Introduction: Solar Powered Electric Car

Picture of Solar Powered Electric Car
After converting 1995 Aspire to electric vehicle ,I decided to go 1 step further. I installed 6 solar panels on garage roof , with batteries and inverter in garage. Car charges during the day and I drive it on after work missions. Works great driving around town (usually only 5-10 mile trips) will go 55 mph. If it is cloudy a few hours charging continues due to batteries in garage.

Step 1: Remove Engine

Picture of Remove Engine

First step is removal of engine and components, radiator , tailpipe , muffler ,etc

Step 2: Build Racks for Batteries

Picture of Build Racks for Batteries

Using angle and square tubing to build battery racks. Rack at rear and front 3 batteries are suspended between frame members. Five batteries under hood , four in rear. Rear batteries are sealed in plastic container with fan exhausting under vehicle during charging.

Step 3: Install Electric Motor

Picture of Install Electric Motor

Mount motor to adapter plate with shaft coupler. Bolt unit to transaxle and either run motor slow (connected to small battery) or turn front wheel , checking for alignment. I also braced motor with angles ,as engine was attached to motor mount originally.

Step 4: Main Wiring

Picture of Main Wiring

Wiring is next after installing batteries , speed controller , throttle Box ,and contactor . Welding cable is used to connect batteries in series and from contactor to speed controller to motor. Throttle box is connected to cable from gas pedal and wired to speed controller. Ignition switch controls main contactor.

Step 5: More Wiring

Picture of More Wiring

Converter to change 72volts to 12volts (to run headlights etc) is mounted and wired to 12 volt car battery. I mounted 12volt vacuum pump (for brakes) in gas tank because it is noisy. 120 volt Battery charger is connected to main battery bank, and mounted in back of car. Volt and ammeter mounted and wired.

Step 6: Solar Panel Setup

Picture of Solar Panel Setup

Build mounts for solar panels from 1/2" conduit and 2 by 4. Wire 6 panels together inside fused electrical box. Run large gauge wire from box into garage.

Step 7: Garage Set Up

Picture of Garage Set Up

Power from panels flows thru charge controller (keeps batteries from overcharging) to eight 6 volt golf cart batteries . On a clear day 30 amps is available from panels. A 1000 watt inverter is connected to battery bank with large gauge wire. Cars 120 volt charger is connected to inverter.


hkedia1 (author)2016-10-08

Hi. Thank you for sharing it. I have a question though.

Why didn't you remove the transmission as well thereby reducing some more weight and increasing the efficiency a bit more? I mean, we all know that electric motors have much more precise control over torque. Do you actually need gears?

daenergymon (author)2015-05-05

this makes me miss my 86 Subaru that was converted. It finally was too difficult to continue to repair (rusted out).

davelayde (author)2014-03-04

How did you get your hands on a motor like that, I've been looking for a long time but never found anything

mikes4222 (author)davelayde2015-02-28

You could use a golf-cart motor, or possibly a starter motor from a pickup truck or other large vehicle.

chowchuvechassociates (author)2015-01-17

How do you get it passed state inspection? When you convert the car, do you need license plate and automobile insurance?

jjaan (author)2014-03-27

kindly mail me in brief means which motor shall i used and list of components which i can buy here in pakistan to manufacture these and explore more about it knidly mail me?

ritesh jain (author)jjaan2014-07-11

I want to make a based...
plz mail details about its components all other things...plzzzz. ..

acunliffe1 (author)2013-12-27

Great instructable. You could have a hydroelectric generator going 24/7 to power it. 12 motors acting as water wheels then use a DC to DC boosting circuit to get them to 10V each. 10 x 12 = 120V. You could then charge the batteries. 24/7 power and you wouldn't need as any batteries because it would run continuously therefore you wouldn't need as much voltage or motors. Let me know what you think of it, if there are any flaws and any ways to improve it. Thanks.

