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Experience with electric repower? Elco vs Electric Yacht vs?

Nov 30, 2019
2
Catalina 30 Mk II Alameda
Anyone have experience repowering a catalina 30 mk II with an electric engine?

Recommendations / pitfalls around which brand to use or other elements of installation? Where did you mount throttle etc.

Practical range (and batter bank size / type?)

Looking pretty seriously at this. Would love to hear from someone else with same boat whose gone through it first.
 
Oct 22, 2014
12,095
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
@sfbaycatalina30 I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in the past 5 years I have not heard of a single electrical repowering of a Catalina 30.

There have been a few folk and at least one YouTube couple who repowered their sailboat with an electric motor.

On the good side you will dump a lot of dead weight in the motor, but you may change the CG of your boat. You will then need to add batteries to provide power, and you will need to consider how you will recharge the batteries, as you will be losing a fossil fueled alternator.

On a positive note you have "Sails". These are wind driven and if used they are a very ecologically positive way to move your boat from one place to another. If the power source is not available, then as in times gone by, one waits until the wind returns. This has the way of reducing stress of a hectic progressive industrial world and allowing the participants to smell the roses or salty air.

I wish you all the best in your endeavor. You will likely be on the cutting edge of sail boat powering. Please share your discoveries with us.
 

TomY

Alden Forum Moderator
Jun 22, 2004
2,260
Alden 38' Challenger yawl Rockport Harbor
Anyone have experience repowering a catalina 30 mk II with an electric engine?

Recommendations / pitfalls around which brand to use or other elements of installation? Where did you mount throttle etc.

Practical range (and batter bank size / type?)

Looking pretty seriously at this. Would love to hear from someone else with same boat whose gone through it first.
A quick look turned up 3 Catalina 30 conversions on Youtube. There seems to be quite a few Cat 30's that have done it already so it should be easy to get your answers. Good luck!

 

Johnb

.
Jan 22, 2008
1,155
Hunter 37-cutter Richmond CA
This is a topic which has had considerable discussion in previous threads. In general the folks who actually know what they are talking about (and quote real numbers) are sceptical about electric power and the dreamers think it is a good idea.

If you sailed on Tahoe then go ahead. Out of Alameda you need to be realistic about the capabilities you need to:
1 Venture out on San Francisco Bay with the honking tidal currents, large vessel traffic and fog
2 Enjoy being able to go to all the destinations available, including Napa, San Rafael, and the Delta (all the way to Stockton and Sacramento and places in between), and get back on your own schedule.

Your boat, your choice, good luck.
 
May 24, 2004
6,194
CC 30 South Florida
I waited to purchase a microwave oven for about 10 years after they were out to make sure they got all the kinks out. I would not consider being one of the first to experiment with electric repowers.
 
Nov 30, 2019
2
Catalina 30 Mk II Alameda
I wish you all the best in your endeavor. You will likely be on the cutting edge of sail boat powering. Please share your discoveries with us.
I will share as I go.

I put inquires into Elco and Electric Yacht and looked into oceanvolt.

* I got an immediate response from Electric Yacht, including totally open discussion around costs. That's a positive for them!
* I haven't heard back from Elco (email and phone message) after 5 days.

Based on prelim discussions the three big costs are motor, batteries and installation. The install is not to be underestimated as it may require cabinetry and other work to build out battery boxes, remove diesel tanks, remove old engine etc.

* Electric Yacht I like for responsiveness and my sense is price will be at the lower end. The motors fit into existing location is a question for me height wise.

* Elco I like the look of their system but if you can't talk to anyone about it no good.

* Oceanvolt seems like they have a slick system, will be interested in price to the US (it's a Euro system). Feels like it might be on higher end.

Next steps:

* I'll be getting more detailed quotes from Electric Yacht and getting a quote from Oceanvolt. I'll see if there are any others I should get quotes from (feel free to suggest them). If Elco ever gets back to me I'll see what their quote is.
* Decision my side on li-ion batteries vs AGM.
* Put range lines from home port on my chart on wall to be able to judge range a bit more easily.
* Check out links to videos posted here.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,188
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
In my experience the estimates from EP conversion companies are rather often overly optimistic and very often use "fuzzy math" or incomplete math..

The vast majority of the owners who contact us for an EP consult want no ICE engines what so ever, including generators of any kind. The hatred for the Honda/Yamaha etc. generators is usually beyond that of diesel, for most owners, that we talk to about an EP conversion. This means your system will need to be designed, built and exxcuted in a manner that gives you reliability and the range you need for your use. Regen, solar or wind, won't cut it for propulsion needs unless you have lots of time to wait for the bank to recharge.

A few years ago we shared a booth with an EP company at a trade show. I was horrified at the utter disregard for Ohm's law, Peukert and the sheer reality disconnect that spewed forth to potential customers about range and the abilities of solar, wind etc... To say I was horrified at the marketing messages was an understatement. Bad marketing and less than honest math is what gives EP the bad rap...

