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

 
paul wheaton
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Edited to add this update summary:

This thread is about the quest to for an electric UTV that had some power for farm chores. After a lot of research, we bought the Polaris Ranger EV. That turned out to be a mistake. While the Polaris was in the shop for the second time in two months of ownership, we bought a two year old Bad Boy Buggy. Then both were in the shop and we got another used bad boy buggy. Along the way we picked up a 20+ year old club car.

The 20+ year old club car ended up broken down just as often as the brand new polaris, the two year old bad boy buggy and the three year old bad boy buggy.

All four went through several iterations of repair. After two years of having all four, the polaris and the buggies had a lot of axel and boot problems. The buggies had lots of brake problems. The polaris had lots of charger problems. The club car had problems with flats, the old aluminum frame and the forward/reverse switch plastics just getting too old and decomposing.

Overall, I think that if I could do it all over again, I would get: a standard body club car (not the long body we have now) with seats in the back that fold down to carry stuff. The straight axle stuff (no fancy suspension) means there are no boots or wimpy axles to deal with. And because it is something that is built by the thousands, it is designed for heavy use. The polaris and the bad boy buggies seem to be built as an occasional use novelty. I do think I would get something that is just two years old instead of 20+ years old.

---------------------------------------------------

On my previous farm, I bought this



for $4100. It was probably the smartest purchase i ever made on the farm. It was quiet. It didn't stink. And suddenly it was easy to move tools/hay/people/fencing/water to the far side of the land in no time. And on the way, since it is so quiet, you hear a lot of what is going on on the farm to figure out if there is something more that can be done.

I've learned that this sort of thing is now called a UTV. When i bought it, it was sold to me as a "monster golf cart".

I had a $27,000 tractor - but I avoided using it because it was loud and stinky. I fired the tractor up once or twice a week.

The golf cart was fired up about eight times a day.

I am thinking that this time i don't want to get a tractor. I'm trying to think of what the tractor was used for that I would still do on this new farm. one thing was to drag around portable shelters. Another was snow removal and road maintenance.

Plus, there were two shortcomings with the golf cart: sometimes in winter, the two wheel drive proved insufficient. The top speed of the golf cart was 14 mph and it seemed that people would just drive too fast, tools would bounce out, and I would find my tools lying all over the fields.

There are now UTVs that are all electric and have 4wd. Plus, I thought I read somewhere that it is easy to have them geared differently so that they have a maximum speed of 8mph - as an added bonus, they can pull more.

Plus, the new ATVs are set up to be able to attach a snow blade.

I'm hoping that somebody has a lot more experience in this space and can answer about the gearing. ??
 
John Polk
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Not certain about gearing options, but Polaris has an all electric model.
Works both 2WD & 4WD (when you need it).
Has a 500# dumping box, and a 1,000# towing capacity.
30 HP elect. motor.

I've looked at their gasoline models, but this one is intriguing me.
Not cheap, but good tools seldom are.
http://www.polaris.com/en-us/ranger-utv/side-by-sides/ranger-ev/features
 
paul wheaton
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I was looking at that today too.



There were two things that seemed to really catch my eye:

1) they have a low range for towing - I was thinking that would be good for dragging shelters and for plowing snow. And the high range would be good for getting between BC and TL.

2) A standard 2 inch receiver for towing. I could put a ball on it. I was thinking it would be fun to put together a mini trailer that would hold a bank of batteries. Charge up the bank somewhere and then use the electric chainsaw or sawmill.
 
R Scott
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They work, although there is marketing involved in some of the claims.

It comes down to ROI/bang for the buck. The dump bed feature is AWESOME.

They will do most of what people use tractors for--the main part I would miss is the LOADER, and a little bit for the PTO. The trackhoe would more than cover the loader needs, and anything that runs off a PTO can be had in a motor or engine driven model.

 
allen lumley
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Paul W. : I agree with your Idea of a tow behind Trailer with supplementary battery packs! They could be located at a charging station on standby waiting on the
start of a big project that would send you back to the barn for the big tractor, hit the two kill switches unplug from your charging station plug into the U/ATV, reset
the U/ATV(s) kill switch test load/power available and drive off to your new job with up-graded power to quickly finish the new job 'with power to spare !'

This system would automatically work better than hauling around an axillary engine in an electrical vehicle so that it is there 'for those special jobs that you might
want to do /get around to do ! 'Someday!'

Co-Incidentally this is the way G-M thinks you should go - proof that it's a bad idea ! For the good of the Craft! Be safe, keep warm! PYRO - Logically Big AL

As always, all comments are encouraged and welcome ! A. L.
 
