Electric boats are growing in popularity, much like electric cars. They eliminate the issues with emissions in the water and can be part of the global effort to be more green.
These are some of the most common problems people experience with electric boats.
Let’s get started.
Here are the most common problems people have with electric boats.
Too Few Models
Electric boats are seen as recreational boats. The challenge is to make the production profitable and to have companies willing to do things differently and make the change to electric power.
Potential buyers need to be able to see the boat as compatible with their current lifestyle. Many potential buyers are probably waiting and seeing how the electric boat market plays out and how they can fit it into their lives.
To feel like they would want to buy an electric boat, they would need to be able to try it.
With such a small market share, it could be difficult for some potential customers to take a boat for a test drive.
People who might be interested in electric boats might not see them in use. They are looking for reliability, durability, quality of workmanship, and the reputation of the manufacturer.
Most electric boats do not go extremely fast.
The boats are being designed with the capability of going more quickly. However, many who use electric boats point out that they are slow.
The fastest electric boat clocked in at around 80 mph, which is fast by any measurement.
Going faster speeds takes more energy from the battery reserve. Compared to similar sizes gas-powered boats, electric boats go slower than conventional boats. They have to in order not to deplete the batteries too quickly.
There needs to be adequate downstream infrastructure in place. This includes dealers, repair facilities, emergency services, and battery recycling options. There should also be adequate charging stations.
Without charging stations, some potential buyers could view electric boats as a potentially risky purchase.
This ties into the initial investment versus the long term benefits. Once a larger proportion of boat owners are using electric boats, then the technology will take off.
Innovations such as these are typically slow. It could take from 10 to 15 years for even a small amount of the market to be penetrated.
With many new technologies, it takes up to three major versions for it to have mass-market appeal. Many electric boats are being released in small batches or prototypes and have yet to have major releases.
Too Low Range
Electric boats can only go for as long as they have a charge for. This can be very limiting.
If you’re not able to recharge your batteries or if don’t have large backup batteries onboard you might not be able to get very far from the dock.
Electric hybrid boats have a much longer range.
Solar Panel Issues
Solar panel boats that use electricity are great—as long as there is sun!
However, there is potential for charging and back up batteries that can make it possible in cloudy conditions with planning. Cracks could develop in the solar panels, which would lead to them not charging as they should.
They are also sensitive to saltwater and the weather and could be heavy on a boat.
Energy storage on electric boats with solar panels is a big concern. There is an inability to regulate the electricity that flows from solar panels. This is especially true when cloud or shade cover reduces the boat’s output, or when they draw more power than expected at high speeds.
Engineers are using hardier materials, like lightweight, flexible, and durable solar panels.
Another potential problem with solar panels is that you can’t walk on them, and they take up space.
Batteries Get Drained Too Quickly
While the batteries have come a long way, the batteries of the boats have been an issue. They can be heavy and difficult to recharge. There is about a 15% reduction in price for each doubling of manufacturing in batteries.
The electric boat batteries can’t compete with fuel in terms of energy density.
There are questions regarding how to safely dispose of the batteries. In order to reduce risk, proper methods of recycling batteries need to be in place.
Too Few Charging Stations
There are currently not enough charging stations for electric boats to be in widespread use.
Once the infrastructure is set up that allows for more boats, then they will increase in popularity. With more charging stations, then word of mouth will get around about electric boats.
Other boat owner’s interests will be piqued, especially if they see other people with electric boats.
The amount of time it takes to charge the battery could also be a barrier.
The initial cost of electric motors or boats can be much higher than conventional boats. Although in the long run and the bigger picture the cost would be lower, many potential boat owners might not think of it this way.
As they are being made in higher production numbers, the cost will be lowered over time.
Electric boats of comparable size are more expensive than conventional gas boats. This cost is a big barrier for more wide-scale implementation of electric boats.
Users see that they can have a comparable gas boat at a lower price.
Potential buyers need to see the economic value of the electric boat. Compared to conventional boats, this could be difficult. The break-even point for electric boats is hard to find because it depends where they get their power from.
Many electric motors are DIY and require a bit of knowledge and effort in order to be used properly. Some people embrace the task of learning about new technology and love gadgets.
Others might be slow on the approach, and this can be a barrier in the widespread implementation of the technology.
Potential buyers are turned off due to the lack of information available about electric boats.
One of the biggest problems is that many people don’t think about electric boats as a potential for boats, rather than conventional boats. Most consumers have never or driven an electric boat, and it isn’t on their radar.
All-electric boats are perceived as being best suited for small or medium-sized boats. There are hybrids that can be larger boats. As this perception changes, the use of electric boats will also change.
Long-range crafts are better suited for a hybrid system.
Consumers tend to be resistant to technology that is unfamiliar or unproven. This is one of the biggest problems with electric boats.
Other Thing To Know About Electric Boats
Moritz Hermann von Jacobi introduced the electric motor in May of 1834. With the backing of Tsar Nicholas I, he furthered developed the motor at the Imperial Academy of Sciences in St. Petersberg. He installed the motor in a 28-foot paddle boat. It made a journey across the Neva river, carrying 14 passengers, in September of 1838. This is the first documented launch of an electric boat.
Electric boats made their debut at the 1893 World Fair, where attendees have ferried around in 55 electric boats. In 1899, the company released an electric boat with a 5 mph motor that could push boats at 7 mph for up to 60 miles.
The electric boats were pushed aside in favor of the combustion engine. However, they have experienced an increase in popularity starting in the 1980s.
As the technology is being introduced into the market and more people are learning about electric boats, there are still a few kinks to work out or potential issues that happen when it comes to electric boats. Some of it has to do with the learning curve that comes with new technology. The earliest adopters are often innovators and forward thinkers.
There are a few problems with electric boats. These come from the nature of the technology, the availability, as well as the current developments in the market.
Depending on the local regulations and laws, the demand for electric boats fluctuate.
Austria has an estimated 25% of all boats being electric.
Electric Boats Currently in Use
Electric boats are clean and quiet, and they have a lot of potential in the global market.
The electric boat market is currently projected to be worth about $20 billion in 2027. As the technology is adopted and more widely used, it will gain traction and popularity.
There are currently electric motors on the market that boat owners can rig to their boats. These use solar panels.
The world’s largest solar panel boat currently in use is the Tûranor PlanetSolar at 31 meters. It navigated the world from Germany starting in 2010 and finishing in 2012.
Currently, there are more than 100 manufacturers of electric boats.
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.