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Old 07-12-2011, 22:12   #241
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Re: Electric Propulsion

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And the sad part of it is, they expect us to pay $20,000 extra to save $1000 in gas. Right now the math just isn't there, and it's not because building an electric car is more expensive than a gas car.

An electric motor plus a controller is less than $1000 retail, they battery packs are the most expensive part, but they are also being sold at a premium.
It is $500-$1000 per year in gas savings. My car is 16 years old, and even though I spend ~$400 a year in gas, I have spent more on fuel than the cost of my car.

But, I'll agree that the current crop of electric vehicles are pretty expensive, and GM has learned from Toyota to only make the cars you are going to sell to keep prices high. If you flood the market with cars, it lowers resale value and the price that can be charged for a new one.

A car electric motor is between $1500 and $4000, and a good controller costs $1500-$2500. Batteries cost quite a bit. And then to make it in a reliable product that is well engineered and designed costs something.
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Old 07-12-2011, 22:16   #242
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Re: Electric Propulsion

I would also think that there should be ways to optimize electric motors for boats. Can the extra torque turn a bigger propeller? Can it be geared to turn the prop faster? Are there companies or universities experimenting and studying this?
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Old 07-12-2011, 22:48   #243
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I would also think that there should be ways to optimize electric motors for boats. Can the extra torque turn a bigger propeller? Can it be geared to turn the prop faster? Are there companies or universities experimenting and studying this?
Yes. That is one of the points. High torque at low rpm - bigger prop with higher pitch at low rpm.

You have to have guys at the leading edge pushing technology and I applaud early adopters!

My concerns, each with plenty of counter arguments

- storing power - diesel contains lots of potential energy in a small space
- large prop counter intuitive to sailng - hull clearance issues, fold the prop, raise the motor etc. or use it to harvest power while sailing, at boat speed cost
- what happens to all these chemical batteries at the end of their lives - both cars and boats? Cost to replace, landfill concerns, recyclable? I dont buy the eco-friendly argument when externalities are considered
- potentially complex control systems - integrated circuits not repairable in the boonies, spares are expensive - work arounds available
- generating power - huge solar farm? Genset?

Hybrid electric cars (prius) very popular because you are not range limited.

Genset power for boat electric charging is the current viable option. Basically, also "carbon-electric" like a prius. The advantages then become, no smelly oily, hard to maintain older diesel. The elecrical equipment, especially the motor has huge life potential vs. diesel engines.

A genset can be run at its optimal rpm during recharging cycles although this efficiency gain is considered minor by some. A gas genset replaces lots of less volitile diesel with highly volatile gasoline. A diesel genset may be prudent...
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Old 07-12-2011, 23:13   #244
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Re: Electric Propulsion

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- what happens to all these chemical batteries at the end of their lives - both cars and boats? Cost to replace, landfill concerns, recyclable? I dont buy the eco-friendly argument when externalities are considered
- potentially complex control systems - integrated circuits not repairable in the boonies, spares are expensive - work arounds available
- generating power - huge solar farm? Genset?
In most countries, there are good recycling programs. Lead acid ones are easily reprocessed to reclaim the lead. I'm sure they have come up with ways to reprocess the lithium batteries as well.

Usually industrial/marine grade electronics are really reliable. The problem is that on a boat, they have a much better chance of getting struck by lightning. That would be my main concern with the controllers and inverters.

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Genset power for boat electric charging is the current viable option. Basically, also "carbon-electric" like a prius. The advantages then become, no smelly oily, hard to maintain older diesel. The elecrical equipment, especially the motor has huge life potential vs. diesel engines.

A genset can be run at its optimal rpm during recharging cycles although this efficiency gain is considered minor by some. A gas genset replaces lots of less volitile diesel with highly volatile gasoline. A diesel genset may be prudent...
It depends on what type of cruising you are doing and where you are going I bet. I still think it would be neat to put an array of 8 panels (210W each) on the back half of a catamaran. That would provide enough power to move the boat a little even with no wind and without needing to completely drain the battery. Or if you aren't in a hurry to get anywhere, just relax.
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Old 08-12-2011, 00:28   #245
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In most countries, there are good recycling programs. Lead acid ones are easily reprocessed to reclaim the lead. I'm sure they have come up with ways to reprocess the lithium batteries as well.

Usually industrial/marine grade electronics are really reliable. The problem is that on a boat, they have a much better chance of getting struck by lightning. That would be my main concern with the controllers and inverters.

