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CONVERTING A GAS LAWN MOWER TO
SOLAR CHARGED ELECTRIC POWER

HOME PARTS LIST REMOVING
GAS ENGINE
INSTALLING
ELECTRIC MOTOR
INSTALLING
COMPONENTS
WIRING
THE MOWER
MOUNTING
THE BLADE
SOLAR
CHARGER
TEST
DRIVE
OTHER
CONVERSIONS
NOTE!  This project was completed in 2005 long before cordless yard tools were common.  There are now more than a dozen cordless mowers on the market starting at around $360.  This blog is left up as a legacy project, I would not recommend this today.

In June of 2005 I read an article in Home Power Magazine's June/July issue (number 107) by a guy who converted a standard gas lawn mower to solar electric powered.  Al Latham wrote the article and made it seem like a relatively simple job for the mechanically inclined guy.  This blog details my experiences and should serve as a more detailed cookbook than the article for those inclined to try this themselves. 

Guy Marsden

UPDATE May 2021

Now that there are around a dozen brands of cordless electric mowers powered by lithium technology batteries I decided it was time for me to buy one.  I purchased a green Works model LMF 320 which has two smaller blades, and also houses to battery packs.  When one battery runs down it switches to the other, and aftermarket batteries are very affordable so I may upgrade to a higher capacity battery eventually.  The new mower weighs less than half my monster that weighed around 95 pounds and I was getting tired of pushing that beast around!

New vs old mower  new vs old mower

 

Clip from Popular Science mag., July 2008, p. 45My mower conversion was featured in Popular Science Magazine's July 2008 issue on page 45.  It is one of "10 Audacious Ideas To Save The Planet"

The article states that I will "convert a mower for you, for a little green of your own."  I have decided that I would rather let you do the work yourself - I have plenty of other things to keep me in trouble! 


Mower plugged in to solar panels and charging from the sun
 

OVERVIEW

The project entails replacing the gasoline engine of a used 22" gas powered mower with a 12 Volt electric motor and battery - along with gauges, circuit breaker/power switch and charging connector.  Using 12 Volts keeps the design simple and relatively safe.

The solar charging system consists of solar panel(s) that are wired to a charge controller with an extension cord that connects to the mower.  Optionally, a standard AC powered automatic battery charger can be used.

The noticeable difference when mowing is the quiet!  The blades are spinning at about 1/2 the speed (1750RPM) of a gas mower (3450RPM) with a virtually silent motor, it sounds like a big fan!  With sharp blades it cuts just as good as my retired Sears 5HP mower.

Click here to review the parts list and price out the project.

Click here to get started on your conversion! 


Riding mowers
People have asked me about converting riding mowers.  A couple of folks have done this successfully, but it gets expensive, see the gallery section of my blog.  Edmund Electric in Ontario, Canada offer kits for converting riding mowers to electric, and just about anything else including boats.

Here's another option, look at restoring or buying a used 1970's vintage GE ElekTrak all electric lawn tractor.  Click here to learn more about these machines.  If you plan on restoring one, then here are some links that will help you with controls and parts:
Modern Electric Tractors
The Electric Tractor Store
Ge-ElekTRac.com
Watts-Up-Elec-Traks


The Electric Power Research Institute of Palo Alto claims that replacing half of the nearly 1.3 million walk-behind gas mowers used in the United States with electric mowers would eliminate the equivalent hydrocarbon emissions of 2 million cars.