Electric vs. combustion - are electric boat engines worthwhile?
- 1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of electric motors and combustion engines for you?
- 2. Similarities between electric and combustion engines
- 3. Differences between electric and combustion engines
- 4. The disadvantages of an electric motor
What are the advantages and disadvantages of electric motors and combustion engines for you?
What does the speed of the boat depend on?
Energy consumption of the electric motor and combustion engine on the boat?
We, therefore, recommend traveling at a gentler speed regardless of the engine. Of course, you can crank it up! However, you should always have enough battery capacity or additional fuel onboard so that you don't stay dry!
So the decisive factor is not the energy consumption, but rather the type of storage onboard and there are differences here. You can read more about the differences in the range below in the article.
How the electric motor and combustion engine work
The propeller converts the engine's power into thrust and pushes the boat in the desired direction. Combustion and electric motors have a common purpose and ensure maximum driving pleasure on the boat trip. The design and how the drive shaft is rotated works differently.
Installation of the boat engines
Is an electric boat motor worthwhile for my boat?
The advantages of an electric motor in boats
Electric motors are significantly quieter or completely silent
Emission-free, no unpleasant smell
Running costs significantly cheaper!
Environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable
Future-proof: No fear of driving bans on the water
Maintenance-free: less effort
Greater safety on board
Efficiency and acceleration are higher
Handling and operation are easier
High flexibility: electricity onboard and in port
1. The volume of an electric motor
In any case, electric drives are significantly quieter. The noise of an internal combustion engine is reminiscent of the main streets in a big city. For us, that was exactly the reason to think about an electric motor for our boat. When we go on a boat trip, we mainly think of nature and relaxation.
Our opinion: There is no alternative to electric motors when it comes to volume ... apart from muscle strength, of course, here you are even doing something good for your health!
2. Emission-free and a clean affair
Do you go out on the lake with the family and smell a gas station? For us personally, this was one of the most important reasons to deal with the topic of electromobility. (Of course, there are exceptions that like the smell of a gas station.) Nevertheless, we think of you and your health.
Missing exhaust gases or lubricants in the water also have a major impact on animals and the environment. Too often in port facilities, we see a shimmering oil film on the water. In addition to the animals, it also has advantages for the water quality in your area. Especially with the hotter summers, the water quality of the lakes and rivers in Germany is an important factor, which is favored by electric boat drives.
3. No maintenance costs and cheap operation!
The larger the battery, the higher the cost of the complete system. When purchasing, we recommend paying close attention to how much capacity you need on average.
We have developed a small cost calculator for you on our website. You can conveniently compare the annual costs from home and see when an electric motor is worthwhile for your boat.
You just have to state how often you drive each year and how much your boat uses. Another interesting point: you can see how much CO2 the boat engine emits over time and how much CO2 can be saved.
Amortization: when is an electric motor cheaper?
Your electric drive pays for itself after only 5 years. After 10 years, you have already saved € 4,000. Fossil fuels are a limited resource. Do you think the price will go up in the future? In the long term, we assume that gasoline prices per liter will increase significantly due to a CO2 tax or similar.
On the other hand, inexpensive solar cells offer the opportunity to generate electricity for free. This electricity can be stored directly in your battery system.
4. Environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable
In order to generate electricity on the water itself, it is possible to mount solar modules or small wind turbines on the boat. Alternatively, you can also set up systems at the jetty or on your boathouse and are also safe from rising electricity prices.
This is particularly suitable for houseboats with a larger roof area, but also for smaller boats. Many solar modules are collapsible or can be rolled up and are therefore easily installed on the roof or the railing of the boat.
5. No driving bans for electric boats
Of course, there are already a large number of lakes with driving bans in Germany and Austria. We personally are sure that driving bans and higher circulation will increase significantly in the future. With an electric motor, you are on the safe side here. Especially when you are thinking about buying a new boat engine, you should keep an eye on this, not an insignificant factor.
6. Maintenance-free - never stress again!
Maybe you are also technically well-versed and the replacement of a few wearing parts does not pose any problems for you. Then that's not so dramatic for you. We would be completely overwhelmed, to be honest! Therefore we prefer to play it safe with an electric motor.
7. Higher safety on board
The risk of fire is low, but we still recommend a special fire extinguisher onboard for certain batteries. We mainly work with lithium iron phosphate batteries. These are not flammable and therefore absolutely safe.
Fiddling with flammable and explosive gasoline on board is no longer necessary. In our view, it is much more pleasant without gas can onboard.
8. Better efficiency and higher acceleration
In practice, this certainly sounds understandable: the faster it starts, the better for you. The same can be seen with electric cars. It's not for nothing that a Tesla Model S has such high acceleration and leaves all other cars behind at the traffic lights. And that despite the additional weight of the batteries!
