Instructables
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.
 
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Step 1: Remove engine

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

Step 2: Build racks for batteries

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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

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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

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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

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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.
jjaan4 months ago

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?

I want to make a car..solar based...
plz mail details about its components ..design..and all other things...plzzzz. ..
davelayde5 months ago
How did you get your hands on a motor like that, I've been looking for a long time but never found anything
acunliffe17 months ago
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!9 months ago
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.
bhvm11 months ago
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!
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 .
please can i hav the complete explanation for this electric car this is my email (georgekaycares@gmail.com)
How many total miles can you go off of one charge?
50... i think.... i would think...idk
DRC8882 years ago
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 :)
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!
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)  misterwelder5 years ago
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.
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. Al3 years ago
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.
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. :)

desotojohn4 years ago
Have you thought about mounting the solar panels on top of the car?
pmartinez4 years ago
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

tristantech5 years ago
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?
rommel5435 years ago
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)  rommel5435 years ago
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 !
If ur car ran on 48V, you could use a couple of 48V LiFePo batteries, which have a vary high energy to weight ratio.
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)  guitarman63mm5 years ago
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.
you are correct with the temperature situation about the circuits, but batteries like the temp just right, not too hot, not too cold
how many voltage is the electric motor?
rankhornjp5 years ago
You can check out http://www.diyelectriccar.com for all kind of information about conversions.
Skitter3025 years ago
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).
sebberdreng5 years ago
You allready have a mac you maket the on it i can see.
muell2915 years ago
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)  muell2915 years ago
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.
blksheep5 years ago
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)  blksheep5 years ago
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.
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srharvey5 years ago
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)  srharvey5 years ago
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 mrmusty5 years ago
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_D5 years ago
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_D5 years ago
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 mrmusty5 years ago
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 Funk_D5 years ago
It's called regenerative braking http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.
djr67895 years ago
one other thing you could do is instsall some sort of windturbine behind the radiator's grill to charge up the batteries while driving
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.
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
Noodle is correct. You would end up having to use more energy to get the little wind turbine to move than you would gain. I saw an 'ible a while back talking about installing a turbine to an air conditioner fan and had a similar discussion about this. Good thought though!
I don't know. If you set it in s place where there's already drag (like a flat angle), that's energy that would hve been totally wasted on drag but instead gets converted back into electrical energy.

