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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Cruising & Liveaboard Forum > Electric drive owners need some advice
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Thread: Electric drive owners need some advice Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-19-2009 12:32 AM
davidpm SouthernWind;
Sounds like a worthy goal. I've been researching it also. If you don't have "Electric Propulsion for Boats" by Mathys you will be amazed at how much info he put together.

Did you every hear the one about how to identify the Pioneers. They are the people with the arrows in their back. There as so many, many things that can go wrong so a design will not work well. And then there are the things that work but will cost a lot more:
1. The motor you identified does not mention if it will run continuous at 100+ volts and put out the HP you need. Some folks have picked the motor and promptly burned them out as they may run at low volts for a long time but burn out in minutes at high volts
2. Saildog and Cam are the experts on battery, volts, amps etc conversions etc. but I'm pretty sure the battery holds a finite amount of power and converting to higher voltage makes it possible to use smaller cables but you only have so much power in a given battery and going to a dangerous voltage will not accomplish much.
3. I'm thinking that that Catalina 27 size boat might be near the max size as a Catalina 30 size boat will take a lot more HP to push.
4. One trick is to pick a flat day with no current and tow the target boat with powerboat and put a strain gage in the line to see how many lbs it takes. That would be ideal circumstances. Try it in a sea way and see the numbers shoot up.
5. You will need a new prop to get any reasonable efficiency.
6. Add up the: Motor, clutch (maybe), reduction gear, batteries, charger, regulator's, monitor, cables, and boat modifications to get your cost.
7. If you any expectations of selling the boat figure on a sale price that includes no motor.
8. Figure on significant limitations on distance and if you get caught in a squall and want to power off some rocks make sure you have full batteries and the squall is over in maybe 30 minutes.
9. Calculate the life of each part compared to a diesel.
10. And of course anything you buy this year will be considered quaint and a 'good effort' just five years from now.

Despite all of the above if I could get a Catalina 27 size boat and do 4 knots for 10 hours at 50% and full power for an hour before having to plug into shore power and get it installed for $5,000 and figure it would give me 10 years service and not take up all my stowage space I would consider it. It would be way cool as my wife is allergic to diesel. Unfortunately I suspect it will cost a bit more than that for now. The realistic problem is that you have to commit to this process as a life-style as you will be tinkering with it for hours on end, it will not go smoothly as you are a pioneer and their is precious little to go on.
02-15-2009 09:52 PM
southernwind I wasnt refering to that kit is piticular it only goes up to 48v and I think that voltage would draw way to many amps. My goal for the instal is 144v something that kit is unable to reach. I have also talked with people that have had bad reactions, and I also understand that from furthur talking, that these are people who are almost dissapointed that they cant water ski behind the electric. i have even been on one that performed very similar to what a small outboard would do only without the noise, this is what got me to thinking. I just wasnt intrested enough in the concept at the time to investigate furthur when I had the chance.

let me be clear the thunderstruck system is too small as advertised, I believe. this is the actual motor that I am thinking about using here Cloud Electric Again like I said the thunderstruck setup cant handle 144 volts.

i used to have a 5 hp outboard on a 30 foot columbia i know it dont take a lot of HP to move a boat, it worked well enough. At 5 hp you are burning 3750 watts and at 144v its in the 26 ahr range. There isnt ANYBODY that runs a diesel at wide open all the time, to try and say you will be running a electric setup in this manner is unfair and misguiding. It is true at 5 hp when I was going in and out of the harbor I ran it at wide open but it proved that 5 hp was about all I needed. Granted I wasnt going to try to plow my way out aginst a strong headwind into rough seas with just 5 hp, but then I dont know many people that do with any engine or motor in bad conditions. Most sailors wait for a little better conditions to get underway. The 17 hp gives me extra in reserve to feel comfortable. I have been sailing since I was 6 and have never spent a long time under power at any one time, just not my style. I would rather dink up a river or somewhere else if it is called for. I do want some reserve power for when it is called for, and feel it is a requirement.

I have no desire to motor across the atlantic. I do have a desire to have the juice available to use that a electric could create, and am strating to feel that a electric inboard and a transom mounted outboard is the way to go.
02-15-2009 02:59 PM
tommays

The most common old shoe that required way to many repairs



Replaced with a modern Electronic Variable Speed Drive that you can even get WET with it having a STROKE
02-15-2009 02:54 PM
tommays

southernwind

I can only comment on what YOU point me to which is a tiny motor and control


Vs the motor



That eMKay shows that is big enough to have chance of putting out the power necessary to move the boat


"Our Sailboat Kit will convert your 3-12 HP diesel engine to clean, silent electric!

We've supplied these systems for sailboats up to 30 ft. long, and 12,000lb displacement, that are achieving hull speed. All systems have reverse on-the-fly and contactor disable.

Brushless means no brushes to wear out, and no ignition source for on-board gas appliances."

