100 REASONS TO OWN AN ELECTRIC BOAT
Electric boats have been in existence for over 100 years. At the turn of the 20th century, there were more electric runabouts than gasoline or diesel. All submarines are hybrid electric boats.
In the last 20 years there has been a resurgence of electric boats, mostly by hobbyists, though several notable manufacturers offer electric options. Advancements in battery, motor and controller technology have made electric boats a viable option for many sailors.
There are many different options available to power an electric boat with. It is important that sailors understand the options available, the costs, and the limitations of each different system. A battery powered sailboat is a day sailor. Solar sailboats are capable of extensive cruising in sunny areas. Most lower latitude areas have enough sun to sustain a solar sailboat. It is really quite amazing to own a solar sailboat. They are always ready to go. Kapowai hasn’t been plugged in or had any maintenance to her energy systems in over 3 years. From a practical point of view, she has become a perpetual motion machine.
The ultimate sailboat is powered by a diesel electric propulsion system. Minimizing engine run time results in more enjoyment for the passengers and crew while providing fuel savings and longer range.
The ability of an electric motor to produce small amounts of power, much like a sail does, make electric boats better sailboats by providing a noise free motor sailing experience.
Presented here are over 100 reasons why a boat owner would choose electric power over diesel. In the end, it is your budget, and how you intend to use your boat, that determines your choice of propulsion.
ELECTRIC BOATS ARE MORE COMFORTABLE
1) Solar Electric boats have no smell of fuel or exhaust.
2) There is less incidence of sea sickness on an electric boat. Diesel fumes and exhaust contribute to seasickness on diesel powered boats. Hybrid boats can choose when to run the diesel to minimize exposure to exhaust fumes.
3) Batteries can be used for large house loads for extended periods of time before recharging.
ELECTRIC BOATS ARE FUN TO SAIL
1) Keeping an eye on your energy, how it is regenerating or depleting, what your electric only range is, focusing your solar panels at the sun, monitoring power consumption and its effect on motor-sailing – all great fun and intellectually stimulating.
Owning an electric boat is a cultural shift in sailing. It is dramatically different and a far nicer experience on the water.
An electric boat is more in line with the spirit of sailing —-using natural energy to propel your boat.
4) Small amounts of electric power can act like a mizzen sail. The sail-like qualities enhance the boats sailing attributes by creating apparent wind.
Because an electric boat can generate apparent wind, it is rarely, if ever, becalmed.
ELECTRIC BOATS REDUCE POLLUTION
1) Electric boats pollute less and reduce global warming.
2) There is little to no pollution in your local environment.
3) There is no smell of diesel fuel, or of diesel exhaust, on an all-electric boat.
4) There is no grundgy, smelly stuff under the motor of an electric boat.
5) There is no oil in the bilge water.
6) An electric boat smells pure and clean.
7) Electric boats don’t vibrate.
8) Electric boats are very quiet with far less noise pollution
ELECTRIC BOATS REQUIRE MINIMAL MAINTENANCE
1) When you are finished building your boat, you are done. There is almost no maintenance after the original purchase.
2) Packing glands, cutlass bearings and engine mounts last longer because electric motors don’t shake around.
3) You don’t have to run your boat to keep the engine in good shape. An electric boat can sit unused without damaging the motor.
5) Brushless motors require no maintenance.
6) You don’t have ongoing, large maintenance costs!
ELECTRIC BOATS ARE VERY RELIABLE
1) The simplicity of an electric drive results in higher reliability. Simply turn the electric motor on and it goes.
2) An electric motor has less things to go wrong with it than a diesel motor does.
3) Temperature sensors in the motor and controller communicate with the controller preventing overheating caused by high ambient temperatures or obstruction of the propeller.
ELECTRIC BOATS ARE SAFER
1) Higher reliability increases safety.
2) Better boat handling increases safety.
3) Higher Acceleration and Deceleration increases safety.
4) Reduction or complete elimination of fossil fuels increases safety.
