Electric Boats: The Wave of the Future?

Going Green With Electric Boating

Electric boats come in all shapes and sizes, from small fishing boats to large yachts. They can be powered by either an onboard battery or a plug-in charger. Some electric boats are powered by a combination of batteries and solar panels or are hybrid models with a gas-powered engine as a backup.

Electric boats are becoming increasingly popular due to their environmental benefits. They produce zero emissions, which makes them a more environmentally friendly option than gas-powered boats. 

Looking to buy an electric boat? You’re not alone! Sales of electric boats are on the rise, as more and more people are looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact.

Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know.

What Are Electric Boats and How Do They Work?

What are electric boats and how do they work

Simply put, electric boats are vessels that use an electric engine powered by a battery, instead of a gas-powered combustion engine. They come in a variety of models. These models range from fishing skiffs to leisure cruisers to luxury yachts.

Some things to know about electric powerboats:

Battery Power:

  • The batteries, usually lithium-ion, come in a variety of strengths. They are measured in kilowatts. The higher the kilowatts, the more power that can be fed to the engine.
  • The batteries need to be recharged after each use. This can be done using a regular electrical outlet.
  • Battery bank life is dependent on engine size, weight, size of the boat and what the main use of the boat is. 

Electric Propulsion Engines:

  • The electric power outboard motor is battery powered. Every 1,000w of engine power is equivalent to 3hp of traditional engine power. 
  • Minimal maintenance is required for an electric engine as there are no fluids or oils to top up.
  • The speed capability of an electric boat can range from 5 knots per hour up to 35-50 knots in the latest high-tech electric foiling yachts
  • The more battery power the boat has, the faster it will go. As battery technology develops, more powerful batteries that take up less room will lead to increased capability in electric boats. We’re already seeing this in our smartphones, tablets, computers and even pickup trucks. Compact batteries for boats are sure to follow suit!

The Pros and Cons of Electric Boating

Pros:

Pros and Cons of electric boating

  • Low noise levels: Great for wildlife watching, fishing or relaxed boating.
  • Environmentally friendly: Electric boats don’t produce any smelly emissions, C02 or nitrous oxide and there is no risk of oil leaks.
  • Instant torque: Can respond very quickly to acceleration. 
  • Low maintenance: No regular engine maintenance is required, no fluids to check and fill and winterization is not needed.
  • Low running costs: Charging overnight at regular 110v power (faster with a rapid charger) will cost just a few dollars each time.
  • Latest technology: New Wi-Fi connectivity allows owners to check power levels and start the engine using an app.

Cons:

  • Initial cost: At this time, electric boats remain more expensive than other boats. Much like electric cars though, as their share in the market grows and technology develops, prices will start to come down.
  • Range limitations: The biggest concern for many considering going electric is whether the battery will run out while on open water. Knowing the capacity of your vessel’s engine and keeping an eye on your power gauge is important. The more power your boat needs, the more battery power it will use. It will last longer on a leisurely tour than it would speeding and towing wakeboarders.
  • Charging stations required: You need to moor or trailer yachts somewhere with electrical hookups available.
  • No overnight or deep-sea excursions: No electric boat battery bank will currently last long enough for long-haul trips.


Considering an Electric Boat? Ask Yourself These Questions First

Considering an electric boat

Although still a small percentage of overall sales, the number of electric boats being developed and purchased is growing fast. Investments in this technology mean that the performance and quality is rapidly becoming equal to internal combustion engines.

Whether you are a first-time boat buyer or a current boater who wants to change to something more eco-friendly, consider these questions when looking at electric boats.

  1. How many people do you want to transport? The performance of an electric boat is affected by weight. You’ll need to consider the power required for the number of people you want to transport.
  2. Where will you keep your boat? Will you have access to a charging point or fast-charging station at your marina? Do you have room to store it at home?
  3. Where will you primarily use your electric boat? Traditionally, electric boats have been considered more suitable for calm boating on inland waterways and lakes, but newer models perform well on open water without significantly draining energy.
  4. What is your budget? Electric boats do still tend to cost more than a traditional gas engine boat. You need to factor in insurance costs, safety equipment, and storage or trailer. However, electric boats require very minimal maintenance in comparison and have substantially lower running costs.

Ultimately, consider what you want to do with your boat. Are you looking for a leisurely lake cruiser, a fishing trip vessel or a powerboat for watersports? There are electric boat options that are able to do all these things, but make sure you choose one with adequate battery power, top speed and top range for your requirements.

Not Quite Ready to Commit to an Electric Boat?

If you’re not quite ready to go fully electric, there are some hybrid models on the market, which include a gas combustion engine that is used as a backup or to power up the batteries while in motion.

If you already own a yacht or other vessel and don’t want to get a brand new one, you can also consider electric outboard engine replacement. A great option for a renovation or instead of expensive maintenance. 

Let Van Isle Marina Find You the Perfect Electric Boat

With so many electric options on the market now, choosing the right one is a big decision. The Yacht Sales team at Van Isle Marina will be happy to help you navigate the choices and find a solution that fits your budget and needs.

At our full-service marina, located in Sidney, BC, electric boat owners can access metered electrical supply in both our marina slips and our yacht park, making for convenient battery recharging.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about purchasing or storing an electric boat at Van Isle Marina.

West Coast Yacht Systems