DIY Solar Powered Lawnmower

A simple DIY to convert your lawnmower to run on solar power.
A simple DIY to convert your lawnmower to run on solar power.

Spring is upon us! With nicer weather comes thoughts of outdoor activities – and yard work and chores! One of the chores that many of us share is lawn care – namely, cutting the lawn. Most of us have standard push lawnmowers that are gas powered. We drive to the gas station and fill up a small tank with unleaded fuel. But…what if we could save money, save energy, AND still get the lawn done all at the same time? Imagine not having to go to the gas station to fill your lawnmower with gas.

This is exactly what I did.

Basically, I had a gas lawnmower. It ran fine, except it used gas. And with gas costing almost $3 a gallon, I wanted to save money wherever I could. It was a small expense, but still an expense nonetheless.

And this little lawnmore had the added disadvantage of spewing out noxious exhaust.

I already have a small 2 panel solar array on top of my garage that is feeding 2-3 sealed lead acid batteries in a battery bank. What if I can somehow convert my lawnmower to use these batteries instead of gas?

The project was on! I was excited at the prospect. I immediately decided to trade in or sell my gas lawnmower for an electric one. (In case the project wouldn’t work, I kept a spare gas lawnmower around.) I had an old lead acid battery from a small scooter laying around that was still good and still held a charge. And I had a small AC power inverted that could easily be mounted on the lawnmower.

I scoured craigslist for an electric lawnmower, for cash or trade. I found one for $50, and offered my lawnmower as a trade. We worked out a deal, and I brought home the unit.

First, I plugged it in – and it worked fine! Relatively quiet, well insulated, and it cut fine. But it was corded. I could just plug the lawnmower into my solar array and be done with it, but I decided instead to make a couple modifications.

First, I took the inverter and mounted it on the lawnmower. Then, I took one of the sealed lead acid batteries from the bank and placed it on the lawnmower as well. Finally, I connected the inverter to the battery, and the short lawnmower cord to the inverter via a small 6ft extension cord. I set the inverter to put out the voltage/current required by the motor, and fired it up.

The lawnmower started wonderfully. I was able to cut my lawn on 100% solar power.

What are the advantages?

  • 100% solar power means it uses no electricity that you pay for
  • much cleaner than gas lawnmowers
  • converting corded to “cordless” design means no wires to worry about or run over

I’ll be posting photos soon!

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