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What distance do you motor usually?

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Discussion Starter #1
I am about to install a SolidNav electric drive system in my Moody 34. I am simply too exasperated with fooling with diesel engines. I am on my second diesel since I have owned her and the Perkins 4108 has been very unreliable. It has never had a serious problem, but the small troubles have ruined many a weekend and resulted in the boat sitting in port most of the season. I have now spoken with a very happy SolidNav system owner who answered my questions about range and reliability, so here we go folks. I will be posting info on the installation and the performance...
 

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I'm looking forward to hearing your experiences in installing and using an electric engine.

Jim
 

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I'm not seriously considering it, but it's something that I'm interested in and I've been doing a lot of reading about the pros and cons.

The idea of a quiet electric motor, the simplicity and the "free ride" sound great. But from what I've read it can be limiting. If you find yourself with no wind and ten hours of motoring ahead of you then you may be out of luck. That said this is an area that's developing so fast that anything I think I know may be outdated.

I'm also curious how reliable they are in the long run as well as all the other system components in a marine environment?

I wish you the best if you're definitely doing it, and am looking forward to hearing how you make out.

Jim
 

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Telstar 28
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I'd be interested in hearing more about what they recommended you need for your boat in terms of battery bank, and what kind of run times and speeds they say you can get, and what you get in the real world.
 

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An electric drive and batteries would leave lot's of room for an onboard

generator to give you range and and also power refrigeration etc.Diesel

engines are a lot more efficient when run at a constant speed as in a diesel

genset.Should improve fuel consumption and reduce wear and tear as you

wouldn't need to start the engine for short trips.

Phil
 

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Not necessarily. The battery bank needs to be dramatically upscaled for an electric drive, and often the weight savings is negligible.
An electric drive and batteries would leave lot's of room for an onboard

generator to give you range and and also power refrigeration etc.Diesel

engines are a lot more efficient when run at a constant speed as in a diesel

genset.Should improve fuel consumption and reduce wear and tear as you

wouldn't need to start the engine for short trips.

Phil
 

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40 nm in 13.5 hours with a clean bottom, no wind, wave etc to slow you down, and you have to hope you don't need to go 42nm or you are out of luck.

My last 40nm (approx) trip took me 6.5 hours, averaging 6kts; in that 6.5 hours I burned 4.8 gallons of diesel at 4 bucks a gallon (call it 20 bucks, in 2007).

I can replace that with a $16k installation of electric drive, pay the same 20 bucks for electricity to recharge the batteries (overnight if I get big enough dual bank chargers) - and replace the batteries every five years (another $3-4k dollars), and have half the actual horsepower equivalent?

I'd say sign me up for that seriously sweet deal but decided to learn how to maintain a diesel instead.
 

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IMHO, electric drives aren't ready for small boats yet... but I'm interested to see how this one works out for curiousity's sake.
 

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40 nm in 13.5 hours with a clean bottom, no wind, wave etc to slow you down, and you have to hope you don't need to go 42nm or you are out of luck.
I would hope that the design is based on 50% battery usage. If so then an extra couple of miles should be no problem. The 50% is for optimal best case battery longevity and using 60% a few times shouldn't hurt that much.

Your point is well taken however if you have a head wind and six foot chop and even 10 miles to go the plans will have to change as the elect drive just will not have the juice.
This to us is a big adjustment in perspective. Go back a few years however and everyone just waited for the wind and weather to co-operate, there was no other option neither diesel or elect.
 

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Unless it is an entire farm of small turbines... wouldn't help much. :)
what about adding a small wind turbine to keep the batteries charged?
 

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Not ready for primetime.....

And, that'd be one honkin' genset to keep up with the drain of a main electric motor. So, either you burn so much gas or diesel running the genny, or, here's a thought, well, I think you see where I'm going. Until there's a Mr. Fusion available (or some astounding battery technology), electric main propulsion will be quite limited. I've seen videos of a boat the owner had converted. It was really neat, but when you factor in the main drain, plus all the usual other electric demands (which can often be an issue just for those interested in adding a fridge), it's an idea that isn't quite ready. I think it'll be great when it is, but we're just not there yet. It's like the future Chevy Volt. They're talking about 40 mile range before the aux. powerplant starts using petro. That doesn't even cover my drive one way, so for me, I'd just as soon ditch all the added weight of the electrics, and have the extra space. My TDI Beetle beats anything efficiency-wise, that I've ever had, and the engine speeds vary greatly, by the way. While it's your deal, I get the feeling you're about to trade one issue for another (but if it works for you, great...just remember, if you get stuck out there with no juice, you don't get a power up in a few minutes like a full fuel can would provide....you're gonna need a tow). On an otherwise healthy diesel, good maintenance and clean fuel are usually all they need. Have you determined why you've had issues with your previous diesels?
 

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Just how big and honkin should the generator be? Also: does the solidnav system recharge through the prop as you sail, like the asmo permanent magnet systems?
 

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At their site they say that you can get a regenitive type device to use the prop to help recharge the batteries (or maybe that it outright does, I could have misread I'm quite tired tonight), the whole concept sounds pretty cool, I like technology and gadgets :D I'm really curious and interested to hear how it goes for you! Keep us posted for sure if you get it!
 

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Point is, if you're gonna have a 20hp genny huffing away in a losing battle, why not run a prop and high output alternator with a 20 hp engine........ see what I mean? You already have something like that. I have a 600+lb welder/genny (around 20hp) that kicks out 240V/50Amps and even it wouldn't be able to keep up with the electric power demands of a decent electric motor in a 5 ton sailboat. You wanna stick that in something smaller? Sure there are smaller genny setups, but not that much smaller, and that's just the genny. Anything more than a brief trip in or out of harbor and it'll be running all the time, just like a conventional gas/diesel setup. At this point, you actually have a more compact, lighter package with a conventional engine. Even my (heavier than Yanmar or Kubota) Bukh diesel package is much lighter than the huge battery bank/aux. genny, plus electric motor setup. And where would you put it all? The small electric motor is more than offset by all the other stuff needed to make it work. Maybe just switch to a gas engine. While they have their own marine-use issues, the overall characteristics may work better with your personal prefs. As long as the appropriate attention is paid to the engine requirements, their use is normally trouble-free. Both gas and diesel have a proven track history.
 

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Besides, the maintenance on the Genset is going to be much the same as the maintenance on the marine diesel engine...so you're really not gaining much by switching from a diesel powered boat to a diesel electric hybrid. :)
 
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