In other words, you're still not going to make up for the energy wasted on drag, but you'll make up a little bit that would have been wasted.
You're putting something with drag in a place where there already is drag. Therefore more drag. A flat angle (assuming by your definition is vertical) then you would be reducing the amount of drag. However, it would be more energy efficent to remove this part that gave you drag, as the energy you gain from 'harvesting' the drag will not be anywhere near equal to the extra energy used to power the car with that extra drag. If you could, then you would by defying the laws of thermodynamics. However. If you just wanted to convert some of the kinetic energy from moving the car into electrical energy (even though the car already does this) then knock yourself out.
Of course it would be more efficient to remove drag, but we can't exactly have a car that looks like a straight line. Placing the right "harvester" in the right spot can not only reduce drag, but increase energy return. It's a theoretical change, with minimal positive effect (with respect to expenditures in money and time), but it could indeed have a positive effect. Just pointing out that the answer the the perennial "add a turbine" question isn't really 'no,' so much as 'not really.' To quote a friend of mine, "You can do it, but you gotta do it cool."
oh ok thanks for the info. note icant take all the credit for this idea i saw it on a youtube video about a year ago DJ
sumrandom15 years ago
very cool, i dont have the mechanical know how, or even any other know how, but i will definitely build one of these soon. As soon as i have a garage to charge it, living in NYC is no picnic but if i cant charge the car, wuts the point of having it. Thanks for posting this, and good luck, i hope Li-Ion batteries will drop in price soon, and by a lot, would make this more economical and last longer, for a longer ride and a shorter charge time
rimar20005 years ago
Very good work!
Has anyone ever tried to add a ALT to supply 40-50% of the power goign to the electric motor? I was just thinking of a pulley off the back of the motor and the power goign directly into the motor.Not making a perpetual motion machine just tying to make the range of the battery's longer by reducing the usage by 50-60%
No, that does not work, according to physicists. However, it is not unusual to see similar things. I saw a home maked plane to charge the battery by a propeller driven by the outside wind.
imrobot5 years ago
oh no!!!! all hope is lost there's no way I'm going to win now... well I'll still finish it and post it. great Instructable.
tercero5 years ago
48v club car golf cart motor? Nice (Altrax or Curtis controller?). There's some nice Ford Siemens motors on ebay that would make a nice project motor, but finding the controller would not be easy. I like the conversion car though. Nice project.
haha wouldn't it be nice to actually have the solar panels on the car itself? : )
Would it work to mount the panels on the roof and just have them continually topping off the battery while driving?
mrmusty (author)  Lithium Rain5 years ago
If you had something like a VW van it might be practical ,but my little car doesn't have much roof area. It would help if it sat in the sun all day while you are at work.
what about a light weight trailer to carry the extra solar panels? I seen one like that b4.
Why not use the trunk and hood area as well? Perhaps add in some exposed dash and rear-shelf area as well (assuming the typical sedan)?
A simple diode should suffice as a simple method to add to the charge, however an actual charging circuit should be constructed to make sure the solar-cells only add to the charge, and do not actually attempt to power the motor itself. In this way, the cells contribute ONLY within their capacity to the whole system.
altomic5 years ago
thought about cutting out weight? eg; replace boot and bonnet with fibreglass panels (don't have to worry about heat anymore) remove back seats. take out heating and cooling units maybe peoples here have other weight reducing tips
LinuxH4x0r5 years ago
Any tips for designing the motor adapter plate? I'm working on a 1980 fiat spyder (formerly 2000L) and thats been taking the most time and giving me the most trouble. How did you do yours? I have access to a cnc plasma cutter, so I was thinking of doing one main plate and maybe the extra pieces in layers? Great job!
mrmusty (author)  LinuxH4x0r5 years ago
Actually I found a place that made an adapter for a festiva. I have an aspire and I thought it would bolt right up, and it was close. I had to cut off pin and weld lug (in bottom of adapter). I would search online , maybe someone has made one for a Fiat.
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Prometheus5 years ago
You will improve your power-to-weight ratio by using marine batteries instead. They are 24V batteries, and a 24V 60aH battery weighs far less than four 6V 60aH batteries that provide the equivalent power. This is mass you can do without overall, maybe adding 5 miles to your useful range, if not more by saving as much as 120 lbs of weight overall... Marine batteries are also far more durable than their smaller counterparts, leading to a longer useful lifespan and improved "deep-cycle" capacity than a 4-pack of 6V batteries of equivalent power-supply. Battery-weight is the biggest bane of electric vehicles, so maybe you should look into that....
mrmusty (author)  Prometheus5 years ago
Usually a marine battery is a cross between a true deep-cycle and a regular car battery. A normal lead acid marine battery will not take the charge-discharge cycles I need for this vehicle. I use 2 marine batts in my camper and they work fine . You must be talking about a different kind of "marine battery"
Nope, my bad....I accept your apology ;D
jeff-o5 years ago
Impressive work, though I'd love a few more details.
mrmusty (author)  jeff-o5 years ago
Thanks , Car has 9- 8 volt golf cart batteries ,motor is rated at 40 hp peak , 4- 80 watt solar panels 2- 85 watt. About 25 miles is as far as I've driven it on a full charge and it was getting sluggish. It draws between 300 and 400 amps accelerating and between 50 and 100 cruising at 72 volts. Batteries charge at 5 amps . I don't drive vehicle in winter (northern Illinois) because of poor battery performance and lack of heater.
