Do I own an electric boat? Nope, I don’t – but I get enough questions about them that I thought I would put together a little info for you.
The truth is that most electric vehicles are more or less the same – batteries, a motor controller, the motor, and a battery charger. Whether that’s in a car, a boat, or a motorcycle, it really doesn’t matter.
A few things will be a little different – weight capacity, center of gravity, and speed are doing to be different on land vehicles than water vehicles. If you want an electric boat, what are your options?
Electric Trolling Motor:
Electric trolling motors are not an ideal option, but are great for low speeds and are turn-key just by going out and purchasing one. If you need more power you could even put more than one on the back of your boat. A few manufacturers DO make higher voltage, higher power trolling motors. Take a look at Minn Kota – they have an electric outboard called the “E-Drive” that can run at 48 volts.
Dedicated Electric Boats
A while back, I was talking with a friend about my electric vehicle projects, and they told me of a local guy who had an electric boat! Right away, I wanted to go find and talk with him and take a look at it. Sure enough, the boat was not any kind of a conversion, but rather a commercially-built, mass-marketed DEDICATED electric boat! It’s a Duffy brand 18′. I’m not much of a boat guy, but I guess I would call it a “cocktail-cruiser” – just a pleasure boat for going around the lake. The electric inboard motor is hidden away under the floor and connects to a prop-shaft, going out the back of the boat to the propeller. The boat is quiet, low maintenance, and the perfect place for a martini at sunset!
Believe it or not, you CAN just run out and buy an electric outboard. There are several manufacturers, but the one I have some personal experience with is Torqeedo. It’s a dedicated outboard that you simply bolt to the back of your boat. The one that I saw was on a medium-sized pontoon boat. It ran on two flooded marine batteries for a 24-volt system. The best part is that the boat owner also had a pair of large solar panels on the canopy of the boat. Each of those panels recharged one of the two batteries. It was a SOLAR-POWERED pontoon boat. I really mean that – it wasn’t “solar-assisted” – the owner had no electric power at his dock or battery charger. He completely charged the boat from solar!
If you have an outboard motor with a bad engine, why not replace that engine with an electric motor?
The process is very similar to what you would do converting a motorcycle or other vehicle to electric. Add the electric motor, motor controller, batteries and charger. The other components stay the same. You would still have the same steering, the same propeller, and other equipment. You just wouldn’t have a gas-tank or all that noise and pollution!
There are several web pages out there about converting gas outboards to electric. Here’s one. And here’s another. Converting an outboard to electric will be a little more work than just buying an electric outboard , but you will also save money and have a pretty cool project to show off!
What about you? Do you have an electric boat or have converted an outboard to electric? Send us a photo or tell us how you did it. We’d love to help show off your project!