The Unofficial Ariens Amp Rider--Owner's Club



President, John
Email me if you want to discuss the Rider, or you want to me to post any of your modifications: john.sciarra(at,ya know the "at" symbol) gmail (dot,or point)com. Mention the ariens amp in the subject or you will be treated like so much spam.

Ariens AMP Electric Riding Mower http://www.ampbyariens.com * Voltage - 48v 75Ah
* Cutting Path - 34"
* Cutting Heights - 1 1/2" - 4 1/2"
* Ideal Property Size - up to 1 Acre
* Run Time - 75 minutes
* Speed - Forward 5mph, Reverse 2.5mph

The Amp Rider Owner's Club is the place to learn all about your mower, and see how other owners have maintained their Riders. Just for reference, it is Model #916002
Video of the Rider on YouTube: video clip
Features of the Ariens AMP Rider – •It can be easily maneuvered in tight areas thanks to its cutting deck which measures 34”. •It is fitted with a couple of Steel Blades (Marbain®) that are specially hardened so that they remain sharp for a long period of time. Their design is such that they offer optimum cutting sharpness. •Its cutting capability extends to grass that is 5” high. •Precise Height Adjustment in the range of 1.5” – 4.5” ensures manicured landscaped appearance. •The mower boasts 3 brushless motors – a couple of 1.7 Horsepower spindle motors (48v @ 80 amps) and one 4.0 Horsepower traction motor. •The combination of 2 spindle motors and 1 traction motor offers same cutting power and drive as conventional gas powered rear engine mower. •The state-of-the-art brushless design reduces friction, offering more power. •The electric mower is equipped with battery charger that charges it completely in just 16 hours. •The stock batteries have a capacity of 200 charges. •The padded seat helps to make the rider comfortable. •Hydrostatic transmission enables the operator to change through many gear ratios easily. These are generally user friendly. They pass additional power to wheels of this mower. •The mower is backed by a two year consumer warranty.

Review from another website, which are basically my sentiments (thanks to "the Force"):

"The reason I chose the Ariens AMP mower over the other brands is because of cost and brand name. The only other electric riding mowers I found were the Recharge Mower by a company I never heard of and the Hustler Zeon zero turn mower. The Recharge Mower was cheaper at $2395 but only has a 27 inch cut. The Hustler has a 42 inch cut but they want over $7000 for it. If I had the money I would go with the Hustler but the Ariens Amp won the deal for a good price and a wide cut. So the Hustler would be overkill for the use I would get out of it next year and the Recharge Mower would be too small to use this year. I also think the Recharge Mower looks like they took a mobility scooter and slapped a push mower deck on it.

After receiving the mower I looked everything over and it seems to be built very well just like a well built gas mower. The mower came fully charged and I only had to top it off with about 200Wh. The mower is easy to operate. Just turn the key, release the parking brake and the electric motor will start turning. This to me is the one let down of this mower. The mower uses a hydrostatic transmission. This means that like a gas mower the motor is always on even if your not moving. Unless you set the parking brake then the motor will turn off.

This thing is quiet. How quiet? Well according to my cheap dB meter with the mower on and moving it registered in at about 72dB. With the blades engaged it registered at about 92dB. These readings were recorded inside a steel garage with the doors shut. So this thing is about as loud as a vacuum cleaner or a little louder. You can easily talk to someone with the mower on and moving. You might have to yell a little with the blades on. I know with a gas mower you have to shut them off before you can even hear someone scream from 3 feet away. So that should give you an idea on how loud or quiet this mower is.

One thing I don't like is if your mowing and have to back up the blades stop. The only way to enable them is to push the button in to turn off the blades and pull it back out again then the blades start up.

