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 * 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.?? "

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 beore 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)

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....

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 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.
Here we see the old charger on the left, and the 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 it 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.
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.

More updates/pics to follow.........

Email me if you want to converse. My 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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