Electric Conversion 101 – How to convert your manual reel mower to electric powered

A reel mower electric conversion is when you take a manual push reel mower and fabricate a kit to make it powered by an electric motor. 

If you are looking for more information about electric reel mower conversions or you are a DIY enthusiast who is ready to build your own electric conversion for your manual reel mower, you have come to the right place!

We have have done the work and testing to figure all of this out for you.

We have ready to assemble kits for purchase if you aren’t looking to DIY.
If you want to know what kit is right for you, check out our products page!

For the mechanically inclined DIY’ers, this article will cover all of the components you need to build an electric conversion kit and go over some things to consider as you plan your machine. For the parts of this document that might be outside of your ability, we offer a base level bracket kit that takes care of the metal fabrication so you can DIY the motor and electronics. See details on the products page.

What all parts do you need to build an electric reel conversion?

 

  • Basic tools for mechanical assembly and electrical wiring
  • Electric motor conversion bracket (Usually fabricated DIY or purchased)
  • Brackets and hardware for stock wheels or Steel Roller conversion
  • 24-48V DC Electric Motor
  • Drivetrain (Chain and Sprockets)
  • DC Voltage Controller
  • 20V or higher Battery System and Adapter Plates
  • Wiring and Connectors

 

Basic tools for mechanical assembly and electrical wiring

Here is an example of the basic set of tools you would need to perform an electric conversion.

Electric Motor Conversion Bracket

One of the primary and most important components of the conversion kit is the main bracket. This is usually made of steel or aluminum and creates a way to securely position a DC motor in line with a sprocket on the reel shaft. It often provides a deck mounting surface to place and hold other conversion components like wiring and batteries. When building these brackets for ALM style mowers which includes the Earthwise and Scotts brand mowers, the motor is typically placed on the side of the mower to provide adequate access to the reel shaft.

It is possible to fabricate a conversion bracket at home using bolt on methods but typically fabrication and welding of some amount is required. There is no official standard for building conversion brackets but here here are some helpful things to consider when creating your bracket:

What material will you use?

The most common options include Mild Steel and Aluminum. RMM recommends going with a minimum metal thickness of .125″ for steel bracket parts and .187″ for aluminum parts. Mild steel parts will need some type of anti-corrosion coating or paint to prevent rust. Most aluminum can be used raw but will benifit from a clearcoat or frequent cleaning to prevent oxidation.

How will it attach to the mower frame? 

You will need to fabricate a metal bracket that will bolt on to the stock frame. This will require drilling or cutting holes and using hardware to fasten the brackets.

Will you use the stock wheels or steel rollers?

Most manual reel mowers utilize the forward pushing force of the mower to drive the reel using an internal gear inside the wheel cover. When converting to an electric motor, it is possible to retain the push function but is recommended and easier to disable this feature. If you are planning on using stock wheels most kits utilize a standoff nut to position the wheels wider to clear the sprocket. You will need a M10 x 25-30mm standoff for ALM style mowers.

A popular and effective modification is to replace the stock wheels with heavier steel rollers. This provides a flatter and more true Height of Cut with the added weight pushing down on the mower. See below for more information.

Do the handle bars clear my bracket design?

An often overlooked aspect of the conversion kit is the handle bar clearance and ergonomics that the main bracket geometry can change. Make sure to test your bracket design so that it clears the handle bar pivot and allows for handle bar angle that fits your height comfortably.

RMM utilizes .187 5052 Aluminum for our conversion brackets. If you don’t have the time or  ability to fabricate your own bracket check out our conversion brackets here: Electric Conversion Bracket Kits

Brackets and hardware for stock wheels or Steel Roller conversion

If you want to utilize steel rollers in place of the stock wheels you will have to design a bracket to fasten the rollers as well. We recommend using at least .125″ Mild Steel for these brackets. There are several 16″ and 18″ conveyer rollers available online that you can use for your roller setup.  Ashland Conveyer makes a popular roller called the KD16 that can be swapped into the stock rear brackets with light modification.

Check out our Quick-Adjust Front Mount Roller Kits Here: Heavy Roller Kits

24-48V DC Electric Motor

Another important primary component of the electric reel conversion is the motor. Most kits utilize a DC motor of at least 24V.  There are a lot of options for motors but the most common style is a popular design that is utilized in other electric projects like motorized scooters and E-bikes. Here is the most common 24V motor you will see in conversion kits: 24V 350W DC Motor

Common 48V Motor Link:

48V 750w Motor

NOTE:

After our testing, RMM recommends no less than a 48V DC motor for your powerplant. While the 24V DC motor is capable of powering your reel and cutting grass, it is easily bogged and bound up when encountering thicker grass. Using the 48V motor offers 2.5x more torque which results in a much better cutting capacity and more electric efficiency which provides longer runtimes.

