If you saw the other article I wrote a month ago about the TORO “Lawn” Tractor that I converted to electric, you saw that the “Operation was a success….But the patient died!”

The little “Lawn” tractor’s transmission and tiny axles could not stand up to the massive instantaneous torque of the Motenergy ME1004, 13HP, electric motor. Although the TORO originally had a 20HP gas motor, and the electric motor is rated at 13HP, you simply can not compare a gas motor’s rating in HP to an electric motor. It is suggested somewhere on the internet that it’s something like 3 or 4 to one…..Therefore, this electric motor is more like a 26-39hp motor when compared to a gas motor. And the torque curve is flat from near zero RPM to 3300 rpm…..Torque is what breaks things!..Nothing like an electric motor for pure power…Ask any TESLA owner!

So back to the subject at hand…..Now what?

Fortunately, my original plan was to convert a John Deere 214 “GARDEN” tractor to electric. But I received a gift of the TORO just as the project was starting and it was obvious to me that converting the TORO to electric would be a piece of cake as this electric motor was a near direct replacement for the gas engine. See the article here…

GARDEN tractors are much more “Heavy Duty” than LAWN tractors. The TORO had a bent sheet metal chassis, tiny transmission and little girly 3/4″ axles……The John Deere 214 GARDEN tractor weighs about 300 pounds more than the TORO, has a transaxle that looks like it came out of a Lincoln and huge axle shafts in reinforced axle housings….The steering mechanism looks like it comes out of a trailer truck…Everything about it is massive. And since it was a 40 year old John Deere tractor, it was built like a tank….And not one $%$%^&&%$# metric nut or bolt!!!!!

Apples and Oranges…

The John Deere 214 I bought for this project was perfect….as it had no motor! And it had the infinatly variable VARIATOR drive system. This system uses variable ratio pullys to allow changing the ground speed on the fly without having to change engine speed. A really neat 1970 version of a more modern Hydaulic drive system as used in most modern Garden Tractors.

Besides no motor, the tractor is in excellent condition. And the price was right at $200 with a serviceable mower deck that I’ll be selling to recoup some costs…..(See more on this later)

So lets get into the build….

I’m using all the components that were in the Toro…..Just moving them over to the JD. See the above referenced TORO article for much more detail on the WHY and HOW of this build.

But one caveat….The TORO was a 48V system. This motor can run on 48 or 36 volts….36 volts will give a bit less RPMs (3300 @ 48v VS 3000 @ 36V) and a bit less power. I’m not sure what the power figure is at 36V, but I was guessing it would be plenty based on the fact that the TORO was a monster at 48V.

Why 36V rather than 48? The TORO, with its tiny Transaxle had plenty of room under the seat for two batteries…Two 12V, Group 31 , Deep Cycle AGM batteries in the front under the hood and two under the seat…4 X 12V = 48V

But the JD with that “Lincoln” sized transaxle did not have the room. I could have put three batteries under the hood easily, but I just didn’t want that much weight on the front axle and tires. I could have welded up a bracket for a second battery BEHIND the seat, but it would have stuck out 7″ and screwed up my future plans for a Sleeve Hitch and other things back there……I figured if I went with 36V and wasn’t happy I could always add the fourth battery later.

As luck would have it….The Duracell AGM batteries I’m using are about 13″ wide…..The frame rails on the JD 214 are 13.2″ inside to inside!

All I had to do was cut down the back part of the chassis about 2.5″ and weld a couple pieces of angle iron to support the battery

That was too easy! The fender pan fits right on without any modification.

Now we need to mount the motor. This will be more involved than the vertical shaft placement on the TORO. In this application the shaft needs to be horizontal.

The mounting plate that I fabricated out of scrap for the TORO was used. It is 3/16″ steel with the edges turned up for more rigidity.

A couple cross supports were welded into the engine bay where the gas motor used to live. Slots were machined into this angle iron support so I could adjust the belt tension on the electric motor as needed.

The motor and its mounting plate were bolted to these supports. The rear of the motor sits on a hard rubber block for added support

A couple adjustable belt support pins were fabricated and installed. These keep the drive belt away from the pulley when the tractor is in neutral and the clutch (drive belt tensioner) is disengaged

The installation of the two front batteries was next….

The first one, up near the nose of the tractor was even easier than the rear battery. It just dropped right in place between the grill rails like it was made for it!

The second front battery would sit above the steering post and the variator system where the original, smaller, starting battery used to live. Again a support piece of angle iron was welded across to support it.

Red Nylon web battery tie downs were fabricated to keep all the batteries in place.

