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Old 07-11-2011, 03:52   #1
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Pleased with Electric Propulsion

Since getting free electric motors, and using the motors in california, cook islands, samoa, tonga, and now new zealand, I can say any other propulsion system would have been a headache. Simply flip of a switch and instant power. No maintainance, no fuel, no oil. Only 1 moving part. I have two motors for reliability, and to get more power with the motors I obtained. Combined consume a total of only 75 amps at 12 volts. Since I get 32 amps off solar in direct sun, and have 832 amp hours, I can motor all day going 3 knots. I can motor against 30 knot wind and make headway (if only slight) At anchor the batteries recharge, and are useful for cooking in electric ovens/stoves as well as everything else electrical.

I wanted to bring this up again because I see so many foolish people out there with diesel engines, and they are doing a great dis-service to us all. I wanted to point out there is a better alternative and it works, it is much cheaper, and people are doing it. Also, the laws of physics clearly show that this system works even better scaled up to larger vessels. Mine is only 3 ton.

Please reply with any comments/questions, but if you are going to tell me you need diesel so you can motor 800 miles against 30knot winds, I will kindly ignore you.
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Old 07-11-2011, 04:39   #2
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

Electric propulsion !!--the gun, anchor, and Hunter thread substitute of the future??
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Old 07-11-2011, 04:41   #3
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

What kind of motors do you have? Something like Electric Yacht or Thoosa or something else?
I'm also curious about the size of your solar array that you get 32amps. What size are the panels? Do you have or thought about adding wind power to your setup?
Do the motors allow for regeneration while sailing?
Any other specs would be nice. I was looking into electric propultion.
Enjoy your travels!
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Old 07-11-2011, 04:47   #4
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

I want to go electric propulsion (not for any "save the planet" reasons - just that I love the concept ).

But I don't think the numbers (presently) stack up (performance and cost) - a large part of the problem being me ........the boat I have is not a light airs vessel, we have strong tides around here and are in a temperate zone (no 24/7 sun - and at 30' fairly limited space for solar panels)........with hindsight (and with some thought given to the future possibility of electric power) I may have been tempted by a different boat design, more an auxiliary sailing boat.

Therefore I feel that I still need an iron topsail available (as has guaranteed performance at turn of key) for a few hours (or so - preferably half a dozen) at 5 or 6 knots.........now, I may be wrong on Electrikery power not being able to meet my needs (I only dip into the subject now and again)......I'd like to wrong , but by a good margin

Cost is also a consideration (as always!), but not the defining matter (nor is resale value an issue). An install would be well beyond me, but I also would not want to be a first adopter (around here) and act as a guinea pig for a "Proffessional" making things up as he went along. Also would want a very neat install.

Will follow this thread with interest
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Old 07-11-2011, 04:49   #5
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

Some photos of your installation (and also the Solar onboard) would be of interest.
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Old 07-11-2011, 05:03   #6
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

First you say " see so many foolish people out there with diesel engines, and they are doing a great dis-service to us all"
Then you say " but if you are going to tell me you need diesel so you can motor 800 miles against 30knot winds, I will kindly ignore you. "
That's probably a good strategy for you to take.
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Old 07-11-2011, 05:16   #7
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
First you say " see so many foolish people out there with diesel engines, and they are doing a great dis-service to us all"
Then you say " but if you are going to tell me you need diesel so you can motor 800 miles against 30knot winds, I will kindly ignore you. "
That's probably a good strategy for you to take.
--thats what I was getting at. Not how you "win friends and influence people";;
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Old 07-11-2011, 05:28   #8
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

I think a lot of sailors have a hard time getting their heads around electric motors. Motors are supposed to generate electricity not consume it! Would love to hear some more details on your setup.
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:20   #9
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

So tell us how and where to get the free electric motors.
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:45   #10
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

Hi Geckosenator,

I see you have a 27' Bristol. I have a 42', 23,000 lb Pearson and have spent a great deal of time researching possible options for electric power for my boat. My conclusion so far, based on every system I have found, is that electric may be practical for boats +/- 30' but for larger boats not so.

I have not found a system with sufficient power to move my boat against a 30 kt headwind even for 80 miles nor have I found a system that would give me even 400 nm range without adding a diesel generator and enough batteries to sink the boat.

Also, the cost of even an underpowered electric drive for my boat, especially if I add the cost of a generator to power it is double or triple the cost of a new engine AND transmission.

If you have any information on a system that will give me 40-45 HP (30-35 KW) and is affordable I would be very grateful.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:02   #11
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

Quote:
Originally Posted by geckosenator View Post
Since getting free electric motors, and using the motors in california, cook islands, samoa, tonga, and now new zealand, I can say any other propulsion system would have been a headache. Simply flip of a switch and instant power. No maintenance, no fuel, no oil. Only 1 moving part. I have two motors for reliability, and to get more power with the motors I obtained. Combined consume a total of only 75 amps at 12 volts. Since I get 32 amps off solar in direct sun, and have 832 amp hours, I can motor all day going 3 knots. I can motor against 30 knot wind and make headway (if only slight) At anchor the batteries recharge, and are useful for cooking in electric ovens/stoves as well as everything else electrical.

I wanted to bring this up again because I see so many foolish people out there with diesel engines, and they are doing a great dis-service to us all. I wanted to point out there is a better alternative and it works, it is much cheaper, and people are doing it. Also, the laws of physics clearly show that this system works even better scaled up to larger vessels. Mine is only 3 ton.

Please reply with any comments/questions, but if you are going to tell me you need diesel so you can motor 800 miles against 30knot winds, I will kindly ignore you.
I love the concept but as others have written (and will write) the numbers don't stack up: Not in cost, performance, or weight.

