Convert Your Lawn Tractor to Electric Power

This versatile electric tractor is a super DIY project.

| June 12, 2008

  • tractor batteries
    Three 12-volt batteries are wired in series to create a 36-volt system. 
    KEN ALBRIGHT
  • electric lawn tractor
    This lawn tractor uses no gasoline and hauls wood, plows snow and more.
    KEN ALBRIGHT

  • tractor batteries
  • electric lawn tractor

Ken Albright of Columbia, Mo., converted a Case lawn tractor to run off battery power instead of gasoline. Mother Earth News interviewed him about the process.

Why did you decide to convert a garden tractor to electric power?
I bought 10 acres and needed some sort of equipment to help take care of the place. So I intentionally bought a used tractor that would probably need a new engine soon. I had already converted a car to run on batteries and really liked the result. Running on electricity does not directly produce any air pollution and is much quieter. The secondary pollution from producing the electricity is still much less than that from burning gasoline. And of course, there is the possibility of producing electricity with solar or wind power. Long range, I hope to charge the batteries via the sun.

How long did it take you to complete the conversion?
About 16 hours spread over a week.

How much did it cost?
About $1,100: the motor was $600; batteries, $300; welding, cable and miscellaneous parts, $200. The motor price was probably overkill. A good scavenger may find a motor for little or nothing from a floor scrubber, forklift or golf cart.

How long can you mow on one charge?
It is currently not set up to mow. I have been distracted with gardening and have not had the time to tinker with the mower. Its tasks for the immediate future are hauling wood (pulling a trailer) and plowing dirt or snow. When I'm using it hard, as in moving dirt, I get about 45 minutes of use before I start noticing a lack of power. Pulling a trailer full of wood, I get well over an hour of use. Like any machine, it depends on the effort required.



What parts are required?  
The basics are an electric motor, batteries, mounting brackets, wiring and switches. Some tractors may need a motor controller. If auxiliary systems such as lights are desired, a voltage converter may be required.

What kind of donor mowers work best?
I chose the Case tractor because it is driven by hydraulics. The motor turns a hydraulic pump, and that system does all the work. I chose that so there would be no need for a motor controller. The motor is simply on or off. Hydrostatic drive tractors and mowers would be similar. Straight mechanical drive, using gears, would require a motor controller to vary the speed. That would add to the conversion cost, but would likely also be more efficient. There are energy losses in hydraulic and hydrostatic systems.

Beyond that, you’ll want a strongly built and not-too-rusty chassis. The batteries are heavy. Many newer riding mowers have little metal in the frame and probably would not last long carrying the extra weight.

Brian Edmond
8/12/2018 1:17:01 PM

www.electrictractor.net new April 2018. Electric tractor conversion kit WHAT IS REQUIRED? It’s easy to build and budget friendly.  You will need an old 38” to 42”- 2 blade gas lawn tractor to convert to battery power (called a glider), basic electrical skills to be able to strip and connect wires, D-I-Y tools like screwdrivers, socket wrenches, tape measure, battery drill, hacksaw, etc. a small amount of welding required but could be done by a local welding shop.  If you’re advanced at D-I-Y, you’ll still find it plenty engaging.  After all, this is probably the first time you have built a battery-powered electric riding tractor.


Brian Edmond
8/12/2018 1:17:00 PM

www.electrictractor.net new April 2018. New Conversion Kit WHAT IS REQUIRED? It’s easy to build and budget friendly.  You will need an old 38” to 42”- 2 blade gas lawn tractor to convert to battery power (called a glider), basic electrical skills to be able to strip and connect wires, D-I-Y tools like screwdrivers, socket wrenches, tape measure, battery drill, hacksaw, etc. a small amount of welding required but could be done by a local welding shop.  If you’re advanced at D-I-Y, you’ll still find it plenty engaging.  After all, this is probably the first time you have built a battery-powered electric riding tractor.


Brian Edmond
4/16/2018 12:27:54 PM

Eddie New! D.I.Y. electric lawn tractor conversion "KITs" available from :- www.electrictractor.net







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