Disabling the reverse blade cut off.
This little safety feature might be annoying for you if you do a lot of reversing in your yard. What happens is if you go into reverse the blades stop and wont start again until you press down and pull up on the blade stop/start button. I think this will be very annoying so I have disabled this "feature" on my mower. Disabling this "feature" is very simple. The switch is normally open and closes when you go into reverse activating the "feature". So all you have to do is disconnect the switch and the blades will stay on while in reverse. First you need to remove the black cover in the rear of the mower. Just remove the two bolts with a .5 inch ratchet. This will allow to you reach the connector. If you have big hands you may need to get someone with smaller hands or you will have to take a few more things apart.
Now on the right side of the mower between the batteries and the motor controllers ( where the black cover you just removed was ) and below everything you should be able to see the switch. All you have to do is pull it out. You will then see the two pins sticking out.
You will want to put some electrical tape around these pins to keep them from getting dirty. Its a little hard to do but can be done. If you cant wrap up the pins don't worry too much about it. They should be OK if left bare. You will also want to wrap the plug up that you removed with some tape to keep out the dirt. You may also want to secure it to some other wire so you can easily access it and so it does not rattle around. All you have to do now is put the cover back on. Thats it! You can now mow in reverse.
After mowing for the first time I can tell you that if I had the reverse blade cut off enabled I would be pulling out my hair. Getting this safety "feature" disabled is a time saver.

The seat sensor power cut-off is another safety feature that I can do without. Easy to bypass. Just connect the contacts, or close the switch.

The following are my results, and the trials of other owners.

Update 2014:
I have owned mine for over three years, and used it 1-4 times a month. I live in florida so we mow the grass year round. The batteries are about as strong as when I got them. Being AGMs/SLA, they should last 3 years, and then I expect to replace them. As long as they are kept charged they should last even longer. deep long discharge damages them. It does not get weaker as you mow. The rest of the mower is pretty tough. the electric motors will hopefully run forever. Run time is about an hour. The weak link is the charger. I am on number 3-- two replaced under warranty. Make sure that works. a new one is $300. A new battery pack is about $700-800. It's the same body as their gas machine from the past. So that part is still strong. I believe it gets poor reviews because it is so much more gentle than a gas machine. Good luck finding one. If they were so bad they would be for sale everywhere--but I have noticed they are hard to find used. If you get it cheap and buy a new battery pack that should equal years of gas free mowing.

Update December 2014:
After three and half years (3.5 yrs) the batteries finally started to not mow the whole lawn. I was getting less than an hour of cutting time. I went online, and to my surprise no one was selling the battery packs. I called the dealer and he said I was out of luck. So, I called Ariens and they told me the dealer now has to buy the batteries and assemble the pack for you. There is a service bulletin for the procedure (which I will try to post here), and once I pointed this out the dealer he didn't seem too enthusiastic. I decided to get it done myself at the local battery store.(A BatteriesPlus, or Battery and Bulbs store.) Building 5 sub-packs was just another day for them and it was cheaper. The pics below are of the new sub-packs done to the Ariens specifications. Let's hope I get another 3+ years, and then hopefully someone will have figured out how to install lithiums.
The packs are easily removed by removing one nut. This is a view of the empty battery bay.


Here are the newly made subpacks. They are made from the very available 12120 battery. It is a sealed lead acid, and can be found at any battery store. It is a 12 volt, 12mah. I guess you could use a higher mAh battery of the same size--it would just cost more.


I reused the existing wires.


This picture is of the new batteries installed. Yeah!



Here is the link to the service letter on assembling the battery packs: service letter L-2194

Here are some pics of a mod done with 4 group 24 batteries.
This is the quote from the guy who did it: "It looks like Ariens may have started out with my plan for 36V, but ended up increasing the system voltage to 48V and went with the crap pack. Three of the batts fit perfectly under the seat. The plastic panels actually had a cut-out that made the batteries fit perfectly. I had to put the 4th batt between my feet up front. It hasn't bothered me. I thought I would try it and make alterations from there. I'm keeping it the way it is. I've been keeping my eye out for another Amp. I have a few people wanting one after seeing mine. They seem to be few and far between.?? "
Interesting.......




More pictures: The rider doing some hauling chores. I bolted on a piece of angled metal and put a hole in it so I could use it as a simple hitch.


Below is a pic of a catch bag that I recently saw. I didn't even know it was an option.

