Questions asked can be posted here to help all with the construction of their first or 10th Electric Vehicle.
What else do I need to convert my car to electric using a Belktronix EV Kit? (Let's assume you have a vehicle that has a Manual Transmission or Transaxle)
Up to 12 PBa 12V Batteries (AGM) or up to 45 Lithium 3.3V LiFePo4 (see battery types below) Battery Trays, cables and battery clamps (hold-down) DC Series Wound Motor Motor to Transmission Adapter & shaft coupler (clutchless) A 500A 170VDC rated fuse and fuse-holder (or equivalent rated DC Circuit Breaker for 500A controller) Emergency Disconnect (not needed if a Circuit Breaker is accessible)
How much wire do I need? (not absolute) Roughly 50-60’ of 2/0 welding cable for battery cables (AGM battery pack) Roughly (34-38) crimp style 2/0 lugs for battery cables (AGM battery pack) Roughly 30’ ea, 18Ga stranded insulated wire (2 colors) Roughly 10’ ea, 10Ga stranded insulated wire (2 colors) Roughly 50’ ea, 22 or 24Ga stranded insulated hookup wire (4 colors)
What Tools do I need? Probably an engine hoist to remove the ICE and install the electric motor. (1) Large hammer-type Lug crimping tool (~$30) (1) Wire cutting tool (1) Hand crimping tool (Test your tool by crimping a lug and pull it back off) (1) Insulation removal tool (1) Small straight blade screwdriver (1) Soldering Iron (good to have one handy) Assortment of Basic hand tools
What Mechanically do I have to do? Materials and tools to fabricate battery racks and to secure the batteries Fabricate battery cables and interconnects for the batteries ½” Aluminum plate to fabricate an Adapter Plate to mount the DC motor to the Bellhousing ¼” or ½” Aluminum plate to fabricate the spacer rings between the motor and large adapter plate. Fabricate a clutch disc adapter to motor shaft adapter Bolts and nuts to assemble motor to adapter plate, battery cables to batteries, battery clamps
What Battery Types work with the Kit? 12V AGM batteries from Hawker Genesis, NPX, Marathon, Optima, Deka AGM, Deka Gel, Trojan Gel, LifeLine, Universal Battery and Werker. Other battery mfg’s may be similar and require verification of charging temperature compensation. 6V can be accommodated as well. ThunderSky 3.2V LiFePo4 works and HPC cells with the new LionMon cell monitor. More vendors to be added moving forward.
What Motors work with the Kit? 96V - 144V Series Wound Motors from NetGain, Advanced DC, D&D Motorsports and GE, to name a few. The size of the motor (6.5”, 8”, 9”. 11” or 13" if you can stomach the cost) is proportional to vehicle weight and expected use. While smaller motors may work in larger vehicles, they are less efficient and can easily overheat under city driving where acceleration demands more peak power from the motor. Maintaining freeway speeds places a high demand on the motor as well. As they operate at higher current, the motor losses can reduce the expected range of the vehicle. Its better to go with as large a motor as your budget allows, which will maximize your range and minimize motor losses. Direct drive systems also place a high load demand on a motor and controller.
Which vehicle should I choose? City driving, the lighter the better due to the weight having to be constantly accelerated / decelerated. Freeway driving requires more aerodynamic body styles to help reduce aerodynamic losses. The vehicle chassis may need to be upgraded with better brakes and/or shocks to accommodate battery weight for longer commutes. Most transmissions can go clutchless simply because the motor can decelerate quicker than a gas engine minus the flywheel. Moving the shifter from one gear to the next simply uses the synchros to make the shift into the next gear. With a series motor, its more difficult to slip the clutch because the motor can accelerate much quicker than a gas engine, and fail due to over-revving. Better tires reduce road friction, so don't exclude an upgrade to lower rolling resistance ones.
Where do I get the motor adapter and coupler? The easy way is to part with about $1000 and have one made from Cloud Electric Or if you're cheap like me, you can save yourself allot of money by making the motor adapter plate yourself. I found this site with photos of an adapter plate while surfing around Jerry's Electric Car Conversion. If you're up to it, you start by making a template of your bellhousing with a thin piece of sheet steel. You overlay the steel and mark out the holes of the bellhousing and its outline. You then drill out the holes, and trim the template to match the bellhousing. Then you get the centerline of the transmission shaft (this may be hard to do, but patience or some modeling clay can get the job done). You then center the motor mounting bolt pattern to the center of the transmission shaft and mark/drill those holes as well. Once you're confident your template matches the transmission and motor accurately, then transfer the pattern to a thick aluminum plate (1/2" or greater). Make sure you get the correct (not reversed pattern) transferred to the plate. Sometimes a slight misalignment can occur using a hand drill instead of a drill press. You can make your motor shaft adapter by carefully removing the center spline hub from the clutch disk. Purchase a motor shaft coupler that fits the motor shaft and weld both together or pay to have it done. Next, you need to determine what spacing is needed between the motor and adapter plate and make some thick spacer rings (from aluminum plate- they'll look like doughnuts) to get the correct distance between the motor shaft and transmission shaft. They will need the bolt pattern of the motor, the ID and OD of the motor as well. Bolt the adapter to the motor/spacers. Then install the shaft coupling (threadlock the setscrews), then mount the adapter plate to the bellhousing. If its all correct, the adapter plate will sit flush to the bellhousing, then you can spin check the assembly with a 12V battery to see if it is correctly aligned and the motor turns smoothly.