9. Simple operation and good handling
Many engines have a speed control for stepless control. The advantage is that the motor can switch between driving forwards and backward without switching. Operation is much more intuitive, user-friendly and the speed can be regulated better.
Another advantage of electric motors is that the motor and battery can be monitored very easily. Manufacturers often offer special functions that are not directly integrated into internal combustion engines.
This includes calculating the remaining range, power consumption, GPS, or on autopilot. Of course, you could also add these features to internal combustion engines if you wish. They are often already integrated into electric motors and you do not have to invest more money than necessary.
10. High flexibility: electricity anytime, anywhere
Pay attention to the required capacity early on when designing your batteries. When planning the route of your boat trip, you should also consider loading points due to the maximum capacity.
The good thing about electric motors: electricity is available almost everywhere! So you can recharge the battery on your own dock as well as in ports, jetties or at charging stations and are therefore very flexible.
Are boats suitable for an electric drive?
1. Energy density and range
Therefore, battery weight and purchase costs are an important aspect, especially for larger engines or permanent gliding. It is, therefore, worthwhile to determine the battery capacity optimally based on the desired travel time and capacity.
By planning your routes or excursions well, this disadvantage can be easily avoided. Electricity is usually available at every jetty or port. If you use your boat during the day, it can be connected to the power supply at the dock overnight and is fully operational again the next day at the latest.
While it is a disadvantage, you either need more battery space in your boat or have less range. Fortunately, an electric motor takes up significantly less space than the main engine with an internal combustion engine. In our experience, there have been no problems with the range for most of the changes to an electric motor.
2. Acquisition costs of electric boat engines
In the past decades, there have been huge leaps in the energy density of batteries, at 5 to 8 percent per year. Many billions of euros are invested annually to drive development forward. The main players are, above all, the large automobile manufacturers, most of whom are planning to switch to clean energies by 2030.
Boat owners in particular benefit from this and the concept of electric motor and battery becomes more attractive. Battery prices are currently falling from € 1,000 per kilowatt-hour to only € 500. This development will be cheaper in the next few years and significantly more profitable for you! In addition to new types of batteries, a lot of research is being done on the use of hydrogen as an energy source. Hydrogen promises a similar range and quick refueling as with normal fuel.
However, the cost of the fuel cell is currently not yet competitive. We remain excited and will be at the forefront! And more importantly, we keep you up to date in our newsletter!
3. Environmental impact of battery production
We attach great importance to this fact and prefer manufacturers with a better carbon footprint. We have designed a special CO2 calculator on our website, with which you can calculate the CO2 balance in detail and see when an electric motor is better for the environment.
Because of the electric cars, there is a lot of media coverage about the manufacture of batteries and the resulting damage to the environment. A detailed article on production and the associated emissions will follow shortly.
Around 125 kg of CO2 is generated per kWh battery. This corresponds to the emission of around 60 liters of petrol. Depending on the size of the battery, you can quickly calculate the consumption after which the changeover to a battery-electric vehicle is worthwhile. Usually within the first year!
4. The weight of boat batteries
As a rule of thumb, AGM batteries are about three times heavier. Usually, the tank flies out of the boat during a retrofit and provides enough space and a certain frame for additional weight on the boat. It is important to design the battery as optimally as possible, then a little more weight in the boat is almost no more disadvantage. Especially with sailing boats, they sometimes need a little more weight in the keel.
5. Charging time for electric boat engines
The charging speed of battery systems continues to increase and the flexibility of e-mobility continues to develop. The Supercharger from Tesla leads the way and charges a car battery up to 80% within 30 minutes. The number of charging stations on the water also continues to increase, making longer excursions possible in the future without any problems.
Depending on your needs, we will be happy to find a suitable charging option for your boat or an electric drive with the appropriate range. However, an electric motor is not useful for every range and every application.
Conclusion: comparison of electric and combustion engines
If you own a boat that needs a large engine for gliding, then you may be better served with a classic combustion engine. Mainly because of the battery system.
The arguments for combustion engines are, above all, the sometimes lower acquisition costs for larger drive systems and the longer range and travel time for large engines. In this area, electric motors are in the absolute premium segment, because everything is possible. Battery systems for sliding boats are particularly expensive. Nevertheless, electric motors are also ideal for gliding and have just as much power! Especially for lakes where only e-boats are allowed, there is no alternative.
The advantages of an electric motor are that it is quiet, emission-free, clean and mostly maintenance-free. Besides, the operating costs are significantly lower, which can be an economic advantage for frequent drivers. Electric motors have also been very popular with anglers, small boats, and inflatable boats for many years.
The price with a battery is often even lower or at least as high as for a combustion engine. The countless other advantages of the electric motor outweigh here. We are excited to see how the topic of e-mobility develops in Germany and Europe and look forward to your feedback and your experience with e-motors!