5) Elimination of sticky shifter and throttle cables increases safety.
Electric boats equipped with solar panels never completely run out of energy.
Electric boats using Lithium Battery Management Systems monitor battery voltage and temperature on every cell which reduces the possibility of a battery thermal.
ELECTRIC BOATS ARE EASIER TO OPERATE
1) You don’t have to remember to turn on through hulls before running your motor.
You don’t have to change or check the oil before running the motor. You don’t have to change the oil filter.
You don’t have to clean or change the air filter.
4) You don’t have to check for water in the fuel.
5) You don’t have to warm up the engine.
6) Solar sailors don’t have to go to the fuel dock.
7) Solar Sailors don’t worry about spilling diesel or gas in the marina and getting a fine.
8) Solar Sailors don’t have to worry about managing fossil fuels.
9) You don’t have to deal with sludge or microbes growing in your diesel fuel tank and polishing your fuel.
10) You don’t have to service the starter, alternator, water pump, belts, injection pump, thermostat, coolant, clutch or transmission on an all-electric sailboat.
ELECTRIC BOATS HAVE ENHANCED SAILING CHARACTERISTICS
1) You don’t have to wait for wind. Electric motoring around the harbor is just as pleasant as sailing your boat. In fact, you will enjoy motoring around in calm conditions like never before. You can take an electric boat out in any weather. Mornings, afternoons and evenings are all good times to go electric boating.
2) Electric motors complement your sail plan. When motor sailing in low wind conditions, an electric motor acts more like a sail than a motor, by providing just enough energy to the boat to negate the propeller drag.
3) Small amounts of energy on the propeller can add enormously to the performance of a sailboat in light air conditions. Small amounts of power on the propeller can take the luff out of your sail when sailing upwind.
4) Electric motors create apparent wind while sailing upwind or on a broad reach. A one knot breeze can be transformed into a 3 knot breeze and you become a happy sailor!
5) The magic of an electric boat is in low power to the propeller – a diesel cannot idle less than 600 rpm and through a 2:1 gearbox cannot turn the prop less than 300 rpm. An electric boat can turn a propeller at less than 100 rpm allowing amazing motor-sailing capabilities at very low power levels for long periods of time.
7) Power tacking. You won’t get stuck in irons when you have power on the propeller, without having to start a diesel engine.
8) Raising sails. You can keep pointing into the wind to raise and lower your sails easily, without having to start a diesel engine.
9) Battery weight mounted low and central on a monohull increases the stability and seaworthiness of the vessel, giving better directional stability and less rocking in the trough.
ELECTRIC BOATS HAVE ENHANCED MOTORING CHARACTERISTICS
1) You can hear the environment that you are sailing through when electric motoring — birds, water lapping on the hull, fish or whales jumping. In foggy conditions this can be a huge benefit.
2) No need to shout at your crew while motoring.
3) No need to warm up the engine — instant power all of the time.
4) No need to shift into and out of reverse and forward, and no grinding gears. Electric motors turn backwards electrically eliminating the need for separate forward and reverse gears.
5) Electric boats accelerate faster than diesel boats. As a boat starts moving through the water it becomes easier to turn the propeller. Electric motors and gear ratios are chosen for maximum efficiency at hull speed. However, electric motors have very high intermittent ratings, often twice as high or more than their continuous ratings. These power attributes are available for acceleration when the propeller demands more. Electric motors are better suited for the load of a propeller than a diesel is.
6) Improved control for docking. No worries about shifting into reverse on time. Variable, wide range propeller rpm allows for precise control coming into your slip. There is no need to shift into and out of gears multiple times to effect docking your boat.
7) High torque at low rpm allows electric motors to turn larger propellers, known for higher efficiency.
8) Electric boats outfitted with alternative charging sources (solar, wind, hydro) never completely run out of energy as may a diesel boat.
9) Electric boats have an unlimited range when equipped with alternate energy sources while diesel boats have a finite range.
10) Masters of electric boats do not have to chart a course that includes stopping at a diesel dock. Less reliance on diesel allows for greater flexibility in trip planning.
