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Thread: Electric repowering?

  1. #16
    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supersailor View Post
    The minuses outweigh the pluses here in the Pacific North West. The long crossings and fast tides demand long range and fast refueling. One must time one's trips with the tides or you go nowhere fast. I would hate to run out of power on a calm day in the middle of the Straights of Georgia or the Straights of Juan De Fuca. You could go somewhere that you don't want to. The inability to cruise at the higher speeds is also a liability up here. At 6 1/2 knots, you can punch through a developing rapid where at 5 knots, you might not be able to make it.

    I would love to switch to quiet vibration free propulsion system but I can't live with a 20 mile range and hours to recharge. Also, cruising at 3 knots to stretch the battery charge is not an option when the tides are faster than that so I will continue to watch the developments with interest. Also, at the moment, the pricing of the electric stuff is out of line with the costs of producing it. Perhaps the pricing will be lowered as volume increases although gouging is common with boating suppliers.
    All true, but note that a lot of people are doing very inexpensive DIY installations using ala carte parts from the internet and perhaps something like used forklift motors. It is my impression that these inexpensive motors are usually not rated for continuous duty. I.e. fine for getting in and out of the marina but maybe not much else before overheating. I'd guess that this may also change as used parts start coming out of the electric auto industry. But anyway, for someone who enjoys tinkering, these experiments don't necessarily have to cost a lot of money.
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

  2. #17
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    Drink

    I have already purchased the 10kw Thunderstruck EV kit for my Ericson 29, it's sitting on the project bench as I work through the rest of the refit.

    My plan is to use the electric for propulsion, solar as primary charge source and maintenance at anchor, and a diesel genset for prolonged motoring/backup power. I have an all electric Macgregor 26 in a slip at the local lake, no shore power, >2hp (1800 watt) electric auxilary, 2.4kwh 24v lifepo4 pack and 480 watts of solar as my 'test case' and it's been fine for a couple years now. Even motoring into 30 knot winds on the nose(though mind you, not quickly. think like 1kt haha -- Tacking with no headsail and a reefed main was faster vmg)

    I've had to literally cut out the cabin sole and bottom of the engine bay of my e29 in order to clean the murky, oily disgusting mess that had been left from years of neglect coupled with the tropical storm 20 years ago that filled the boat with fresh water and disgorged the oily contents of the A4 into the boat. Somewhere along the line a PO had filled the keel sump with 400 lbs of lead pigs and window foam. Needless to say, it was like the Kuwaiti oil fields after the gulf war in there. It all pretty much turned me off to the smell of engines The motor install is waiting on my glassing in the bottom of the engine bay, modifying it a bit, adding new engine stringers, etc.

    After months of cleaning it's only now beginning to smell okay after closing the boat up for a day.

    I prefer the quiet, clean smell of a good sine wave brushless motor. The instant-on with no warm up on a lee shore.. but I recognize that even the 10kwh battery pack I intend on installing cannot motor indefinitely, when I take my boat to the ocean and have to make headway against the inevitable uncooperative weather. So I'm putting a 5kw genset in a slightly modified engine bay and should have the best of both worlds. It'll be fine to recharge the battery bank to support the air conditioner in our summer heat here in Arizona too.

    As I have more to show I'll start posting photos of my refit -- this board has been an incredible resource and I hope to be able to return the favor. I've been working on the E29 for almost a year now (As jobs and heat permit)

    I get frustrated sometimes with the animosity in electric vs. petrol propulsion threads that go on in the boating forums, and therefore don't post much about the subject. Both propulsion systems have advantages and disadvantages. Hybrid like I am doing has both advantages and disadvantages. There is no one right or wrong answer -- We all have different goals, different operational requirements, different skillsets from which we operate, different backgrounds, and different futures. But we're all on the same team -- we all bought sailboats so we can sail.

    Carry on,

    Sean
    WK7R

  3. #18
    Principal Partner steven's Avatar
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    I am about to replace my A4. Would really go for electric, except, . . .problem seems to be range. I'd like an occasional range of 40miles at hull speed.
    If I need to get home on a Sunday afternoon and the wind just dies. Typical of a Chesapeake summer.

    That would mean a pretty large battery bank, expensive and heavy.

    I like the genset idea. What unit are you getting ? Marine gensets look pretty expensive.
    Would a couple of 2KW or 3KW portable Honda's work ?

    Another problem is how fast the battery will take a charge.
    I've read that some can charge as fast as they discharge, but I don't know anyone who has actually tried it.

    --Steve
    Steve and Paula
    Indigo E35-2 #446
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  4. #19
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    Electircal

    I'm planning on installing a nextgen 5.5kw, https://www.nextgenerationpower.com/5kwmarine.html, the design appeals to me -- simple, common Kubota diesel, parts available almost everywhere, runs at a better spot on the power curve than other small gensets at 2600rpm. Their design for the exhaust elbow is as terrible as most so I'll probably fashion an insulated flexible stainless dry riser pipe and put the injection and water lift above the waterline. I plan to couple it with a 48v 5000VA Victron Quattro. Yes, I know, at that point I'm spending the $$ for a brand new diesel repower, but it provides a lot of capability and backup options that a diesel alone would not provide.

    1 or 2 portable hondas would work and my understanding is that lots of people use them as their range extender in electric conversions, but you do have to consider their drawbacks at least as I see them:

    1) Not meant to be operated at an angle -- no (safe) motor sailing
    2) Cannot be permenantly installed, must be stowed and operated on deck (No exhaust control)
    3) Still must manage gasoline (and ensuing vapors) (This is something I'm trying to do away with, myself)

    If these don't bother you then great! Slap on a honda and a decent charge controller and call it wonderful.