ANDY! (author)2013-11-13

What's your optimal RPM for your motor? I have a differential with a 1:3.5 ratio that I'm considering mounting a motor on, but not sure if I should hook it up with a transmission in between.

bhvm (author)2013-09-02

a job well done! a true, pure home made Electric car. why don't you use one of the batteries 12v for headlights rather than 72v to 12v converter? also please think about putting Solar panels on roof and hood. those 100w something may improve driveability of the car!

Da Falls Guy (author)2013-07-02

Frankly.. I think this is a great project. Might change the batteries, voltage & motor a little.. But all else for me is on project ! I'm building a high horsepower for drag racing. Hoping to have a car that will certainly turn some heads and not thinking they have a category for electric cars yet t soul .

georgekaycares (author)2013-05-03

please can i hav the complete explanation for this electric car this is my email (

clintcooper2003 (author)2012-03-05

How many total miles can you go off of one charge?

50... i think.... i would think...idk

Twisted Kitten (author)2011-08-29

You could try putting vents at the top of the bonnet (Windsheild end) to help the air flow freely through and reduce drag.

I don't know if it will work but could be worth trying :)

Planecrazy361 (author)2009-04-13

Where in IL are you? I'm in Buffalo Grove, and would love to see the car someday if you're not too far away! Regards, Steve

Yes, I too am in IL and wondering how far away from you I am. Also wondering if you do conversions for other, mechanically challenged people? And you total costs? I am very impressed!! Good job!

misterwelder (author)2009-04-12

Awesome job. I've been wanting to go electric with and old beetle for a while now. I hope to have the success that you have.

mrmusty (author)misterwelder2009-04-12

Actually I was looking for an old beetle , before I found this Aspire , If I remember its a little lighter (and I wouldn't have to wear a seat belt) .I'm sure that someone has already figured out mounting motor and other tricks if you search online.

BGreenHVAC (author)mrmusty2010-11-15

Why ruin a valuable car like an older VW. If it is old enough to not require a seat belt, It is an extremely valuable VW. It would make more sense to restore the Beetle and sell it. There should be enough cash to buy a new electric car if you wanted.

Dr. Al (author)2010-10-04

It seems Tesla is also taking this convert a gas car (Lotus) to electric and add solar panels to the garage roof. The better solution is found at Stinger Motors Inc.

ThreeWestCreative (author)2010-03-11

Your Car is awesome and gives us great hope for having our own electric cars and the video I posted shows this guy with an electric car beating high class sports cars and using smaller batteries. :)

ThreeWestCreative (author)2010-03-11

desotojohn (author)2010-01-16

Have you thought about mounting the solar panels on top of the car?

pmartinez (author)2009-12-21

Great project.!
I though about making a conversion myself, however; I live in Costa Rica and hill are steep here, I assume battery life would not last the typical 40-60 miles. I have a question:  Sorry if it sound "dumb", can a small generator be attached to the car, in order to "boost" the energy going up hill, and charge batteries on a long trip. I understand it defeats the purpose of going "electric", however; is a though for "emergency" boost.
Thank you

tristantech (author)2009-07-07

Is something like this street legal? or did you have to get this approved with the government before you could drive it on the street?

rommel543 (author)2009-04-12

What kind of speed and distance do you get out of the car? I was looking into a conversion kit but it only went 60-75 miles per charge and took 8 hours to charge the batteries.

mrmusty (author)rommel5432009-04-12

Car will go 55 (but will cut range down) . Driving to work is about 25 mile round trip at 30-40 mph and a few miles on interstate at 55. Thats as far as I really want to discharge batts . But on a warm day at 30 mph I'm sure it would do better. Temps below 30-40 degrees slow you down. With my solar setup I am sometimes affected by cloudy weather. I used 9 - 8 volt batteries ,if you used 12 -6 volt batteries you could get more range. Maybe with a small pickup and a whole bunch of batteries you could get 60 - 75 miles per charge. You may have to move up to higher tech batteries !

luigi2999 (author)mrmusty2009-06-22

If ur car ran on 48V, you could use a couple of 48V LiFePo batteries, which have a vary high energy to weight ratio.

guitarman63mm (author)mrmusty2009-04-12

How does lower temperature slow you down? I thought electricity conducts better at low temperatures. Or perhaps you're talking about something else...

mrmusty (author)guitarman63mm2009-04-13

Yes the wiring has less resistance but the lead acid batteries lose quite a bit of power when they get cold , maybe 50% when its below zero. Also grease in wheel bearings and transaxle gets thicker.