Update November 2015:
New mulching Blades--still available. This machine loves sharp blades. Since it does not have the power of a gas machine, it really relies on sharp blades. Now that I have a second pair I can swap them, and sharpen the other pair later. To change the blades, I jack up the front of the machine and reach under with a ratchet. No need to take off the deck. I added the green paint. Green is the grass side. :-). I ordered the blades from Gravely Parts Direct. It seems they don't keep them in stock, but are just a wholesaler who has them shipped from Ariens. They were about $16 per blade plus shipping. The mower is Model#916002, and tell them you want the mulching blades. My suggestion is get a spare set while you can. Very few suppliers have these any more, and when Ariens runs out, or stops making them, that will be it. I tried to source a substitute blade, or see if a generic would fit--no go. These seem to be an "odd ball" mulching blade, and I could not find any that were the same size. Some generics were very close, and I am sure someone with time and a grinder could make them fit. My guess, is that since these were new electric motors made for this machine, Ariens made special blades instead of using off the shelf ones from their catalog. Just make sure you check them for balance. Mine were way off.

I have had a few flats, but just patched the tires. These are not heavy duty multiply off road tires. They are easily punctured. This is another consumable I will have to look for in the future. They seem common, so it should not be a problem.

The new packs have been going for about a year, and they are pulling strong.

Here is a letter, from Robert, another amp owner, doing some modifications:
"Hi John, I visited your Ariens users website to discover you were someone else who has successfully dealt with one of the worst designed equipment I have ever seen. I live in Kansas City, Mo.. I am a retired Control System Engineer and Seminar Instructor.
I bought my Ariens electric mower about 4 years ago, and like you, I quickly found that the run time and range of mowing quickly fell off almost from the start. I took apart the battery 4-packs, after struggling through 6 months of our mowing season in 2012, to discover they were using sealed cells never intended for repeated deep cycle discharge or continuous 24/7 charging at 5 amps.. This combined with their paralleling 4-packs and thereby having to keep the batteries baking on the charger 24/7, compounded by encapulating the batteries so heat could not escape is the perfect recipe for ruining batteries. Once any cell in any of the 12V 15 amp-hr batteries within any of the 5 4-packs shorted, it would drag the other 19 12V batteries down usually destroying a few of the batteries, which then gave off that Hydrogen Sulphide smell and, in time, fry the charger. At the end of that first 6 month mowing season, 17 of the original batteries were toast.
For the second year's mowing season, I could only obtain 12V 12 amp-hr. batteries as replacements. I installed them without adding encapsulation and provided spacing between layers of 4 packs for better ventilation. This worked marginally. For the next mowing season (last April through October 2015), I modified the batteries wiring traces so I could keep each group of 4 12V batteries disconnected from the other 4-packs and the controller. Then I could charge all in parallel and when done, disconnect all and let them sit without charging for up to 2 weeks before reconnecting and topping off the charge for another mowing or for an additional 2 weeks of storage. I created a 40 Amp shorting plug to install on the very large 30 amp terminal strip I had just before mowing that paralled all 4 packs. At the end of that 3rd half year of mowing, 18 of the 20 batteries not keeping a charge of 11.0V or hgher. Even with my improvements the 20 sealed 12V batteries had only lasted two 6 month seasons.
By then I had done enough research to discover that real 50% or 80% DOD deep cycle batteries obtain their longer life by using thicker and stronger plates that resist warping plus they use pure lead and not a cheaper lead alloy. They are flooded cell type, as the AGM and Gel Cells usually are a poor compromise that fail quickly. I found the Sportsman DC24-140 at a K.C. wholesaler. I will be using 4 of them this next 4/2016 to 11/2016 mowing season. The only down side is that they are acid flooded type that are the best deep cycle design, but they can spill. Because of this and my size 14 shoes, I chose to remove the rear hood, which was way more difficult that it should have been. (The rear hood is 20 lbs of useless steel for cosmetic purposes only. It is a pain everytime you want to plug in or disconnect the charger) I placed the forth group 24 battery on the left rear frame instead of behind my feet as you did.
For the last 3 mowing seasons, when the blades stopped, I measured the voltage of the 4-packs. I usually measured about 50.0V. This is well above the lowest voltage recommended for deep cycle batteries, which is 10.8 per 12V battery or 43.2V for 4 wired in series. I don't see this as a big problem. I don't know if this voltage where blades are stopped is adjustable and doubt I could change it anyway. Howver, on true deep cycle batteries, not discharging them to the maximum allowed extends the number of charging cycles before end of life exponentially. That just means instead of fully discharging the new deep cycle batteries in 70 minutes, this will happen in less time (30 minutes is my guess.) However, that lighter demand should allow me 800 charge and discharge cycles instead of the 200 the batteries are designed for However, I need about an hour of mowing time, so I will plan on mowing only half each charge.
I also disabled the annoying feature that stops the blades when you go in reverse by pulling the cable off of the connector. Unfortunately, I only stumbled upon your site a few days ago. So I did not get all the benefit of your improvements.
Last season I also experimented by using 40 amp. hr. Iron Lithium Phosphate batteries in place of some of the 12 amp. hr. lead acid, but the voltage of the parallel combination fell off quickly and I only got about 15 minutes of mowing each charge."
(Thanks Robert for the letter-- and anyone else, if you are reading this please feel free to send pictures, or share your mods.--John, Club President)