    The people that use them as range extenders seem quite happy with them (mbianka/the bianka log comes to mind)

    Lead acid can be charged quite quickly up to about 70-80% capacity. Then it's the long acceptance phase and rather inefficient use of power (when charging the last 20% you only store about 1/2-2/3rds of the current you put in.) Lifepo4 can charge safely at 1c up to about 95-98% capacity, storing about 99% of the power you put in. The charge acceptance rate of the two makes no difference if you're using a generator as a range extender but it's a big factor on run time at anchor or if you use solar.

    Some thoughts..

    Sean
    WK7R

  5. #20
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    >>>>Yes, I know, at that point I'm spending the $$ for a brand new diesel repower, but it provides a lot of capability and backup options that a diesel alone would not provide.

    What are those?
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  6. #21
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    Stephen,

    The problem is hull speed. A lot of energy goes into creating that last knot or so. That hole you are creating in the water costs a lot of energy. My 34-2 only takes about 2hp to do 3.2kn but 23hpto do 6.5kn. If you are willing to go slow, the electric will do. Fast, only diesel will work.

    We will have to wait for the next improvement in batteries to work for us here in The North-West. Lack of range and slow recharging are the biggies. Mounting a genset makes for a complicated, expensive installation. Using a portable genset anywhere on the boat is playing roulette with your life.
    Bob Morrison
    1987 E-34 Hull #15
    "Terra Nova"

  7. #22
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    Christian, I have mad respect for you by the way.

    The capability side that you generally do not have with a diesel alone:
    • 5.5kw of AC available + the 5000va quattro, which can supplement from the battery and give you a short term ~10kw peak AC load handling ability. Nothing to sneeze at. You can eliminate propane/alcohol stoves. I'm not a greenie, I just don't like things that have an explosive failure mode.
    • Air conditioner at anchor -- not a big deal for you in so cal or PNE, but in Arizona summers... brutal trying to sleep in 95 degree 50% humidity weather, even with fans. Yes you could do AC, kind of, with a diesel+alternator+inverter, but you can't set up auto-start with that to automatically maintain a battery state of charge profile like you can with a genset. And you have to size the inverter for the start loads... and the batteries..and the wires...with a 'hybrid' setup you already have all of this in place, and you have a genset.
    • Normal house loads can be handled from the 48V propulsion bank via filtered (ie not noisy) and sealed regulator(s), and propulsion banks tend to be larger than standard house banks, so you can go longer between needing to charge them at anchor. 12V starting battery kept floating by same types of regulator.
    • Not if, but when, you have problems with your diesel, with the prime mover being electric you still have options. Where you otherwise would have to call a tow because of a bunk exhaust elbow or water in the fuel (and no more filters,) you now have the ability to limp in. OR blast in, depending on the state of your batteries are when you discover the problem, but I assume prudence would dictate that you don't purposely run your bank below 50%. And solar is a significant source of energy.. on my little 26 at the lake I can maintain about 2.8kts on solar alone. Yeah -- it's in calm seas. But if there was weather I would let that solar charge that bank while I sailed toward safe harbor, then use the stored power to get to the mooring/drop the anchor/get into the marina with authority. It may be a little inconvenient but not as inconvenient as having no option but a tow.
    • The normal plusses of electric.. instant on, full power available. Relatively little maintenance of the prime mover.


    Now this said, it's not magic fairy dust and you do need to take a fairly methodical approach to designing your systems so that it all comes together reliably. You need to read maine sail's articles on proper marine electrical connections You need to get the right tools. You need to look at the available ABYC standards and adhere to them.

    There are more individual pieces that can fail in the "ideal long-range energy source-to-propulsion path," (fueltank->engine->transmission->propshaft vs. fueltank->engine->generator head->charger->battery->motor controller->motor->gear reduction->propshaft) but there are more paths with the hybrid solution, and as along as the (traditionally very reliable) battery->motor controller->motor->gear reduction->prop shaft path is working, (And individual components are not unreasonably expensive, and spare controllers, belts, motor could be reasonably kept on a longer-term cruising boat,) energy source can be genset, wind, solar, fuel cell, dragged generator, .. ? Anyways, I enjoy this stuff, and have a good understanding of electrical and emergency power management as an extra class licensed radio amateur. For me it's a great fit, but not necessarily for everyone, and I understand that.

    Because of the benefits from a systems perspective, I think integrated hybrid approaches like this are going to become more and more common from manufacturers, because they provide a more solid electrical foundation to the never ending desire for the comforts of home -- microwaves washing machines and all sorts of silliness (For the record, the fiance wants a microwave..hmm, maybe not so silly if I want her to go voyaging with me). A 45-60lb prime mover and reduction gear/belt drive are a lot easier to install and align to a prop shaft than a 300 lb iC engine. Lot easier/cheaper to replace, too.

    Supersailor is absolutely right by the way.. it generally takes a little more than double the power to go an additional knot. so 3 knots may take my little 26' 400 watts. But it takes 1000 to make 4 and 1800 gets me 4.7ish..

    Sorry for the book by the way !

    Sean
    WK7R
    Last edited by texlan; 10-11-2018 at 08:24 AM.

  8. #23
    Moderator Christian Williams's Avatar
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    Good thinking, the detail is appreciated by everybody. And of course as a Prius owner I entirely get hybrids.

    The primary need for an engine on my boat is propulsion with 500-mile range, and a 100 amp alternator for one-hour daily recharge of house bank.

    I do think you underrate the reliability of yacht diesels, even under the most harsh conditions, and of course your genset is a diesel.
    Thelonious II, E381 hull 513 (1984) Universal 5432
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  9. #24
    Principal Partner Mark F's Avatar
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    Rigging Doctor sailing vlog has a good discussion on their impressions of their EP system after crossing the Atlantic.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWgbM9DoA7A
    Lotus Flower
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