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Solar Electric UTV (Polaris sucks, Bad Boy Buggy sucks, Club Car wins)

 
Posts: 320
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There have been people/companies doing the spring over/ atv tire conversions for quite a few years. They seem to give a stock golf cart the "something extra" that they lack. I like how this video compares a modified golf cart and a 4wd bad boy.

 
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I'm not following what the modification is to the golf cart.
 
Joe Braxton
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In the description on YouTube it has a limited slip diff. and an upgraded motor and controller. It also appears to have a lift kit of some kind and atv tires. Not sure what else they may have done.
It's kinda like having a 500 hp, 5000 lb., diesel monster getting out done by an 80 hp 4 banger willy's WWII jeep. Sometimes you can have so much power all you can do is spin your wheels. The driver of the smaller, lighter, less powerful machine will be forced to be efficient with what it's got in order to get through. Just my experience from having one of those WWII willy's.
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I dont know how many permies have heard of burning man festival. A week long art festival in the middle of nowhere on a dry lake bed, every year there is a gaint pop up city built on a empty site to desapair and leave no trace at the end of the week. During the event there is a lot of examples of off grid tech ( every year i help build a 20wk termporary solar array) also interesting desert shelters, radical example of gifting economy and awe inspiring art. Burning Man is far from a sustainable and no way a permaculture event but it's a very interesting event!
holy cow.. To my point there are many P.V cart being used as transportion.

check out this link and be mind blown
im super proud of the solar array I work with , you can see it half down the page!

https://www.google.com/search?q=solar+art+car+burning+man&client=tablet-android-acer&prmd=niv&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0CAgQ_AUoAmoVChMI6JyGz8-JyQIVU-NjCh0mCg4V#tbm=isch&q=solar+art+car+burning+man+
 
steward
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I changed the subject line on this thread.

The bad boy buggy sucks too. I added some info into the first post of this thread to try to convey an overview of the four EVs that we have.
 
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We are in Northern California. Looking for feedback on UTV side by sides. Interested in a electric model. I read the forum and the problems with them. Any new information?  We have experience with GEM cars in town. Thanks for any help. I am wondering if the gas models have the same problems as the electric. After all they should be using the same body and components. I agree they market to recreational users. We want simple and practical and reliable.
 
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Hi, I am Neale Gray the manager of Milbay Australia.

You should find that electric versions of the UTV class will have less (and easier) maintenance than petrol/diesel due to the reduction in the number of moving parts but as discussed here performance is the key for viable commercial farm use.
As indicated in the forum title not all brands and models offered meet the performance and reliability challenge. From my experience electric UTVs can be equal and more powerful than petrol(gas) and diesel models.

Please have a look at some of the videos on Youtube Chanel https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkcDV1CtFBj2pf6jhAJaAAH1j19c31cew there will be several more videos of the UTV both in use on working cattle properties and some video of the vehicle in use on soft sand published shortly.
The video below shows the MB-572UTV climbing a steep grass hillside and demonstrating the low gear engine braking feature.


I hope this assists.

Cheers from Australia.
 
pollinator
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Barbara

You might try contacting golf courses, (large) parks - any entity which oversees or maintains a large space. Country clubs. Small vehicles are used extensively for real work (not recreational). They serve maintenance crews, foreman etc. Large construction sites also use them. Your city may also have them (in a slightly different form) for parking and traffic enforcement. Evanston, IL, uses a small fleet for park patrols during the summer. Northwestern University uses lots of them for campus maintenance. San Mateo Harbor District, CA, uses them daily for maintenance and patrol. And then, of course, there's farms and ranches...

W/luck you can talk w/people who use them daily and throughout and over several years. Good chance for meaningful opinions on reliability, comfort, usefulness, etc.  


Rufus
 
Barbara Clowers
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I have a 2002 GEM car and had a 2006. Out city had several of them and I know something about the problems that arise. I'm looking at a Kubota which looks like it's meant for work not joy riding. I also found a John Deere gator that's electric. Their gas models are really noisy. I wish there was more information on durability and reliability.   I don't think a golf cart will work for me because of clearance. I don't have hills but I do have some riparian acres that are sandy and have hidden rocks. Thanks for your input.
 
