With all the emphasis on cleaner and renewable energy these days, electric outboard motors are getting a lot of attention.
Are electric motors any good compared to a gasoline outboard motor?
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of electric outboard motors, their durability, and the different brands available:
Why Choose An Electric Outboard Motor?
While the initial cash outlay for an electric outboard motor may be higher than a gasoline outboard motor, an electric motor is a much simpler engine making them cheaper to maintain in the long run.
In addition, electric outboard motors are quieter, cleaner, and have no CO2 emissions making them a better choice for the environment.
Electric motors are here to stay as they offer a cleaner, quieter, and more efficient alternative to fossil-fuel-powered engines. However, the technology is not quite there yet for them to provide reliable propulsion for larger boats.
But they are a good alternative for small boats like dinghies, inflatables, kayaks, and even small fishing boats.
Electric outboard motors offer the following advantages:
1. Very Quiet:
That’s right. Electric motors are almost silent.
This means you won’t scare away the fish or the wildlife or wake up your neighbors when leaving a busy mooring spot in the early hours of the morning.
The technology for electric outboard engines has come a long way.
Nowadays, lightweight engines with internal lithium batteries are easy to manage.
Due to their compact and lightweight design, you won’t break your back getting an electric outboard motor on and off your boat.
3. Less Maintenance:
Electric motors have fewer moving parts than their gas counterparts, so fewer things go wrong!
In addition, they don’t need to be serviced so often, plus no messy oil changes, and there are no fuel filters to get clogged up.
You don’t have to worry about oil or fuel spills when transporting your electric engine in the trunk of your car.
It also means no more oil or grease stains on your hands or clothes.
5. Easy to Store:
Electric outboard motors are smaller than their gas equivalent.
This makes them easier to store in a locker, and due to the fact they contain no fuel or oil residue, you can even store them flat somewhere on your boat.
Healthier for Family & the Environment:
As you are not burning fossil fuels, there are no emissions to pollute the air and no chance of spills contaminating the water.
With the increase of fuel-type restrictions, especially on inland waterways and lakes, an electric outboard motor may become the only way you can enjoy time on the water.
Cons Of An Electric Outboard Motor
Of course, no product is perfect, so there are some disadvantages to electric outboard motors:
1. Their Range is Limited:
Some boaters are concerned about the range or run-time of an electric motor.
But, like any motor, this will depend on how fast you run the engine; if you slow down, you will get a better range. Around 15nm or approximately 3-4 hours seems to be the average range if you’re gentle on the throttle.
You will need to monitor your use so that you don’t get stranded on the water.
2. Re-Charging Can Take Time:
Unlike gasoline outboard motors, which you can refuel instantly from that spare jerry you can carry, the batteries for an electric outboard motor will take time to recharge.
Up to 10 hours or overnight is the norm.
However, if you are looking to operate your engine for longer periods linking to a solar panel could be an option. And so could carrying a spare fully charged battery (although this could prove to be an expensive option).
How Durable Are Electric Outboard Motors?
Nowadays, the design, quality, and performance of electric outboard motors can easily compete with the durability of their gasoline counterparts.
In fact, because of the simplicity of their design and lack of moving parts, they do, in fact, need less maintenance. Plus, they do not need to be ‘primed’ to start the engine, making them much more reliable.
Most of the designs of electric outboard motors today are durable, dependable, and have built-in safety features to ensure the long life of the motor.
In addition, when choosing the right electric motor for your needs, it’s important to decide whether you will be using it in fresh or saltwater (or both). You can use a saltwater electric outboard motor in freshwater but not vice versa.
To prolong the life of your electric motor, always remember to rinse it down with fresh water after every use to reduce the build-up of any dirt or salt.
How Long Do Electric Outboard Engines Typically Last?
Like any motor, how long your electric outboard engine will typically last depend on how you use it and what you are using it for.
The same size and brand of a motor can last many years for an owner who uses it responsibly, but the same motor may only last a few months if it is always pushed to its top speed or constantly used in tough conditions.
So, if well looked after, an electric outboard motor can give you maintenance-free boating and can last for more than 10 years.