Most owners we talk to and consult for (using real math not marketing math) are really dreamers who have some rather unrealistic expectations of EP. Weight savings being one of these often unrealistic expectations. Speed gains from the "weight savings" are another. Unless those expectations become more realistic, and they are willing to consider things such as ICE, as a supplement, the realities are constrained if you expect range. In other words EP needs to fit in your "box" of how you will use the boat.

The first question we ask most of these customers is:

"How long does your current house bank of batteries last you?"

They are usually surprised by this question, and confused. Most are answering "Three to four years"... If an owner can't manage a house bank to last more than 3-4 years, they are typically going to have trouble managing an EP bank.

One consult we did was a guy with a 32 footer who wanted to be able to continue his annual 3 week cruise in Maine. He uses 80-100Ah each day, on the 12V house bank side alone. He was is already chronically undercharging it getting just 2-3 years from a bank.. He was expecting a range of 30nm on the EP side day one then 15nm each day there after all supplied by wind and solar on a flooded lead acid bank.

He was 100% resistant to any form of ICE and had the room for two wind gens and about 400W of solar to share between both banks. Wind generation in Maine simply does not perform, in our protected anchorages, except in the tail seasons or for the occasional windy day.. His desires for EP were simply unrealistic, without ICE, in order to continue how he had already been using the boat and how he expected to continue using it. When we did the real math his desires vs. reality were not even close to a reality. He just wanted the silence and to be "greener". When I suggested a small DC or AC gen set or aa Honda the guy literally went bonkers. Expectations vs. reality need to work in concert...


Don't get me wrong I am definitely a contrarian. I took the leap to LiFePO4, our LiFePO4 bank is now 10.5 years old. Just because LiFePo4 it works for me does not mean it will work for everyone and we went into this with multiple years of research before even considering the switch..

Sadly, in my experience, the EP market needs to:

-Stop misleading customers
-Learn to do real math
-Follow by Ohm's law
-Adopt better battery technologies
-Understand batteries & battery technology
-Be honest about range
-Be honest about solar, wind and hydro in their daily abilities
-Learn to say "This is not the right fit for you right now"

EP does work if the owners expectations and the EP systems capabilities mesh and fit into a well defined box.

The image below is a prime example of where salesmanship, lack of real math, owner desires and reality failed to be in agreement.

This owner built a gorgeous brand new small wood day sailor (huge $$$ BTW). They wanted EP and EP should meet the desires of the day sailor, right?

In this case the actual use of the system, wind died on an outgoing tide, failed to meet the owners expectations based upon what they had been "sold"...

This photo is of the actual boat tied to an active "working dock" after being towed in in order to recharge the EP bank. It was there, utilizing dock space not intended for this, for 24 hours while recharging (see extension cords). Here in Maine we don't have many marinas and our docks are not intended for tying along side for longer than filling with water or getting fuel or ice. To spend 24 hours at a "working dock" is simply not being courteous to the dock owner or fellow boaters.. Sadly this owner had been sold an EP system that failed to perform to the marketing they were sold on. When I asked the owner about the possibility of using a larger charger and carrying a small Honda I got the evil death stare, as if I had just suggested the world was flat...

Please use real math, don't try to reinvent Ohm's law or Peukert and be realistic in your expectations..



Batteries for EP:

When comparing LiFePO4 vs. lead we need to remember that an LFP battery cell is usually rated at a 1C discharge for its Ah capacity. This means:

A 100Ah LFP battery can be discharged at 1C or 100A (1X Ah rating) and still deliver 100Ah this is a major leap for high current EP use.

A 100Ah high performance AGM battery, when discharged at 1C or 100A will only deliver about 62Ah's this is a 38Ah deficit to an LFP bank

A 100Ah deep cycle flooded battery discharged at 1C or 100A will only deliver about 47Ah's this is a -53Ah deficit to LFP.

This is called Peukert.

In other words;

The only way to get 100Ah out of a 100Ah rated lead acid battery is at a 5A discharge rate, this is called the 20 hour rating.. EP systems draw multiples the 20 hour rating thus you can't get 100Ah's out of a 100Ah lead acid battery when running an EP system.....

On the flip side, you can get 100Ah out of a 100Ah LFP battery at a 100A discharge rate.

Comparing lead acid to LFP based on Ah's or kWh's alone is like racing a Westsail 32 against and Open 60 with no handicap rating system, in other words unfair.

This was a direct quote of an EP user who was grossly mislead:

"I did do a short trip today. At 69.8 amps straight in to a 7 mph wind turning 1580 rpm she did 3.8 mph for about 1 hour."

