Riding lawn mower electric conversion

Discussion in 'General' started by Daox, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. Daox

    Daox Well-Known Member

    Since I purchased my first house about six months back, I knew I would like a riding mower to mow its roughly one acre of land. I had finished up the fall of the year with a borrowed push mower. And, while it was possible, it was kind of a pain and took quite a while. So, I decided I wanted to go with a riding mower. It also dawned on me that small engine emissions are really bad, and there was no reason that this mower couldn't be electric powered. So, I began the quest to convert this riding lawn mower.


    I picked up the mower for free (thanks to freecycle.org) during fall of last year. It has been sitting most of winter and this project has finally hit the top of the 'to do list'. I also just picked up a motor, contactors (massive relays), and batteries that I'll be using. So, this project is building up some steam and ready to get going.

    I'll be documenting most of the progress on EcoRenovator's forum. I'll probably post here to give sporadic/major updates.

    Here is a teaser picture. And, no the motor isn't in upside down, the motor has two output shafts. :)

  2. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

    My dad bought a Simplicity riding mower sometime in the early 70's and it is the only mower he has ever used since. It doesn't look as nice as yours anymore but it still runs. Can I have your throw away parts? Seriously you could sell the engine on ebay to fund the conversion. - Dale
  3. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Tim, you always have the most interesting projects! I look forward to more pics here when you've got it completed (as I can't see the ones over at the other site without registering).
  4. Daox

    Daox Well-Known Member

    Thanks Sean. I love tinkering. :) I also just moved my pictures to a public folder. You should be able to see them now.

    drimportracing, the engine was given back to the original owner. It was fairly new and that was the requirement should I take the mower. That worked for me! The throw away parts I was planning on selling via ebay/craigslist/whatever. However, there really aren't that many. The only extra parts I have at the moment are the gas tank, starter solenoid, and the ammeter (which only goes up to 10A). I may or may not part with the throttle/choke control as I don't know if I'm going to use a controller yet. The current plan is to run without one, but we'll see.

    Funding of the project has been great so far. I've stuck $0 into parts. Everything has been donated thus far. If you want to be picky, you could count the gas spent to pick the stuff up.
  5. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Much better, Tim. Good stuff! :D:thumbs_up:
  6. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

    After I previously posted I went to the other site and saw how you were getting some great hookups from Ben and others for your project, that is so cool. If I remember correctly I saw a 450 Honda motorcycle in one of your pictures, could this be a future candidate for an EV motorcycle?

    Good luck on your project and like Sean said post some pics here so we can live vicariously through your efforts. - Dale
  7. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Tim:

    ___Indeed, good luck with this as it is indeed a super-worthy goal! Having ridden any number of the Big-Rig mowers the past few years, what a plants surprise when all you are going to hear is the blades vs. the 3,600 RPM engines running flat out.

    ___Good Luck

  8. Sledge

    Sledge I like owls with captions

    For some inspiration, I present to you the Heavy Metal Garden Tractor. The only EV tractor with a 144 W stereo system and a 10 disc CD changer http://www.evalbum.com/38
  9. Daox

    Daox Well-Known Member

    Haha, thats quite the fancy mower! I'm just looking forward to getting mine working. :)
  10. msirach

    msirach Well-Known Member

    Wayland's creations are ahead of the game. His profession is a fork truck technician and I'm sure the majority of it is in electric.

    We are all anxiously watching for your progress!
  11. Daox

    Daox Well-Known Member

  12. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Oh, SWEET!!!! :D:thumbs_up:
  13. Daox

    Daox Well-Known Member

  14. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries


    Coolness! When you get your rpms to your correct range do you think that it will have enough charge to mow your entire yard in one cycle? Would a potentiometer reduce rpms without having to reduce the number of batteries? Would it be more storage, less output? I'm not sure.

    How about charging the batteries with solar panels. You could mount smaller panels on the hood and build a shade canopy out of a large 200w panel. There would be no need for a trailer full of batteries, speaking of batteries, how hard would it be to get lithium battery packs? :D - Dale
  15. Daox

    Daox Well-Known Member

    Lowering the rpms to the deck and drive will definitely lower the amperage for using the mower. Unfortunately, I don't have a full set of deep cycle batteries yet. The goal really is to mow the entire yard in one cycle, and it is completely doable. It just takes a bit of tinkering to get there is all. The more I read about battery technology, the more I learn its more about making semi-accurate guesses than it is about cold hard formulas.

    I can not simply use a pot to reduce the rpms since I don't even think you can buy pots that handle 100 amps. The solution there would need to be a PWM controller for a golf cart or something. I'm trying to avoid this though as it adds cost to the project and I'm really looking to keep the cost low.

    Charging with solar would be the ideal plan in the end. I have looked into it a bit. The first step is to get the mower working. I'm currently charging the batteries back up with the two 12v chargers I have laying around.

    A lithium pack would be great. But, again, its the cost issue. Lithium is very nice, light, and also very expensive. Lead is heavy and cheap(er). I have a few feelers out to see where I can pickup some deep cycle lead acid batteries in the area.
  16. Taliesin

    Taliesin Well-Known Member

    My question is:
    How big is your yard?

    I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do this as one yard=one cycle.
  17. Daox

    Daox Well-Known Member

    The area I mow is just under an acre.

    Unless your yard is gigantic, you can convert to EV. You just need more or higher capacity batteries (more $). The GE elec-traks from the 70s, a commercial built electric tractor with many attachments, can easily mow 2 acres.
  18. Taliesin

    Taliesin Well-Known Member

    Well... Part of my yard is now going to be allowed to go wild, but that still leaves just over 4 acres to mow.

    I would be mowing much less than that if the subdivision bylaws didn't require it.
  19. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    4+ acres, and a subdivision with mowing requirements? Bummer of a combination! I have 3 acres, but I can let it go if I want. (at least until the neighbors start offering to mow it themselves! :D)
  20. Taliesin

    Taliesin Well-Known Member

    Yeah. The subdivision is ~0.25 square mile with 13 lots (~160 acres total). Ours is the smallest lot at 5.5 acres.

    The largest lot is allowed to put in an ultralight runway! It's about 30 acres set up in a long, rectangular shape.

    The two areas I no longer mow are way in the back and next to the wooded section of our neighbor.

    And we are working on many more trees in the yard. This place used to be a wheat field.

    When all is said and done, an acre of garden, another acre for scattered fruit trees, and 1.5 acres left wild will leave me with only 2 acres to mow.

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