Benefits of Electric Propulsion

Low maintenance

Ask any electric car owner what maintenance they have done recently and they might tell you, “I changed the tires,” or “At our annual service, they added windshield wiper fluid and that’s it.” When you own a boat with an electric motor, there are no oil changes, no belt changes, no impeller changes, and no repowering after a certain number of hours. Electric motors require much less maintenance than having an engine on your boat.

Silent operation

One of our favorite things about sailing is when you turn off the engine and you can enjoy the peace and silence of being out on the water. Our question for both sailors is why wait to turn off the engine? Why don’t you enjoy that silence all the time? And for power boaters, you can enjoy the silence you have at anchor all the time with an electric motor.

Improved Safety

Eliminating the diesel or gas engine means you won’t have any fuel fires and you won’t have any engine fires. Boats with electric motors and gas/diesel engines do have batteries and owners of all boats with batteries need to take safety precautions for the use, storage and maintenance of batteries. A list of safety tips for using batteries on boats can be found here.

No Diesel or Gas Odors

Every boat smells like its engine. In a sailboat, the smell of fuel and oil hangs in the cockpit hours after your turn off your engine. On a pontoon boat, you have the exhaust fumes right where a swimmer gets in the water to start tubing. Boat owners – you don’t have to put up with the smell of exhaust from an engine ever again when you get an electric boat!

No pollution

We are out of balance with the Earth and this has resulted in more violent weather and temperature fluctuations. We can stop polluting CO2, NO2, SO2 and other toxins into our air by using an electric motor.

Reduced boat operating costs

Never go to the fuel pump in your boat again. In addition to reduced maintenance costs, the savings from not paying for fuel is significant.

Greater efficiency

Gas engines are about 25% efficient, diesel hovers around 35% efficient. Any guess where electric falls? More than 90% efficient! That means 90% of the energy you put in your batteries by charging it at the dock or that you gain from solar power is converted from stored energy to mechanical energy. For internal combustion engines, much of the lost energy is heat. That’s why you need more systems (and complexity) to cool the engine with heat exchangers and other strategies. Simply put, electric motors are about three times more efficient than other options boaters have.

Increased maneuverability

Especially in a marina, one often has to quickly go from forward power to reverse power or vice versa. But, doing so can hurt the transmission of an engine. Not so for an electric motor! With an electric motor you can go straight from forward to reverse without any wear or tear on the motor!

Unlimited range

If you put enough solar panels on your boat and if you don’t open up the throttle full, you can, in a sailboat or a powerboat, have an unlimited range in modestly sunny conditions. In fact, just a 50 watt solar panel can be used to spin a propeller just enough so the propeller is neutral and doesn’t create drag. That’s a lot less expensive than getting a folding prop! And, unlike with a diesel or gas engine, if you motor for a while to escape a storm or to make progress on a windless day, the sun can replenish your batteries and give you enough power to motor the next time you hit a storm or still waters.

Downsides of Electric Motors

Range

If you are motoring instead of putting up the sails or motorsailing to get a bit of benefit from your sails but primarily relying on your engine, a gas or diesel engine generally has more range in a sailboat than an electric motor. However, if you rely on your motor to get out of the marina and when needed in no wind or bad weather, today’s electric motors have the range you need. Just like the early electric cars, the first generation of electric boats had ranges that were too short to be viable. With the cost of batteries dropping and with improved technologies such as lithium ion batteries, both electric cars and electric powered boats have 2-4 times the range they had 10 years ago. And in power boats, the right combination of electric propulsion, batteries, solar panels and a backup generator can help you cruise short or long distances.

It’s Different

Yes, change isn’t always easy. The good news is that while there are some things to learn about the maintenance and safety of using electric motors, it is far less complicated than the maintenance and safety precautions one needs to understand and adhere to when using a gas or diesel engine.

Higher Upfront Cost

Generally, electric motors cost more than gas or diesel engines when purchased. However, most owners find that the greater upfront cost is more than saved over time through reduced maintenance and fuel costs.

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google