Electric outboards are new technology and there's a lot to learn. Read below and check out our blog to learn more about electric engines and if one would work well on your boat!
Are electric outboards safe?
Yes! Modern electric outboards are designed and manufactured by electrical engineers who have safety at top of mind. One of the major risks associated with high capacity battery power is thermal runaway, but an integrated battery management system (BMS) mitigates this risk. Plus, you aren't sitting on top of a big tank of flamable liquid!
How much do electric outboards cost? Will they be cheaper than a gasoline powered outboard over time?
Electric outboards themselves are actually priced quite similarly to traditional outboards, but the system as a whole becomes more expensive initially because of the cost of the batteries, which typically cost between $500 and $1000 per kilowatt hour (kWh). After the initial investment, electric outboards are much cheaper to operate, given that you won't need to buy gas, winterize your engine or spend much money on other maintenance. Whether or not an electric outboard is cheaper than a combustion outboard in the long run depends on a number of factors, including the frequency of use, cost of electricity and cost of gasoline.
What sort of horsepower do electric outboards have?
Unlike internal combustion engines, the power output of electric outboards is measure in kilowatts (kW) not horsepower (HP), but given that we're all used to thinking about outboards in terms of HP, electric outboard manufacturers will always give a HP rating. The electric outboards currently to market in the US range from very small trolling motors to 80HP, and we expect Flux Marine to have their 100HP to market in 2023.
How does the range of an electric outboard compare to traditional outboard?
Boats with traditional gasoline powered outboards will typically have a longer range than those powered by electric outboards. The exact range of a boat with an electric outboard depends on many factors, including the kilowatt rating of the outboard, kilowatt hours of the battery bank on board, characteristics of the hull, number of people on board and the speed at which the boat is operated. In short, gasoline is a lot lighter than lithium batteries, so there are weight limitations when repowering a boat with an electric outboard. Range will continue to improve with battery technology, which will expand the use cases for electric outboards over time.
How are electric boats charged? How long does it take to charge?
It is a little bit different for each manufacturer, but generally electric boats can be charged by plugging the outboard or battery into a charger that's connect to a 110v or 220v outlet. Pure Watercraft has a propriety charger that plugs into a power source on one end and their battery cable on the other. Flux Marine's engines will plug into a common electric vehicle charger. Lower voltage systems manufactured by companies such as Torqueedo and Elco can be charged by solar panels onboard the vessel. Higher voltage systems like those by Flux and Pure may not be able to be charged by solar panels on board, but we are working to see if this is possible.
Charge time depends on the size of the battery bank, the charger, and the voltage of the power input to the charger. Systems that charge via onboard solar will generally take a few days to charge. Systems that charge by plugging into a charger usually take between a few hours and overnight.
Who are the companies that are producing electric outboards in the US?
Current manufacturers based in the US include Flux Marine, Torqueedo, Pure Watercraft, Elco Motor Yachts, Vision Marine Technologies and ePropulsion.
What use cases work well for electric outboards and what use cases do not?
People who use their boats travel short distances or at low speeds are great candidates for repowering with an electric outboard. Inshore recreational and commercial fishing, coach boats for sailing and rowing, yacht tenders and pontoon boats generally work well with electric. Boats that currently have outboards over 100hp can repower with electric, but the boat will go slower. Boats that currently have outboards under 100hp can expect their boat to perform similarly with an electric outboard. People who use their boats to fish offshore or travel long distances on a regular basis aren't great candidates for an electric repower at this time. Please check out our blog to learn more about various use cases for electric boats!
What is the installation process like? How long does it take?
Once we have your new electric outboard and batteries on hand, installation only takes a few days! We'll remove your old outboard from the transom of your boat and switch it out with the electric outboard. We'll find the best location on board to install your batteries and run the cabling between them. Your old throttle and gauges will be removed and replaced with the new equipment, and we'll take care of any fiberglass work necessary to smooth it all out! One of our electricians will wire any onboard solar as well as a charger at your marina, home or dock. Finally, one of our licensed captains will take you out on the bay and show you how to use your new electric boat!