I always like it when they cant show you a single working install


The gas or diesel motor that was there had a powerband that had to followed to allow the boat to move efficiently and the electric motor has a powerband that will also have to followed to allow the motor to work efficiently

http://www.thunderstruck-ev.com/DDSepEx48.pdf


Then your not even thinking about the air flow necessary to keep the electric motor and control from having a meltdown when its closed up inside a boat a drawing 100 + amps


And most of what we do at work is change out OLD school mechanical Variable Speed Drives to Modern Electronic Variable Speed Drives and if you don't do your homework on the it does not work out well.
02-15-2009 02:39 PM
timangiel I have often wondered how well they work and how good of a replacement they would make for a saildrive. I have a 26ft boat with a 15hp saildrive and primarily day sail with an occasional weekend cruise. I am not having trouble with my saildrive right now, but the day will come when I need to repower. I like the idea of an electric drive, quiet & clean power, but would be hesistant to go that route right now. I would be interested in hearing about the experiences of anyone who did go that route.
02-15-2009 02:12 PM
eMKay
Quote:
Originally Posted by southernwind View Post
tAll alternators are motors and all motors are alternators. Just spin them backwards that's it.
This is not exactly true. All motors are GENERATORS would be the correct term. An alternator is a totally different animal, it is a large electromagnet, so requires a current that creates a powerful magnetic field. A generator can be spun by hand and generates a small amount of power compared to an alternator. When an alternator is generating a full field it can take up to 20hp just to turn it, but the benefit of that is they can generate well over 100 amps while a similar sized generator can only generate a few amps. (for short periods, then they overheat and fry)
02-14-2009 06:52 PM
Architeuthis Too bad there are not more owners out there to answer your post. There are a couple in this marina and their experience would support the position that Elect drive is not for everybody.

Here is my 2 cents:

There is no extra power. If you do not have a diesel gen to recharge your batteries will slowly die unless:

You have only short sails and the boat is returned to the dock for charging from the grid.

You have only long sails, days in length, and good wind.

You have a very short power use to get out of your slip and only sail on days with good wind.

I would suggest getting a larger motor, smaller bank and diesel gen large enough to drive your boat at cruising speed.

Better yet wait for a turn key system. They are coming they just are not here yet for less than big money.
02-14-2009 06:45 PM
southernwind the person that has a knee jerk reaction that says it cant replace 10 horse diesel is the person that don't know what he is talking about that's why I was wanting to hear from other actual owners. Its simple as a horsepower consumes 750 watts regardless of the power source here is the difference. your diesel can ONLY create the 10 horsepower at full power and max torque close to the same. A 8hp electric motor creates the same torque that your diesel does but from the time it starts turning regardless of RPM. All alternators are motors and all motors are alternators. Just spin them backwards that's it. When your sailing the prop spins and charges the batteries and you have endless power when you are sailing.

eMKay I totally agree with your Car project and thanks for the site I have been looking for that forum and couldn't remember the name of it. any way in a car yes your right, however we are talking about a boat that has a wave pushing it that's why it takes so little power to push a boat at hull speed. in a boat system i think for my own personal reasons i think 96v should be the smallest amount of power that should be used. i actually prefer 144v the amp draw at cruising speed should be in the 6000 watts range for a 30 to 32 footer and around 45-50 amps figuring in line losses.

another difference is the batteries in a boat you don't need the super fast discharge capabilities of the LiFePO4 batteries. They actually work against you and Trojan T105's would be a great choice. 220AH @ 20 hours with 144v in the system its 24 batteries a little heavy yea but factor this in at 50% discharge there is 2640 usable amps (of course you arent going to use them all at once) and thats a 50 hour or so burn rate and a (no wind no wave ideal condition) range of around 260 miles. when you get back under sail the system charges its self.

ok this is the plan I am puttin together


Oh and the "Gearing" is no more (on 90% of the systems) than a 2:1 pully system to slow down the electric motor to about 600 to 800 rpm
02-14-2009 04:55 PM
eMKay
Quote:
Originally Posted by tommays View Post
I don't think electric is ready

But looking at the "KIT" it is really NOT ready you have to come up with your own gear box , The control looks very small to handle 100 to 200 amps

I work with all types of AC and DC electric motors forklifts to machines and the motor looks way to small to replace a 10 HP diesel
That site an many other sites have a wide range of motors and controllers, you can customize them at your will, and as LiFePO4 batteries (same type that's going in the Volt and other electric and hybrids in the pipeline) come down in price, this becomes a viable alternative. I've been researching this quite a bit for another project of mine (electric locost, google it) and have figured out that for a 10,000lb boat something like 15kw is needed, you can get by with the 8.5kw kit, plus it has regen and has been able to put up to 4ah back into the battery bank just using the spinning prop. But watch the lithium iron battery prices carefully, once they begin to drop, not only is it cheaper than a new diesel engine, you can make a relatively light bank that can store a great deal of power. With a 600ah battery bank on say this system here Thunderstruck Motors - D&D Motor Systems. Seperately Excited Motor/Controller packages for 24-48V or 60-84V ranges. at 72v you are looking at well under 200 amp draw to push a 27-30 foot boat to 5kts, a Catalina 27 was converted to a 48v system and they were getting a draw of 125amps at 5 kts. They were getting 10 hours of run time at 3-4kts, and 2 hours at full throttle. That is not bad at all.
02-14-2009 01:43 PM
merc2dogs I think electric is a good idea, but don't think the technology for anything other than cruising near your home port is here yet.

Think currently the most viable system is a diesel electric, with a large enough battery bank to do some manuevering, get you out of the harbor with maybe enough reserve to get you another mile or two on battery alone.
Think that system would allow for cruising, especially if you used a regen type motor.

Now if you're talking about my fantasy system, I looked into placing the electric motor/generator between the diesel engine and shaft with a clutch between them. Figure that way I could run the electric, then when I wanted, engage the clutch and use the diesel for propulsion while running the motor as a generator.
Would have the best of both worlds, instant power and convenience of the electric drive, with the range of a diesel.

Ken
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