% SOC from a j1772 EV plug or from a 14-50 NEMA RV plug. You can also do as I often do at home and charge with three 15A house circuits. There are lots of options, some that will only work with high current outputs like the NEMA and J1772 and there are others where the accessory charger can run off a single 110v wall outlet similar to the Quiq charger that Zero sells.

   My How-to is specifically how to build the charger that I built, but I’d be happy to offer guidance on a variation, just email me at:, message me on Facebook, or comment below. Nothing I discuss will connect without also running the onboard charger. The circuitry to do that is complicated and I didn’t use it myself so I choose not to advise in areas where my knowledge is limited. You can find this information on the electric motorcycle forum, but it might take a while.

What you need for my charger:
  1. Two 48v power supplies.  I recommend Mean Well 48v 1008W power supply for twice the charging power at twice the price check out the 2000watt model Mean Well rsp-2000-48
  2. 4 ft 12ga power and ground wire.  I used speaker wire so that the wires would remain together without being rapped or heat shrunk.  12ga Speaker Wire  If you use more powerful supplies you will need a lower gauge number.  
  3. Anderson components. Unfortunately all of these have to be bought separately. I found no place that sells everything as a kit. I bought all parts for the connector from they are linked below. 
    1. x1 Sbs75x Brown Connector- It’s important that it is brown. Black will work in a pinch, but buy the brown one.  Connector Body
    2. x2 Connector pins Heavy Duty Power Connectors SBS50 #10-12 AWG LOW DETENT CONTACTOR I know, the connector name is different, but they use the same pins. 
    3. (optional, but recommended) x1 Cable clamp and handle for sbs75x. (This makes it harder to pull the wires out of the connector and also makes the connector easier to plug in and remove from the bike. Cable Clamp with Integral Handle
  4. x2 diodes at least 200V   I bought these locally
  5. Two 14ga 5-15 cords (these are normal plugs that plug into your 110V outlet.)  I bought these locally.
  6. Assortment of 10-14 gauge crimp connectors.  Rings or open are fine.  I prefer rings. 
  7. A way to conncect the supplies to each other.  I used Dual Locks and stacked them offset enough to access the screws. 

  1. Crimper capable of going up to 10ga
  2. Precision Philips screwdriver
  3. Digital Voltmeter
  4. Soldering Iron, unless you use connectors for the diodes.*  
How it works:
The meanwells are AC to DC power supplies. They are overcurrent, over voltage and overtemp protected. Each is made to supply 48 volts of dc power at a rate of 21 amps or 1008 Watts. The voltage can be adjusted via a built in adjuster up to 56V allowing the supplies when run in series to a single connector to supply 112 volts. On the 2016 Zero motorcycles this is a state of charge of 80%. Zero’s onboard charger charges at a rate of 13 amp. When the fast charger and the onboard are running together (the only way this setup will work) the total charging current is 34A. When connected to a 240V J1772 EV charge station the combo is capable of pushing 38A. Not bad right? It would take two of Zero’s Quiq chargers to accomplish that.

