Maverick's Green Green Cutter

Item Description Photo

The Premise

Gas is smelly and now very expensive. Lawn mowers pollute more than cars, just Google the facts.

Click to Google

The Solution

I decided to Acquire or Build an alternative that uses only electricity. I am a do-it-yourself type, so I was mentally well on my way to building my own electric mower. My current gas-powered mower died and the grass was starting to get quite high! I started to research the parts I needed, but with the rain Texas has been getting, I was quickly running out of time.

I happened into my local home center and found a returned "Homelite 24 Volt 20" Cordless Rechargeable Mulching Mower with Bag" without a charger and new lower price! Ok, I'm In!... and besides, I have few other unfinished projects anyway. So I'll take this short-cut...!


 

The Maverick Solar Way

Now I have to power it with Solar, after all, this is a site about Solar...

You can build you own electric mower or buy one ready to solarize.

See a few other builders:
1. Guy:  http://www.arttec.net/Solar_Mower/index.html
2. Jeremy: http://www.appropedia.org/Solar_Charged_Lawnmower
3. Lee: http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Vehicles/LeeMowerCharger.htm -or-
          http://www.arttec.net/Solar_Mower/Gallery/LeeFL/index.htm
4. See others from Guy's Rouge's Gallery... http://www.arttec.net/Solar_Mower/Gallery/index.htm

 

Click to Google that too..

Step 1

Locate some scrap to mount the disconnect, a charge controller and maybe a volt meter.
1. I used a small section of sheet metal from something I took apart.
2. I added one MidNite Solar Baby Box, which I custom punched holes for four knock-outs.
3. Two 15A MNEPV DC Breakers.
4. Four Strain Relief to accommodate the wiring.
5. BP Solar GCR-2000 24Vdc 20A Solar Charge Controller. Set for sealed batteries. (e-Bay: MEMA Treasures)
6. In the future, I might add a digital DVM to know the battery State of Charge after mowing.


Click Image to Enlarge

Step 2

Mount the Controls in the Garden Shed.


Click Image to Enlarge

Step 3

Modify the Mower to add a power connection. I already had this 4-prong trailer plug and receptacle. The standard plug, under the big yellow cap, is just a RCA connector, similar to Video/Audio connectors??!! I didn't have a long enough RCA cable and the one I had would not carry up to 1.2 Amp.


Click Image to Enlarge

Step 4

Add some Solar Panels.

Depending on how often you want to mow, you could add 10W of PV or more to charge the onboard 24Vdc, 17AH battery bank.

I used two AEE-20G 20W Polycrystalline panels in series, since I needed 24Vdc nominal to charge the onboard battery.

My 20W Panel Electrical Specifications:
Peak Power: 20 Watts
Peak Power Voltage: 16.4 Vdc
Peak Power Current: 1.22 Amps
Nominal Voltage: 12 Vdc
 Not UL listed
10 year Warranty to 80% Pmin

Another suggested panel, would be the ubiquitous VW solar panel on e-Bay. Series and parallel them to get the power you need. Or search on e-Bay for PV.

The panel mounting was made from scrap pieces of Unirac SOLAR MOUNT and surplus stainless hardware. The pole was a former "don't dig here sign" discarded by the phone company.

I mounted the Panels to gain access to the sun, since the shed sits under the tree canopy. Aimed it south and it gets plenty of sun.


Click Image to Enlarge

Step 5

Enjoy mowing without filling up the gas tank!

The side benefit, not yet realized, is to add a 24Vdc LED Light and a small switch inside the shed, powered by the mower battery when it is not being used to mow. I don't mow in the dark and not many gas mowers can light the shed at night! Now I will be able search for items lost in the shed after dark!

Doh!!, I just added another project to The List. Where is that bag of white LEDs I got from e-Bay???


Click Image to Enlarge

Summary Cost

I needed a new mower and was able to purchase one at a similar price to a gas version. It cuts well and is only slightly less powerful than a gas mower, but totally adequate for its use - to mow around the side walk, oak trees, the deck and tight areas where the riding mower cannot reach.

It mowed wet grass two feet tall?? No, Not what it was designed for, but I was impressed by how well it cut the "wheat" I have growing in my yard. Of course, the battery will be drained very quickly at that pace.

Did I do a Return-On-Investment comparison on this setup? Not yet. Even at $3.00 $4.00 $4.75 per gallon, the payback is still quite long. The cost of my time getting gas, clearing that clogged air filter and cranking on that old beast sure won't be missed. Plus, there are the non-financial rewards...
 

Item What I Paid... What to Expect...
1. Cordless Mower $199.00 Buy one off the shelf or Build your own by scrounging for parts. Dead mowers are easy to come by. 12V & 24V motors are not too hard to find.
2. 40W of PV (2 each 20W) $360.00 Buying new is a budget buster, so Buy the PV used! I have bought many used 60W 12V panels for less than this amount.
3. BP Charge Controller $49.00 Buy from e-Bay or from us. If your mower is 12V, a 12V controller will be cheaper.
4. MidNite Box & Breakers $40.00 Many options here: tie into your off grid system, find a old project box, use fuses and switches. Move the controller to inside the mower and just use a plug for the PV.
5. PV Mounting $Free I used scrap pieces of SOLAR MOUNT, so the only cost is cutting and drilling. Buy used or use left over metal or maybe wood. If you can mount directly to the shed, even better.
6. Wire $Free I used left over wire. Due to the price of copper, I rarely discard short pieces of wire.
Total $648 Worth it: Yes

Thanks

Maverick

 
 

 

P.S.

Safety should never be a Post Script. Using a big motor to spin a metal blade fast enough to cut grass CAN DO HARM TO YOU AND YOURS... SO BE CAREFUL!!!  

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Updated: July 02, 2010