Solar Charged Lawn Mower – Part 3 – Beyond Solar Charging, Why This Mower?

In Part 1 and Part 2 of our series of articles on our own new solar charged lawn mower, we described the primarily energy conservation reasons why the new solar charged lawn mower from Linamar Consumer Products superior over current gas-powered, manual and electric cord / electric battery powered models.

Today, we would like to examine the mower itself, energy conservation and environmental reasons aside. I work too hard for my money thank you very much to throw it away on anything that will not add value, as they say, and satisfy or even exceed my needs.

This mower is a cordless, self-propelled 24V electric lawn mower. We chose the 19 inch version but it also is available in a 21 inch model. The pictures below are without the rear grass collector so they may look different from pictures you see in advertisements for this product.

solaris solar charged self propelled solaris epic utopia mower 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 3   Beyond Solar Charging, Why This Mower?

 Some of the features aside from the engine which we really like include:

  • 7 height levels, all achievable by a single lever
  • ergonomic handle bar
  • push button start
  • extra wide wheels to reduce the impact on the grass, even though the mower is actually very light weight, weighing only 49 kg / 108 pounds
  • self propelled to help ease the manual effort on hills or over a large lawn
  • extra large 65 litre rear collection grass catcher
  • side discharge (on 21 inch model)
  • mulch mode (our personal favourite)

solaris front view without batteries 1 Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 3   Beyond Solar Charging, Why This Mower?

 But, all of the above features aside, we have to talk about the engine (don’t worry, I am not an engineer so I won’t talk in gibberish but in language I can understand). I also have to thank my more knowledgeable internet friends ‘mikebeavis’ from Delaware and ‘jcoffman’ from Denton, Texas over at treehugger.com for helping me understand some of this stuff. icon smile Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 3   Beyond Solar Charging, Why This Mower? (Mike and Jason, you are now stars!)

The lawn mower runs on what is called a ‘brushless‘ motor. Now while this page from the Terra Phase Power System web site  does a real nice job outlining all kinds of differences between a brush and brushless motor, what follows are the attributes or differences which stand out for me.

brushless motor graphic Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 3   Beyond Solar Charging, Why This Mower?

And, please recognize that I have no personal experience running any tests on anything technical here; I am relying on the above web site for any statistics. Remember, I am a simple residential home owner.

However, of what I understand so far, all of the following does make sense to me:

  • With a brushless motor, there are no brush contacts to wear out. This gives both the advantage of no maintenance on the motor as well as a longer life.
  • A brushless motor is 20% or so more efficient as there brushes need to maintain contact with something they call a ‘commutator’ at higher speeds.
  • Lower noise levels. Brush type motors need the friction between the brushes and the other engine parts whereas with a brushless motor there is less friction
  • Brushless motor is lighter as it requires less parts
  • No maintenance as there are no brushes or springs or cleaning or gear box to wear out. As well, the brushless motor is fully sealed and therefore not exposed to debris.
  • Per the above web site, a brush type engine can run for around 2,000 (likely before needing to replace the brushes) whereas this brushless motor can run for around 15,000 hours or longer because in part there are no brushes to wear out or replace.
  • With a brushless motor the friction caused by brushes is absent, therefore the motor is exposed to lower heat which also helps to increase its life span

Now, there is more to this engine. Did you know it has an on board computer? I didn’t. Here are some of what this little gadget will do, again courtesy of the above web site:

  • Stop the motor from overheating should it ever occur
  • Manages the acceleration and speed of the motor to the cutting conditions, allowing the electric charge in the batteries to run longer by conserving power when not mowing heavy grass

Wow.

Tomorrow, we will write about (and, yes, with lots of pictures icon smile Solar Charged Lawn Mower   Part 3   Beyond Solar Charging, Why This Mower? ) our installation of the solar charging station. To continue with the next article in this series, simply select this link to Part 4.

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Comments

  1. JimL says:

    The motor is awesome, quiet! Finaly a quiet tune to my ears! As I grow older in my years, the quiet operation of this mower is music (quiet) to my ears! 6 Months this year, looking for everything this mower can give, I am not dissappointed!

  2. Dan says:

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you for visiting our site.

    I agree. the brushless motor that is used on our (yours and mine :-) ) solar charged lawn mower is more quite than any gas or electric mower I have had previously.

    Cheers,
    Dan

  3. Don Tran says:

    Most Excellent Article, Thank you Dan, and easy to understand.

    I have some questions please.

    What if I wanted to build and Elec. Car. Do they make these motors and controllers big enough for a car.

    The goal is this.
    Elec. Car has 4 elements.
    1. Buy a good used car, gut the gas engine, and leave the trans. (manual).
    - you could go direct, but that puts strain on the motor, so the trans eases that stress
    2. parts needed.
    - Batteries (most expensive part
    - Elec. motor (brushless is the preference, based on what I’ve read here)
    - Speed Controller hooked to the accelerator pedal

    The idea is this.
    You have diesel/elec. trains and tugboats.
    The setup is the diesel engine powers the generator, which powers the elec. motor at the wheels or propeller.

    In Australia, 2 inventors, One is John Christie, invented the MAGNETIC MOTOR, aka Cycclone Magnetic Engine (CME), (Mike Nugent – Engineer President)

    Here is the Link

    The problem is these CME’s run at a constant 4000 RPM, so they would power the generator instead of the diesel motor, which then powers the wheels.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efCelx7qe_M&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxZR4C9gqOY&NR=1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcQHA6I3mTw

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8WZD11alb0&feature=related

    http://www.cyclone.com

    ———————
    I’m trying to find the right setup, of motor, controller, and generator.

    The key is the generator has to be sufficient for the motor.
    And the motor has to be sufficient for the Cars weight and trans. gear ratio.

    any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance

  4. Dan says:

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for the very detailed comment.

    The brushless motor on these lawn mowers are not sufficiently powerful for any type of mechanized transport, other than a self propelled lawn mower.

    What you mention is intriguing. Here in North America General Motors just announced that the Chevrolet Volt, a new car for the fall of 2010 is to be able to run more than 100 kilometers per litre of gas because of it’s electric engine which for their target audience of short commuters will see the car use pretty moch only electricity from the batteries.

    http://www.thestar.com/business/article/679303

    This should be interesting.

    What interesting times we live in.

    Dan

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