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Old 11-07-2011
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Electric Conversion

I am considering re-powering my boat (Mariner 28). The option of converting to an electric drive (Elco) is very appealing. However, I would like to hear from anyone who has an electric drive on their boat. Pro's and Con's.

I am concerned about power into a strong headwind or current. How well does solar or wind re-charge the batteries. Length of time is also a factor.

I cruise the Chesapeake so don't plan to run the motor for 8-10 hours straight. But what is a realistic length of time to run the motor at a comfortable cruising speed? 5-6 knots on a boat that displaces 7500 lbs?

Any opinion welcome
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Old 11-07-2011
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I took a look at the Elco website: Elco Motor Yachts and this is the recommenced installation for your length of boat. From the above it looks like you are good for 6 to 8 hours at 5 knots. What concerns me is the installation is 1000 pounds. What is the maximum recommended weight your sailboat will take? Include weight of crew and provisions. There will also be a replacement cost for the batteries in five years if the batteries are carefully maintained. If the batteries sit discharged for several months, then replacement will be needed immediately.
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Old 11-07-2011
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My opinion would be to wait until the next time you repower your boat to consider electric. The technology just isn't "there" yet. You and the next person that buys your boat will be range limited. Batteries are heavy expensive and dirty. Solar panels and wind won't charge quick enough for back to back days and the panels needed will eat alot of precious deck space.
You're not saving the enviorment...you will have something fun to talk about...but ultimately it will be a liability to work around.
IMO you would be better off buying a large electric outboard and a few deep cycle batteries. It will be lighter, easier and you will still have fossil power in a storm or long calm for safety.
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Old 11-07-2011
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you might google - Nigel Calder, as he has been tasked with designing and implementing a true electrical propulsion system and documenting the advantage or disadvantage. A year back, electric was not there yet, in any commercially viable way and I think that is still the case. This was with the best and most advanced technology money could buy. As the Elco drive is "old technology"...

He is a genious, IMHO, and has the skills and credentials to do this.

I think that given the weight, cost and installation issues that you will encounter in bringing this to your Mariner....it will be a no-brainer to NOT do it. It is not a trivial task, and few yards or techs are on the Bay that know anything at all about to help you.

That being said, if I had the money to test this, I would be all over it, just to see for my self how it plays or doesn't. I would contact Stevens Institute (or other engineering college) and hire two or three interns with an interest to help.

Keep us posted as to what you learn.
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Old 11-07-2011
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I have to re-power now. I am replacing a Yanmar 2QM15 with a 2YM15. Looking at the electric drive as an alternative.

I agree. From what I have read so far I am suspect of the electric drive. I am hoping to hear from someone who actually has one and get some "real-world" feedback.

The specs on line in the brochure are most likely based on perfect conditions. So I tend to adjust the specs published downward. (reduce the time and speed).

I do not take the solar or wind re-charging seriously, but I cruise on the Chesapeake where shore power is readily available.
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Old 11-07-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
you might google - Nigel Calder, as he has been tasked with designing and implementing a true electrical propulsion system and documenting the advantage or disadvantage. A year back, electric was not there yet, in any commercially viable way and I think that is still the case. This was with the best and most advanced technology money could buy. As the Elco drive is "old technology"...

He is a genious, IMHO, and has the skills and credentials to do this.

I think that given the weight, cost and installation issues that you will encounter in bringing this to your Mariner....it will be a no-brainer to NOT do it. It is not a trivial task, and few yards or techs are on the Bay that know anything at all about to help you.

That being said, if I had the money to test this, I would be all over it, just to see for my self how it plays or doesn't. I would contact Stevens Institute (or other engineering college) and hire two or three interns with an interest to help.

Keep us posted as to what you learn.

Very good information. Thanks!
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Old 11-07-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
you might google - Nigel Calder, as he has been tasked with designing and implementing a true electrical propulsion system and documenting the advantage or disadvantage. ...
Calder's 45' boat more easily carries the extra weight involved with the hybrid electric propulsion system he installed.

We are also considering an electric drive since we have to repower anyway. The weight is an issue that is swinging the pendulum back to diesel.
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Old 11-07-2011
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Hi Andrew,

There are plenty of Electric Auxiliaries out there. I installed one in my Ericson 27 three and half years ago and have been completely satisfied. This is a link to a blog that I started recently; Ep - Blogs - EY.o Information Exchange there are four parts so far. It will give you an idea of the setup and limitations of the design.

Here are some Marine EP manufacturers;
Electric Yacht - Electric sailboat propulsion systems that are cost-effective, yet CLEAN, GREEN and QUIET!
ThunderStruck Motors - Electric Sailboat Kits
ASMO Marine
Electric | Propulsion Marine
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Electric propulsion

Hi Andrew,

Actually, there are quite a few electric boats out there happily cruising both inland, coastal and beyond. Check out the various companies that offer systems. There are the more "do it yourself" systems if you are handy and really want to be adventurous, or the "drop in type" systems that can still be installed by you to save a bit on costs, but have already been setup for you so you don't have to re-invent the wheel. Mark mentioned several companies (ASMO Marine does have a U.S. distributor in Annapolis). MasterVolt also has systems.

The Elco system at 1000 lbs seems quite heavy - unless they are suggesting a dual battery bank. A 48volt system with 4, 210ah thin plate AGM's should weight pretty close to the weight of your motor, plus the transmission and full fuel tank.

If you want to read about someone who switched 4 years ago and is more than thrilled with his electric propulsion, check out Capt. Mike's blog:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: Going electric: Part 1: The why and how

Electric propulsion is here, it is a viable option for a sailor, and if you are ready to enjoy it then there are many options, and people out there who will help you with the conversion. Cruising the bay as you have described is the perfect use for electric propulsion and if you want to increase range you can always carry a small, portable generator (see Capt. Mike's blog above).

Good luck - if you do decide to convert to electric, you will be happy you did. It makes being on the water even more enjoyable.

SMR
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Old 11-07-2011
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There was a very good and interesting article in Good Old Boat a few issues ago about an electric drive system that the owner himself made. Article says he can cruise up to 3-4hours at 4.5kts and 7-8 at 3ks if i remember correctly. it was in a 27 ft full keel boat, article listed all parts used and total investment was @ $2k. Owner also stated with extra battery storage he culd go further..obviously, but he also was on the Ches Bay and it suited him fine. I will see if i can find it and let you know what issue.
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