Happy to see this thread started.
First off, as several now, I have purchased a 2004 Lagoon
410 Electric Cat. I'll be honest about my systems and experiences as well as my expectations because I need the experience and knowledge from those who are smarter than I am. With that said I tend to get more than one opinion and those opinions are taken with a grain of salt
. We are new to sailing and new to owning a boat. We are not Blue water
sailors by any means and I'm not sure we ever will be but for at least the first few years will learn and enjoy our water
front slip and the bay versus purchasing
a second home close to the water, then expand our horizons. Day sailing
and weekends exploring the Chesapeake is our plans then up and down the East Coast
hopefully eventually to the islands. Our boat "Electra Glide" is beautiful and enjoyable these first few months and frustrating as well. The history
on the boat is short, 2 previous owners, the first passing away after a year of ownership
then sold to an owner who knew enough about electricity to upgrade a few things but not enough to do things the way I would have or what I think is important.
The good side.
1. The system does work. I can power out, sail and return with more electricity than I started with under most conditions without starting the generator
. Running silently from the dock
is just plan way to cool. People stop and look at us like we are doing something imposable until they ask. Then it's show time and happy hour turns into a show and tell.
2. Several systems have been updated and I believe state of the art at this time. I have a Brusa Battery charger
on the main bank. This thing is programmable and does have overcharge protection. The 6kw Sensata inverter
upgrade takes care of all my 120v needs vs the original 3kw unit.
3. The Solomons electric motors are fantastic. I've been talking to the rep and the drives are not even close to being used to their capabilities and limited by the current
amps available. I can do 8 knots at 30a ea. motor. The motors are capable of 100a ea. and higher with the a new program. They are good to over 150,000 hours of use. What, 1 moving part??
4. When charging
or running the generator for the drives I use under 1 gph.
5. The 12 Northstar batteries I have are still in great shape after 3 years.
6. I do 8 knots under power and in the bay have seen 12 knots under sail in 20+ knot
winds. Weight of the batteries doesn't seem to be a big issue in my mind.
The bad side.
1. Several owners and several Marina Electricians have left the wiring
a mess. At least to my standards. No wiring
diagrams, wires not labeled or numbered, wires 50 ft long that could have been half that length, and wires not bundled per use or runs. Lagoon
has some great factory installed conduits that were never used and added wire was run on the outside! Why I can't say but it all will be cleaned up. Some problems I have run into and corrected were directly do to multiple grounds run to a cheap
plastic ground strip that was undersized and wires came loose. Several wires I still haven't traced down aren't even connected but other than a Simrad
gage at the helm
not working I haven't found out what they do. There are wires "abandoned" in place that need to be removed or labeled as spares.
2. The generator is undersized. I have a 16kw (around 90a) genset and really need a 22 to 25kw developing around 200a. This would give me enough juice to overcome an issue with running the motors at 10 knots, charge the batteries at a faster rate and have the amps to run extras.
3. The generator control systems are a huge issue. Since the system was designed by Solomons and assembled in Europe
several subsystem parts and ideas were provided by European companies. One of the biggest mistakes
and admitted to by the designer
(more on that later) was the HFL Generator set and it's controls. HFL doesn't support the Genset anymore, admits it cobbled the unit together and to make things worse, no one works for them any longer that knows anything about the setup. To top it off HFL subbed out a controller system called LOGO! Elfa which was owned by GE, sold to Siemens Europe
, integrated into their building automated systems division, and no one at Siemens as ever heard of it. I went to a local Siemens office and had to bring up the web site just to prove that they owned the system. 0 support until I find a European office. The system is now used to automate building lights, pumps, and relays. On EG it controls an auxiliary booster fuel pump
and a keeps an overload breaker from tripping so when the generator wants to trip it trips a button at the helm
so you don't need to go crawling under the seating area to reset it. Way to complicated for what it does and high on the priority list to replace. By the way I think those are the only 2 things it does. I can't get into the program to see what else it does because no one has the program! With a larger generator this isn't an issue or needed. The generator is also manually brought on line and manually shut down which requires monitoring the system by the Crew. The Crew wants to sail not monitor
gages all the time your out.
4. Information systems. This is something I knew about right from the start and didn't think it would be such an issue but have found out that what I want and what is out there may be a problem. This also is where I'm limited by my electrical
knowledge and trying to educate myself as to what is the best way to monitor
the 12 AGM
batteries plus 3 additional batteries I have. Knowledge is power! In this case it's the difference in batteries lasting for a respectable long life. Knowing what to monitor and the parameters to accomplish this is not straight forward on a 144v system.
5. Support!!!! It's not there from part of the manufacturers of my system. Solomons has been great but if it was changed from the original design or a sub system like the Genset they have no knowledge of it. They still are helping me with there support staff and for that I am most grateful. HFL is responding and the generator is a well built unit utilizing a Kabota 4 banger which by the way is basically the same motor used today by Panda on their 22kw genset but the controller by Siemens is a joke and needs to go. The 2 amp gages at the helm need to be LCD rather than LED's for size and brightness (I shouldn't have to get within 6" to read them) and the Link-10 is way over rated for what is is proclaimed to do. I need clear precise information and automated controls to go sailing and not be concerned whether my batteries are under or over charged. I am watching another thread closely talking about Battery
I've tried to read anything and everything about Electric Systems and what or how others are doing things. I bought EG because I felt it's the way of the future. Personally I don't think this is the type of system at this time for Blue Water, long distance sailing do to the complexity and especially support in 2nd, 3rd, or for that matter 1st world countries at this time. BUT! It's not going to be long before the technology and the batteries will be available. I'm banking on 2 years until my existing batteries will be half the weight, twice the Ah, and last longer. Maybe my heads in the clouds but I can sail today (in my own little part of the world) enjoying the sport and the view, knowing I'm not a slave to the gas pump. Yes the systems on my boat are VERY expensive today but I got them already at what I think is a good price so... I don't think it would be practical to buy the pieces. Gideon, I agree with your cost bases "10 years down the line". Hopefully we're both right on that one.
3 weeks ago Nigel Calder, Dave Tether, and the motor manufacture were on my boat to review the systems and changes. Nigel is now working with Tether at his company Emotion (Gideon you may want to add him to your list) to develop Electric drive systems. It was a pleasure and an honor to have these guys on board as well as educational. I just wish I could have had them longer to really pick their brains but I laid out my concerns and issues to which they acknowledged several that where an industry problem but not insurmountable. The time line seemed about right. I may have bought a boat that was ahead of it's time but the changes made so far are good ones. The issues to be fixed are fixable or will be soon.
To the best of my knowledge this is the most complete rambling of an Electric boat's systems posted by anyone. If anyone has knowledge of another "honest" post I would love to know about it. I hope this didn't stray of topic to far.
Steve in Solomons MD