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Hi Paul
      I experimented with golf carts years ago and found same problems as you, my solution was to redesign a new all purpose home/ farm electric vehicle that can do most of the small tasks around the home, very low maintenance, cheap and easy to operate, safe, could be run from solar, and operate my power tools or lights when not in use, I came up with this version of an electric garden tractor, it was so successful I called it "The Little Electric Tractor That Can" and made several short videos of things it does, to use power tools just add an inverter!
Links to my videos
hope you like them Little Eddie
Video #5  Ploughing Snow    

Video #4 Ploughing Veggie Garden  

Video #3 The Little Electric Tractor That Can! cutting grass  

Video#1 on youtube    
 
and  

 
pollinator
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Hi Brian
are you selling these ? Conversion kits?

David
 
Brian Edmond
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David
      No I only sell plans for the average handyman to convert his old gas garden tractor to electric, I want to make kits when I have saved up enough money to buy parts in large volume, I was on Dragens Den, same as Shark Tank about 12 yrs ago but they would only invest if I had already sold several thousand,
Little Eddie
 
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Where can we order the plans?
 
Brian Edmond
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Hi Coralee
             You can go to my website   electrictractor.net  for plans and more info on my electric garden tractor
Little Eddie
 
pollinator
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Brian Edmond wrote:Hi Coralee
             You can go to my website   electrictractor.net  for plans and more info on my electric garden tractor
Little Eddie



Thanks for posting the link.  I ordered the book, very interesting.
 
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I was looking into electric AVT recently and did'nt found any topics on that subject.

Does anybody tried or look i to these?

http://www.daymak.com/sasquatch/
The Sasquatch is availabke in Canada ( hey!)

I also just found this good read compare
- Polaris ranger EV
- Eco Electric ATV (E-Force) i really like that one
- Bad Boy Buggies XT
And
- Barefoot Motors

http://www.atv.com/products/electric-atvs-a-consumers-guide-1625.html

I'd like to read your tought about those E-force and Barefoot Motors if any have tried them.

Maxime
 
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got this out of the weeds for 500 bucks. 350 for trans, 250 for carb and rear main seal. The "Poobican" has been the best tool here. we live on a mountain so i need real 4x4 and I aint got razor doe... i lincoln locked it too. custom roof for off grid applications!
also the wheel base is similar, parts are cheap and plentiful, and it will pull my boat. I know its not electric but its cheap:)
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Jim,
I think you are onto something.  I have had a problem with how "green" people think electric vehicles are.  A lot of toxic gick goes into making batteries, and if you are charging on grid what gick was involved to get you the electrons for your EV.  And it seems that every battery I know of or owned, once it starts being used, is dying and will have to be disposed of and replaced someday.  Not very permie sounding.   It would seem that using reliable gas burner, like your jeep, would be a good homestead option.  Easy to work on, could easily stock pile a lifetime of parts and in a pinch even brew your own fuel.

Where did you get the gin pole rig on the back of it?  How does it work for you?   I assume you loaded those logs with it, did it easily make it a one-man job?

ps
Electric chainsaws may have there place for limbing and other lite work, but we used one to fell a fair sized maybe 20 inch diameter tree at a PDC and it was hopelessly underpowered to the point I thought it was a bit unsafe using it, as it would "overload" and quit just when you needed torque.   For any serious logging or firewood collection I would still give the edge to a noisy gas chain saw.  Small engines are really not that complicated to diagnose and work on, and again you could easily stockpile a life time of parts and make your own fuel if it got to that.

rob
 
jim hughes
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Hey thanks Rob. I'd be more inclined to say things like the prius are a green vehicle if all the owners had a shit ton of panels on their roofs charging them, but the reality is "off grid" life style is hard and humans are mostly lazy lol. I am included in that as I am creature of comfort to some extent. I understand people are trying to change but most power of any kind aint green. This is turning into a discussion for the cider press....sorry.
Anyways that picker I got at a garage sale for a couple bucks and welded it onto my bumper and it works surprisingly well. I did pull those logs up on the trailer but it wasnt as easy as I would have liked.. I did do the research on the jeep as far as wheel base goes. I was lusting hard after a side by side but the jeep blows em away....really blows em away. Too boot I run a deep cycle battery and have mobile power and tunes! everywhere on the property. I have a hard top for it but it gets in the way and I can use the wood as a platform for all sorts of things.