Joe Braxton
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Paul,
I used to have an electric lift truck when I ran my own machine shop. It was great, plenty of power, etc. The need for religious battery maintenance and the $5,000 to replace the battery were the only negatives I could find. I'd ask about those before deciding...
You will also need to ask specifically about the low range. My fork truck was 2 speed, but the low speed was just lower power to the motor, not a gear reduction. Big difference in what you will be able to do with it.
 
Jerry Ward
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A fair amount of money ($13K+) but this may be what you are looking for.
http://www.badboybuggies.com/sport/recoilis.html
 
Jerry McIntire
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The Stealth EUV, made in the U.S., is worth looking at also. They have a model with a dump bed and 2/4wd.

http://www.stealth4x4ofsouthtexas.com/
 
paul wheaton
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It looks like this one will be a sure thing

4hp with a top speed of 10mph. Long bed. The tires will be swapped with knobby tires.

cart-long-bed.jpg
[Thumbnail for cart-long-bed.jpg]
 
paul wheaton
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a. mark
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I can heartily recommend a Kawasaki Mule 610 4x4. I have steeply wooded undeveloped land and it is an essential tool for hauling logs, people, equipment and manure. Has a tilt bed and headlights, roll bars (came in handy once) and easy to put a winch on it. Good on fuel and very reliable. Only drawback is that it doesn't have a backup light installed, but that's simple enough to overcome. Otherwise, it's been an excellent investment, especially since I bought it used on craigslist from good owner.

http://www.kawasaki.com/Products/product-specifications.aspx?id=477
 
paul wheaton
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a. mark wrote:I can heartily recommend a Kawasaki Mule 610 4x4. I have steeply wooded undeveloped land and it is an essential tool for hauling logs, people, equipment and manure. Has a tilt bed and headlights, roll bars (came in handy once) and easy to put a winch on it. Good on fuel and very reliable. Only drawback is that it doesn't have a backup light installed, but that's simple enough to overcome. Otherwise, it's been an excellent investment, especially since I bought it used on craigslist from good owner.

http://www.kawasaki.com/Products/product-specifications.aspx?id=477


And you are saying they have that in electric?
 
paul wheaton
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Jocelyn Campbell
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Here's Paul, zooming up the base camp driveway this morning, and another pic of Owen Hablutzel about to have his first tour of the lab.
20130704_081831.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20130704_081831.jpg]
Paul in the Polaris at base camp
20130704_082105.jpg
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Owen & Paul in the Polaris
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Forgive me, but it just has to have this theme song:



There are very sandy spots up on the lab, too.
 
John Polk
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Out of curiosity, how's that Polaris working out?

How long/far is a battery charge good for?
How long to recharge (solar - panels? - watts, etc)
How is it for hauling heavy loads? I saw pics of it lugging those logs. How'd it do?

 
paul wheaton
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We have "the flatbed"




and "the polaris"




The flatbed is used, 2wd and about 1/3 the price. It has a 3hp motor, is quieter and can haul more stuff in the bed - simply because the bed is bigger. The frame is making a lot of "i am going to break" sounds and tim has plans to shore up the frame. We had some trouble with battery posts melting and tim put nylon locknuts on all the posts to make that problem go away. Then it was offline for awhile as we replaced certain components until it started working again. The outfit we bought it from has been quite good about making sure it is kept running.

Both rigs seem to not want to be charged by a generator. We are still getting the hang of this. But the polaris is EXTRA picky. I think the charger that is built into the polaris heats up and then overheats. Easily. So now we park it in a shop, open the hood and lay a box fan on the charger when it is charging. Pretty ridiculous.

The polaris has a 30hp motor and makes a LOT of sound when it runs (although much less sound than anything running on gasoline). Sounds like something from the sci-fi channel.

The flatbed cannot go to basecamp mountain. There is a steep spot and the motor starts to smell like stressed electric motor. But the polaris doesn't even need 4wd - it just buzzes up there like it is nothing.

Both rigs seem to go half a day of medium use without a charge. A full day of light use. I suppose a gasoline rig could go longer between fill ups, but you would have to go get that fuel. So we don't need to go far to get the fuel, plus the cost of the fuel is teeny tiny.




 
paul wheaton
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R Scott
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YES THEY ARE!!!

They pop up on craigslist from time to time, there was just one on the kansas city craigslist for about a grand--it still needed the wiring finished up.
 
paul wheaton
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Solar electric UTV - bad boy buggy with the solar cart
solar-electric-utv.jpg
[Thumbnail for solar-electric-utv.jpg]
 
paul wheaton
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Something I need to point out at this time: the polaris sucks. The service has been terrible and this thing has needed service. The batteries boil. Some say the batteries are supposed to boil and others say the batteries should never boil and if they do, that will reduce the lifespan of the batteries. Then we plug it in all night, the batteries boil and in the morning everything says "it didn't charge." So then when we charge, we have to have the hood open to keep the charger cool - what a shitty design. And then we are putting a box fan on the charger to keep it cool while charging. When we take it in to figure out these problems they say that's fine. Oh, and by the way: never take this off road or on a dusty road because that gets the electronics dusty. Their advertising is all about off road and farm work. But apparently, once you buy it you should just park it.

