Originally Posted by skipmac
? Would have to cover your entire boat with panels
and have them hanging off all sides to have enough to go far.
Dock power. Great but unless you have a huge battery bank you won't go far.
Generator. Great but now you're back to filling your tank with diesel.
You forgot regeneration. Seems to me a cruiser (weekender or long-term, coastal or blue water) can keep batteries charged and topped off with regeneration through the free-spinning prop. At least as long as they have wind
and are sailing. At anchor
, they have to rely on solar or windmills.
I've been following all the electric propultion threads, and it seems like the major limitations of electric for cruisers are:
- No motoring when becalmed to get somewhere faster. Take extra food
- No motoring through adverse currents to get somewhere. Need to change course.
- Very limited motoring if in danger
(such as currents in a pass or in trouble off a lee shore).
So it's a question of schedules, destinations, and to an extent safety
. There are other issues but I think they are manageable:
- Lights need to be LEDs, but otherwise use as much as you want.
- Basic electronics
should be covered, but something like a radar
would need some extra battery reserve.
needs to be propane
or alcohol, so you don't eliminate flammables/fumes. Induction cooking
might be possible if you beef up the batteries (and are willing to eat cold sometimes).
(fridge/freezer) might be possible again with bigger batteries (and assuming you can charge them reliably through regen, solar, or wind). You'll definitely need an energy-saving design (efficient compressor
, lots of insulation
, perfectly sealed, top-loading).
- Hot water
: not likely without any engine or generator. I do wonder if an inline induction heater exists just so you don't take freezing showers. Has anyone ever installed a permanent solar water
heater (with black pipe panels) on a sailboat? A small electric heated tank could also be a dump load for when your batteries are charged.
- Cabin heating
for higher lattitudes probably propane
, especially if already used for cooking. But wood might be a substitute. This could also solve the hot water issue (have an integrated hot water tank to use residual heat--do those even exist?).
To me seems possible to cruise
with an electric-powered sailboat (and reasonable batteries, say 30 minutes of full power) as long as you take those issues into account. Of course, I'm not out there proving it can be done, but I'd like to try someday. There are 2 open questions in my mind:
- It seems you can run a small sailboat's electric loads (lights and electronics) with regen, solar, or wind--essentially what "frugal" sailors are doing now in cheap
30' boats. But what about a larger boat with refrigeration
, hot water, etc. How many loads can you add, and can you meet those loads most days with your generation/storage capacity?
- Has anyone circumnavigated with an electric aux sailboat? Seems like it might be still possible to do it as a "first." Though I guess those that circumnavigate without engine at all prove it's possible.