Update July 2016:
Almost 2 years with the rebuilt subpacks, and they are showing signs of wear. If I have to mow thick stuff for long, the blades stop, which probably means the voltage is sagging. I may have to replace them sooner than anticipated. That would suck to not get 3 years out of them. It is what I was concerned about, and what Robert wrote about above. The fact that the system is composed of so many small batteries, if one is bad or goes down, it drags down the whole subpack, and then the total voltage drops, and you can't mow. It is very difficult to trouble shoot the packs to find the suspect battery. Soooooo, I am planning to replace them with four regular deep cycle 12v large batteries. The challenge is in the placement. On this webpage we have read about mounting batteries inside, in front of the housing, and behind and above it. We'll see where I eventually place them.....
In the meantime here is a photo of some lithiums that owner Jay shoe'd into his amp. It is an expensive option, but probably the future since they are so small and light....

Here is a link to a youtube video which gives more details: Lithium powered video clip

Update Sept 2016-- Project Battery Box
Johnny here....seems like the batteries are dying. I can barely get the half acre mowed on a single charge. That is less than two years from the new subpacks. Not good. So...I have decided to change from the 20 pack configuration, to a four pack arrangement. I am basically going to use 4, group 24 AGM batteries, but to do so I had to enlarge the battery box! In the following pictures, you can see what I did. I took out the plastic battery spacers, and moved the seat spring support. I moved the black metal support bar up to make more room, and took off the seat springs.

Here is the before:


Off the fenders go to access the bolts, so I could move up the cross bar. And out come the plastic battery tray pieces.


This is the empty battery box and the new position of the cross bar.


This is the trim screw/rivet I use to reattach the fenders.


The four batteries were purchased from my local batteries plus/batteries and bulbs store. (Werker/Duracell 12v 80ah) The four 12v cells are wired in series to create 48v. I used 6 awg wire since that is the size the original harness uses that enters the controller. I soldered copper lugs with 1/4 inch holes. The cells connect to the mower via an Anderson connector. This is just to make it easy to make the final connection without a lot of sparks. I'll see if there is too much loss at this final connection in the future. It may be better to wire it directly. I added wood and foam spacers so the batteries don't move around.

Chargers
Here we see the old charger on the left, and a new one on the right. It is a basic golf cart 48v charger. I like it, in that is shows the voltage. I had to attach the Anderson adaptor so it would attach to the Rider charge plug. The old charger was under charging the batteries, but I never knew it since I could not see the voltage--just some light--that said the charging was done. It's a shame the low quality chargers sold with this machine cut short the life of the batteries. The old charger retailed for ~$400, and a generic 48v charger is about $100. I wish I knew this earlier so I wouldn't have wasted my time with the overpriced interacter chargers. This Stanley unit is cheap enough, and very bulky. It lasted less than a year, so I cannot recommend it. I will post my latest charging solution soon.
It has been said: "Most batteries don't die a natural death, but are murdered."


