Once a fanciful dream, electric boats are now a reality and gaining in popularity. Electric boats are lower maintenance, less costly to run, have a silent motor with no exhaust, and are eco-friendly. However, many boat owners are hesitant when it comes to switching to battery power.
Boatline asked our social media followers for their top concerns about choosing an electric boat. We’ve previously written about shoppers’ number one worry, which was about how electric boats mix water and electricity. Today we’re talking about marine enthusiasts’ second biggest apprehension, which was the battery range of electric boats and the potential for being stranded out on the water.
We get it. While it’s frustrating if you run out of gas while you’re day cruising in your bowrider, a spare can of gas can get you back to shore. That won’t help with an electric boat, and typically there aren’t any charging stations on the water. So how do you make sure you don’t run out of power? Boatline breaks down how to make the most of your range plus three tips for extending it.
Know Your Maximum Range Before You Head Out
It may seem obvious, but understanding how far you can go and at what speed to get the maximum range from your boat is crucial. The range of your boat depends on many factors, including usage, hull type, battery capacity, and speed. An electric boat at cruising speed typically lands in the 30-50 nautical mile range, whereas a 27-foot-long gasoline-powered day craft may get 125 miles, depending on conditions. While the distance an electric boat can travel is lower than a gas-powered model, it’s often sufficient for an average day trip for many people. Check your owner’s manual or ask your dealer for details on your boat’s range if you are uncertain.
When you’re ready to head out on the water, don’t forget to make sure your new or used electric boat is fully charged. It may be simple to get back to shore if something happens when boating on a smaller lake, but on larger bodies of water, it becomes much more challenging.
Once you’ve determined your range and ensured you’re all charged up, use “the rule of thirds,” just like you would with a gas-powered boat. Plan to use one third of your power to head out, one third to get back, and keep one third in reserve. That will help keep you in good stead if the unexpected happens. Keep in mind that rough waters, wind, and strong currents can decrease the efficiency, so adjust for that as necessary.
Tips for Extending Your Electric Boat’s Range
1. Plan Your Route
If you intend to take a longer trip, plan your route with charging stations in mind. Look for marinas along the way that offer power. While high speed charging is possible at some marinas, keep in mind that a 120V station can take up to ten hours to fully recharge your battery. No matter the length of your trip, make sure you let people know where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
2. Watch Your Speed
Electric boats can accelerate quickly to high speed because there’s no transmission; some call it ‘instant torque’. Running at performance speed can swiftly drain your battery, so watch your pace. Reserve power by running at the most economical cruising speed you can. Watch your screen to keep an eye on the battery level and estimated amount of range left.
3. Consider Adding Solar Panels
If you’re looking for another sustainable way to add some backup power, consider adding solar panels to your electric boat. Harnessing the power of the sun can help keep the battery charged whether you’re cruising or at anchor.
If you’re interested in electric boats, but are uncertain about purchasing, knowing these seven benefits of electric boats might help.
Whether you’re ready to buy an electric boat, one that’s gas powered, or even a hybrid boat, you can find a nationwide inventory of new and used watercraft on Boatline.com
By Janelle Baldwin