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.
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.