Jimmy
 
pollinator
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How about Elan Musks Nikola Zero.  (Just kidding it's 37k)  100% Electric, 4x4, 555 HP, 200 miles on a charge...this has more horsepower than my 4x4 Frontier.  My UTV is a 1996 Ford Ranger.

 
Rob Griffin
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Jimmy,
Great yard sale score on the picker.  Did you load the logs from the side or drag them up from the end?   I think every homestead could use a good gin pole rig.  Can you start a thread with pictures that show the picker and using it?

And as for cider press...I think Paul cringes every time he sees I have posted something...

Rob
 
jim hughes
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Hey Rob, too much going on for a video right now but I'll tell ya the thing works good. Being a one man op miles away from another strong back it a necessary item to have. The logs I pulled up onto it from behind, worked ok. It has moved a 1000lb battery bank (moved) not lifted. It also serves as my primary for moving (lifted and driving) everything from my compressor, genset (smaller one), snow plow, etc. If ya look close you'll see thats not the stock bottle jack I had to cut the old one up and weld the mounts on a 20T jack. works better.
The other pic is me on the roof of the jeep lol. No one out here to laugh at me, that feels nice
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pollinator
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Paul et al,

I recently found a nonworking 2009 Polaris EV UTV at a rich person garage sale kinda thing. Nonrunning. Picked it up for under $3k. 148 hours on it. Kept outside near as I can tell. Batteries dated 2013.

Outlay- $4 of distilled H2O. Charged the batteries on a stand alone charger and load tested- all in range.

The Polaris early models (don't know about the recent vintage) all are FLA batteries in dual chains of 48 V, four per side. The charge controller is notorious! This was a decent controller for lower charge profiles, but the one set as standard will burn out the pins on the wimpy 12G wires that are standard in no time, causing first gremlins and then failure. Here is a nice synopsis. The charge profile MUST be changed from the factory setting, they had it pushing way too many amps, and boiling and corroding the wiring. I changed mine but am having to remake the battery box and clean everything. Outlay is <$100 and  hours of work.

There are some youtube videos out there of some redneck fabulous fixes. Here is one from that series. There is another series of videos on it from BransonSolar. Anyhow, this is not occasional, this is a design flaw that will manifest 100% of the time. If you haven't fixed it, you will have a failure. I rewired mine with 10g wire to the initial harness, and will run another 10g to the MPC once I have some time.

The MPC is pretty good. They come with a Sevcon Gen4 which can power much bigger items. This does not need much work. The main issue is that they have proprietary software to access the CANbus. It can be done with CANopen, but I haven't got it working yet. This is imperative if you want to be able to install LiFePO stacks, which is almost required, they are so much higher performance and are a waste stream item at this point (unless you buy the kits). A cable to tie into the CANbus is a couple hundred bucks, not chump change, and I don't trust the suppliers online.

There are a couple other issues with a main fuse to the Sevcon which is a 20A fuse that runs at 20A a lot. This fuse box burns up routinely. Like melts totally. Mine hasn't, but I am replacing it anyway. Its an hour job and $10 at NAPA for a maxi fuse box.

And then there is a problem with the solenoid/main disconnect wire, which is again badly underspecced. This wiring harness burns up at load and needs to be replaced with an Anderson connector rated for 50A, the one in there is probably not good enough for 30A. $20 in parts and a couple hours work.

All these things really have to be done or the machine will fail. They should never have left the factory with any of these issues. But they are so notorious that they are starting to get cheap!

 
Tj Jefferson
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The follow on for most of us will be conversion to LiFePO, which is a much bigger issue. Until I can tie into and read the Sevcon CANbus I am not even considering it. The only other way of doing it is to have a separate battery management system (BMS) which looks to cost around $500, and can do the required tasks. They are getting pretty cool, the battery charge and discharges can be read on your phone on the newer ones over bluetooth. They balance your battery cells, and you can get some cheap cells now from auto EVs that have been totalled. The Sevcon has to be reprogrammed for the higher voltage, it is built to accept over 70V I believe, or you can just use a lower V lithium cell and not reprogram.

Then the DeltaQ charge controller need to be reprogrammed, which means it must be sent in to a shop. There are one or two that will do it. This probably costs a couple hundred bucks. There are some other charge controllers out there, and it may literally be cheaper to get one fro another source.

My estimate of the cost of doing the conversion, not including the solar panels, is about $2000, which raises the price of this thing to $5k. I am not ready to consider it until the current batteries fail.

