In the spirit of making everything as energy efficient and green as possible, you’re finally converting that old ATV from guzzling gas and pumping out toxic fumes, to hitting a faster acceleration off of an electric power source.
First of all, good on you. Second of all, electric ATV conversion isn’t as hard as you think.
It will take some time and a little bit of know-how, but it’s not something that you need to hire someone else to do for you, or anything like that.
Can You Convert Your ATV?
Yes you can! Your ATV isn’t as complex as you think just because it has a combustion engine.
I will say this: conversion kits for ATVs can be kind of niche, so you’ll most likely end up using a motorcycle conversion kit than anything else.
Converting your ATV is a lengthy process for anyone that isn’t already comfortable with automobiles and maintenance in general. Be sure to set aside your tools ahead of time, and plan out the appropriate amount of time to get this done.
Is it Legal to Build Your Own Electric ATV?
As long as you comply with federal limitations in place, then there’s no reason you cannot make your own electric ATV.
There are currently no laws about producing your own ATV, whether it’s a combustion engine or an electric version.
That being said, every law is going to be different when it comes to operation. If you’re in Florida, you cannot build an ATV that goes over 35 MPH. That’s going to be different depending on where you live, but you absolutely have to know local laws.
If you have any plans on bringing this into another state, whether it’s for a family vacation, or you’re just crossing state lines while riding on legal ATV trails, you also have to know the laws for that other state.
You’ll get the speech about ignorance not being an excuse for breaking the law if you cross the border into an area with a lower maximum MPH threshold. They may not deem your ATV as a legal automobile, and you’ll run into issues there.
How to Build an Electric ATV
Ever been under the hood of an ATV? Once you open up the top and look at the motor, it looks like an entirely different beast, but don’t worry.
It’s not going to be that difficult to convert it. Let’s take a look at the technical breakdown.
Tools and Equipment
Start with a conversion kit from Amazon or another trusted electronics supplier
Plying tools to remove top/cover and any stuck items inside of the top cover
Wrench set for various nuts to remove mounting systems
Heavy gloves for protection
Electric motor conversion kit for motorcycles or ATVs
Battery bank and necessary wiring
L-brackets and hot glue
1. Disassemble the entire ATV. You want to pop the cover off, remove the gas tank, and everything inside of the housing. Everything must go, but this process can take about 2-3 hours depending on how careful you have to be. The only thing that should be left is the gearbox.
2. This isn’t going to be as hard as you think – once the combustion engine has been removed and all the parts are to the side, you’re going to grab your battery bank and position it in the area where the motor used to be.
3. Wire up your battery to where the new electric motor will go. Mark the area, and screw in L-brackets to whatever area you can to help house the battery. There should be one on each corner to give it a nice sturdy place to rest.
4. Once the brackets are in place, apply hot glue to the external area of the battery bank (this won’t damage it; apply liberally). You want it glued to the bottom of the frame in any area that it can be, and to the sides of those L-brackets.
5. Install the electric motor to the gearbox, and make sure you have ample space for your wires to go. Once this is installed and properly affixed to an area, you have to finish wiring everything up. Keep in mind that the motor needs to have access to the speed controller.
6. Install your speed controller in an area where you can properly access it. In many instances, this can attach to the electrical wiring of the previous throttle on your ATV. The placement is personal, so do whatever you can to make sure it fits what you want.
7. We don’t want to have to do any welding here or change the frame, which is why you’re going to put your gas tank right back in its place, which should be directly underneath the top cover. This will simply hold the top cover in place without it sinking or snapping the plastic if you lean on it.
8. Reassemble your ATV with the top cover, make sure it fits okay, and test everything out with a nice long ride. Be sure that any charging areas are covered to the best of your ability so that snow or mud doesn’t get in, and you’ll be good to go.
Your ATV is on electrical power now, and it should be a few pounds lighter to help give you extra mileage from here on out.
Can You Convert a Broken ATV?
Yes, you absolutely can. Because you’re swapping out so many parts, you’ll be able to remove the motor if it’s busted without having to worry about anything.
In most scenarios, someone will convert their ATV to electric and try to sell the parts on a local marketplace app or service, but at the end of the day, as long as it’s an electric motor when all is said and done, you’ve completed your task.
If you don’t currently have an ATV, you could inspect and purchase one that’s labeled as “broken” as long as the wheels, tires, axles, and overall stability of the ATV is still good.
You want to avoid anything with excessive amounts of rust or anything of the sort if you can help it.
Should I Buy a New ATV to Convert?
Converting an ATV to use electricity instead of a gas engine is labor-intensive, and you also have to consider the upfront cost of getting a brand new ATV, which isn’t ideal.
You’re going to spend more money on the conversion kit, why waste money on a new ATV in the process? It just doesn’t make sense.
Since you’re ripping the parts out anyway, you can go with a used ATV. There are some drawbacks, but overall, you can clean up most of the parts and inspect them, make sure the tires are solid, etc., and be pretty happy with the end result.
Keep in mind that in your area, it might be hard to find someone selling an ATV, so plan this out ahead of time and try to stalk some sales pages for a few weeks or up to one month before deciding to buy and convert an ATV.
While we are seeing more electric ATVs for sale with the EV change happening all across transportation, I wouldn’t hold your breath on a solid EV ATV just yet from manufacturers.
Is Electric ATV Conversion Expensive?
It depends on the wattage of the motor you choose to buy.
A 1,000 watt motor is powerful enough to drag your ATV to speeds between 10 MPH and 15 MPH depending on the weight bearing of the vehicle, and that’s perfectly fine for ATVs. These motors and kits can cost around $250 or so.
But then you have to think about the battery. Ideally, since you won’t be near a charging station and likely won’t have solar panels with you, you want a battery bank with at least 100Ah.
You have to house these together within a battery bank or choose a pre-built one that meets your specifications and requirements, but this is a good place to start.
The prices on these vary. As the EV and DIY EV market continues to soar, the supply and demand tug-o-war may drive prices really far in one direction or the other.
That being said, you can budget about $500 in total for a battery bank and wind up with powerful, trustworthy cells, as well as a good housing to keep them in.
Your DIY Solution
It’s not as difficult as it looks, but definitely something that will be easier and finished in a brief morning if you already have experience working on ATvs or vehicles in general.
That being said, it’s nowhere near as expensive as people make it out to be as long as you bring the elbow grease.
For more guides on electric vehicles, conversions, and everything else related to green transportation, check out our other guides.
Noel Joseph has been in the world of motor vehicles for a long period. Currently, he is enthusiastic about Electric & Hybrid Motors and is an independent researcher. He advocates for a clean and sustainable future and envisions utilizing his years of experience in mechanical engineering. His new venture here at CompactPower.com is to organize and simplify knowledge on Electric vehicles. He wants to build a space where people can talk about EVs and associated technologies with freedom.