Now it was time to wire it all up. The exact same wiring schematic was used as on the TORO with the exception of only three batteries instead of four

All the components were mounted to another piece of aluminum and bolted to the side of the engine cowling with fabricated “z” brackets

The contactor was placed as close to the motor as I could to keep the battery cables short as possible

A whole new dash panel was fabricated for the battery monitor, switches for the lights, fan and even a very loud electric horn

The 500A shunt was located up front on the hood support and the headlights were rewired

Heavy Duty “ANDERSON” connectors were added to each battery for ease of charging. At the moment I don’t have a 36V charger so I have to charge each battery independently with a 12V “Smart” charger.

The hole in the rear body panel is no longer for gasoline…it is now to charge the rear battery

Here is a whole video that explains the wiring better than I can in words

How The John Deere Electric Tractor Conversion is Wired

So, now that it has been painted…Decaled….Re-Tired…. How does it perform?

In a word ….AMAZING!

I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. I’m thinking I might sell my IH Cub Cadet 782 and just stay electric…

Here are a few videos showing what it ended up as, how it drives and some of its capabilities

John Deere 214 Electric Walk Around
John Deere 214 Electric Conversion Drive Around
John Deere 214 Electric Tractor Conversion Performance
John Deere Electric Tractor Conversion Wiring Video
Electric Sleeve Hitch
Electric Blade (Plow) Lift

I get a bunch of questions from friends and neighbors:

Are you going to mount the cutting deck?…. No. I’m building a front mounted cutting deck that will have its own motors and a LiPo battery system. This will offer me the opportunity to try building a Lithium battery pack from parts. And front mounted deck will be much more manuverable on my property.

How long do the batteries last ?……. I’ve been driving this thing around for a few days. Pulling a small trailer full of firewood and dirt, letting grandkids ride it. Showing neighbors and relocating a 2000# trailer up a pretty steep hill. All totaled about two hours of use and I still show 75% battery life! I’m going to guess I can get three hours of this type of use. Now if it had the mover deck running off the tractor’s motor and battery, I estimate 45 minutes of use before batteries should be recharged.

How much did it cost ?……

John Deere 214 $200.00

BATTERIES                   $716.00

MAIN FUSE                  $     7.49

DEADMAN SWITCH     $   13.49

CONTACTOR               $   59.18

RESISTOR                    $     9.99

DIODE                         $     8.99

MOTOR                       $606.85

DC to DC Converter     $  39.99


FUSE PANEL                 $  12.39

12V- BUSS BAR            $    1.00                      


MISC SWITCHES          $    9.70                      

MAIN WIRE/CONEC    $  63.25

SECONDARY WIRE      $  20.00

MISC STEEL/HDWR     $  50.00

 TOTAL                         $1839.12

YIKES!!!! Way too much. But what the heck….This is my enjoyment. My hobby is building stuff…Most of which I really don’t need! Some folks gamble away this much in minutes! And as my friend Tom always says, “There are no ATMs in Heaven…..or Hell!”

WHAT’S NEXT?……First a “Solar Shed” to store it in with the entire roof made of 36V / 320w solar panels and associated solar controller equipment that I picked up really cheap……To cool!

And a front mounted mowing deck that will use three 40V DC electric motors and it’s own battery system so it can be used on this tractor or the gas motor IH Cub Cadet I refurbished a couple months ago…

Here is the article on the completed front mounted mower deck

Stay tuned for updates on both of these projects….

A quick couple videos showing the John Deere Electric tractor pushing wet, heavy New England snow….Impressive!

I hope you enjoyed this article. Let me know……Be sure to check out all the other ways I waste my children’s inheritance……

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  1. Pingback: John Deere 200, 210, 212, 214 Axle Seal Replacement | RVB Precision


  3. TooTall Reply

    Nice write-up. The only thing I would suggest is a motor air filter to prevent dust in the coils and brushes.

  4. Paul Micherdzinski Reply

    WOW! This is incredible!!! I am trying to build a combination snowblower/lawnmower 4WD robot using wheelchair motors. I have the frame/chassis designed using solidworks. Tires will be 13″ tiller tires. I have looked at the Bercomac 48″ snowblower that has a 14 hp kohler electric start motor mounted on a frame. Frame has a two wheel carriage that you would connect to an ATV. Instead of the ATV I wanted to use a RC robot. I would prefer a 30 or 36″ electric snowblower but not sure if it could handle the wet snow we get here in Buffalo, NY. I would then like to change out the snowblower after winter and install an electric deck like you built and then use the robot to mow my lawn in the summer time. Right now I use an old walker 42″ GHS to do the summer work. It would be nice to combine both into a robot with interchangable decks. Change the tires from tiller to lawn type tires and go.

