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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I haven't yet bought my boat, new to the world of sailing, But planning ahead. I'm looking at how to limit my carbon footprint. Has anyone replaced their gas or diesel motor with a 20-25hp electric motor?
Or any thoughts on doing so?
I found a few through google for around $2000.

Also, if you, or someone you know, have done this, how much was the install cost?

Thanks!
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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Forget about carbon footprint for a moment. What about the chemical footprint?
Then there are the heavy metals and acids used in batteries (Ni, Ca, Be, Pb, etc) that would be just great for the environment if your boat sank somewhere. Now think about the mining that must go on for those same heavy metals and their eventual disposal.

How your batteries get charged up, especially if you use shore power to do so?

I'm not trying to rain on your parade as I am interested in alternative power sources too, but an electric propulsion system may ultimately have a worse pollution footprint on the planet then existing gasoline and diesel units.
 

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Wish I never found SN!
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Forget about carbon footprint for a moment. What about the chemical footprint?
Then there are the heavy metals and acids used in batteries (Ni, Ca, Be, Pb, etc) that would be just great for the environment if your boat sank somewhere. Now think about the mining that must go on for those same heavy metals and their eventual disposal.

How your batteries get charged up, especially if you use shore power to do so?

I'm not trying to rain on your parade as I am interested in alternative power sources too, but an electric propulsion system may ultimately have a worse pollution footprint on the planet then existing gasoline and diesel units.
And what about the cost to the environment for the production of solar panels. They use more energy to produce than they can return in their usable life,but are getting better..
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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And what about the cost to the environment for the production of solar panels. They use more energy to produce than they can return in their usable life,but are getting better..
Actually SimonV is absolutely right about this.
Why do you think all solar panels are now made in China? Perhaps it is because they don't have an 'EPA' or half the environmental regulations that exist in the US and elsewhere.
I read a more extensive piece about the solar panel industry in China that I can't find now but this one seems to make the point: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/20/w...el-factory-after-anti-pollution-protests.html
 

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Dan,
I had my Hunter 29.5 converted to electric propulsion last year. It could be a DYI project if you're very comfortable with wiring your boat. Looking at my costs, you're still looking at another $3-5k for batteries, controllers, and supplies; if you do your own work. A great place for more info is:
Electric Seas - A Resource For The Electric Boating Community. This site is dedicated to electronically propelled boats.
Terry
 

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Anyone who thinks that we're not creating a footprint or some type of pollution is very naive. Fiberglass manufacturing, teak forestry, antifouling paint, the metals, the oils. The list goes on. All we can do is try to limit the effect we have. The last time I heard, heavy metals can be recycled (provided you don't sink, lol) and burned diesel cannot.
Even if we all removed our engines and batteries, we still use something. I think my biggest concern is how do we dispose of all the boat hulls when they finally can no longer be used?
 

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I was thinking about electric power also... Or a hybrid..
Has anyone used Lithium Iron batteries? They are cheaper then LiPo, have no memory, last a lot longer then lead and are environmentally cleaner?
I was musing about attaching a 10hp electric motor to the drive shaft via toothed belt.. with tensioner and engagement feature... I could use the electric motor to regenerate power while sailing.. The problem is that I would have to come up with a sizable battery bank for the electric motor, to have any kind of range.
 

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The numbers just don't work. The problem with electric power is that it takes roughly 100 time the weight in batteries as diesel fuel for the same amount of power. So assuming you currently use a gallon an hour, figure you need 650lbs of batteries to replace that one gallon.

If all you want to do is motor in and out of a harbor, then electric power will work. Otherwise there just isn't enough energy density in the best batteries to come anywhere close to fossile fuels. If you want to be green, run bio-diesel instead.
 

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Diesel engines on sailboats are maintenance nightmares. That, to me, is the primary motivation for an electric auxiliary. They are much easier to maintain. Let me count the ways a diesel can destroy your sailing life- dirty fuel; old fuel; dirty fuel tanks; oil and fuel filter changes every 100 hours; mixing elbow corrosion; loss of prime in a fuel line; air locks in the cooling system; fuel and water pump failures; winterizing; - need I say more? After decades of dealing with the iron monster I have decided that living with the limitations of an electric drive will make sailing far more enjoyable.
 
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