This picture is of the new enlarged space with the old packs.

The new space with a piece of carpet.

Test fitting the new batteries. Yeah! They fit with plenty of extra room for the cables.


Update May 2017--Four Big Cells! or Battery Set 3 (since purchase in 6/2011)
So finally I have some pictures of the new batteries in place with the wiring all done nice and neat. The first two packs lasted almost exactally 6 years, or about 3 years each. That's kind of less that expected/advertised, but probably average for the design. Let's hope this new configuration does better. The first two pics are of the old wiring harness. You can see the common final wire is not a very heavy thickness. So I decided to use 6AWG for all my battery connections. The four cells are in series of course, and the final connection is by a red anderson connector. This makes it easy to disconnect the pack from the mower. I installed a volt meter so I can see the actual voltage of the system. It is the little green readout seen in a picture below. (Thanks Jay for the idea.)


Nice clean bay.

They fit nicely with the black support bar moved up, as described above. The cells are four Duracell 12v 80ah sealed AGM lead acid batteries. I used foam to fill the gaps and keep the batts from moving. Each weighs 50 pounds. Each batt costs about $150+, give or take. I chose this cell because it is a common battery, so prices are going to vary widely. This is about as SIMPLE as you can get for a battery retrofit/replacement. I also think it is the most cost effective and electrically efficient, unless you go the lithium route.

The Anderson connector to disconnect the pack. I still use the blue Anderson to charge the mower.

The green thing is the volt meter like you would find on a golf cart. You can not see the read out in the picture because of the sun.

This is the charger I am using now. It is a 48 volt golf cart charger/maintainer. It is less than $100. It is a low amp (50 watt) charger, but since I have days between mows, it doesn't matter. A fast charger would be a waste of money.

The Costs of Ownership Compared--Gas v Electric (with my new battery setup) by Club President J.S., and other club members.
What is the actual cost of ownership per year for a typical gas lawn tractor? I’m going to list the assumptions I made about your yard up front. You may adjust these numbers for your own particular lawn. I figure most reading this are “do it yourself types”, so I won’t even get into dealer prices for all this. Otherwise just double the maintenance costs. The “typical” suburban lawn is 1/3 to 2 acres. We usually spend 40 hours per year mowing and running around it with our lawn tractor. Gas $2.50. That $1899 V-Twin lawn tractor uses about one gallon an hour so a year’s worth of fuel is 40 hours times $2.50 a gallon. $100. If your fuel prices are higher you will see even more savings with an electric. Yearly Tune-ups: Oil Filter $13-$19. V-Twin Air Filter $26-$40. Oil V-Twin SAE 30W 48 oz $9. Spark Plug MRS Plug X2 $19. Blades 42 inch Mulch Blade 2-pack $42, or just sharpen it. Typical Yearly Tune-up Total Cost: If you do it yourself is about $100. Deck Belt $40-$75. Most belts only last 1-4 years. Engine to Transmission Drive Belt., belt $40. Depending on the slope of your yard, most belts last 2 to 5 years. Starter battery should last 3 years at $100. The belts and battery are $200 evey three years. So with Fuel, if you do your own maintenance the yearly cost is $260-300 per year. Again, double that if someone else does it for you.