    It would be great to collaborate on my project since I am not that great with electronics. Let me know what you think. Take good care, Paul Micherdzinski

  5. Kevin D Reply

    Hi Roy,

    Your blog writeup is a lot detailed then your video. Now I know what you meant by the steering gear being in the way. You are right, the 318 has power steering and the steering gear is not in the way of the drive shaft from the engine to the hydro tranny. If would be nice if you can tug the motor next the hydro unit, as the the 300 series frame is a 7 or 8″ channel. If you do away with the hydraulic, that may be doable.

    Love to see the new build as I have two the 318/420 that I’m toying with the same modifications.


  6. David Reply

    This is amazing. Thanks for all of the details.

    I’m looking to do a UTV that I can pick up without a motor. Still figuring out all of the math on what I’ll need to propel it, but this helps a lot.

    I’m looking at buying the LiPO4 batteries as it will be a more expensive build.

    I’ll keep tabs on this page for more education.

  7. Gig B. Maresh Reply

    Bought a tiny JD 68 minus engine & deck. Transaxle is in place. Would like to EV it just to drive the 2 plus miles from my house to town & back.
    Where do I find a motor?
    24v – 36v ?
    was thinking of mounting at original engine spot to mimic the original 8hp gas motor (which I can find no replacement that is downshaft with electric start)
    Nobody in this neck of the woods wants to talk to this 70 old lady about this project.
    They all tell me to go buy a new zero turn gas powered monstrously expensive machine.
    If I can get this going, I am thinking of a front mounted “reel” mower to go on it.
    Love my push reel mower and the beautiful condition it leaves my tiny lawn.
    If you can point me to a small powered motor to start off with I would greatly appreciate your help.
    (The calf cart sales in West Plains offered me a used 36 volt for $50 he said might work, but I would be on my own to put it all together)
    Thank you
    Gig B. Maresh
    251 Cedar Ave.
    Cabool, No 65689

  8. Anthony Winfree Reply

    Excellent write-up, Roy!

    Q: When operating this tractor, does the motor speed vary or does it run full throttle while you control the speed with the transmission and the variator? I’ve got an older JD 190C that I was going to EV with Brian Edmond’s conversion plans, but I may have found a running 214 and a conversion either way would be roughly the same money.

    Thanks for documenting your conversion!

    • Roy Bertalotto

      Yes, tractors don’t have a “gas” pedal. Set throttle to around 3000RPM and adjust speed with the transmission.

  9. Scott Baker Reply

    Neat! I rebuilt my demolition derby CubCadet with a 36v golf cart motor and ‘soft start’ throttle.
    I have the deck running from the golf cart motor. It’s powered by 3 batteries which were car batteries but are now Valence LiFe size 27 138Ah units.
    My build quality isn’t nearly so nice as your John Deer.
    Send me a note about LiCo batteries if you have questions, 18650s (3.65v 2Ah each) are the highest power / weight, I made a 7S 12P pack for my push mower, 3 of those could run your front mower deck for 30 or 40 min.
    Scott Baker

    • Mike

      What is your thoughts on converting a zero turn like a ferris or john deere

    • Roy Bertalotto

      Hi Scott, It’s all about the batteries….Can you fit four large batteries within the frame somewhere….The motor and contactor are the easy parts…..It’s those batteries. And you can never have enough battery capacity. Otherwise it should be a relatively easy conversion.

  10. Gary Tullos Reply

    i would like to convert my John Deere D170riding mower to electric power . Where do I get the motors and instructions? How much would it cost?

  11. Bradley Ayieko Reply

    Hello Mr. Bertalotto, I’m part of the STEM Academy at Grassfield High School. In my capstone class, we are required to pick a project where we would be using our engineering skills to complete a project of our choice. My group and I were watching your video on how you converted your tractor into an electric vehicle. It inspired us to choose a project where we would be converting a gas powered ride-on lawn mower to a fully electric one, mainly for recreational use since we would be removing the deck/cutting blades to make it more of a an ATV. I was wondering if you would be willing to serve as a mentor for our project where we would essentially be asking you for advice on how to proceed with certain parts of the project. For example, how to set up the electric motor. Thank you! I look forward to hearing from you!

  12. Aten Rosa Reply

    I have several toro grounds master 345 machines with a 50 hp. And 87.5 ft. Lbs. Would you know or have anything available for these machines. Thank you Aten Rosa

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