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Old 19-09-2013, 22:50   #1
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Electric Propulsion on Catamarans

Hello,

Could someone bring me up to date on electric propulsion systems on catamarans? Does it exist today or is it in the near future?

I'm looking for a blue-water catamaran for south pacific cruising (Fiji) in the 36-44 foot range, for me and my wife

My priorities are
-Minimal cost and maintenance ( I don't want to be dragged down by the maintenence costs of it)

-Sailing ability would not be as important as living space for example, but I'd need to be able to sail it single handed

-Its probably never going to be sitting at a marina, usually a mooring or ashore protected from the elements when it's not being used.

- Self sufficiency- I'd like a water maker large enough to produce water for an everyday shower and other appliances to make me feel at home, while cruising for a couple of months time.


Which is why I became interested in an electric propulsion system similar to the one on Moonwave /gunboat 60. To my understanding this, combined with solar power could provide my self sufficient needs and enough power for various appliances.


Currently the catamarans that I've liked are Lagoon 380, Leopard 38/39, Mahe 36, Privilege 39, even privilege 435 (looks amazing), but I haven't set my mind on anything as there are still a couple of years before I make the decision on one.


What can you tell me about these systems today, and which catamaran would best fit my needs?

Thank you in advance!
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Old 20-09-2013, 04:00   #2
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I know an owner of a newer lagoon 420, it was the electric hybrid version, nothing but problems. They removed about a bazillion pounds in batteries, installed diesels and couldnt be happier. I dont think the technology is quite there yet or at least realistically priced. For a larger heavier boat .
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Old 20-09-2013, 04:44   #3
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

Quote:
Originally Posted by drfeelgood11 View Post

-Sailing ability would not be as important as living space for example, but I'd need to be able to sail it single handed

-Its probably never going to be sitting at a marina, usually a mooring or ashore protected from the elements when it's not being used.

- Self sufficiency- I'd like a water maker large enough to produce water for an everyday shower and other appliances to make me feel at home, while cruising for a couple of months time.
Your requirements makes it sound like you'll need a lot of electricity generation.

"...sailing ability would not be as important as living space..." - sounds like a lot of motoring
"...never sitting in a marina..." - no shore power
"...everyday shower and other appliances..." - who knows what that entails, so you have an idea of your amp usage?


Sounds like you'll need more solar power than you can probably fit on a catamaran unless you cover the boat in solar panels, or get yourself a diesel generator, in which case you might as well forget the electric propulsion and go all diesel.
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Old 20-09-2013, 04:53   #4
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

Indeed - with what you require on the boat, a cat under 13 metres isnt going to carry it and still sail. Maybe given your requirements a good poer cat might be better suited
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Old 20-09-2013, 05:52   #5
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

The best electric propulsion today is a diesel.

The MOONWAVE / Gunboat 60 you speek of is equipped with the most advanced diesel electric hybrid propulsion system.
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Old 20-09-2013, 06:18   #6
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

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Originally Posted by drfeelgood11 View Post
-Minimal cost and maintenance ( I don't want to be dragged down by the maintenence costs of it)
No such thing! Then compound the cost of boat maintenance with 'one-off' hybrid propulsion system and you better have a large bank account to keep it running.

1) The ocean is a very terse environment for all things man made! Between the corrosive power of salt to the constant action of the water trying to breakdown every substance to it's molecular roots, it takes diligence, i.e. $$, to keep things from literally falling apart underneath you.

2) The amount you spend on maintenance is directly related to how mainstream are the bits you're maintaining. The closer bits are to 'commodity' status, the lower the price. Unfortunately, the marine market isn't large enough, hence most bits never reach 'commodity' status. Couple that with the availability of the bits in your geography, and bits costs are way higher than 'reasonable'.

3) If you have the aptitude to maintain all the bits yourself, you can save large amounts of $$. But, since bits are expensive, plan on spending 3-10% of the cost of the boat annually for maintenance, depending on age of the boat.

I complain, but after 10 years of ownership, I still love it!!
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Old 20-09-2013, 06:51   #7
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

There are situations where electric or diesel electric propulsion systems are feasible, what you've specified is currently not in that category.
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Old 20-09-2013, 10:22   #8
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

Thank you for the feedback.

Basically I just want to have a water maker big enough for the needs I mentioned and enough power for lights, laptop charging, nothing special. I'm not even talking air conditioning or TV or such.

So if you don't think that using a hybrid electric propusion system would work for me, what could you recommend in terms of multihulls that would require less maintenance and costs, based on the boats I've mentioned in my first post? I'm not a fan of motoring too much, ideally I'd want to harness the sun and wind for my needs, but I could use the engine to create electricity its needed.
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Old 20-09-2013, 10:29   #9
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

Just size your solar panels to meet your needs.
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Old 20-09-2013, 10:44   #10
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

Members Mbianka has an electric mono and a blog
and deckofficer has done many electric powered land vehicles. He has a deathtrap electric scooter.
I think he also has a forum on this and other topics. Just click on that link in his signature.
Long threads about it here and elsewhere.
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Old 20-09-2013, 10:48   #11
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

Thanks Bob. Instead of the OP having to dig through my forum to find it, here it is Integration of systems
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Old 20-09-2013, 10:53   #12
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

My pleasure, us Bobs got to stick together.
Big discussion on the Lagoon 420 and others
Lagoon 420 Owners & Fans

Is Anybody Using a Hybrid Electric Diesel ?

parallel hybrid for propulsion

Just search hybrid like I did.
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Old 20-09-2013, 12:04   #13
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

To answer the question, there has not been anything new in 2013 that I'm aware of in boat electric propulsion.

An electric motor is one of the most simple and reliable and low maintainence
devices ever made. The generators at Hoover damn have been essentially in continuous operation for over 50 years.
Solid state transistor electronics have also become highly reliable.
Their lifetime is generally limited by electrolytic capacitors.

Solar panels are also highly reliable and essentially maintainence free.

Battery technology is the limiting factor. A hybrid then seems needed, and somewhat fouls the simple and reliable solution.
However, my Prius has about 200,000 miles and I have done nothing but change the oil and filters. I replaced the battery at 130,000.
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Old 22-09-2013, 20:00   #14
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

Lagoon had a good system but only built a few. Then they tried a cheaper one on the 420 and built lots of them...big surprise, that system sucked. That was 4-6 years ago. Today Hybrid Marine Co offers a Yanmar warranted system that is a simple & light weight parellel system (vs the serial system that Lagoon was using). Here's a link to their catamaran system: Cat Hybrids - Hybrid Electric Marine Propulsion
This system allows you to hydro-generate power while sailing if you choose to. That, along with a large solar array will get you as close to your goal as your going to get. If you use the Yanmar diesels to power your boat they will power up the batteries as well (or at anchor). No generator is needed with this system. The missing weight of the generator is about equal to the hybrid system and larger battery bank. This system is available as a factory option on the Isara 45 cat.
By the way, the only person who can answer the question of "which catamaran is best for me"...is you. Best of luck!
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Old 22-09-2013, 20:13   #15
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Re: Electric propulsion on catamarans

There is a very large ferry Cat in Sydney Harbour That runs full Solar power,

I have 380 watts of solar power and a wind generator, 400 Amp hour Battery bank, 80 amp gen on the Diesel,

After the initial learning hiccups, Leaving every thing on, I never ran out of electric power on my 34 foot Cat,

Google. Solar power on Yachts,
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