Ariens Amp Costs Per Year. Average price of electricity = 12 cents per kilowatt. Average amount of electricity to charge the 75AH batteries = 1.8 kilowatt. About 20 cents per charge. Using the 40 hours a year typical use above “fuel” cost is .20 times 40 or $8.00 a year. The big question is how long should these batteries last? Unfortunately, it is one of the hardest to answer. The correct answer for a typical golf cart battery is: “It all depends on how you take care of them.” Why is this? Well, deep cycle battery packs require some basic maintenance which includes maintaining the correct electrolyte (water) levels while ensuring the battery pack is fully charged and never left in a discharged state (plugging it in after each use). Deep cycle lead acid batteries get the longest life by having them constantly peaked (on the supplied charger) when not in use. Typically, a set of golf cart batteries that are used 1-2 times a week will last 5-10 years. Keep in mind the golf cart batteries are a lot heavier and a lot more expensive than the batteries in my Ariens. The correct answer for my Ariens is a little different. The batteries used are lead acid deep cycle but they are sealed batteries that are commonly used in powered wheelchairs. Physically they are smaller and require less maintenance for them to last. Since they are sealed you can’t and should not try to check the electrolyte level. They have an extra-large reservoir that has enough electrolyte to last the life of the battery. Because they are sealed expect to get 3-7 years in a wheelchair when properly maintained. In the case of my Ariens or any of the new gen electric mowers that use them, let’s guess that you will mow once a week and run around the yard for cleanup and gardening a few times a week. You keep the batteries properly maintained – that means leaving the charger plugged in all the time when you are not using it. All things considered I am going to guess you will get at least 3 years and normally 5 years out of the battery set. If you never let the batteries discharge under 80% and keep them away from extreme heat or cold they may give you 7 years. Possible, but unlikely. Also consider the pack loses capacity every year (10-20%), so you can mow a bit less each year. Cost of Batteries. A 12v 75Ah battery like the one I used is about $159. You need four. $636. So cost at 3 years is $212 per year, cost at 5 years is $127 per year and cost at 7 years is $115. I’ll use the same service/repair costs as the gas-powered lawn tractor. Other maintenance items : One set of mower blade—sharpen yourself, maybe the transmission belt $30 every 5 years. So what is the actual cost of ownership per year for an electric? Basically just replacing the batteries every 5 years, or $140 per year.

The typical cost of the lawn tractor is $1899 – the typical cost of the Amp or an electric is $2499. The difference is $600. The cost of the gas lawn tractor does not include the maintenance costs. Fuel and repairs are paid for when they are needed. The cost of the electric includes the battery cost for the first 3-5 years. “Fuel” is basically included. In summary, owning a typical 42 inch lawn tractor costs about $260-300 per year if you do all the maintenance. Owning an Ariens costs about $200 a year depending on how you maintain your batteries. So it is pretty close to a break even at three years if you do the maintenance yourself, considering the Purchase price difference. If the purchase prices get even, then things will get interesting....

Update June 2017--some serious run time!
The new cells have made a noticeable difference. I can do the whole yard with the battery gauge showing half remaining. With the tired old packs, I had trouble finishing at all. The old packs were 75ah, and the new four cells are 80ah, but the difference is more. I will start posting actual stop and start voltages, and run times to document how much I am getting from the four duracells. I recently saw a new electric mower by Ryobi. It seems to use four of the same batteries I just installed. Just for the record, I did not copy them...maybe they are reading this website. Don't know, just saying. Wow, the lawn looks pretty dead in spots, but as the rainy season approaches that will all change. So far I am pleased with the yellow, "Save A Battery" 48-Volt Battery Charger and Maintainer. The chargers in the past have not outlived the packs, let's hope this one does better. This is charger number four or five. We will see how long it lasts...

Update July-September 2017 --new cells breaking in...)
After a few months of mowing every week the cells have settled in as expected and improved in capacity. I now start out at about 53.8 volts and end at 49.9v. Below you can see what the "fuel level" says I have left. As the last pack was at the end of it's life the "fuel level" would be at the bottom, and sometimes start flashing while I was finishing the half acre. I am not sure how this meter really works (I think time and voltage????), so I am going to rely on the Volt Meter I installed.

On another note, the seat pealed off the backer, and I tried to glue it back in place.

Glamor shots.....


The meter I had installed, at the top of the picture, failed and melted itself. I have since installed a new one--the blue one at the bottom of the picture--in it's place. It is hard to say why this happened. Probably because I bought the cheapest one on Amazon, made in china. The good news is that I am getting way more run time than I ever had. More run time even than when it was brand new all those years ago. Hauling duties from hurricane Irma.









As always, More updates/pics to follow.........





Email me if you want to submit or converse. My Presidential address is: john.sciarra(at,ya know the "at" symbol) gmail (dot,or point)com. Mention the ariens amp in the subject or you will be treated like so much spam.
Thanks for visiting....

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