Hi, my name is Pete and this is my personal experience with converting my standard gas powered car to use an electric motor.
Like a lot of people, I was struggling on a pretty small income, with the cost of running my car taking a big chunk.
Given I was travelling over 50 miles a day to and from work, I figured the easiest way to reduce my costs, would be by reducing my gas bills. I looked into all sorts of different options, ranging from trading to a much smaller vehicle, moving house closer to work (not really an option given what I could afford) to converting my gas engine to electric.
The more I looked into electric car conversion kits, the more I realised that this was the easiest and definitely cheapest and best way of drastically cutting my fuel bills. I don’t know why I didn’t think of the electric car option earlier on, but I guess I had stereotypical view of electric cars being clunky and not very practical. Boy, was I wrong. Electric car technology has certainly improved massively in recent years.
So what was the best way of converting my car to run on electricity? The answer was a DIY electric car kit, as this was going to be the cheapest option and certainly not difficult to do (as I found out for myself).
Different Kits For Converting To An Electric Car
However, there are so many different types of electric car conversion kits out in the market, some with very similar concepts and some that use slightly different technologies. Generally, when I want to do something or buy something, I tend to research the heck out of it (I’m often accused of being a little obsessive at times), so when it came to electric car conversions, I read through as many reviews as I could find and visited various forums to see what experiences other people had.
After a lot of reading, out of all the various electric car conversion kits, one particular electric car conversion manual seemed to keep popping up as being very good. Based on that, and hearing what other people had said about electric car conversion kits, I decided to purchase a conversion guide and try it myself.
Of all the electric car conversion kits I looked at, this one certainly seemed to be the most detailed and as it turned out, the guide was very clearly written with plenty of detail.
I’m no mechanic but so long as you know how to use basic tools, I don’t think it’s a difficult job to do an electric car conversion.
All up, the cost of batteries and other parts was around $300, which I thought was a pretty small outlay for the potential savings.
As golf cart batteries are the most popular source of batteries for electric cars, I highly recommend this golf cart battery guide as it has some great information on maintaining your golf cart batteries and extending their life.
I converted my car around 4 months ago and I’ve had no problems at all in that time. The best thing is that I’m now saving so much money because recharging the batteries is so much cheaper than gas. I did a quick calculation the other day, and based on average of 300 miles per week with my car (2001 Nissan Maxima) that gets around 20 mpg and a gas price of around $2.50 per gallon, I was spending around $150 per month, or about $1800 per year!!
Note I’m basing my calculations on gas prices in the the middle of 2010 when gas prices were lower than they’d been for a very long time. If you look at the following graph, you’ll see that the trend of gasoline prices is definitely on the up.
I think it’s a pretty safe bet, that the long term trend for gas prices is just going to continue to rise.
I’m so happy I that did a car conversion to electric, as my savings will only increase over time and it gives me more money to spend on other things.
Obviously the single most important aspect of running your electric car is your batteries. Without good batteries, then your electric car is pretty much useless.
All electric car conversion kits cover various aspects of sourcing and maintaining batteries. They can be your single biggest cost in an electric car conversion, particularly if you choose new batteries.
There are a number of places you can source cheap second hand batteries. My electric conversion conversion guide mentions various options including sourcing old golf cart batteries. Golf cart batteries are what’s known as deep-cycle lead-acid batteries. This type of battery is designed to deliver a consistent voltage as the battery discharges. This is why it is most suitable for electric cars and is the main type of battery used to convert to and electric car.
I was able to source some golf cart batteries from my local golf course, but I wasn’t able to obtain enough to complete the conversion (I ended up using 15 batteries in total), so I found that a great place to buy golf cart batteries from is http://www.motors.ebay.com/
On the ebay Motors home page, just type in golf cart battery, golf cart batteries or electric car batteries into the search field, hit the search button and you’ll find plenty of cheap deals on batteries that will save you an absolute fortune.
One thing that I found really useful was the electric golf cart battery guide.
This guide has some great information on maintaining and extending the life of your golf cart batteries.
This is really useful information to extend the life of batteries refreshes in your electric car.
If you hunt around, your EV conversion costs can be dramatically reduced.
One essential tool that I found was invaluable is to invest in a hydrometer, like the one pictured below.
Hydrometers don’t cost much and they are quick and easy to use. They indicate the health of the battery by drawing a small amount of electrolyte into the tube and have a color indicator to show how strong the battery is.
I know a few electric car conversion kits don’t mention hydrometers, but make sure it is high on your list of items to maintain your electric car.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about electric cars, which I guess stems to the days (which is quite a long time ago now) when electric cars were first introduced. Electric cars were mostly seen as impractical vehicles due to their ugly design and poor electric car battery performance.
Technology has progressed hugely since the early days of electric vehicles.
Some of the myths that still seem hang around are:
- Electric cars aren’t fast. The very first electric vehicles were certainly very sluggish, but there are modern electric cars that are as fast as (if not faster) than the top petrol powered sportscars.
- Poor Vehicle range between recharges. Again, this was the case with early electric cars, but most electric vehicles can do at least 100 miles between recharges. This is mostly due to huge improvements in battery technology.
- Batteries used in electric vehicles aren’t very environmental friendly. Battery technology for all sorts of devices has improved hugely in recent years. Gone are the days of the very toxic lead batteries. The newer lithium ion batteries are much, much cleaner and with recycling programs, the batteries can be almost completely reused.
- Electric cars just transfer the pollution problem to the source. Obviously you have to recharge your batteries from some electricity source, but even in the worse case where your power comes from a coal burning power station, the net emissions over a year is drastically less than an equivalent gasoline powered vehicle. This equation is improved even more in the electric car’s favour if the electricity source comes from natural gas, solar, wind or hydro (or a combination).
- Electric cars are expensive. While most electric cars and hybrids are more expensive than gas powered cars, their running costs usually more than make up the difference. Costs are also another reason with electric vehicle conversion kits are becoming very popular, with an electric car conversion cost being a lot cheaper than you might imagine. Building a diy electric car motor is not a difficult task providing you have a good manual on converting to an electric car.
Now, the last myth was really my motivation for researching electric car conversion kits, as I knew there was the potential for me to save a lot in fuel bills. However, I didn’t realise just how easy it was to convert my car to use an electric motor and just how much I was going to save in running costs.
Watch this short video with Tom Hanks talking about his electric car to hear his views
You can also watch some of my favorite electric car videos that I’ve collected.
After spending a small fortune on running my car (which isn’t a huge gas guzzler, but I travel around 50 miles a day to and from work), I decided to some research as to the best way of reducing my fuel bills.
I quickly came to the conclusion that there were four main options:
- Buy a much smaller car. While that was an option, I really didn’t want to get a tiny little car as I like to be able to fit my dog and surfing gear into my car.
- Run on diesel or a bio-fuel. This seemed like a reasonable option, but my engine was petrol, and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of getting another engine or buying a diesel car.
- Get a hybrid car. Well, I guess that’s OK if you are a movie star, or earn a lot of money (which I don’t), but a hybrid electric car was out of the question for me.
- Converting my car to electric. At the time, I didn’t know that much about electric cars and what was involved to build an electric car or even what electric car conversion kits were available.
The more I looked into electric car conversion kits, the more I became convinced that it was the right way to go. Obviously buying a new electric car wasn’t an option for me, but using an electric car kit to convert the standard gas engine in my vehicle to an electric car motor definitely seemed like it was achievable.
I’m certainly no mechanic, so the concept of a diy electric car was a little daunting, but after reading some reports, it seemed that it wasn’t too hard to build your own electric car so long as you had some precise and clear electric car plans.