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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > does it make sense to buy a boat without an engine and convert it to electric?
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Thread: does it make sense to buy a boat without an engine and convert it to electric? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-25-2010 03:46 PM
braidmike
Quote:
What is your system voltage and where are you storing the batteries? As Arch said above, sailboats are meant to carry ballast but you can't just put them all down in the bilge. They need to be accessible for maintenance (topping off with water, or at least cleaning and checking the terminal connections) Battery manufacturers aren't exactly designing batteries in special shapes with sailboats in mind. How did you overcome all of that
System voltage is 60VDC for the electric drive, switchable to 12VDC for house loads.

They are actually sitting in the bilge! The original Ericson 35 hull is identical (very interesting story...) to an Alberg 35. Very deep bilge, allows 10 Trojan L16's to fit perfectly. (there is still a deeper part of the bilge for water collection, pumps, etc)

Access is through hatches in the salon floor. I've developed the dexterity required to ck SpG every six months. The batterieas are fitted with Hydrocaps to catalise the H2 back into water, avoiding venting issues. Hold downs are installed to hold everything in place if a knockdown should occur.

The total weight of the system is probably about 500lbs greater than having the A4 and associated tanks, trans, etc., but distribution is actually much better for sailing. She heals over normally to about 15 degrees, but gets much stiffer beyond that.

I have some pix of the setup on my blog (to avoid overloading this thread): svdejala.blogspot.com

Like I said: This is not for the faint of heart... but someone has to push the envelope!
02-25-2010 01:13 AM
Architeuthis
Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
Batteries are a large dollar portion of the electric system especially if you expect much range away from the dock. And batteries have a lifespan whether used a lot or a little.
Having got more than 15years out of a battery bank I can agree with this. Few people are going to be able to do that.

Sure there are people reading this that say they got 5 years or 8 years or more out of their battery bank but were they testing it every year? No they got 8 years out of their bank because they were not using it, not testing it, the bank was at less than half capacity for most of its "life".

Start using that bank, treating it the way most people do, and you had better budget replacement every 5 years or so. Many much more often than that.
02-24-2010 10:33 PM
mitiempo If one repowers with a diesel it's good for many years with minimal maintenance. Oil change, filter and impeller annually. Diesel costs are low because you might only run 40 to 60 hours each season if that much. But if you install an electric you will have battery replacement well before you would have a major expense with a diesel. Batteries are a large dollar portion of the electric system especially if you expect much range away from the dock. And batteries have a lifespan whether used a lot or a little. And this ignores any reliability issues with the rest of the system - motor or controller.
02-24-2010 09:56 PM
BubbleheadMd Braidmike-

What is your system voltage and where are you storing the batteries? As Arch said above, sailboats are meant to carry ballast but you can't just put them all down in the bilge. They need to be accessible for maintenance (topping off with water, or at least cleaning and checking the terminal connections) Battery manufacturers aren't exactly designing batteries in special shapes with sailboats in mind. How did you overcome all of that?
02-24-2010 09:04 PM
braidmike It is not less expensive... I have my electric drive installed, so this is real world experience. Replacing the A4 with a diesel would have been about the same after new tanks, etc. You also must understand the shortcomings of current technology. As others have stated, petroleum is an incredibly dense energy storage medium. Lead and acid, and their modern cousins do not come close.
Because the field (as relates to modern sailing craft) is quite new, the learning curve to get a working system is pretty high. It takes time, and a very inquisitive nature to ferret out the info needed to make it happen.
BUT: It is a cool project and a lot of fun. I absolutely love my system, and enjoyed putting it together. I wouldn't go so far as to say 'it makes sense'!
FWIW
02-24-2010 08:44 PM
Mark F
Quote:
Originally Posted by tommays View Post
You can buy a Beta 14 diesel with trans and pannel for a bit more than 6k new BUT thats a LONG way from installed

There are a bunch of costs involved like fuel tanks, filters, prop and shaft ect ect ect

BUt its not like anybody is selling and electric drive that will drop right into the A4 location like the Beta does
tommays,

The electric motor I have (SolidNav Explorer) was engineered to be an Atomic 4 drop-in replacement. The motor install itself takes maybe an hour. That's the easy part.
02-24-2010 07:44 PM
southerncross31 I put an electric motor in my Oday and it points 10 degrees higher and sails much faster. I hooked it up to my flux capacitor. It doesn't even need batteries! It runs off the methane from my composting toilet. Tomorrow i'm going to clean 24 inches of snow off of it and i never even took the genoa off for the winter....ah the joys of owning a crappy boat!
02-24-2010 12:56 PM
tommays
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark F View Post
I guess I should dump my electric auxiliary sailboat. I didn't realize it didn't work :-). Can you really remove an Atomic 4 and (completely) replace it with a new diesel for $6000?
You can buy a Beta 14 diesel with trans and pannel for a bit more than 6k new BUT thats a LONG way from installed

There are a bunch of costs involved like fuel tanks, filters, prop and shaft ect ect ect

BUt its not like anybody is selling and electric drive that will drop right into the A4 location like the Beta does
02-24-2010 12:03 PM
Mark F I guess I should dump my electric auxiliary sailboat. I didn't realize it didn't work :-). Can you really remove an Atomic 4 and (completely) replace it with a new diesel for $6000?
02-24-2010 11:46 AM
Architeuthis
Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
6. Hybrid: Even more space, more cost, more complexity, more things to go wrong. Go electric, or go conventional.
As complex as the S10 that used a Honda Generator sitting on the top of the box with the charger plugged into it. Not sure how long he used it, at least a week, likely longer as he was using it to put off a new bank.

But a sailboat can charge will sailing so there will be power available at the end of every day.

And Batteries are not a problem provided the project boat is purchased or built with that in mind. Many sail boats carry tons of ballast, so weight is only a concern for racers or performance sailers (those boats will use carbon fiber to save wieght). Can't replace all the ballast....well maybe you could but remove all the ballast at once and a sailboat flips.

The only real problem is cost. That will come down a few years after electric cars are once again cheaper.

Recall those discusssions, just over a hundred years ago. Diesel and gas engines will never catch on because they are too complex, explosive, not reliable and much too expensive. The number of machined parts alone mean they will never replace the simple cheap electric drives.
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