JerryMopar (author)guitarman63mm2009-04-13

you are correct with the temperature situation about the circuits, but batteries like the temp just right, not too hot, not too cold

bernarte_affiliate (author)2009-05-27

how many voltage is the electric motor?

rankhornjp (author)2009-05-18

You can check out for all kind of information about conversions.

Skitter302 (author)2009-04-30

I like the plan, food for thought here>> how about mounting a fan for a generator about were a trailer hitch would go( just under the rear bumper).

sebberdreng (author)2009-04-19

You allready have a mac you maket the on it i can see.

muell291 (author)2009-04-16

Nice to see your combat robot skills going to good use here! What are the amp-hour ratings on your batteries on both the car and the home station?

mrmusty (author)muell2912009-04-17

Yea gotta keep buildin stuff ! There are 9 - 8 volt 170 AH batteries in car and 8 - 6 volt 225 AH batteries wired up for 12 volts in garage.

blksheep (author)2009-04-17

What kind of motor did you use? It looks so dinky compared to the engine you removed. Could you give the specs on it? I'd like to know where I can get one.

mrmusty (author)blksheep2009-04-17

Its made by D and D Motors and has 40 peak hp. It measures 6.7" dia. x 12.28" long and weighs 62 lbs. Its a series motor and several ev conversion web sites sell them.

srharvey (author)2009-04-14

There has to a be a better way to charge the car off the solar battery pack. Converting from DC to 120V AC and then back to the DC in the car seems like a waste.

mrmusty (author)srharvey2009-04-14

You are so right, If I connected the 6 -12 volt panels in series it would be just perfect for charging. It would eliminate loss from inverter and battery charger. But I like to use solar panels and batteries as a back up during storm etc. I still might do something like that if I can figure out a way to switch panels from a parallel connection to series, and back again.

AdHd (author)mrmusty2009-04-15

Plus, your setup allows you to recharge the car anywhere you go, not just at home. If you had enough batteries at home, you could also drive the car to work and charge it overnight from the solar batteries. Your setup gives you lots of flexibility at the cost of some efficiency - I wouldn't change a thing.

Funk_D (author)2009-04-13

What if you had a gearing system that activated whenever you pressed the brakes that kicked in alternators and regenerated energy while providing a little bit of stopping power? (in union with the regular brakes of course).

mrmusty (author)Funk_D2009-04-13

I was thinking of using the clutch pedal (I removed clutch ) to do something like you are talking. As I pressed the pedal it would tighten a fan belt or somehow engage a generator while slowing down. --- Maybe someday.

Funk_D (author)mrmusty2009-04-14

Actually, the more I thought about it, wouldn't the motor work in reverse as a generator whenever you weren't applying current to it and the car was still moving (such as downhill travel and braking) while providing resistance?

AdHd (author)Funk_D2009-04-15

It's called regenerative braking Check it out. Every hybrid uses this technique, as do electric trains. I think you'd need a speed controller which includes that feature, but I'm no expert.

djr6789 (author)2009-04-12

one other thing you could do is instsall some sort of windturbine behind the radiator's grill to charge up the batteries while driving

Noodle93 (author)djr67892009-04-12

But. Wouldn't that cause more drag? Or else you'd be talking about a perpetual motion machine. Which is impossible. Well I think that's what you're talking about.

djr6789 (author)Noodle932009-04-12

im not sure about what your talking about. i just meant a little wind turbine behind the grill so it uses up the air that passes through the engine bay and turns it into energy. P.S sorry if the first sentance sounds mean DJ

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