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Old 26-11-2015, 06:19   #1
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Electric vs Propane Outboard

I have recently purchased an IP and am looking to replace my 'heavy' 9.9 HP gasoline powered outboard with a much lighter model. I'm considering both electric and propane models in the lighter 3-5 HP range. Can anyone give me any advice? Thank you.
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Old 27-11-2015, 00:18   #2
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

First let me say I'm a Lehr Propane dealer.
I own a 2.5, a 15 Propane outboard and a Minn Kota trolling motor. I've used both the 2.5 and the Minn Kota to push my dinghy. The trolling motor is quieter but the range is pretty limited unless I carry a lot of battery weight. Both have been very reliable. Both are more reliable than the gasoline engine they replaced.

Concerns for a cruiser would be the limited range of the electric, ability to recharge the batteries and availability of propane in your cruising area.

If you have specific questions about the propane engines, I'll be glad to help.
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Old 27-11-2015, 01:03   #3
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

I have used trolling motors to push both my boat and dingy. I think they are very nice and have always charged for solar panels. In the end though, I have found I prefer to use a sail or row.

I wonder if a propane outboard can run off the gas produced from anaerobic digestion of human waste.
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Old 27-11-2015, 01:30   #4
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

You can get propane driven outboards?
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Old 27-11-2015, 06:44   #5
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

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You can get propane driven outboards?

Yep, for a few years now.......logical progression.... as every other piece of gasoline equipment is available with a propane option or some sort of a conversion kit is available.


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Old 27-11-2015, 08:09   #6
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

Rustic, these are the guys who make propane outboards.
LEHR | Life Energy for the Human Race | An Environmentally Friendly Technologies Company
It's not just a converted gasoline outboard. It was designed from the start to be propane fueled. Propane has an octane of about 110 so it can be run at higher compression ratios than gasoline.
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Old 27-11-2015, 08:49   #7
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

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First let me say I'm a Lehr Propane dealer.

I own a 2.5, a 15 Propane outboard and a Minn Kota trolling motor. I've used both the 2.5 and the Minn Kota to push my dinghy. The trolling motor is quieter but the range is pretty limited unless I carry a lot of battery weight. Both have been very reliable. Both are more reliable than the gasoline engine they replaced.



Concerns for a cruiser would be the limited range of the electric, ability to recharge the batteries and availability of propane in your cruising area.



If you have specific questions about the propane engines, I'll be glad to help.

I think the other concern with a propane OB is when out cruising the availability of propane. You may find its much harder to find than gasoline. Gas is available just about everywhere and you can even buy it from the fisherman. Having been out there for the past 10 years we would not choose propane as a means of fuel just because of the huge hassle to filling our own propane tanks.

Here in the Marquesas we are filling our own tanks using a gravity method and 3 times in the past 6 months islands have been out of propane awaiting the arrival of the ship.

Chuck



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Old 27-11-2015, 08:59   #8
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

Funny this question should come up, but I was browsing the LEHR propane outboards in a very well known marine store, and the salesperson cautioned me that she had returned over 50% of the units she had sold.
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Old 27-11-2015, 09:32   #9
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

I did considerable research into converting my gas OB to propane and was not satisfied with the results. There is a video on line that shows an OB that has been converted. It wasn't clear to me what it would look like in my dinghy. There are kits available to convert and engine to propane but not for outboard engines.

I purchased a Lehr 5hp OB and am very happy with it. It is much more reliable than my Mercury 5hp OB. I too spoke with the OB sales people who have mentioned the high return rate and difficulty finding repair shops. I think the annual, or more often, repair rate of the gas engines more than offsets the potential Lehr problems. I was spending way too much on annual carburetor rebuilds/cleaning on my gas engine.
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Old 27-11-2015, 09:42   #10
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

We have a LEHR 5.0 HP on our Avon 310 and it will plane with 2 adults. We are using a 20lb. fiberglass tank for fuel. With the 20lb. tank range is not an issue.
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Old 27-11-2015, 09:57   #11
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

One of the odd issues with propane is cost. The reason why I say "odd" is that wholesale propane as fallen more than any other fossil fuel, oil, natural gas, gasoline, etc.; however, retail propane prices on average have fallen very little in the US. The reason for this, is also the same reason why, even though propane is widely available, it is usually available only in prefilled 20 pound tanks in the US. A decade ago you could easily take your empty 20 pound tank(or any other size) to a service station and get it refilled. Your service station in turn would have his large propane tank filled by any number of wholesale propane distributors; which distributors would compete for his business. Now, your service station is tied in to the distributor that provides him with prefilled tanks. Because of these noncompetitive tie-ins, your service station pays much higher noncompetitive prices for propane. I don't know to what extent this affects the cost of LEHR propane refills; but it may be an issue.
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Old 27-11-2015, 10:24   #12
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

I was told by LHER technical support that thier engines are for NorthAmerican propane.

"Propane" in other countries may be a problem.
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Old 27-11-2015, 10:40   #13
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

"....the salesperson cautioned me that she had returned over 50% of the units she had sold."
There was a 100% return rate on the first container load which came in many years ago. All of the engines were replaced. I haven't had one returned is some time. That's not to say they don't occasionally come in for repair. On the whole they are pretty reliable. I think more so than gasoline engines.
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Old 27-11-2015, 10:47   #14
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

"I was told by LHER technical support that thier engines are for NorthAmerican propane."


They are optimized for North American propane but will run on a wide range of propane / butane mixtures found around the world.
With a really high butane content, you might have to adjust the mixture which is pretty easy to do.
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Old 27-11-2015, 10:53   #15
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Re: Electric vs Propane Outboard

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"I was told by LHER technical support that thier engines are for NorthAmerican propane."


They are optimized for North American propane but will run on a wide range of propane / butane mixtures found around the world.
With a really high butane content, you might have to adjust the mixture which is pretty easy to do.
The person I spoke with was not so optomistic.
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