How do I get started with my EV Conversion? Arm yourself with adequate information. Start with an itemized list and cost of things you will need to make it happen. Search the web for the same or similar converted vehicles. Check to see if you have all the tools (and space) you need to do the job. Be sure you have enough funds to complete the task. Build scale models of items (cardboard boxes work great for batteries), place them where you expect them to be located to be sure you have room for all the batteries for your vehicle of choice. Check things off the list as they are completed. Keep good records so you can go back and recheck things. Consult others who have converted vehicles before to get advice on your vehicle. Order the parts and get that EV grin with your own Electric Car!
Notes / Considerations / FAQ Relay-based motor control: Have to switch hi/low relay or transmission gear to achieve or maintain a given vehicle speed. Clutch and flywheel needed to operate. Using without clutch may cause relay contacts to fuse together due to high inrush currents. With transistorized control, Adapter plates can be designed without the clutch or flywheel, offering considerable weight and cost savings. The main contactor still serves as an emergency disconnect.
Transistorized motor control: 0 to full torque control of the motor. Shifting only required to increase HP and limit motor RPM. Clutch and flywheel not required to operate system Most EV kits on the market today have no (or optional) battery management or balancing systems, without them lead to battery reversal, failures, and shorter battery cycle life. This kit has battery monitoring for driving and charging conditions to yield high battery cycle life and limits low battery operation to protect battery. Some kits offer only the conversion hardware, but no battery charger or untested information for other EV components. This kit supplies the Motor Controller (Power Center), Charger (Charger/DC-DC combo), Startup sequencer (Vehicle Integrator), battery monitors (BatMon or LionMon) and resistors. It is designed for use with No Maintenance AGM or AGM/GEL type 12V batteries (Flooded under consideration).
When considering an EV conversion, these things must be considered: Terrain hilly, flat, combination (determines peak HP needed) Speed of commute (determines continuous HP required) Distance of commute (determines AH of battery pack needed) Time commuting (any modifiers such as traffic, stop and go driving) Vehicle aerodynamics (affects Ah of battery pack needed). Other parameters come into play when considering a conversion: Vehicle age and condition (reliability, spare parts availability) Vehicle weight (affects battery range) Tire size and type (affects battery range) Clutch or no clutch (depends on motor current available).
Suspension Notes Strut suspensions typically cost more to convert due to custom made springs (if battery weight exceeds the vehicle's load carrying capacity). Shock/Coil sprung suspensions can benefit with air shocks to help with added battery weight. This is typically the case for EV’s with >30 mi range requirements and lead acid batteries. Some choose a vehicle strictly on visual appeal. In this case, other things will be compromised on the outcome of the conversion. Vehicle range will likely be lower with larger and heavier vehicles. Lighter ones offer better vehicle weight to battery ratios. Sometimes it’s easier to convert vehicles that have been done before. This way some of the pitfalls in the conversion process can be avoided. Be realistic with your own abilities, don’t get in over your head and have to customize everything to get your conversion to work. It may not be worth the expense in the end.
Self Quiz: How are my mechanical abilities realistically? Am I familiar enough with power tools? Do I have realistic planning and goal setting aptitude? Do I consider safety issues or ignore them? Do I get too frustrated to complete projects? How are my wiring skills? Do I understand the dangers with high voltage battery systems? Do I check my work or rush to see results? Do I follow instructions without taking unnecessary shortcuts? Do I call on friends to help out when things get too hard to do? Do I have enough financially to complete the conversion? Do I expect things to always go well? Some of these questions are downright silly, but point to the real nature of the heart. For some, when things go wrong, the need to launch tools into outer space becomes paramount. The job will never get done if you have to go and fetch them. So recognize personal limitations when problems arise and instead take a break or do something different. Some are fortunate and have trained themselves to see problems as an opportunities to solve them. Converting a vehicle to electric can be a high-risk adventure for some, due to the variability of individual skills and abilities and the use (or lack) of common sense. If this is your first vehicle conversion, you will need help. Don’t expect the EV kit manufacturer to know your vehicle like you do, or have converted one like it before. Due to the many vehicles out there, this is clearly impossible and unreasonable. There are some skills needed (or someone who has done conversions before) to reduce risk and remove the danger aspects from the conversion. Never overestimate your abilities; you can get in way over your head. Have someone working with you in case something happens. One example came about while working on a battery pack for a home power grid (at 1AM) due to a power outage. The wiring was almost done when the wrench went in a different direction than what was intended. It contacted a battery post 3 batteries away and turned into a sparking light show. Needless to say, 1 battery was replaced and the wiring had burst into flames. Not a pleasant experience, and one that could have avoided with allowing more time to complete the job!
FAQ’s Q: What range can I expect with an Electric Vehicle? A: This primarily depends on driving habits, terrain, aerodynamics and rolling resistance. Power Consumed while traveling on a flat road gives the indication of wind/friction/power losses. Check the web for EV’s in existence that would be similar to what you are considering and get mileage info, battery type, voltage and capacity. Q: How long does it take to charge? A: Based on miles driven, roughly about 1hr for every 4 miles traveled. (120VAC input) Q: Can I use other battery types (NiMH or NiCad) with this kit? A: The battery management system will require modification. Contact the factory Q: Can other chargers be used with your split kit? A: Here are some pitfalls that can be avoided with individual chargers. Click on these links to see examples 1, 2, One comment to make here, never follow a customer's recommendation for changes to this system! If there is a problem, contact the factory first to seek remedial action.