His bank was 6V GC2 batteries for a 48V bank at 225 Ah's.. If we do the real math on this:

A 225Ah (at the 20 hour rate) 48V bank with a Peukert of about 1.30 yields a battery that is only capable of 130Ah's from 100% SOC to 0% SOC.... We only want to discharge to 50% SOC for useful cycle life so a 1 hour run at 69.8A had already consumed more than half the capacity of the battery. he was led to believe that he had 225 Ah's of capacity and he did not.

My point is that usable kWh or Ah is not the same when trying to A/B LiFePO4 & lead. A lead acid battery of the same kWh/Ah capacity will not deliver the same usable capacity as an LFP battery because the 225Ah battery is rated at an 11.25A load and not at a 69.8A load.

As we increase the load on lead acid the battery gets smaller. It only meets that rating at the 20 hour rate. High discharge rates on LiFePO4 do not impact the energy it can deliver like it does with lead acid.

I could write a lot more but best to just say BE SURE you are getting real math information when discussing EP systems!!
 
Nov 18, 2010
2,366
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
I will share as I go.

I put inquires into Elco and Electric Yacht and looked into oceanvolt.

* I got an immediate response from Electric Yacht, including totally open discussion around costs. That's a positive for them!
* I haven't heard back from Elco (email and phone message) after 5 days.

Based on prelim discussions the three big costs are motor, batteries and installation. The install is not to be underestimated as it may require cabinetry and other work to build out battery boxes, remove diesel tanks, remove old engine etc.

* Electric Yacht I like for responsiveness and my sense is price will be at the lower end. The motors fit into existing location is a question for me height wise.

* Elco I like the look of their system but if you can't talk to anyone about it no good.

* Oceanvolt seems like they have a slick system, will be interested in price to the US (it's a Euro system). Feels like it might be on higher end.

Next steps:

* I'll be getting more detailed quotes from Electric Yacht and getting a quote from Oceanvolt. I'll see if there are any others I should get quotes from (feel free to suggest them). If Elco ever gets back to me I'll see what their quote is.
* Decision my side on li-ion batteries vs AGM.
* Put range lines from home port on my chart on wall to be able to judge range a bit more easily.
* Check out links to videos posted here.
Sailing Uma had a discussion that included themselves and two other boats that had converted to electric. The consensus was that electric doesn't replace a diesel engine, it replaced a skulling oar. Uma has roughly $20,000 of lithium batteries (Battleborn, so more expensive than DIY and some other issues). With that they can motor at 5 knots for 3.5 hours, and with two large solar panels (350 watts each I believe) it would take them close to a week to replenish. Before getting the lithium they went through 2 or 3 banks of lead acid golf cart batteries in 2 years.

It's a great concept. But at this stage it's very limited by battery density and high electric demand. If you keep your boat on a mooring, only have to motor for a few short minutes to pick it up and have lots of solar (over 500 watts) it could be ok. But the motor and batteries will likely cost you more than a rebuilt diesel.

Also, it will devalue your boat. Your resale value will probably be halfed on a C30.

Good luck,

Jesse
 
  • Like
Likes: The Garbone
Apr 8, 2011
190
Hunter 36 Deale, MD
Speaking of math (which usually makes my head hurt), this post got me wondering about a relatively simple question: How much diesel/gasoline/aH energy does it take to push my boat for 1 hour at 6 knots?

Here's my initial calculations which may/may not be accurate in the Ah section, so I'd appreciate counterpoints:

Assumptions (from internet searches):
- Diesel: 147,000 BTU/gal
- Gasoline: 125,000 BTU/gal
- Electricity: 1 watt = 3.412 BTU/hr; Ah = watts/volts (48 in this case)
- 1 hr @ 3,000 RPM burns .7 gals diesel (average figure over 1 year for my boat)

Calculations (to compare gallons of diesel, gasoline, and Ah):
- Diesel: .7 gals x 147,000 BTU/gal = 102,900 BTUs
- Gasoline: 102,900 BTUs / 125,000 BTU/gal = .82 gals
- Electricity: 102,900 BTUs / 3.412 = 30,157 watts (628 Ah - or 360Ah based on SycloneDriver's efficiency calculation)

EDIT: Changed electricity volts from 12 to 48; recalculated Ah used from 2,513 to 628) based on JK_Boston_Catalina310 input). Also added SycloneDriver's efficiency calculation as an alternative electric Ah expenditure)

The aH figure feels pretty high. Curious how others would figure this - and am thinking its probably not this simple. Math is not my strongpoint, so no offense taken at corrections!
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Jan 5, 2017
1,689
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
I was hauled out at Westport a couple of weeks ago. The fellow next to me was pulling the electric motor etc out of his 35' boat and putting a Beta 30 in. According to him the electric had very limited range and lacked power to deal with the tides and currents in our area. Not sure that the tec. has reached our hobby yet.
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Nov 18, 2010
2,366
Catalina 310 Hingham, MA
Speaking of math (which usually makes my head hurt), this post got me wondering about a relatively simple question: How much diesel/gasoline/aH energy does it take to push my boat for 1 hour at 6 knots?