The good news on these machines is that the motor is pretty beefy. If you don't beat it up too much there seem to be few problems. They are whiny and clunk a lot.
 
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My brother lives in a very difficult spot on the side of a mountain. The aggregate on his steep laneway is too large, without the proper mixture of fine material. I had to take three runs at it with my Toyota.

He drives a Nissan Leaf electric car and has absolutely no trouble climbing that same slope. I'm sure that electric pickups will arrive soon. The leaf is his primary vehicle. If a firm had a good 4 wheel drive electric pickup truck, other things could be trailer mounted and deposited where needed, and there wouldn't need to be a standalone vehicle that stays at the farm. They've had the leaf long enough that the fuel savings has just about paid for it now.

The car certainly isn't an off-road vehicle, I think a four-wheel drive pickup on batteries would be a very efficient way of moving things around the farm. So I think mass produced electric road vehicles are the way of the future, on difficult sites. One huge Advantage is that they come with a very high quality battery bank with all of the necessary Electronics included. No need for any head scratching about how to put it all together.
 
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Paul - Some model/years of the Polaris had various problems with the Canadian made 110v chargers I hear.  I have a first year 2010 model & posted about the overcharging & how to correct it. But I'm also off-grid on solar & came up with a way to plug my EV directly into a charge controller 7 that's works excellent now for fast charging! Retrofitting an old solar battery pack helps with the range. I've had some noise issues & you can see all my videos, but overall I also use my EV daily & still haven't found anything better to buy than what I have. Some have talked about converting a used electric car & I did look at the possibility of using a Smart Car EV. I really need 4WD though the overall size of the Smart might suffice once converted. The Polaris is overbuilt in some areas, but not strong enough in others. It's still not what I want & I hate being stuck with proprietary equipment that's dealer only for example. My idea was to convert an existing gas UTV to electric & that might actually be a good thought long term. I don't need a better EV than what I have, now that I've upgraded the one I have. But I would like a 'REAL' mechanical low range vs High instead of just a switch that reprograms the controller. Lion batteries vs the used heavy Trojans I installed, etc. Cost would be the issue no doubt. There have been better UTV EV's available years past, but they were $30k +. Converting a good reliable heavy duty gas 4WD UTV is probably the better idea, but which one? I don't know much about the gas ones & their history or I might look into it.
 
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Electric conversions for a tractor or truck are not too complicated. The main thing is technique and integration, parts kits are widely available.

On many "farms" 10-30 miles range is plenty, so the battery need only be large enough to supply ample current under continuous load for the motor and get design range.

An electric toyota rav4 would be a great off the shelf side by side atv as would an electric ford ranger with a chopped off top, or not, if you like a cab.

Suzuki samarai is an awesome off road machine and are tiny, about the size of a utv, light weight and tough as nails.

Im in the lot who would have to buy a converted machine or convert one.

One thing about atv/utv, if you have owned them, or serviced them, most are trouble free for 10-20 years of heavy to moderate use. I am always amazed at the longevity of service.

https://military.polaris.com/en-us/ranger-ev/ (edit; didnt know there were so many issues with these, re-read the post....)

I have to agree, after review, golf cars are nearly indestructable, heavy, not much wheel travel, but super capable.

 
pollinator
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I've got one of these I bought used for $900.00

I can dig with the dirt scoop or grader blade, got a mower for the back, made some forks for moving things around on small pallets. If a small tree gets hung up, I hook a chain to the bottom and drive off. I have a 220 gallon water tank on a trailer. I go down a pretty steep hill to get spring water and have to come back up the hill loaded. Between the water, the trailer, which is the front half of a truck frame and the generator that runs the sump pump, I'm hauling 2000 lbs behind a 1000 lb tractor. Just a matter of axle location to give it plenty of tongue weight. I tow my log splitter back to the woods.

It's a 3 cylinder diesel and it's mechanical injected diesel. Not much for electrical and no electronics. I'm pretty sure it would run just fine on biodiesel but I've yet to get into that. It will run all day on a gallon of fuel - two gallons if mowing.

It's got turf tires on the back just like the one in the pic and I don't have any problem getting around the hilly woods here. Might have to step on the pedal to lock the rear wheel together sometimes. I'd love to have the 4wd version of course and with ag tires but for less than a grand, I can't complain. Wouldn't mind having a roof over me though. Gets hot out there mowing in the sun.  