Putting it all together:
  1. The first step is to set up the power supplies. Make sure they’re voltage is set independently. 
    1. Wire Colors
      The Meanwells come without any wires so they will need to have a pigtail installed. I recommend using a normal 110 house plug because it allows for greater versatility. The Meanwell’s AC in are labeled with L, N and a Ground symbol. L = line (this wire is black) N = neutral (this wire is white) Ground is the green wire.
    2. Voltage adjustment
      Next, plug in the power supply. Now that the power supply how has AC it’s time to set the voltage. Make sure not to touch the DC out. 48 volts is 4 times as much as a car battery. Touching it will not feel good and in rare cases it could kill. Don’t let this scare you away. Just be careful. Use the precision Philips screwdriver to turn the adjustment screw clockwise to the stop. It is possible to go too far, causing the voltage to go below the max of 56. That’s why they need to be adjusted now, before being hooked together. Use the voltmeter to make sure the voltage is showing 56V or close to it. They don’t need to match exactly.
    3. Repeat the above steps for the second power supply.
  2. Next the Meanwell supplies must be wired together. This is in series. Negative of one supply
    goes to the Anderson connector’s negative pin. Its positive goes to the second supply’s negative. Then the second supply’s positive goes to the Anderson connector’s positive pin.
  3. *The diodes are installed in parallel, negative to positive in order to prevent one power supply from damaging the other in the event of a failure. (Screenshot from Burton's video.  His diodes are correct mine are not.)
  4. Diodes and Series wiring. Screenshot from Burton's video.
    4. Building the Anderson Connector. Make sure both power supplies are off.
    1. Crimp stripped back wires into the Anderson pins. This will take work unless you have a leveraging crimper. The pins are very thick.
    2. Ensure that you have the polarity correct before inserting the pins in the connector. Make sure that the notch is facing the direction of the spring. The spring inside the connector will latch into this. You should hear it. Lightly tug the wires to make sure they properly latched.
    3. If you bought the handle/ wire clamp (which you should have) attach the bottom part of the clamp to the connector with the supplied screws. Line up the wires so that they are in the pinch point formed between the top and bottom of the clamp, Then screw down the top part of the clamp. Don’t overdo it, you don’t want to cut the wires, but doing it this way makes it harder to pull the wires out of the connector as they are clamped into place and the handle gives you something to pull on other than the wires when disconnecting the plug from the bike.
      Clamp/ Handle Installed
  5. You should now have a working quick charger. To make sure that everything is good, plug both supplies into the wall. DO NOT touch the terminals inside the Anderson connector. At minimum they are carrying 96V at maximum over 112. These numbers can kill you. Also be aware that plugging both supplies into one circuit will trip the circuit breaker unless its rated for 40A 110 or 20A 220. 
  6. Use the voltmeter to ensure that polarity is correct and that the charger has reached your target voltage. If all is good, you now have a working fast charger. Plug it in and watch your charge time eta go from 4 hours to 1:45. Or from 8hrs to 3 something.  Keep in mind that it will only charge at that rate up to 80%, but it makes it much quicker to get back home after riding out of your one charge range. I used mine two days ago to charge from 9% to 35% in 30 minutes after an impromptu ride up the mountain after work, while I drank a smoothie and watched a video on web accessibility (don’t judge! It’s interesting to me.)

Things to consider:
On the road, you are not likely to find 3 separate 110v circuits in close proximity to each other. If you intend on using your fast charger away from home you may want to consider buying a j1772 adapter from My setup  Is not shown on the website, but he can make you a custom one. You also may want to consider a 14-50 Nema RV plug splitter.This will let you charge at up to 38A from the plugs that are found in RV parks. I personally carry both if I take the bike out of town and will be using both on my Pikes Peak trip.
J1772 to Nema 5-15 x2 and C13 from

* It is not necessary to install the diodes for the charger to work, exempting power loss to only one power supply, the only thing necessary to prevent reverse current is powering both supplies prior to plugging in the Anderson connector.  With the connector unplugged, you have an open circuit and there is no current flow. 

Add me on instagram @badmotoscootin  to follow that EVmoto trip to Pikes Peak mentioned above and to see pictures from life.  Follow this blog for updates, more how-tos and random musings.  

I hop you got something out of this.  I certainly enjoyed writing it. 


  1. hi! "it is not necessary to install diodes for the charger to work..."

    Do you talk about diode on the line of 112 volt to anderson connector ?

    When you connect the anderson connector whith his voltage 112 volts, do you have spike ?
    Is it better to connect anderson first and after start the power supply ?

    Thanks !

    1. The diodes are recommended. If you forget to have the charger on before you plug in the Anderson the current may backfeed and destory the meanwell stack. That said my order of charging is to first turn on the meanwell stack, then plug in the onboard charger, finally plug in the Anderson connector. The charger will immediately ramp up and begin charging.

      Plugging in the onboard closes the contacts to the anderson. Plugging in the Anderson after the contacts are closed prevents voltage spikes. Plugging in when the meanwell stack is on prevents back feeding.

    2. The diodes allow you to plug in out of order without consequence.

  2. Any reason I couldn't substitute ($45 on ebay) CISCO WS-CAC-6000W Cat6500 6000W AC Power Supplies to save money on the ones you used? thanks!

    1. Mainly their size. They are 7x8x13 inches and weigh 29lbs apiece. You will need two run in series to obtain voltages usable by your Zero. They also fo not appear to have a single output 1 positive 1 negative. That really simplifies connecting them in series.

    2. Mainly their size. They are 7x8x13 inches and weigh 29lbs apiece. You will need two run in series to obtain voltages usable by your Zero. They also fo not appear to have a single output 1 positive 1 negative. That really simplifies connecting them in series.

  3. What are the to small middle contacts of the Anderson for? WHITE (BROWN) 20AWG
    SIG TO RMS, WHITE (BLACK) 20AWG. Do I need to use them?

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