Other news on the polaris ranger EV: five of the eight boots are shredded. We've used this thing for two months before it started spending most of its time in the shop. We had to buy the bad boy buggy to get our work done while the polaris is in the shop so much. So five of the boots are shredded with hardly any use. As they are removing an axle to replace a boot, the axle breaks. We have a broken axle. We will explore whether this falls under any warranty, but so far our experience is that their warranty is just marketing - it doesn't really mean anything. And they don't have the parts in stock. Anywhere in the US. The soonest you can even talk to them about that part is in november. So it could be months until we get the polaris back.

Oh, and when we bought it: the missoula polaris shop would sell it for $200 over the MSRP. The next nearest polaris shop would sell us a used one for $800 over the MSRP.

The polaris makes too much of a whining sound as you drive it. The flatbed is utterly silent in comparison.

We've had the bad boy buggy for a month now. It's two years old, so the batteries are not going to be in the best shape. But it seems to perform as well as the polaris. And we can haul more people, more stuff, more everything. It would be nice if it had a low range. So far it seems to be boring. It just does what you expect it to do. We aren't constantly screwing with it to figure out the charging stuff. If you plug it in, it charges. It's quiet. It skids logs. It goes up crazy steep stuff.

All sorts of little things with the bad boy buggy seem to be first rate and professional. While the polaris stuff seems to be perpetually cheesy.

When we get the polaris back, I think we're gonna try to sell it.



 
paul wheaton
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Here is the bad boy buggy skidding a log
bad-boy-buggy-skidding-logs.jpg
[Thumbnail for bad-boy-buggy-skidding-logs.jpg]
bad boy buggy skidding a log
 
paul wheaton
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paul wheaton
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Kristie Wheaton
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Here is a great pic of an everyday hike back an forth for the bad boy buggy...
004.JPG
[Thumbnail for 004.JPG]
 
Kristie Wheaton
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More pics of the bad boy buggy at work
006.JPG
[Thumbnail for 006.JPG]
014.JPG
[Thumbnail for 014.JPG]
 
paul wheaton
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Coralee Palmer
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We've had the bad boy buggy for a month now. It's two years old, so the batteries are not going to be in the best shape. But it seems to perform as well as the polaris. And we can haul more people, more stuff, more everything.


Is the bad boy buggy 48 volts or 872 volts?
 
paul wheaton
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The bad boy buggy is currently laid up with brake and steering issues.
 
Diego de la Vega
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paul wheaton wrote:The bad boy buggy is currently laid up with brake and steering issues.


Wow, this has got to be frustrating. Are there any gas powered AVTs that would be more reliable than these have been or are you guys just really pushing these machines to the limit? Is gas powered a necessary evil until electric ATV technology catches up? Steering and brakes should be about the same on both the EV models and the gas models right?

Diego
 
R Scott
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Diego de la Vega wrote: Are there any gas powered ATVs that would be more reliable than these have been


Not really. Polaris is notoriously problematic for gas machines, too. Honda has a good reputation, but still have issues when you really work them.

Diego de la Vega wrote: or are you guys just really pushing these machines to the limit?


Pushing them hard and being a group machine both take their toll. Even when everyone is good and easy on a machine, just being used by a group makes them seem to break down more. I think it is because no one is familiar enough to how the machine behaves to know when it doesn't feel or sound right.
 
Andy Reed
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I would never buy a Polaris ever again. Brought one new, and even while under warranty it needed a lot of repairs. I need more range and power then an electric. I have looked at them, but they are unsuitable. The bad boy buggy sounds good. For reliability, and durability I don't think you can beat a Can-Am but they don't do electric.
 
paul wheaton
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My fave of the EVs .... the guys gave it a cool upgrade
electric-ev-micro-truck.jpg
[Thumbnail for electric-ev-micro-truck.jpg]
my little electric truck
 