Drivetrain (Chain and Sprockets)

In order to turn the reel blade you will need a drivetrain system. We recommend using chain and sprockets as they are widely available and customizable.
The DC motors referenced in this article use a #25 ANSI roller chain size sprocket that is an 11t. Here is a calculator you can use to size your sprockets for your Frequency of Clip Needs: Electric Conversion Calculator

If you’re not into the math behind sprocket selection, we recommend using a 11-24T or close. This provides the best torque at the reel but also allows for ideal RPM for most Height of Cuts.

DC Voltage Controller

In order to deliver power and regulate your DC motor level, you will need a voltage controller. We recommend using a controller rated at a minimum of 30amps. There is a wide range of DC controllers that will work to power your electric conversion but here is one that has worked for a lot of DIY’ers.

DC Voltage Controller

Battery System and Adapter Plates

One of the best benefits of electric reel conversion is being able to utilize any power tool battery system over 20 Volts. All you need is a battery adapter plate for your chosen system that provides a mounting plate and electrical wires for connecting to your DC voltage controller

We are currently designing our own line of dual battery plates that will be available soon but here is a 3rd party supplier that manufactures adpaters for most battery systems out there: TerraFirma Technology Adapter Plates

Note: If you are using a 20v battery system you will only need 1 adapter plate. If you choose to use a 48V motor and you will need 2 adpater plates

Wiring and Connectors

In order to connect all of your electrical components you will need some low voltage DC wire. We recommend using no smaller than 12AWG wiring for your reel mower conversion project. Something like this will work just great: 2 Conductor 12AWG DC Wire Reel

There are various methods for making the connections but we use/recommend Wago quick connects: 10-Pack of quick connects

While the electrical wiring may seem daunting for the average DIY’er, it’s actually pretty simple to assemble with a visual diagram:

Here is a basic electric conversion wiring diagram:

24V Motor Wiring Diagram

48V Motor Wiring Diagram

Hopefully this guide has you well on your way to converting your own mower and you’ll be dominating that grass in no time!

We hope that our electric conversion guide has been helpful, if you have any other questions feel free to contact us!

Electric Conversion 101 – How to convert your manual reel mower to electric powered

Whether you’ve decided to DIY an electric conversion for your manual reel mower or are just looking for more information about electric conversions, you’ve come to the right place! This article will cover all of the components you need to build an electric conversion kit and go over some things to consider as you plan your machine.

What all parts do you need to build an electric reel conversion?

 

  • Basic tools for mechanical assembly and electrical wiring
  • Electric motor conversion bracket (Usually fabricated DIY or purchased)
  • Brackets and hardware for stock wheels or Steel Roller conversion
  • 24-48V DC Electric Motor
  • Drivetrain (Chain and Sprockets)
  • DC Voltage Controller
  • 20V or higher Battery System and Adapter Plates
  • Wiring and Connectors

 

Basic tools for mechanical assembly and electrical wiring

Here is an example of the basic set of tools you would need to perform an electric conversion.

Electric Motor Conversion Bracket

One of the primary and most important components of the conversion kit is the main bracket. This is usually made of steel or aluminum and creates a way to securely position a DC motor in line with a sprocket on the reel shaft. It often provides a deck mounting surface to place and hold other conversion components like wiring and batteries. When building these brackets for ALM style mowers which includes the Earthwise and Scotts brand mowers, the motor is typically placed on the side of the mower to provide adequate access to the reel shaft.

It is possible to fabricate a conversion bracket at home using bolt on methods but typically fabrication and welding of some amount is required. There is no official standard for building conversion brackets but here here are some helpful things to consider when creating your bracket:

What material will you use?

The most common options include Mild Steel and Aluminum. RMM recommends going with a minimum metal thickness of .125″ for steel bracket parts and .187″ for aluminum parts. Mild steel parts will need some type of anti-corrosion coating or paint to prevent rust. Most aluminum can be used raw but will benifit from a clearcoat or frequent cleaning to prevent oxidation.

How will it attach to the mower frame? 

You will need to fabricate a metal bracket that will bolt on to the stock frame. This will require drilling or cutting holes and using hardware to fasten the brackets.

Will you use the stock wheels or steel rollers?

