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post #1 of 85 Old 05-31-2015 Thread Starter
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Installing an electric motor

Has anyone installed an electric motor in a boat that originally didn'y have an inboard? It's just an idea but I was curious I anyone had done it. I have a Helms 25.
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post #2 of 85 Old 05-31-2015
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Re: Installing an electric motor

it has been done, and for most it is still not a cost effective change. Quite a bit of work on all fronts and you need to have room for batteries, controllers and electrical. New engine bed/frame and copious small items. If you have a yard do it, the cost will be even more. Low voltage and high current needs to be respected in every way.

best of luck.
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Re: Installing an electric motor

We did the opposite and used an electric outboard after removing the old Atomic4. Check out Ray Electric Outboards. They are incredibly well built. We've cruised Mexico with it for a couple years in a 35' 15000# boat. We bought the most powerful model, they have several, all different voltages, etc. Would be much easier than a retrofit... FWIW. Good Luck, we love being electric.
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Re: Installing an electric motor

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Originally Posted by kd3pc View Post
it has been done, and for most it is still not a cost effective change. Quite a bit of work on all fronts and you need to have room for batteries, controllers and electrical. New engine bed/frame and copious small items. If you have a yard do it, the cost will be even more. Low voltage and high current needs to be respected in every way.

best of luck.
I'd have to disagree after doing the first test run on a friends electric motor install yesterday.

The boat is an older O'Day 28 and he pulled the diesel and replaced it with an electric motor over the winter. He's an engineer and did his homework on purchasing a kit versus sourcing all the parts himself and went with an off the shelf kit. Total cost including batteries was less than a comparable Beta Marine diesel.

The engine and batteries weigh less and take up less room than the diesel and fuel tank. The controller is mounted in the cockpit where the old throttle control was located. He did modify the engine mounts and construct a battery box from 3/4 ply. None of it was beyond a "do it yourself" sailor.

Estimated running time at cruising speed (not full throttle) is about four hours. We couldn't test that "normal" running time yesterday as there was a lot of chop on the bay. Performance was brisk. Docking will take a little practice. We're all used to the slight lag as an engine revs up - with the electric the power is right now, there's no lag.


Whether electric makes sense for you really depends on how you sail. In his case it's 15-20 minutes motoring from his slip until he can raise his sails. His sailing is strictly day sailing on the bay and he can plug in and top off the batteries each night in his slip -- which is how many of us sail anyway.

It wouldn't be the right solution for someone running up and down the ICW, but we have passed the tipping point where electric is a viable option for many weekend sailors.
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Re: Installing an electric motor

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Originally Posted by cmetzbower View Post
Has anyone installed an electric motor in a boat that originally didn'y have an inboard? It's just an idea but I was curious I anyone had done it. I have a Helms 25.
I converted to electric propulsion back in 2008 but, I replaced an inboard 27 HP Westerbeke diesel. Though last year I did spend a great afternoon on the Columbia River with a fellow who converted the original Tohatsu outboard on his boat to electric. It was mounted on a Columbia River Scow originally built by Sam Mckinney:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: AN AFTERNOON ON THE COLUMBIA RIVER ON AN ELECTRIC SCOW

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Re: Installing an electric motor

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Originally Posted by JimMcGee View Post
I'd have to disagree after doing the first test run on a friends electric motor install yesterday.

The boat is an older O'Day 28 and he pulled the diesel and replaced it with an electric motor over the winter.
Lovely job and all, but OP's wrinkle was that he's not replacing a combustion plant, but trying a fresh install on a boat that has NOT previously had a motor in it. Which is going to include all the fun of getting propulsion from batteries that are not currently fitted and no space provided for to a motor which is not currently fitted and no space provided for, to a propeller which is not currently fitted through some hole in the hull that does not currently exist.

And frankly, I'm thinking "outboard" at this point and being done with it quickly. Electric or otherwise. Because, yowza, that seems like a lot of work.
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Re: Installing an electric motor

Most of the install would be the same, actually easier since there is no old engine and charging system to remove - the kit included AGM batteries and a charger.

The addition of a shaft log and prop strut would be required. They could come from a comparable sized donor boat or can be ordered online. This shaft log fits the Catalina Capri 26 for around $50 and would work. This bronze strut assembly also from a Capri 26 would work for around $570.

The fiberglass work should be doable by someone with good DIY skills and a sawsall or you could farm that job out to the yard.

I just don't see it as that terrible a job on a 25 footer.
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Re: Installing an electric motor

@hellsop is correct, the boat never had a inboard. It was never designed to have one. My thought on this idea was to have solar panels to charge the batteries to run the motor. But again, its just an idea. I have a 8hp outboard to use and I'm guessing that if I ever go any distance, that it will suffice. I'm not trying to circle the globe. but maybe a trip from Texas to the Keys one day.
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Re: Installing an electric motor

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Originally Posted by JimMcGee View Post
Whether electric makes sense for you really depends on how you sail. In his case it's 15-20 minutes motoring from his slip until he can raise his sails. His sailing is strictly day sailing on the bay and he can plug in and top off the batteries each night in his slip -- which is how many of us sail anyway.

It wouldn't be the right solution for someone running up and down the ICW, but we have passed the tipping point where electric is a viable option for many weekend sailors.
Jim:
I agree that just needing 15-20 minutes to leave the dock is a no brainer for electric propulsion. But, I disagree it's not viable for trips like the ICW. I cruise the same as when I had my diesel. But, when I do need to motor for an extended period of time having Electric Propulsion offers flexibility to operate in a hybrid mode for very little cost. I've done forty mile trips when there was no wind under electric propulsion alone. A couple of hours just using the battery and then firing up my Honda 2000 generator when needed:
THE BIANKA LOG BLOG: ELECTRO SAILING AROUND NEW YORK: PART ONE
The quietness of the operation of EP makes long motoring much more pleasant than the diesel days for me.
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post #10 of 85 Old 06-01-2015
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Re: Installing an electric motor

Electrics have a lot of advantages over diesels. There really are only two big disadvantages.

1) Range is expensive. Batteries aren't cheap, and if you're using lead-acid, you're going to need to make sure you have the space and weight for them. The flip side of that is that electricity IS cheap, compared to gas or diesel. Also consider that lead-acids need to be replaced every 3-7 years, depending on use. Lithium-iron-phosphate batteries (LiFePo4) have a lot of advantages over lead-acid, such as lasting 10-15 years and being much lighter, but they currently cost a lot more.

2) Charge speed. Lead-acids in particular are VERY slow to charge. LiFePo4s can be charged a lot faster on shore power, but it still takes a few hours on a standard 30A 110v cable, assuming you have a powerful enough charger.

In short, it's much harder to take a long trip under power with an electric boat. If you're just sailing the bay, it'll be fine most of the time. I'd make sure your seatow membership was active just in case.
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