Most boaters have been using gas-powered outboards their entire lives, so it's understandable that some people may be hesitant in switching to an electric outboard. You may be flooded with different questions; How does an electric outboard work? What maintenance does an electric boat motor need? Is an electric outboard motor even a good fit for my boat? No need to worry, those questions will all be answered here.
How Does an Electric Outboard Work?
An electric outboard is composed of a few basic components that make them unique to its competing gas motor, along with their basic similarities. An electric outboard motor starts with the power source, which is normally one large battery or a set of batteries that are rechargeable. Next is the electric controller that regulates the flow of electrical current from the batteries to the motor. The electric motor is made up of a stator and a rotor. The stator is the stationary part of the motor that is composed of coils of wire. This creates a magnetic field when an electric current passes through. The rotor is the rotating part that is connected to permanent magnets, creating power conversion. The electric motor is attached to the propeller that is typically mounted on a shaft that is connected to the rotor. The rotational force on the rotor then causes the propeller to rotate as well, which is what leads your electric boat to cruise practically silently through the water.
What Boat Maintenance Does an Electric Motor Need?
Taking care of your electric motor’s battery is the most important thing to do in order to ensure your electric outboard has a long life. It is important that you follow proper charging techniques and regularly inspect your battery, along with following your manufacturer’s guidelines for proper battery maintenance. It is important to occasionally inspect the electrical connections of your motor for any corrosion or loose connections. There are other similar maintenance duties you must follow for an electric boat motor that you do for the traditional gas motors like checking the propellers or proper storage procedures.
Just like a gas outboard, it's important to rinse your electric outboard with fresh water after each use in salt water. ePropulsion and Torqeedo recommend spraying WD40 in the contacts once per month while your electric outboard is in use. It's also important to keep your cables covered with a cap or plugged into the electric outboard or battery to help prevent corrosion. There's no winterization necessary for electric outboards, but you do need to charge your battery to a certainly level before storing it for the winter. The exact percentage charge depends on the manufacturer, and most recommend checking your electric outboard battery's state of charge once every three months while not in use. Overall, the maintenance for an electric outboard is significantly less than the maintenance for a gas boat motor.
Is an Electric Motor a Good Fit For My Boat?
Electric outboards may or may not be a good choice for you; it depends on your boat and how you use it. In 2023, range limitations and initial cost are the two main barriers to entry for electric outboards. It is important to acknowledge what activities you aim to do when out on the water and if you can maintain that lifestyle if you were to switch to an electric outboard. Boaters who typically use their boats to go shorter distances and at slower speeds will have less of an issue with range limitations. If you can afford the initial investment, your electric outboard can be cheaper than a gas outboard in the long run, depending on how you use your boat.
Small 3hp electric outboards for sailboats and dinghies are an easy choice; these models usually have plenty of range and are much easier to handle than their heavier gas counterparts. Larger electric outboards like those from Flux Marine are coming to market and will soon become a competitive choice for electric boats.
Overall, electric boat engines are fitted for smaller boats that are on the lighter side and do not require as much power to operate. If you are looking for an environmentally-friendly option for your boat that will make cruising on your boat silently and effortless, then an electric boat motor sounds like the right fit for you!
If you still have questions about electric outboards, feel free to contact one of our professionals here at EMO Electric! We are here to help determine if an electric motor outboard is the right fit for you along with addressing any concerns you may have if you were to make the switch from a gas motor to an electric motor. If you are ready to make the switch, we will be happy to steer you toward the best electric boat engine for you and your boating needs!