Only real downside is max 6mph and you have to crawl on rough areas because there's no suspension(springs) so you feel every bump.

The forks have been a godsend. I'm one little 53 year old man. I use the dirt scoop for hauling more than digging too. 300 lb boulder, no problem. Used the forks to move a 400 lb wood stove last week.(back up with forks under stove, pull lever to raise, drive away) I can pick up and move the 4.3 liter V6 engine sitting on my engine stand, stand and all. This Spring, I plan to build a trailer for the tractor. Something like 4x10 foot with the axle pretty far back. I'll be able to bring a good load of firewood up from the woods where a vehicle can't get. Just have to tow the splitter back first and then go back and get the trailer.

Don't know if it will ever happen but a loader could be made for it as it does have hydraulic ports to connect it to. Wouldn't be able to dig with it but could scoop up gravel, loose dirt or compost.

I do have one property line I can barely fit my S-10 pickup truck. It's 4x4 and got the tiny 2.8 liter V6 and it's handy too.

I've got a small four-wheeler(2wd) that I need to fix up. I plan to use that to check the perimeter fence on a daily basis. The fence goes through the woods. It's got springs & shocks for the suspension.

I wouldn't mind having an electric golf cart for visiting neighbors.

I've had the little tractor for about 5 years and haven't had to do much of anything to it but change the motor oil.

 
pollinator
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John Pollard wrote:

I've got a small four-wheeler(2wd) that I need to fix up. I plan to use that to check the perimeter fence on a daily basis. The fence goes through the woods. It's got springs & shocks for the suspension.

I wouldn't mind having an electric golf cart for visiting neighbors.

I've had the little tractor for about 5 years and haven't had to do much of anything to it but change the motor oil.



Our little Yanmar is the same way and I can't get myself to part with it even though I have a newer John Deere of about the same size.  Main difference being the hydrostatic drive of the latter along with the front-loader and live PTO.  But the Yanni just won't die and is such a trooper!

A converted Snapper is our "FTV"  -- Flat terrain vehicle ;-)   Finally put a new 10 hp engine on it this fall since the previous V-Twin had been maintained poorly before we inherited it and we did not need it to mow grass.  The small engine is more than enough to power it as a 2wd fence runner.

But my wife is getting up there in years and wanted something more robust for all seasons and so we got the lower end John Deere XUV.  As you noted, tractors are hard on the body when the grounds is bumpy, but the independent suspension of a UTV really smooths out the ride.  Plus, she needed a bed on the back high enough so that the pigs she's feeding can't get at the food.

More to the point of this thread, I've been wanting to get a fixer-upper electric golf cart on which to place a solar-panel canopy.  But it would probably get use for only half of the year in our present climate.  Good to see the number of people using them in rural settings.
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Tj Jefferson
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Polaris mostly sucks because the preliminary engineering is woefully inadequate. for this type of application I think you have to decide what aspect is most important and forget about the other aspects. For instance the Polaris is built with lead-acid batteries making up half the weight of the vehicle. Then as sort of an afterthought they had to upgrade the shocks with stronger springs, but didn't seem to upgrade the rest of the front drivetrain. It is crazy but they actually don't have grease points on mine- just dust boots. Mind you it weighs almost as much as a small tractor. This means there is more friction leading to more wear leading to it just not being appropriate for the kind of mileage people ask of them. I think if/when it craps the bed, replacing any possible components with drilled in grease fittings would be smart. I don't want to pull it apart and do so now but once its de facto, maybe I will. My sense is that these EVs are a mess because either a company has experience with EV drivetrains or UTV frames and power transfer from a typical motor- but not both.  
 
Tj Jefferson
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After going through the whole freaking wiring diagram, I think this could be a great machine. It has a really nice motor. It has a really nice (but proprietary to program) motor controller that is the brains of the machine. It would be super if it was readily programmable, I would make it much much dumber and just turn off a bunch of functionality. Probably even make it 2WD. Limit the speed and power to much lower numbers, no one is out doing real 4wheeling with 800# of batteries. Max speed is way way too high for what I need it will easily do 30MPH and you can hear every component other than the motor hating it.

I am working on breaking into the motor controller but they have made it quite challenging.  The downside is that even if it works I wouldn't recommend this vehicle for its compromises. I would be pissed if I had paid anything like retail for this thing.
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