Electric motors come in two flavors. Without getting too technical, there are alternating current (AC) motors and direct current (DC) motors. Either type can be used as electric car motors. The rare electric car made by large vehicle manufacturers will come with an AC motor. These produce more power for their size and they are lighter than DC motors, which give them an advantage.
On the other hand, AC motors are also a lot more complicated for the DIY enthusiast to install and are quite a bit more expensive than DC motors. This is the reason most of us prefer the DC motor for all of our conversion projects. The advantages of using a DC motor for your electric car conversion project are numerous.
First, They are simple to acquire if you know what to look for. Reconditioned DC motors can be found locally. You can often get them for very cheap – or even for free. They last a very long time. If the motor is recently reconditioned you can actually expect it to outlive the car.
Electric DC motors are described by their diameter. It probably goes without saying, but larger diameter motors are capable of producing greater horsepower. But before you go out and get the biggest motor you can find, remember that these will also use more energy and require more batteries or more frequent charging. You have to reach a balance between power and practicality and that balance exists in a motor between nine and thirteen inches. This is the size most commonly used in electric car conversions.
A motor in this size range provides enough output and horsepower to get you around at top speeds approaching 55 miles per hour and can achieve a range of between 150 and 200 miles between charges.A DC motor in this 9 to 13 inch size range will also work well with deep cycle batteries, which we’ve found to be the best choice for DIY conversions.
Motor installation for an electric car conversion is easy to do assuming you follow the instructions. You will probably need a helper for this step because the motor weighs around 150 pounds.
For between $1000 and $5000 (depending on the size) you can buy a brand new electric car motor on line, but I recommend against that. For a fraction of that cost, you can find a reconditioned used motor that will outlive any car you put it in. Actually, I’ve known of some that have outlived 2 cars.
The same effort is required to install it and it will be no less reliable than a new motor, so why spend the extra money? You can find these cheap reliable motors in ample supply by just looking around your local area. Invest a little time looking around and you’ll easily save $1000 or more. A good set of plans and an experienced guide becomes extremely valuable here.
You do have to know what to look for and the best places to search to save the most money you can. The right set of plans will provide you with invaluable information in this regard. They will also takes you step by step through the entire conversion and makes sure that your controller, motor, batteries and every other component you use (including the car!) are all suitable for the project and for each other. In fact, with the right guidance you can usually complete the full conversion for well under $500.