Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Eight years after I installed electric propulsion in BIANKA I have never looked back or regretted it. It has reduced maintenance and cost close to zero so that I can concentrate on other things like refinishing the galley area and on deck  brightwork. Still I do try and keep an eye on all things involving electric propulsion. I came across this article today involving electric propulsion drive train in trucks. Some quotes that stood out to me:

"Twelve years ago, Ian Wright and some fellow engineers launched Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley company that has helped jumpstart the market for electric cars. Now, the Tesla co-founder wants to electrify noisy, gas-guzzling trucks that deliver packages, haul garbage and make frequent stops on city streets."

A noisy garbage truck with brakes squealing in early mornings while making frequent stops collecting trash may be a thing of the past. Having the ability for repetitive regenerative braking makes a lot of sense for such a vehicle. As does regen on boats like BIANKA. Helping to recharge the batteries while doing something useful and the high torque availability makes sense too!

"A truck with a Wrightspeed powertrain can run on batteries for about 30 miles before the turbine, which runs on diesel or natural gas, kicks in and recharges the battery. The system roughly doubles the fuel efficiency of trucks and reduces the cost of maintenance"

This is pretty much the same technique I use on BIANKA and it has worked well for the past eight years and the maintenance costs for the boat has dropped precipitously. Good to see these ideas starting to make their way back on land too.


Howard White said...

I am considering going electric on my 36 Ericsson. I am interested In your range. After all these years on your boat. What are your thoughts. I live on the east coast of Fl. I would like to cruise up the coast. I was thinking I would need 600 amp hrs. For house batteries and propulsion

Capt. Mike said...

Howard my system was spec'd at 20 miles at 4 knots. But, it is a sailboat and that's how I prefer to propel it. So I tend to always have the sail up and use EP when needed. Though I have gone 40 miles under electric propulsion alone using a combination of battery and operating in "hybrid" mode using a small Honda 2000 generator:

As far amp hour capacity it's tough for me to judge as I don't know your usage patterns. On my boat I have two group 27 Gel batteries (174 amp hours) and my propulsion bank is 4 8A4D batteries in series (210 amp hours). This has worked for me for the past eight years. I also have solar and a wind turbine helping to keep things charged up.

Howard White said...

Capt mike
So have you kept your banks separate? I have 270 watts of solar and the same generator you have. Have you heard anything about the other kits out there? I found a 10kw motor kit with about everything you need for around $3000. Would you still recommend electric? I am not in a hurry and would definitely prefer to sail as well. I appreciate your thoughts and I am very excited about the thought of getting that stinky troublesome westerbeke out of my SAILBOAT.

Capt. Mike said...

I have two separate systems because I don't like having everything in one basket on board. The 12 volt House bank was already on the boat so I just left it as is. My thinking was if something where to happen to the EP battery bank I would still have use of VHF radios, Chartplotter etc... Though when I am at anchor while cruising I will tap into the EP house bank to run my 48 volt inverter to operate 120 volt appliances. It's nice having two separate banks to tap into as needed.
I can only vouch for my Thoosa 9000 system which was a turn key system which included all the parts for my EP system. I hired a yacht fitter to do some of the stringer extension fiberglass work to fit the motor bracket. But, did the rest of the install myself. I am very happy with it and it has been pretty much trouble free for eight years. I would never go back to having a diesel engine on board.