Neale Gray
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Hi from Australia. I would like show our latest offering in the electric 4WD side by side category. Our Milbay MB-572UTV has a custom 72 Volt 7.2kW LFP battery system and out performs most petrol equivalents. We use a 72 Volt system and 5kW (16 kW peak) BLDC motor.
YouTube electric UTV playlist showing vehicle climbing ability whilst being driven onto transport vehicle, please enjoy.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkcDV1CtFBj2pf6jhAJaAAH1j19c31cew
Our custom LFP (LiFePO4 / Lithium Ferrous Phosphate) battery system is at the heart of our performance and we did not spare any expense in production of our long lasting and durable LFP system.
If anyone wants to distribute / resell our UTV in US then email me ngray@milbay.com.au.
LFP delivers a very flat discharge rate across the battery discharge capacity and our system delivers full power for almost the complete discharge cycle. We have larger capacity options coming (10 and 14 kWh battery storage) as well as a solar roof top. We can also offer more powerful motor options but the current 5kW provides adequate performance for most users. more info on our web site at http://www.milbay.com.au/CustomerViews/UTV All prices shown on the Milbay website are AUD including Australian taxes not USD please email sales@milbay.com.au with your location or have your local UTV dealer contact us for a USD delivered price.
Latest travel distance reports in real life on Australian farm for 7.2kWh battery system are 40 - 50 km when using maximum power and 40 km/h top speed on dirt roads and across rough paddock surfaces (very real world testing) so achieving around 100 km travel distance per charge can be expected with 14.4 kWh LFP battery option . Vehicle testing is being carried out on a farm 200 km west of Mackay Queensland. What do you think ?
 
Burra Maluca
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Neale Gray wrote:What do you think ?


I think you need to get one to wheaton labs so they can run trials and compare your product to the others available.
 
Neale Gray
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Hi Burra Maluca, that may be a little difficult at the moment as we are in Australia. We will have many more MB-572UTV videos and reports produced over the coming months including independent reviews so I hope these can answer many of the performance and durability questions as we move forward. But yes a vehicle locally tested in US is definitely what we aim for.
 
Burra Maluca
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Well seeing as you're posting about your product in the wheaton labs forum, it seems only right that you get a sample there for testing...
 
paul wheaton
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Here is where we are at the moment:

We have a steep road at basecamp. The polaris and both bad boy buggies have been able to go up in 4wd. Recently, the polaris front wheel drive refused to work. Since it only had two wheel drive, it would not go up. So we fetched a bad boy buggy - it also had just two wheels that would turn.

So we need to continue with mending these things.

The dukemobile has had a few problems. Each has been relatively easy to fix by somebody who knows what they are doing. But the rig sits offline for weeks or months until somebody arrives that knows much more about this stuff than I do.

One of the bad boy buggies has something with the steering that nobody seems able to fully repair.

It seems that for every EV we have at this time, we get about a day of use and three days in the shop waiting for repairs.

But for the EV I bought in 2001, it seems we would get about three months of daily use before I would open it up and clean the terminals and stuff. Maybe once a year something would need to be mended - usually because somebody did something to wreck it.

The dukemobile was purchased when it was VERY used. Decades old.

I wonder what would happen if we bought a brand new golf cart and gave it the upgrades like the club car at the top of this thread.

I mentioned this in a podcast, but I think the fancy 4wd EVs are designed to sell to freaky rich people and work for one or two outings before something goes wonky. They are just not designed for daily farm use. But the golf carts are designed for daily golf course use - and can be slightly modified for daily farm use.

My little green EV (club car from 2001) was, I think, a 36v system with a 3 hp motor. It was great except on steeper roads with ice.

I thought a 30hp 48v 4wd EV could fill in for everything that the little green ev did, plus take on a lot of the stuff that a tractor did (dragging shelters, skidding logs, moving trailers) but it turns out the 30hp evs just don't hold up. It is as if the motors are, indeed, 30 hp, but the axles are rated for 3hp. I think the bigger hp and more batteries takes a lot out of the range too.

Another thing is that the bad boy buggies seem to be perpetually having brake problems of one sort or another. It is as if you cannot get them to move without the brakes dragging at least a little. And no amount of fine tuning will last.

- - - -

I wish to spend my time focusing on farming, building and my other projects. I do not wish to spend my time being an EV mechanic.

The list of features sported by sales people is alluring, but in the end, it turns out to be quite heavy on marketing and novelty, while quite light on get-shit-done.






 
allen lumley
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- O.K. I am reaching here - Vehicle brakes I understand, Golf cart - not so much Because both axles travel through a certain range of movement, and the front wheels turn -

part of the Brake system has to have short rubber hose sections ! If your brakes seem to drag and then release when you again move forward The Rubber Hose sections should

Be carefully examined and considered for replacement -



A quick visual inspection can be made to see if these old hoses Swell when the brakes are applied. swelling that can only be felt is generally o.k. for cars/trucks !


Visible swelling tells you that the reinforcing internal layers are starting to tear and separate - This is analogous to Aneurysms of blood vessels (arteries ) within your Circulatory

system, this tear can be internal, and act suchlike a flapper valve that acts to check the release of compress brake Fluid ~ Been There - Done that !

If your hoses Are that old so is the Brake fluid !

Hopefully this is useful and timely information ! For the good of the Crafts ! Big AL
 
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