It depends on what type of cruising you are doing and where you are going I bet. I still think it would be neat to put an array of 8 panels (210W each) on the back half of a catamaran. That would provide enough power to move the boat a little even with no wind and without needing to completely drain the battery. Or if you aren't in a hurry to get anywhere, just relax.
I am not an electrics engineer, environmentalist or defender of carbon fuels. I am excited and hopeful electric propulsion becomes "viable." Great progress is being made and it is very complex stuff.

My comments and opinions are posted as a consumer. When I can walk into "West Marine" and pick up the electric conversion kit knowing it provides out of the box utility equal to my 37hp Yanmar, then it will probably be at my level. i.e. consumer level.

Not too long ago, solar power for boats was cutting edge voodoo magic. Now anyone can install a few hundred watts of solar withnfully marinized parts. It's easy.

I agree with you. For the average weekend sailor who only needs to motor in an out of harbor electric propulsion seems ideal.

However, I just chartered for 4 days in SFO where it "always" blows. We motored for 16 hours and sailed for 2 in a 3 day period. If that boat only had 10 hours range my charter would have been ruined.
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Old 09-12-2011, 17:47   #246
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Re: Electric Propulsion

Has anyone looked at the Beta Hybrid engines, their 10kw electric motor becomes a 5kw generator went the diesel is being used. For a raise the hook or in and out of port motor it may be the way to go and if you drain your batteries you could crank them back up pretty fast with the generator.
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Old 09-12-2011, 18:10   #247
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Re: Electric Propulsion

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Originally Posted by nwdiver View Post
Has anyone looked at the Beta Hybrid engines, their 10kw electric motor becomes a 5kw generator went the diesel is being used. For a raise the hook or in and out of port motor it may be the way to go and if you drain your batteries you could crank them back up pretty fast with the generator.
Beta Marine | Marine Diesel Propulsion Engines and Generating Sets


Recharging the batteries won't go any faster than normal assuming you are comparing to a normal engine with a 100amp alternator, smart controller, and a normal sized battery bank.

With an over-sized generator you could force more energy into the battery faster, but it would damage the battery.

The big advantage of this setup is that the generator could generate electric energy from the forward movement of the boat when under sail. Not very useful until the boat is almost to hull speed (too much speed loss and too little energy to justify), but from there on, free power.

If I ever repower, I will probably use the Betamarine Hybrid.
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Old 10-12-2011, 15:40   #248
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Re: Electric Propulsion

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Originally Posted by nwdiver View Post
Has anyone looked at the Beta Hybrid engines, their 10kw electric motor becomes a 5kw generator went the diesel is being used. For a raise the hook or in and out of port motor it may be the way to go and if you drain your batteries you could crank them back up pretty fast with the generator.
Beta Marine | Marine Diesel Propulsion Engines and Generating Sets



The BETA hybrid came out about a year after I converted my boat to electric propulsion. In fact it uses the same motor that is on my boat. If it had come out before I did my install I might have considered it. But, with my experience I'm glad I did not go with it. I think it is a great idea for those who don't want to give up their diesels for whatever reasons. But, the negatives for me are:

1) It's more expensive than either diesel or EP alone.

2) It's heavier than either system alone because you have the weight and space of the batteries in addition to a diesel engine. My EP system is about 100 lbs lighter than my diesel even with the batteries.

3) You still have a diesel engine to maintain, carry parts and fluids for etc... and you still have to squeeze into the space where it is installed to work on it. Which may be good or bad depending on your boats layout.

4) The diesel would be used even less because I think most people would find that electric propusion meets most of their needs in docking, moving about a harbor etc. So why would one fire up a noisy vibrating diesel? So the diesel would be more vulnearable to the rust out before it wears out syndrome.

On the plus side:

1) You do have a back up propulsion system you need it in case your diesel dies say coming into a new harbor while you are in a channel. Guess how I know that can happen.

2) You have a motor that turns into a powerful generator too. So you don't need another gen on board.

3) You could also regen power to the battery bank under sail. In effect making your own fuel if your boat speed is fast enough. You could add a solar panel and wind generator components into that mix also. Can't make your own fuel with just a diesel on board last I heard.

4) If the diesel dies you could still go out for day sails while waiting for a mechanic or parts to show up.

