A kit can be used to convert your current vehicle to a fully electric vehicle. Not only have you eliminated the need for fuel, but the maintenance costs are significantly less compared to a standard internal combustion power plant due to the fact that there are far fewer moving parts involved.
Paying an auto shop to make the conversion will cost at least $3,000 in labor, but if you decide to do it yourself it will only cost a few hundred. However, it can run you much more depending on what materials you decide to buy. For example if you’re using all new parts typically you’ll pay between five and ten thousand. Here’s the itemized break-down. Batteries $1000 to $2000, Motor $1000 to $2000, Adapter plate $500 to $1000, Controller $1000 to $2000 and other wiring, brackets ancillary motors $500 to $1000.
The first thing you need to do is take out the internal combustion engine and replace it with an electric motor. Some other parts you are going to need are: a power controller, miscellaneous nuts and bolts, rechargeable batteries, fuses and power conductors. These parts are easily available at your local hardware and are usually very inexpensive.
Most cars can be converted to run on electricity, but the best vehicles to retrofit are the light weight ones, which have enough space for batteries such as light pick up trucks, minivans, sedans and wagons. It is preferred that the car have a manual transmission.
Every day people just like you are using this technology to convert their vehicles.
To do it all on you own, mind you, will take time, about 150 to 300 hours. However it may be the most rewarding because you maintain control of the project all the way through, and you will be proud to say you’ve done it all yourself.
A good way to offset the cost of your electric conversation is to sell parts of your gas engines that you will no longer need, if not your entire engine. You may get more money back by selling the parts separately. On the other hand, it will require more wrenching and know-how. Do some research and see what’s selling right now, like Radiator, Cylinder head, Engine block, Cam shafts, Piston rods, Lifters, Spring and other internal parts.
Motor-type DC (direct current) motors are most comment and the cheapest way to go. General electric, Prestolite and Balder sell these. Or you can try and pick up a surplus fort lift motor or something similar. Your alternative is AC (alternating current) which will be more costly but will yield a higher performance. Metric Mind Corporation sells these.
Battery-type — At the moment there are really only a few choices for EV (electric vehicle) batteries.
The first is flooded lead acid batteries, such as golf cart and trolling motor type batteries. While these are reasonably priced, they do require periodic water level checks and cleaning. As far as upfront costs, these are the least expensive way to power an EV. For high performance EVs however, they are a poor choice, because of the weight, and inability to handle high current loads (over 600 amps) without losing service life.
A second choice is VRLA, (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). These are often used in computer backup (UPS) power systems. They are considered sealed, so there is no fluid level to check, and they stay clean because they don’t vent under normal charging. They are able to deliver astonishingly high currents without failing. They do tend to be a bit more expensive, and require more sophisticated charging systems than the flooded batteries. They also usually have a shorter service life.
Another choice is gel cell batteries. These are lead-acid batteries with the electrolyte in a gel-format. Due to the methods used in manufacturing them they tend to be very consistent from battery-to-battery. This reduces the need for the battery management systems used on AGM batteries, though many folks still recommend them on gels as well.
Yet another choice is nickel-cadmium batteries. These have become less available due to regulatory changes in Europe. They tend to be considerably more expensive than conventional lead-acid batteries, but their extraordinarily long service life makes them actually less expensive over the life of the vehicle.
Lithium based batteries such as the ones typically used in cell phones and notebook computers are finally starting to trickle though to the individual user, but so far not in large numbers. Their long term life span is still a bit of an unknown, though it is quite promising
Although you’ll probably need more details and some trial and error to execute a conversion your self, here is a basic step-by-step outline:
1. Remove the engine, exhaust system, gas tank, radiator and clutch from your car.
2. Attached an adapter plate to the transmission and mount your electric motor.
3. In most cases you will want to use a reduction gear, an under-drive if you will, for max efficiency. You can either set the transmission to first or second gear or create your own custom gear depending on your budget and ability.
4. Mount the controller
5. Determine where that batteries will go and make space for them. You may need a trunk’s worth of room. Install and fix the batteries in place with brackets. Sealed batteries can be turned on their sides.
6. Wire the batteries to the controller then wire the controller to the motor user #00 gage welding cable.
7. If the car has power steering and you want it to stay that way, wire up a separate motor to the batteries for the steering.
8. If the car has air conditioning, wire up and mount an electric motor for the A/C compressor.
9. Install a small electric water heater for heat and plumb it into the existing heater core, or use a small ceramic electric space heater.
10. If the car has power brakes, install a vacuum pump to operate the brake booster.
11. Install a charging system.
12. Install a DC-to-DC converter to power the accessory battery.
13. Install some sort of volt meter to be able to detect state of charge in the battery pack. This volt meter replaces the gas gauge.
14. Install potentiometers, hook them to the accelerator pedal and connect to the controller.
15. Most home-brew electric cars using DC motors use the reverse gear built into the manual transmission. AC motors with advanced controllers simply run the motor in reverse and need a simple switch that sends a reverse signal to the controller. Depending on the conversion, you may need to install some sort of reverse switch and wire to the controller.
16. Install a large Relay (also known as a contactor) that can connect and disconnect the car’s battery pack to and from the controller. This Relay is how you turn the car “on” when you want to drive it. You need a Relay that can carry hundreds of amps and that can break 96 to 300 volts DC without holding an arc.
17. Rewire the ignition switch so that it can turn on all the new equipment, including the contactor.