Electric Car Conversions – Getting Started

A gasoline powered car really can be converted to run on household electricity. People all over are converting their vehicles easily and inexpensively with easy to follow project plans available to all.
There are several different approaches you can take to convert a car to run on electric power. In some areas of the country, there might be mechanics that will do it for a price, but often, the price they charge is close to that of a new car. You can buy a kit, which will run you between $4000 and $10,000. These have some basic do-it-yourself instructions and most of the electrical components required. Beware that kits you purchase never include the batteries you need. You have to figure on another $1000 or more for batteries if you use a kit since an electric car won’t run without them.

Our favorite option for electric car conversions is to use reconditioned parts you can get cheap and do the whole thing yourself. You have the choice of using an AC electric motor or a DC electric motor. DC motors are heavier and don’t produce as much power as AC. However, DC motors are much less expensive than AC. For this reason, we always opt for a used DC motor. There is no reason to spend the additional dollars buying a new AC motor for your electric car conversion when a dependable DC motor that you can get very cheap (and sometimes free) will outlast just about any car you put it in.

A DC motor in the 9 to 13 inch range is required. Top speeds of around 50 to 55 MPH can be achieved with this size motor. The amount of current flowing from the batteries to the motor determines how fast the car can go and this flow is manipulated by a controller, which is also required. The controller is connected to the old gas pedal linkage for smooth control of the vehicle.

An on board battery charger allows for battery replenishment between trips and must also be installed as part of the conversion project. Just plug it in to any common household AC circuit and simply charge it up overnight.

To achieve a range of 200 miles between charges, the car will need about 20 deep cycle batteries. There are a number of sources for acquiring these very cheap and often free. The batteries will discharge further and charge more quickly than regular car batteries normally found in gas powered vehicles. Actually, that’s why they are called deep cycle – because they will stand up to and permit greater and more frequent draining, unlike the battery you have in your car now. You can regularly discharge a deep cycle battery down to 30% or so, but that’s just about the limit.

It is important to balance the battery capacity against the space available to hold the batteries in the car. As an exampleScience Articles, you have to be certain there is space enough for 20 batteries in the car if the your project plan calls for 20 batteries. Although this sounds like common sense – this detail is sometimes overlooked by people who are completing their first conversion.