All in all I think it's a good compromise for those who don't want to make the leap to an all electric propulsion system just yet. But, personally I would not go back to having a diesel on board after four years with my EP system.
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Old 11-12-2011, 03:52   #249
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Re: Electric Propulsion

I had pretty much decided on Electric plus a Generator was the way (for me) to go - and then I read about the BETA hybrid..........

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The BETA hybrid came out about a year after I converted my boat to electric propulsion. In fact it uses the same motor that is on my boat. If it had come out before I did my install I might have considered it. But, with my experience I'm glad I did not go with it. I think it is a great idea for those who don't want to give up their diesels for whatever reasons. But, the negatives for me are:

1) It's more expensive than either diesel or EP alone.

2) It's heavier than either system alone because you have the weight and space of the batteries in addition to a diesel engine. My EP system is about 100 lbs lighter than my diesel even with the batteries.

3) You still have a diesel engine to maintain, carry parts and fluids for etc... and you still have to squeeze into the space where it is installed to work on it. Which may be good or bad depending on your boats layout.

4) The diesel would be used even less because I think most people would find that electric propusion meets most of their needs in docking, moving about a harbor etc. So why would one fire up a noisy vibrating diesel? So the diesel would be more vulnearable to the rust out before it wears out syndrome.

On the plus side:

1) You do have a back up propulsion system you need it in case your diesel dies say coming into a new harbor while you are in a channel. Guess how I know that can happen.

2) You have a motor that turns into a powerful generator too. So you don't need another gen on board.

3) You could also regen power to the battery bank under sail. In effect making your own fuel if your boat speed is fast enough. You could add a solar panel and wind generator components into that mix also. Can't make your own fuel with just a diesel on board last I heard.

4) If the diesel dies you could still go out for day sails while waiting for a mechanic or parts to show up.

All in all I think it's a good compromise for those who don't want to make the leap to an all electric propulsion system just yet. But, personally I would not go back to having a diesel on board after four years with my EP system.

That pretty much sums up what I am thinking through. Trying to work out whether keeping all the downsides of a diesel engine is a price worth paying......and whether I could (should?) also downsize the diesel (from c. 36hp) to smaller (HP and physically), for primary use as a generator).........or simply go all electric, with a stand alone generator as back up.

But it's a nice "problem" to have
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Old 11-12-2011, 08:46   #250
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Re: Electric Propulsion

Something to consider is resale value.

Just north of here in LA there is an all electric boat that has been for sale going on 3yr I believe at a below market price. I don't know what condition the boat is in except from photos, it looks like it is acceptable or better condition. I really couldn't say for sure that the boat being all electric is why it isn't selling but I wonder. I suspect that some of people that might buy the boat aren't sure what kind of sailing they will be doing, if they want to do offshore or even coastal cruising the all electric won't cut it for all but a handful of people. I suspect some don't want to be early adopters.

For you, DOJ, my thought is that a hybrid will mostly not hurt potential resale and perhaps help it. The fact that the boat still has a name brand diesel in it, combined with the selling point of propulsion redundancy and fuel economy should bring around those that are leery of early adoption of a new technology. You will never bring around those that feel they need to be able to motor for hours straight into heavy headwinds and seas, but I think the loss of their interest would be made up for those interested in being greener.
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Old 11-12-2011, 14:36   #251
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Re: Electric Propulsion

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Something to consider is resale value.

Just north of here in LA there is an all electric boat that has been for sale going on 3yr I believe at a below market price. I don't know what condition the boat is in except from photos, it looks like it is acceptable or better condition. I really couldn't say for sure that the boat being all electric is why it isn't selling but I wonder. I suspect that some of people that might buy the boat aren't sure what kind of sailing they will be doing, if they want to do offshore or even coastal cruising the all electric won't cut it for all but a handful of people. I suspect some don't want to be early adopters.

For you, DOJ, my thought is that a hybrid will mostly not hurt potential resale and perhaps help it. The fact that the boat still has a name brand diesel in it, combined with the selling point of propulsion redundancy and fuel economy should bring around those that are leery of early adoption of a new technology. You will never bring around those that feel they need to be able to motor for hours straight into heavy headwinds and seas, but I think the loss of their interest would be made up for those interested in being greener.
Although I do bear in mind future resale when making mods onboard (even though I am intending she be a keeper ) - on this am not too concerned about resale.........I figure that if I like the electric installation I can take it with me - and simply drop back in another rusty lump of Perkins .....in any event Plan B if the electric don't work out is to go back to a Diesel.....so no immediate plans to remove diesel tanks or start blanking off hull fittings etc etc.