Most manual reel mowers utilize the forward pushing force of the mower to drive the reel using an internal gear inside the wheel cover. When converting to an electric motor, it is possible to retain the push function but is recommended and easier to disable this feature. If you are planning on using stock wheels most kits utilize a standoff nut to position the wheels wider to clear the sprocket. You will need a M10 x 25-30mm standoff for ALM style mowers.

A popular and effective modification is to replace the stock wheels with heavier steel rollers. This provides a flatter and more true Height of Cut with the added weight pushing down on the mower. See below for more information.

Do the handle bars clear my bracket design?

An often overlooked aspect of the conversion kit is the handle bar clearance and ergonomics that the main bracket geometry can change. Make sure to test your bracket design so that it clears the handle bar pivot and allows for handle bar angle that fits your height comfortably.

RMM utilizes .187 5052 Aluminum for our conversion brackets. If you don’t have the time or  ability to fabricate your own bracket check out our conversion brackets here: Electric Conversion Bracket Kits

Brackets and hardware for stock wheels or Steel Roller conversion

If you want to utilize steel rollers in place of the stock wheels you will have to design a bracket to fasten the rollers as well. We recommend using at least .125″ Mild Steel for these brackets. There are several 16″ and 18″ conveyer rollers available online that you can use for your roller setup.  Ashland Conveyer makes a popular roller called the KD16 that can be swapped into the stock rear brackets with light modification.

Check out our Quick-Adjust Front Mount Roller Kits Here: Heavy Roller Kits

24-48V DC Electric Motor

Another important primary component of the electric reel conversion is the motor. Most kits utilize a DC motor of at least 24V.  There are a lot of options for motors but the most common style is a popular design that is utilized in other electric projects like motorized scooters and E-bikes. Here is the most common 24V motor you will see in conversion kits: 24V 350W DC Motor

NOTE:

After our testing, RMM recommends no less than a 48V DC motor for your powerplant. While the 24V DC motor is capabable of powering your reel and cutting grass, it is easly bogged and bound up when encountering thicker grass. Using the 48V motor offers 2.5x more torque which results in a much better cutting capacity and more electric effiecency which provides longer runtimes.

Drivetrain (Chain and Sprockets)

In order to turn the reel blade you will need a drivetrain system. We recommend using chain and sprockets as they are widely available and customizable.
The DC motors referenced in this artice use a #25 ANSI roller chain size sprocket that is an 11t. Here is a calculator you can use to size your sprockets for your Frequency of Clip Needs: Electric Conversion Calculator

If you’re not into the math behind sprocket selection, we recommend using a 11-24T or close. This provides the best torque at the reel but also allows for ideal RPM for most Height of Cuts.

DC Voltage Controller

In order to deliver power and regulate your DC motor level, you will ned a voltage controller. We recommend using a controller rated at a minimum of 30amps. There is a wide range of DC controllers that will work to power your electric conversion but here is one that has worked for a lot of DIY’ers.

DC Voltage Controller

Battery System and Adapter Plates

One of the best benefits of electric reel conversion is being able to utilize any power tool battery system over 20 Volts. All you need is a battery adapter plate for your chosen system that provides a mounting plate and electrical wires for connecting to your DC voltage controller

We are currently designing our own line of dual battery plates that will be available soon but here is a 3rd party supplier that manufactures adpaters for most battery systems out there: TerraFirma Technology Adapter Plates

Note: If you are using a 20v battery system you will only need 1 adapter plate. If you choose to use a 48V motor and you will need 2 adpater plates

Wiring and Connectors

In order to connect all of your electrical components you will need some low voltage DC wire. We recommend using no smaller than 12AWG wiring for your reel mower conversion project. Something like this will work just great: 2 Conductor 12AWG DC Wire Reel

There are various methods for making the connections but we use/recommend Wago quick connects: 10-Pack of quick connects

While the electrical wiring may seem daunting for the average DIY’er, it’s actually pretty simple to assemble with a visual diagram:

Here is a basic electric conversion wiring diagram:

24V Motor Wiring Diagram

48V Motor Wiring Diagram

Hopefully this guide has you well on your way to converting your own mower and you’ll be dominating that grass in no time!

We hope that our electric conversion guide has been helpful, if you have any other questions feel free to contact us!

Why Convert to an Electric Powered Reel Mower?

  • Push reel mowers are powered by the push action of the mower, this creates variation in reel speed resulting in less than ideal grass cut quality. 
  • Electric conversions are more efficient and produce a quieter cutting experience than gas powered reel mowers.
  • Quality gas reel mowers produce great cuts but at a very high entry cost, and require more maintenance time and costs compared to electric reel conversions.
  • Your neighbors will envy how cool you are every time they see your custom electric reel mower dominating your yard.

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