11) An electric controller can be programmed for acceleration and deceleration characteristics to avoid damaging the propeller shaft, couplings and flexible couplings, while giving the right performance characteristics.
12) A diesel motor’s torque curve meets the propeller power curve at only one rpm for maximum power and efficiency. At every other point in the torque curve, the diesel motor is not fully utilized and therefore not reaching peak efficiency.
13) An electric motor’s torque curve tracks the propeller’s curve at maximum efficiency. An electric motor creates only the torque required with no additional overhead and is therefore more efficient at all points on the power curve.
14) In heavy weather conditions an electric boat gives maximum control over the propeller and can act like a variable drogue.
15) There is no lag in the throttle of an electric boat. You get instant power as soon as the throttle is engaged. You do not have to wait for the motor to rev up because electric motors have enormous instantaneous torque reserves to call upon for almost instantaneous propeller acceleration. The motor is not the limitation of the driveline when instant power is called upon.
ELECTRIC BOATS CAN BE CHARGED FROM MULTIPLE ENERGY SOURCES
1) SOLAR POWER IS A REPLENISHING RESOURCE ON A BOAT, WHILE DIESEL IS A DEPLETING RESOURCE. Batteries can store energy thousands of times.
2) Electric boats can be recharged with solar power.
3) Electric boats can be recharged with wind power.
4) Electric boats can be recharged from the propeller spinning (regeneration).
5) Electric boats can be recharged from shore power.
6) Electric boats can be recharged with a portable gasoline generator.
7) Electric boats can be recharged with a diesel generator.
8) Electric boats have redundancy in their energy supply. You may have to wait for solar to recharge your batteries, but you never completely run out of energy.
ELECTRIC BOATS ARE COMPONENT BASED AND CAN BE UPGRADED
1) Electric boats can be outfitted for less money than a diesel.
2) Range can be extended with the addition of larger battery banks at a later time.
3) Range can be further extended with the addition of solar panels, wind generator or a diesel or gas generator.
4) Individual components can be replaced without replacing the entire propulsion package.
5) Improvements in battery technology are increasing range. Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries can provide enough range for the majority of sailing.
6) Diesel generators can be added in the future when they can be afforded.
LOW WEIGHT SYSTEMS FOR RACERS
1) Electric boats can be outfitted for inshore races with less weight than a diesel.
2) Batteries can be placed on a boat for optimum weight distribution.
ELECTRIC BOAT DESIGN ALLOWS FOR MORE FLEXIBILITY
1) Electric drives are smaller than diesel engines and can be fit into smaller spaces, allowing for larger living spaces or storage compartments
2) Electric drives do not need as much access space because there is less maintenance requirements.
3) Fly by Wire Electronic throttles can be mounted anywhere without the need for cables.
DIESEL ELECTRIC HYBRIDS BOATS OFFER THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
1) Serial hybrid boats can mount the generator outside the living spaces of the boat to eliminate the smell of diesel fuel in the boat.
2) Serial Hybrid boats can mount the diesel generator anywhere in the boat – this helps with maximizing interior space or weight distribution.
3) Diesel Electric boats have longer range than diesel boats in normal multi-speed and low speed operation.
4) Hybrid boats can run the diesel at opportune times to avoid backwinding of the exhaust into the cockpit.
5) Two electric motors can be employed with a single diesel generator for increased handling and redundancy.
6) Diesel Generators run the diesel at the rpm where the diesel is most efficient, resulting in less fuel consumed, less engine run time, and longer engine life.
7) Hybrids minimize the smell of diesel or exhaust on your boat. Hybrid boats don’t have to run the diesel in harbor areas and rarely run their diesel at all.
8) The diesel generator on a hybrid boat supplies house and propulsion loads at many times the efficiency or a diesel driven alternator, resulting in far less engine run time on anchor.
9) By consolidating energy storage into one high voltage battery bank, greater efficiencies are obtained which results in less charging time.