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post #1 of 136 Old 02-04-2016 Thread Starter
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Lithium batteries and EP

I am getting ready to build a 40' cat and I am researching electro propulsion. My delema is how many battery banks do I need. Of course there has to be one for the house electrical but do I need to separate two others specifically for the two motors or will one big bank do the job? Or should I have one for the house and one for the motors? Keep in mind I will have solar and a backup generator. At this stage I'm planning for 3-5 hours of run time but that will be extended by the solar and generator in hybrid mode.
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post #2 of 136 Old 02-04-2016
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Re: Lithium batteries and EP

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I am getting ready to build a 40' cat and I am researching electro propulsion. My delema is how many battery banks do I need. Of course there has to be one for the house electrical but do I need to separate two others specifically for the two motors or will one big bank do the job? Or should I have one for the house and one for the motors? Keep in mind I will have solar and a backup generator. At this stage I'm planning for 3-5 hours of run time but that will be extended by the solar and generator in hybrid mode.
I always like to have a backup. When I converted my Nonsuch 30u to EP in 2008 I kept my house bank separate from the propulsion bank. I did this because:

1) I wanted to have two ways to power emergency equipment like a VHF radio, AIS etc.. and not have all those eggs in one basket. I was an early adopter and it was a leap of faith to go with EP at that time.

2) Since the house bank was already wired up it was easier just to leave it in place. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" was my thinking.

I would still do the same today. Though I do occasionally tap into the EP battery bank when at anchor to power refrigeration and/or laptop use if the weather has a few rainy days and drops solar charging for the house bank enough. Nice to have the extra power and not have to fire up the generator.

As far as having two EP banks. I think you could go either way. having two separate banks would give you some redundancy should one bank have some type of failure. My experience is with AGM batteries not lithium but, I find the EP system to be very reliable.

With two separate EP banks you could:
1)Operate off of one and keep the other in reserve
2)Operate off of one and use the generator, solar to charge the other bank.

EP systems are very easy to change to change and modify. You could start with two separate banks and easily make them into one big bank or visa versa. Depending on how you find which way works best for your needs.
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post #3 of 136 Old 02-19-2016 Thread Starter
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I am getting ready to build a 40' cat and I am researching electro propulsion. My delema is how many battery banks do I need. Of course there has to be one for the house electrical but do I need to separate two others specifically for the two motors or will one big bank do the job? Or should I have one for the house and one for the motors? Keep in mind I will have solar and a backup generator. At this stage I'm planning for 3-5 hours of run time but that will be extended by the solar and generator in hybrid mode.
I always like to have a backup. When I converted my Nonsuch 30u to EP in 2008 I kept my house bank separate from the propulsion bank. I did this because:

1) I wanted to have two ways to power emergency equipment like a VHF radio, AIS etc.. and not have all those eggs in one basket. I was an early adopter and it was a leap of faith to go with EP at that time.

2) Since the house bank was already wired up it was easier just to leave it in place. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" was my thinking.

I would still do the same today. Though I do occasionally tap into the EP battery bank when at anchor to power refrigeration and/or laptop use if the weather has a few rainy days and drops solar charging for the house bank enough. Nice to have the extra power and not have to fire up the generator.

As far as having two EP banks. I think you could go either way. having two separate banks would give you some redundancy should one bank have some type of failure. My experience is with AGM batteries not lithium but, I find the EP system to be very reliable.

With two separate EP banks you could:
1)Operate off of one and keep the other in reserve
2)Operate off of one and use the generator, solar to charge the other bank.

EP systems are very easy to change to change and modify. You could start with two separate banks and easily make them into one big bank or visa versa. Depending on how you find which way works best for your needs.
Thanks so much for the info. Technology is changing so fast. In 4 years I'll be ready to invest and hopefully cost will be lower. That is the wave of the future!!
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post #4 of 136 Old 02-20-2016
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Re: Lithium batteries and EP

If it was me, I'd replace only one engine on a cat with EP, and leave the other diesel as an emergency engine/charging system for the EP. I'd have a house bank, a start bank for the diesel and an operational bank for the EP.
Of course it would matter a great deal what I intended to do with the boat, but I'm not a fan of putting all my eggs in one basket or in this case, two EP motors. Also, with a cat you must consider the weight of more batteries and electric motors versus a couple of small diesels if you need a minimum number of operating hours for safety, as you probably aren't going to be able to rely on the boat's sailing abilities to make a safe harbor in some conditions.
Also, from what Maine Sail has said, you are talking 6k to 8k just for a modest lithium house bank, so two lithium setups might get close to 20k for powering the EP alone. Add a couple of motors, running gear and a gene and it might be quite a bit cheaper to install a couple of small diesels.