It’s good to know that spare parts for the main brands of electric outboard motors are readily available, except in more remote areas. While electric outboard motors are pretty much maintenance-free, it should come as no surprise that some parts will need replacing after so many hours of use.
These may include the motors, the gears, propellers and shafts, compass boards, control boards, and switches.
However, the good news is that most DIY boaters will be able to replace the worn-out parts themselves.
What Are the Most Popular Electric Outboard Motors?
While there are many different electric outboard motors on the market, choosing a brand with a dealer and/or manufacturer support is best.
The following are the most popular electric outboard motors available:
German company Torqueedo was founded in 2005.
The company offers a range of electric outboard engines with power equivalent from a 1hp to an 80hp gasoline engine.
The core business of Torqueedo is to provide innovative solutions for electric mobility on the water.
Today Torqueedo is represented in more than 100 countries, and they work with more than 2,000 sales, technical and boat-building partners worldwide.
EPropulsion was founded by a team of 4 students studying engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 20212.
Their idea was to promote cleaner energy as a means of propulsion on the water.
The company now offers a range of electric motors that are not only better for the environment, but they claim to be almost entirely maintenance-free, giving you more time to enjoy the water.
3. EP Carry
EP Carry has developed and patented its own electric outboard motor that is environmentally friendly, clean, and quiet.
Their engine has been designed specifically for small boats, including dinghies, inflatables (RIBs), fishing skiffs, small sailboats, rowing boats, and other small boats with a maximum length of 13 feet and a maximum weight of 600 lbs.
What Are the Best American Brands?
The proudly American brand Elco has been producing electric-powered launches since 1893 when it was awarded a contract to build 55 electric-powered launches at the Chicago World Fair.
Since 1950, Elco has been designing and manufacturing high-quality inboard and outboard electric engines using cutting-edge technology.
Today they offer a range of electric outboard engines from 5hp – 50hp that have the look and feel of a more traditional gasoline outboard motor.
5. Minn Kota
American company Minn Kota was founded in 1934 in Mankato, Minnesota.
The company was the first electric trolling motor manufacturer in the USA but later developed an innovative solution for an electric outboard motor.
The company now offers a range of trolling motors, electric outboard motors, batteries, and accessories.
How Is the Warranty On These Motors?
As with any significant purchase of any product, you need to follow the warranty guidelines as prescribed by each company if you have a warranty issue.
Any reputable company will have their warranty guidelines published on their website.
Before purchasing a new electric outboard motor, check with your dealer about the warranty conditions.
Most of the mentioned manufacturers in this article offer a 2-year warranty from the date the product was delivered to the purchaser, as long as the warranty card has been completed and submitted to the manufacturer.
What Is The Difference Between An Electric Outboard Motor And A Trolling Motor?
Hopefully, you will have noticed the term ‘trolling motor’ used in this article, but what is a trolling motor, and what is it used for?
A trolling motor is a small self-contained external engine that can be either gasoline or electric. It is used as a secondary power source at low speeds.
So what is the difference between an electric outboard and a trolling motor? An electric outboard engine is the primary source of power or propulsion on a small boat to get you from A to B.
A trolling motor is used as a secondary motor primarily to travel at slow speeds, especially for fishing.
Should I Use An Electric Outboard Motor Or A Trolling Motor?
Choosing what motor to use with your boat needs careful consideration. Both electric outboard engines and trolling motors are eco-friendly, quiet, and relatively maintenance-free.
So, if you are only going a short distance and are happy to travel at slow speeds, then a trolling motor may suffice.
However, if you plan to travel further afield and would like a bit of extra power, then an electric outboard motor is the way to go.
While electric outboard motors have taken a little bit of time to catch on, they are the future of outboard engines.
With technology that is improving all the time and the new lightweight lithium batteries, electric outboard engines prove to be more than equal to their gasoline counterparts.
The perception of their limited range needs to change. People often overestimate how much time they will actually use their motor. If properly managed, an electric outboard engine can offer a great day out on the water.
So if you are wondering how to reduce your carbon footprint, purchasing an electric outboard motor is a step in the right direction.