Here's my initial calculations which may/may not be accurate in the Ah section, so I'd appreciate counterpoints:

Assumptions (from internet searches):
- Diesel: 147,000 BTU/gal
- Gasoline: 125,000 BTU/gal
- Electricity: 1 watt = 3.412 BTU/hr; Ah = watts/volts (12 in this case)
- 1 hr @ 3,000 RPM burns .7 gals diesel (average figure over 1 year for my boat)

Calculations (to compare gallons of diesel, gasoline, and Ah):
- Diesel: .7 gals x 147,000 BTU/gal = 102,900 BTUs
- Gasoline: 102,900 BTUs / 125,000 BTU/gal = .82 gals
- Electricity: 102,900 BTUs / 3.412 = 30,157 watts (2,513 Ah)

The aH figure feels pretty high. Curious how others would figure this - and am thinking its probably not this simple. Math is not my strongpoint, so no offense taken at corrections!
Most electric motors run at 48 volts. So That would be 628 Ah by your math. But something is still off in your calculations.
 
Feb 2, 2014
22
Catalina 30 mkII Pasadena, MD
tfox2069 what is missing is the efficiency of each engine/motor. Your calculation assumes that the efficiency of a gasoline engine and an electric motor are the same as your diesel engine, meaning the same BTU quantity of fuel (diesel, gas and electricity) would produce the same amount of power at the shaft. I would think a gasoline engine's efficiency (BTU of the fuel consumed compare the the BTU out the shaft) would be pretty close to a diesel engine, so those numbers look good enough. Electric motors are very different from internal combustion engines. Here is an article about electric car efficiency:

All-Electric Vehicles

Key quot:
"Energy efficient. EVs convert about 59%–62% of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 17%–21% of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels."

So 59% to 62% of the power you put into your batteries (not just the power from your batteries), assuming you use the same battery and electric motor technology as electric cars. At least this should give you an idea of what level of efficiency you can expect from an electric motor.
 
Jul 23, 2009
322
none 0 Grand Lake, Oklahoma
A little bit of quick math with a plug in hybrid car, a Fusion Enerigi (I used to own a 2014), yields:

Running on electricity 0.5kw per mile = 1710 BTU per mile.
Running on gasoline @ 42mpg = 2976 BTU per mile.

These numbers are from memory and I cannot guarantee accuracy. But the numbers suggest that an electric motor is more efficient than an ICE, and we know this true. It seems possible that when applied to a boat the BTU per mile might be near double when using electric propulsion vs ICE.

It seem that there are several reasons that people want to convert to electric:
1. They hate their diesel.
2. They want to go green.
3. They need a good project to keep them busy.
4. I'm sure there are many other reasons.

# 1. "I hate my diesel". I knew a boater that wanted to convert to electric because he hated his Yanmar. I think his biggest issue was that he didn't understand how to service it. He also had difficulty starting it when it was cold. I think he just needed to rewire his glow plugs. In my opinion what he really needed was to educate himself and fix his diesel. He never did convert.

I know a couple that has a failed OMC saildrive. They want to convert but are still in the research stage. They have mounted an outboard for the time being. Probably never will convert.

#2. I just don't know.

#3. I understand this one. Do the math. Do the research. Be realistic. Have fun.

OP why do you want to convert?
 
Last edited:
Apr 8, 2011
190
Hunter 36 Deale, MD
tfox2069 what is missing is the efficiency of each engine/motor. Your calculation assumes that the efficiency of a gasoline engine and an electric motor are the same as your diesel engine, meaning the same BTU quantity of fuel (diesel, gas and electricity) would produce the same amount of power at the shaft. I would think a gasoline engine's efficiency (BTU of the fuel consumed compare the the BTU out the shaft) would be pretty close to a diesel engine, so those numbers look good enough.
EXCELLENT point.
 
Mar 10, 2018
4
Catalina C30 Mandeville, Louisiana
Anyone have experience repowering a catalina 30 mk II with an electric engine?

Recommendations / pitfalls around which brand to use or other elements of installation? Where did you mount throttle etc.

Practical range (and batter bank size / type?)

Looking pretty seriously at this. Would love to hear from someone else with same boat whose gone through it first.
I am currently repowering a 1983 30’ Catalina with Electric Yacht. Universal 5411 gone and fuel tank about to go. I found that the motor mount stringers are quite a bit further apart than the electric engine mounts. I need to build inner supports for the mounts in the bilge. My email is rickbruce5@yahoo.com. Have you proceeded any further with yours. I will be glad to trade any information. The motor I bought was the sport model for about $5500. I am planning to use golf cart batteries to start.