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Electric vs. Burners on the water - are electric boat engines worthwhile?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of electric motors and combustion engines for you?

We give you a brief overview of the similarities and differences between electric boat engines and internal combustion engines. What are the advantages of the electric motor on the boat? We hope you enjoy reading! Please write to us with your questions and suggestions about the article.

Similarities between electric and combustion engines

What does the speed of the boat depend on?

Outboard and inboard are the most common types of engines. Bow motors are often used by anglers for short distances. Sailing boats and sailing yachts, on the other hand, are often operated by a flange motor, saildrive or underfloor motor.

What does the speed of the boat depend on?

We could just make it easy for ourselves Please follow the manufacturer's instructions when assembling! You should definitely pay attention to this. We don't want you to hurt your boat, your new engine or, in the worst case, yourself!

Energy consumption of the electric motor and combustion engine on the boat?

You need suitable equipment for the assembly, depending on the size and weight of your engine. If you make gross mistakes in assembly, you risk seriously damaging your boat. Our tip: Find a boat builder in good time before the start of the season so that you can quickly bring the boat into the water in spring to take the first electric tour.

How the electric motor and combustion engine work

Outboards are particularly widespread in smaller boats and inflatable boats up to 15 HP and are of course also used in larger pleasure boats or houseboats. The components of the electric motor, driveshaft and possibly the gearbox of the motor are installed in one housing. It can be operated on the boat engine using a tiller or steering wheel and remote throttle.

Installation of the boat engines

The installation of the engine on your boat looks the same in any case. An electric outboard is mounted just like a petrol outboard. The same applies, of course, to the other engine types, regardless of whether flange engine, inboard or sail drive. If you have specific questions about installation, take a look at our article on the various electric motors.

Differences between electric and combustion engines

Is an electric boat motor worthwhile for my boat?

An outboard is easily installed on the engine mirror, which is located at the stern of the boat. It is attached using clamping screws or bolts. Depending on the weight of the engine, this is easy, especially for engines under 11kW (15PS) and can usually be carried out by the layperson.

The advantages of an electric motor in boats

The advantages of the electric motor compared to vehicles with an internal combustion engine are many. In our view, the electric motor has many advantages, but it is not always 100% suitable. There are also some challenges that electric motors pose. We will show you how you can easily eliminate these supposed disadvantages with our help.

  • Electric motors are significantly quieter or completely silent
  • Emission-free, no unpleasant smell
  • Running costs significantly cheaper!
  • Environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable
  • Future-proof: No fear of driving bans on the water
  • Maintenance-free: less effort
  • Greater safety on board
  • Efficiency and acceleration are higher
  • Handling and operation are easier
  • High flexibility: electricity onboard and in port

1. The volume of an electric motor

A wave position consists of a motor that is permanently installed in the hull of the boat. The engine drives a rigid shaft to which a propeller is attached. The operation takes place via remote throttle and the control takes over a rudder, which is attached behind the propeller and is controlled with a steering wheel.

The assembly is more complex than with an outboard and should usually be carried out by an expert. The boat should also be lifted out of the water, which may require a crane. The existing shaft system can usually continue to be used. The inboard engine is firmly installed in the hull of the boat.

  • the engine must be loud and stink
  • do I get a speaker for the engine sound?
  • Electric? Then I have to talk to others ...

2. Emission-free and a clean affair

The structure of a bow motor is very similar to that of an outboard motor, but they are characterized by their low weight. However, it is mounted on the bow and thus rather pulls the boat. It can be operated using a tiller or, thanks to remote throttle, with hand or foot control.

3. No maintenance costs and cheap operation!

Bow motors are installed on the bow of the boat and pull the boat as the only one of the different motor types. This improves maneuverability. Bow motors are often used for fishing because both hands are free thanks to pedal control. Due to the lower thrust, bow engines are not recommended for a heavier boat.

Amortization: when is an electric motor cheaper?

There are sometimes autopilots for driving routes or a GPS spot lock, in which the bow motor automatically holds the boat in the same place. For anglers, an integrated sonar can be connected to an echo sounder. Automatic lowering and catching up of the engine at the push of a button is also possible.

4. Environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable

The installation takes place directly on the boat or on a mounting plate, which is firmly connected to the boat. A mounting plate has the advantage that you can quickly assemble and disassemble the motor. If you don't want to keep the engine permanently on the boat, this makes a lot of sense. The assembly is not complex and can easily be carried out by yourself.

When purchasing a bow motor, you should always pay attention to the correct shaft length! In our article "In 4 steps to the perfect electric drive" you will find the right shaft length for your boat.