I suggest looking into electric motors that have a similar range of speed as the engine you removed. Careful math can adapt a motor for use with this transmission (although the reverse is actually more efficient), but maybe even adding a second motor that works only on-demand per the throttle request can work too. The second motor should be able to be idle (such as with a ratcheting mechanism or roller-clutch) until it is actually needed. I recommend the following specs for a permanent-magnet motor: 40kW@6000rpm, minimum efficiency 85%, class F insulation@class B temperature rise, 4-pole. TEAO enclosure (totally-enclosed, Air-over), meaning the motor is sealed from the outside, but a fan cools the casing... My recommended motor overall (whether it exists or not, but it's not impossible to make/find): Cumulative 80% series-compound wound, low-inertia, 50kW, 4-pole, TEFC enclosure (Totally-Enclosed, Fan-Cooled) gearmotor with supplemental liquid-cooling powered by a low-flow auxiliary pump direct-drive to the motor shaft auxiliary-end. Such a motor could be specifically-wired for regenerative capability if an adequate regenerator-circuit could be made for it. The "80%-series compound wound" means that it is mainly a series motor (like your vacuum cleaner motor), but has a shunt-winding as well, to limit overspeed and add to torque. The shunt-winding can be used as a field-coil as the rotor is used as a pickup to instantly convert motor to a generator. This is common in elevator motors up to 200HP. Avoid "differential-compound" motors as if the shunt field goes open for any reason, it will suddenly reverse and "run-away", leading to a centrifugal-explosion if not shut down immediately. It would take an entire page to explain electro-motives here, so do your own research. Otherwise contact me via PM. I believe the motor you are using is powerful enough, but not properly-suited to the duty you are using it for, especially with that transmission. We can collaborate as I am an expert on motors. If you want to optimize your design for peak efficiency, PM me, I might be able to help.
Very nice. It would be good to add these details into the I'ble itself (e.g., Step 2 for the batteries, Step 3 for the motor specs, and so on). Details like that allow other users to understand better the engineering choices you made, and how to adapt your design to their own needs.
jeff-o mrmusty5 years ago
Good to know. What are your next plans for this car? Is there anywhere you can remove excess weight to improve mileage?
N1CK4ND05 years ago
Me almost being at the driving age, have been thinking about getting my car. I know I'm most definitely going to get in a ton of accidents so I'm not doing anything fancy for a while. But I had an idea for like a solar powered computer. Having solar panels on the back, and have the batteries that hold the charge in the trunk, and then hooking up a computer to it. But these are just my geek fantasies. :P
why are you gonna be in a ton of accidents 0.0 are you like going to be street racing or something? When your learning to drive it really is kinda difficult to get in an accident as long as you stay in your lane and are aware of your surroundings. its not like if you make a mistake someone will hit you people watch out for that.
Definitely don't go crazy with your first car, but Roflolommo is right. Just be careful and pay attention. You'll be fine.
drumagon5 years ago
I must say, this is fantastic!
isacco5 years ago
very good work. Congratulations! How much does this transformation cost? The instructable lacks also some technical details to repeat it. Anyway, if somebody wants to redo such a complex project, then he/she must rely on a deep technical knowledge far beyond an instructable.
buckmcf5 years ago
Great Instructable, when I first read the headline I assumed you had a solar panel incorporated into the vehicle so that you could charge it on the go, I plan on making my golf cart self charging this way in the future.
mrmusty (author)  buckmcf5 years ago
Solar panels on vehicle could not supply near the power to run car on their own,but would help charge while sitting.
Assuming you never plan to go over 2 1/2 miles per hour and want a maximum range of about 6 blocks, solar panels on the golf cart will work fine. If you want more speed or a longer range, you need to get more square meters of solar cells. A realistic figure is about 100 watts per square meter - at noon, on the Equator, 2 days per year when the Sun is directly overhead, in perfect weather (assuming 15% efficiency for your solar cells - and I hope you can afford those).
PrinceJ575 years ago
where did you get the electric motor...great instructable!
mrmusty (author)  PrinceJ575 years ago
Motor is made by D&D motor , many places sell them ,if you do a search. The place I bought it from kinda screwed me , so I'm not promoting them.
I'm guessing Goldenmotor
SinAmos5 years ago
Thank you. I want to make my 1965 Mercedes into an electric car, so this should be informative.:) Yeah, please add as many details as possible.
Start here: http://www.evalbum.com/build

I am a charter member of the National Electric Drag Racing Association, by the way - I carry membership card number 14. See http://nedra.com/
Thanks for the resource.
SinAmos SinAmos5 years ago
As in where your purchased your parts and what you actually bought. A parts list would be helpful. Thanks.
hg3415 years ago
great work im going to do this to a motobike when i get the money
kelseymh5 years ago
Have you estimated the full range between charges? You mention 5-10 mile trips, and a maximum speed of 55 (i.e., no freeway driving).
mrmusty (author)  kelseymh5 years ago
Car was getting sluggish after 25 miles. With lead acid batteries and charging with solar it has definite limitations. But it works out great for driving around town after work. Someday I will build one with hi tech batteries and more solar panels.
Yeah, the limitations are pretty clear (and please do include this information in the Intro!). In Davis, CA, there are a lot of people who have small electric vehicles (like those open-frame golf-cart things) for in-town trips. There is even an specialized electric-vehicle dealership here! I think the general rule is that they keep the things plugged in all the time until they go on a trip, and plug them back in as soon as they return. Most of the commerical vehicles have a feedback circuit which turns off the charging when the batteries are at 100%.