If you can be happy at 3 knots "all day" with no ability to motor against a strong headwind, more power to you. Most of us "foolish people out there" have jobs and balance limited time on the water with vacation schedules, and view the ability to make port before dark (or a weather front) to be something of value, along with the ability to motor against a headwind at a decent pace.

Your statement: "32 amps off solar in direct sun, and have 832 amp hours, I can motor all day going 3 knots" is misleading. (I bet you can't do that multiple days in a row, 24 hours per day.) Even if you can get a real (not mfr.-rated) 32 amps during peak sun, what about the times when it it overcast and low light? Your average amp-hours produced and consumed per-day would be the relevant numbers, so please break down those calculations for us if you want to make a credible declaration. Include "house" usage (lights, nav equipment, refrigeration, hot water, laptops/music etc.).

And those of us who prefer our boats to sail with good performance don't appreciate the weight penalty of hundreds of pounds (minimum) or of having a fixed prop act equivalent to dragging a bucket through the water, so a paltry amount of electricity can be generated by the prop while under sail.

I think you'd be better served to buy a boat that sails well so you don't need to motor as much. In a boat with good light air performance you only need 5 knots of wind to do 3+ knots. On a reach (with light air sails) many boats can generate enough apparent wind do around 5+ knots in 5 knots of true wind.

Diesel electric becomes more feasible in larger boats and ships, but solar/wind electric without diesel power generation (or nuclear in the case of ships) will not cut it for the mainstream in the foreseeable future.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:19   #12
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
I love the concept but as others have written (and will write) the numbers don't stack up: Not in cost, performance, or weight.

If you can be happy at 3 knots "all day" with no ability to motor against a strong headwind, more power to you. Most of us "foolish people out there" have jobs and balance limited time on the water with vacation schedules, and view the ability to make port before dark (or a weather front) to be something of value, along with the ability to motor against a headwind at a decent pace.

Your statement: "32 amps off solar in direct sun, and have 832 amp hours, I can motor all day going 3 knots" is misleading. (I bet you can't do that multiple days in a row, 24 hours per day.) Even if you can get a real (not mfr.-rated) 32 amps during peak sun, what about the times when it it overcast and low light? Your average amp-hours produced and consumed per-day would be the relevant numbers, so please break down those calculations for us if you want to make a credible declaration. Include "house" usage (lights, nav equipment, refrigeration, hot water, laptops/music etc.).

And those of us who prefer our boats to sail with good performance don't appreciate the weight penalty of hundreds of pounds (minimum) or of having a fixed prop act equivalent to dragging a bucket through the water, so a paltry amount of electricity can be generated by the prop while under sail.

I think you'd be better served to buy a boat that sails well so you don't need to motor as much. In a boat with good light air performance you only need 5 knots of wind to do 3+ knots. On a reach (with light air sails) many boats can generate enough apparent wind do around 5+ knots in 5 knots of true wind.

Diesel electric becomes more feasible in larger boats and ships, but solar/wind electric without diesel power generation (or nuclear in the case of ships) will never cut it in the foreseeable future.
According to my research correct in all regards. The math on battery capacity and solar capacitiy does not add up for me as well.

And please note, this is from someone that wants to go electric, for many reasons. If I could find a workable system even if it was a bit more expensive to purchase and install than diesel I would do it in a minute.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:31   #13
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

The preference for diesels is driven by 2 things IMHO.
1. The availability because of quantity production and
2. Compact size for the power output.

Neither of these existed what, 25 years ago, when Atomic 4s and little Palmers reigned supreme.
Stirling Cycle engines, fuel cells, Hydrogen power may all make electric propulsion practical in the future. Various companies are flying aircraft with wing skins of solar cells, in some cases bonded to sail material. Hello--is anybody home?
The passenger liner "Queen of Bermuda", built 1936, scrapped about 1965, carried the prefix QTEV. Quadruple Turbine Electric Vessel. Boilers powering steam turbines, powering alternators, powering reversible electric motors.
Subs do it now with a reactor providing the steam.
Porsche, Mercedes, Toyota, all selling energy recovery systems during de-celeration of vehicle.
Come to think about it, we sailors are still in the dark ages.
Remember the reason the US didn't go Metric 40yrs ago--it would have been expensive for the car builders to retool. We can always find a reason to resist change.
BTW, my westerbeke w46 was built march 1970.
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Old 07-11-2011, 07:57   #14
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue Stocking View Post
The preference for diesels is driven by 2 things IMHO.
1. The availability because of quantity production and
2. Compact size for the power output.

Neither of these existed what, 25 years ago, when Atomic 4s and little Palmers reigned supreme.
Stirling Cycle engines, fuel cells, Hydrogen power may all make electric propulsion practical in the future. Various companies are flying aircraft with wing skins of solar cells, in some cases bonded to sail material. Hello--is anybody home?
Another problem with a practical, resonably priced electric system for boats, the market is pretty small giving little motivation to developers and manufacturers to build a system and if they do, gives no economy of scale to get the cost down.

I'm hoping that at some point there will be an auto system that can be adapted to boats, pretty much like commercial diesel engines are marine adapted.
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Old 07-11-2011, 08:09   #15
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Re: pleased with electric propulsion

[QUOTE=skipmac;812503]Another problem with a practical, resonably priced electric system for boats, the market is pretty small giving little motivation to developers and manufacturers to build a system and if they do, gives no economy of scale to get the cost down.

I'm hoping that at some point there will be an auto system that can be adapted to boats, pretty much like commercial diesel engines are marine adapted.[/QUOTE

We cant even get various national bodies to agree on something as infantile as wire color schemes. Ridiculous!!
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