5. No driving bans for electric boats

The drive consists of a compact and watertight housing in which the motor is integrated. It is flanged to the bottom of the boat and is not rotatable. It is operated using the remote throttle and the steering is carried out by an oar attached to the stern of the boat. A pod motor is controlled by means of a steering wheel and control electronics, and the battery is in the boat.

A flange motor takes up very little space inside the ship since the motor is completely housed in the pod housing and no motor components protrude into the inside of the ship. Flanged motors are common on sailboats. The limited maneuverability can be a disadvantage as the motor cannot be rotated directly.

6. Maintenance-free - never stress again!


7. Higher safety on board

A saildrive is similar to a pod motor, the components of the motor protrude into the boat compared to the flange motor. There are also rotatable versions, but the standard is a fixed motor that is controlled by a rudder system. The base is laminated to the boat hull and existing bases can usually be used when purchasing an electric sail drive.

8. Better efficiency and higher acceleration

Operation takes place via a remote throttle. Rotatable sail drives can differ in the size of the maximum angle of rotation, as well as in the mechanical or electrical control. Saildrive motors are particularly popular with sailing boats. The assembly is comparable to that of a pod motor.

9. Simple operation and good handling

An underfloor motor (tubular motor) also consists of a waterproof housing with an integrated motor. The motor hangs on the rotating Henegatt pipe and goes through the hull. The structure is similar to a flange motor, only the pod can be rotated, which improves maneuverability. When installing, there are no differences compared to saildrives.

As you can see, you can also drive an electric motor faster than the police allow. However, a moderate speed is recommended for longer boat tours. In addition, of course, the speed specifications on the waters also apply, which we, of course, recommend adhering to.

10. High flexibility: electricity anytime, anywhere

Electric boat drives are operated and controlled in the same way as internal combustion engines. The most common type of operation for boat engines is remote control using the throttle and steering wheel control. If you have an existing steering wheel control on your boat, you can continue to use it without any problems.

The disadvantages of an electric motor

Are boats suitable for an electric drive?

Skepticism about electric motors is still high. We want to remove prejudices and show you the advantages. Internal combustion engines have worked well for decades. However, electric motors are technically much more efficient and the only real disadvantage at the moment is the energy supply. Electric motors require electricity and a rechargeable battery usually serves as the voltage source on the boat.

  • Energy density and range
  • Acquisition costs of electric boat engines
  • Environmental impact of battery production
  • The weight of boat batteries
  • Charging time for electric boat engines

1. Energy density and range

Similar to a motorcycle, the throttle lever is integrated into the handle in the tiller and the handle is turned to accelerate. The engine can be turned with the tiller and the boat can be steered in this way. The advantage of the tiller control is that it is cheaper and requires no additional components. You can control the motor directly.

2. Acquisition costs of electric boat engines

Depending on the model and manufacturer, the tiller is rigid, extendable or even swiveling. If the engine model has an on-board computer or a battery indicator, this is integrated into the tiller. With remote control models, this is integrated with the remote control lever, displayed on the battery monitor or even on an app on the smartphone.

The principle is the same for combustion engines and electric motors, so care should be taken to ensure that there is enough fuel for the combustion engine and that the electric motor has a sufficiently large battery.

3. Environmental impact of battery production

Absolute luxury is an autopilot control. This is only supplementary and always requires a different type of control. With an autopilot, the course is held or a route is followed, similar to an airplane. The advantage: you have both hands free and can enjoy the time on board better.

4. The weight of boat batteries

When trimming, you change the angle at which the motor shaft faces the water. With optimal trim, the boat has a very good course and side stability. The energy is completely converted into a propeller thrust. The motor is tilted in a certain direction, so to speak.

Depending on how big this inclination is, there are different angles with which the boat stands at the water surface. Engine trim is only performed on outboard and sterndrive engines by tilting the engine, as the other engine types are rigid. Trim tabs are used on the other engine types.

5. Charging time for electric boat engines

This angle varies depending on the boat, boat type and load. It cannot be generalized which trim angle is optimal. What matters is how the boat is in the water when driving and how the engine is in the water. The bow of the boat should neither protrude too far out of the water nor be completely horizontal or even point towards the water surface.

If the trim angle is too large, the bow of the boat lifts very far out of the water, especially when gliding. The result is a too bad course and side stability. It often leads to the engine drawing air, especially in curves.

If the engine is trimmed too far in the direction of the mirror, part of the propeller thrust is directed against the hull. This pushes the bow deep into the water. The consequences are that the boat loses stability and slows down because a lot of power is wasted. As a result, energy consumption is higher than normal.

Conclusion for the comparison of electric and combustion engines

With most engine models, the trim angle is set manually. There are several predefined trim positions in which the motor can be adjusted. This type of adjustment is effective and inexpensive but unsuitable for heavy engine weights. A power trim is recommended at this point.

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