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Last edited by capta; 02-20-2016 at 12:39 AM.
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Re: Lithium batteries and EP

Just curious. What's the affinity for EP?


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post #6 of 136 Old 02-20-2016 Thread Starter
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Just curious. What's the affinity for EP?
At this point I am in the planning stages of my build and am looking to educate myself about all the possibilities out there. It seems there are a lot of naysayers out there who haven't don't their homework. But I guess that is true with anything. From what I've read and watched there are problems with any form of combustion engine like, fuel, bad fuel, hard to get fuel, running out of fuel, overheating, water pumps, fuel pumps, maintenance, hoses. There is none of that with EP. I'm not trying to sell it but it looks more inviting all the time. The only draw back is cost of batteries. And as for running out of power, there is regeneration and backup gen. No maintenance, no maintenance costs.
The design I'm building calls for two 9.9 yammies. Pretty simple but is that the only way?!
Not being a sailor I rely on the old dogs for advice.
Sounds like there might be a couple diesel salesmen here. ?
Thanks again for all the advice all.
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Re: Lithium batteries and EP

I'm not going to sell you on a diesel. But there are pros and cons to EP too. Not sure what your plans are for the boat, but getting replacement parts or competent technician in some parts of the world would be difficult/impossible, whereas there is a diesel wrench everywhere. You also need to go to school on proper charging protocols, so that you can get those huge batter banks topped off with solar/wind. Nothing kills those expensive batts faster than being improperly charged, or in some cases, not fully charged often enough. Otherwise, you're just running an engine anyway to top them up (which has exactly the same maintenance requirements of a diesel). All the criticisms you mentioned of diesels are valid, although, I don't think there is too much trouble finding fuel. Especially since many boats will get 500-1000 miles per tank, and you're probably going to sail some.
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post #8 of 136 Old 02-21-2016
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Re: Lithium batteries and EP

"Thanks so much for the info. Technology is changing so fast. In 4 years I'll be ready to invest and hopefully cost will be lower. That is the wave of the future!! "
In 4 years the tech will have changed and prices will be the exact same as now or more expensive.
I have my doubts about it being the "wave of the future" in the near future, 10-20 years and maybe.
Too complex, too expensive and not enough range, my books go diesel if you need to add hybrid mode to get added range. Why burn diesel to make electricty? Burn the diesel to make thrust!
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Re: Lithium batteries and EP

Here is my thinking, I do know a lot about mechanics but that knowledge and skill are limited. The whole idea of sailing is to sail. Think people said the same thing about ICE. They would never catch on. I'm just researching. I hear you can run a small genet and it extends your range dramatically. What with solar and wind and regeneration if you run out of power just heave to and enjoy while you recharge. I plan to get on my boat and wave goodbye. Now I need to look at weight of batteries, motors, controllers etc.
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Re: Lithium batteries and EP

So what do you do if weather or sea conditions are not good enough to heave to for a few days to charge? End up on the rocks?
Why run a genset and lose 20% of the energry from the liquid fuel? Burn the fuel and go 20% further.
You don't get near 100% efficiency conveting a liquid fuel to electricity through a mechanical means like an engine turning an alternator or generator.
Wind generators are just as noisy as an internal combustion engine but probably more annoying due to the frequencies.
Pretty much have to have the deck of the boat one big solar panel to get enough electricity to make that worth while, unless you want to take days and days to charge.
10-20 years from now maybe feasable, not now in my book. This isn't even getting into repairs in a remote location, easy to get engine parts from any number of retailers, not so much electric......
Day sailor who is back to his dock everynight is the ideal candidate for current electrical tech, think it is brilliant for that. I don't think it is anywhere near ready for long term cruising.
Down the road I do fully believe internal combustion will be a museum oddity, but it will be a long time from now and I don't think it will be with batteries.
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