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MKH
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Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:48 am
Location: Dallas

AC Condenser Protection - A How To

Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:38 am

A rock through the open grill into the i3 AC Condenser radiator hard enough to puncture it, is a $1,000 plus repair, as the entire front of the car has to be dismantled to get at the condenser.

The best DIY solution is tp put some hardware cloth, or wire mesh behind the open grill, to protect the condenser, while still allowing air flow.



On the i3, easier said than done. access to the area behind the grill is almost non-existent. You cannot get at it from underneath, and the only access from above is by taking out the frunk box, then there is limited access by pushing open a flexible plastic shield an inch or so. Not ideal.

On top of that, the i3 grill is supported by double-legged 'V' shaped brackets, one leg vertical in the grill, and the other branching off behind the grill at almost a 45 degree angle. Makes mounting a mesh piece directly behind it difficult.

Here is how I did mine. Note that mine is the Rex model, which has a three tiers of openings in the grill - the BEV model has the top opening sealed.
After 2 r.jpg
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First ordered this grill mesh - in powder coated black (they also have it in polished silver).
https://www.ebay.com/itm/CCG-UNIVERSAL- ... 2749.l2649

then created a paper pattern of the grill.
Grill Mesh.jpg
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The center of the grill has support brackets exactly 6 inches apart center-to-center. I then cut a 6 inch section out of the exact center of the grill mesh. Idea is to have three grill pieces, which once assembled, have their seams hidden behind the grill support bracket.
Section 2 r.jpg
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... more
Last edited by MKH on Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:57 am, edited 3 times in total.
Mark H.
2015 i3 Rex, Capparis White, Tera World, Technology & Driving Assistant, Parking Assistant, Harman Kardon Audio System, 20 inch wheels, EVoInnovate EVSE

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MKH
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Posts: 204
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:48 am
Location: Dallas

Re: AC Condenser Protection - A How To

Tue Apr 02, 2019 10:43 am

... continue

Doing the right side first, I added wire loops for 'handles' for easy maneuvering,
Handles r.jpg
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Then slid the section in flat through the center of the grill, then worked it upright, and slid it sideways between the V bracket legs, so it would fit flush against the back of the grill, and the squared off end would be right behind the right center bracket. Took a couple of in-and-outs, to trim the rounded end to fit, and so the square end lined up behind the upright, but once I got that, took it out and used it to trim the left side to mirror match. Then in with the right side, and then in with the left side.

To fasten them to the grill support, bent some 22 gauge black jewelry beading wire from a hobby store (Hobby Lobby) into narrow 'fish-hooks'.
Hook Wire r.jpg
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Poke in on one side of the bracket, work the 'hook' end behind the mesh and bracket, to the other side of the bracket, so it pokes back out the mesh on the other side, grab with small needle-nose pliers and pull out the 'hook' end, so you have equal wire poking out on either side of the bracket, then twist the two ends together nice and tight, cut off excess, and tuck the little twisty pigtail against the grill. Once both sides are done and fastened in to at least the far right and far left supports, add the center piece of the grill, and fasten in with the wire the same way.

Once done, it looks all one-piece, almost OEM, and from feet away, it's almost invisible.
After 1.jpg
After 1.jpg (108.82 KiB) Viewed 335 times
Easy, Peasy :D
Mark H.
2015 i3 Rex, Capparis White, Tera World, Technology & Driving Assistant, Parking Assistant, Harman Kardon Audio System, 20 inch wheels, EVoInnovate EVSE

IvanRex
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:21 am

Re: AC Condenser Protection - A How To

Tue Apr 02, 2019 3:17 pm

Thank you for sharing :)

alohart
Posts: 1615
Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2014 7:36 pm
Location: Honolulu, HI

Re: AC Condenser Protection - A How To

Tue Apr 02, 2019 7:30 pm

Thanks for posting these instructions. I now wish that I had purchased aluminum grill mesh rather than stainless steel woven wire mesh. Aluminum is easier to cut, and unwelded woven wire tends to unravel when cut. Oh, well, I'll make do.

I noticed that your grill is different from the grill on our BEV. Realoem.com lists different part numbers. I assume that your i3 is a REx. Our grill has only 2 horizontal openings whereas yours has 3. The top horizontal opening in your grill is closed off in our grill. It makes sense that a BEV without an ICE to cool would not require as much airflow as a REx. Maybe that's part of the reason why the Cd of a BEV is 0.01 less than that of a REx.

It also appears that a heat exchanger isn't very far behind the grill mesh that you installed (I can easily see it through your mesh grill). The heat exchanger in our BEV is probably 6" behind the grill. Maybe a REx has both an A/C condenser and an ICE radiator, one in front of the other like in regular ICE vehicles. So I have quite a bit of space between the grill and heat exchanger. I should probably take out the frunk box to learn whether access to behind the grill is better than in a REx.
Aloha,
Art

2014 BMW i3 Arravani Grey, Giga World, Tech + Driving Assist, Parking Assist, DC Fast Charging, JuiceBox EVSE

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MKH
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Posts: 204
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:48 am
Location: Dallas

Re: AC Condenser Protection - A How To

Wed Apr 03, 2019 4:30 am

HI Art
Yes, mine is a Rex. The heat exchanger is at least 6 inches back from the grill in mine as well - optical illusion with the mesh in front makes it look close, when it is not. I looked at stainless mesh as too, but any cost-effective piece the right size was woven, not welded, and I was afraid of it unraveling when cut. And the aluminum easy to cut with simple tin-snips. Aluminum will surface-oxidize slowly in salt air and eventually show some pitting, but not rust away like iron based metal. And powder coated aluminum stands up pretty well long-term.
Mark H.
2015 i3 Rex, Capparis White, Tera World, Technology & Driving Assistant, Parking Assistant, Harman Kardon Audio System, 20 inch wheels, EVoInnovate EVSE

Seasidenj
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:02 pm

Re: AC Condenser Protection - A How To

Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:06 am

I used another method bought a metal gutter leaf guard from Lowes in black. Cut to the size of the opening and secured it with wire ties from the front. Not too noticeable and was cheep any easy.

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