I like having a Plan B
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Old 11-12-2011, 22:18   #252
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Re: Electric Propulsion

I've never bought the whole economic argument against green technology. Boats and homes and cars are full of things that have a negative ROI.

What's the ROI on that new Beemer?

Those granite counter-tops?

That new chartplotter?

You buy those items because theyake you feel good about your life, then you go back and rationalize:

"That BMW does 0-60 faster than my wife through her allowance"

"Those granite countertops were ESSENTIAL to the hygine of my kitchen. Formica is too pourous"

"My old chartplotter only had a 14" screen - this new one is 15"!

Etc....

Solar, water, wind recharged electric propulsion does save money.

Look: a cruiser spends an average of 80% of thier time at anchor, correct?

The most popular destinations and cruising grounds are tropical, right?

The tropics are blessed with consistent moderate winds and strong solar radiation year round, right?

Most sailing in propular cruise routes is down wind or reaching.

This means a motor is only needed for convieniance and quite arguably, safety.

The single biggest, most complex, and expensive long term maintenace item aboard a modern sailboat is it's engine.

It is also the least reliable - prone to utter, catastrophic failure from any of dozens of causes.

It is dirty, it vibrates, it's noisy, it's smelly, and it's fuel restricts both your range and cruising options.

It requires several big holes to punched in your hull (inboard).

It's a bitch to service, it's an expensive bitch to replace, and if you spill just a tablespoon of it's fuel or lubricating oil in US waters, you are required to notify the USCG, boom it off, and hire a hazmat team to clean it up or you risk a $20,000 fine.

Each time.

Every 100 hours you are supposed to drain and relace the engine oil, and properly dispose of it (HAZMAT sqaud again) which no one does, because it's such a PITA, making that engine even more unreliable.

It's fuel attracts bacteria and water both of which will kill it. It funds terrorism and Exxon, and destabilizes world political, economic, and social structures, leading to wars, riots, bombings, and Oprah.

Diesel engines have hundreds of small, fiddley parts, dozens of which, like pistons, rods, pumps, cams, and injectors are in motion.

Moving things wear out.

Electric motors have just one moving part: The rotor. Two if you want to use roller bearings for it.

No oil changes, terroism or Oprah.

It's simple and robust.

It runs on wind, sunlight, and in my case, water (towgen), refueling itself, silently, and for free.

It doesn't vibrate or require through-hulls.

It's nearly silent and doesn't stink, restoring the peace and quiet we seek at sea and at anchor.

"But what about range?"

it's a SAIL-boat, right?

Your range, if patient, is infinite. Even becalmed in the ITCZ, just sit there for a few days, and your batteries will recharge - if the wind doesn't get there first.

...and many boats tie-up in marinas making recharging fast and simple.

The real question is not weather electric propulsion makes sense:

It's why anyone would have anything else aboard a cruising sailboat.
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Old 11-12-2011, 23:32   #253
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Re: Electric Propulsion

I’m sort of looking at the Beta Hybrid for its future use when high storage batteries of a reasonable size come along at a good price 5-6?? Years from now. I have solar and may do wind but having huge battery storage is the issue, I have 600 a/hr and would like 800 but don’t have the space, with better batteries I could use the electric drive on and off the hook after sailing all day.
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Old 12-12-2011, 13:19   #254
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Re: Electric Propulsion

A passerby asked what was the meaning of the round marking on the hull signified. I told him it indicated the boat was a source of radiation as it is nuclear powered. Next refueling is scheduled for 2031.

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Old 12-12-2011, 14:32   #255
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....you can get that additional 300 ah in a surprisingly small amount of space - AGMs are reasonably priced, and they can be placed on thier sides, and require zero maintence. I was easily able to fit 4 100 ah LIFELINE group 27s in lockers under my settee - with room to spare for another 2, well below the waterline, where they contribute to stability. I already had one 100 ah AGM under the companionway steps in the bilge, with room for a second, again, well below waterline.

Then there are the forward lockers under the v-berth.

All told, I currently have 530 ah, and could easily expand that to 900ah and still have room for cruising gear.

My Flicka is 20 feet on deck, and 1/3 of that 20 feet is cockpit.

How much space does your fuel tank eat-up? I gained a surprizing amount of space in my cockpit simply by ditching my two 3 gallon gasoline tanks.

I could stack another 4 group 27s back there, but I want such wieght lower and more centered. That cockpit locker will now be freed up for docklines, ground tackle, and fenders.
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