Advice on Electric Outboard Motors and Trolling Motors

Advice on Electric Motor and Batteries for Canal Boat

Customer question

I'm looking for a solution for my old Steel Sloep in Amsterdam. It's 4.5 metres long (1,5 at the widest) but I have no idea how heavy it is. We have a Minn Kota Endura 55 and 2 Lead Batteries, but now we're looking for a lighter solution as the batteries weigh 23kg each and we live on the third floor so charging was problematic!

Can you advise on possible solutions that would help? I was looking at Lithium Batteries for the Minn Kota (though Minn Kota state that you should not use these with their engines), I've also been looking at Torqueedo engines and e-propulsion and I'd really like some advice on what you think would be a good solution. Our key uses and criteria are:

  • Capable of 3-4 hours 
  • Typically just two adults, though occasionally 4
  • Light to carry down the stairs and to the boat (if that's in two pieces, that's fine)
  • Doesn't have to be super fast, but occasional boost to get out of a tight spot

Any advice you can give would be gratefully received. We're in the middle of renovating the boat and hope to have it up and running again to catch the end of the season, so would hopefully be in a position to order from you in the coming weeks.

Answer

We have experienced this problem with many customers. In case they want to stick to their Minn Kota or similar motor, we recommend a Rebelcell 12v50 lithium battery or even better a Rebelcell 12v70 AV. We offer those batteries in a package with a charger. It is true that Minn Kota's mother company is not a huge fan of this practice. However, they are a rather conservative American company that is hesitant to adapt to lithium technology. The motor can handle lithium quite easily. In the first stages you just have to be careful with going full speed. Since lithium can give rather high peak voltage when the battery is full. This is not very good for the motor. If you keep this in mind, you will be fine. The Rebelcell 12v70 AV is better at resisting those high currents than the 12v50 model. Aditionally, it has more capacity and therefore a larger range. The price difference is however a few hundred euros.

Another option that is even better is a Torqeedo Travel 1003C or 1103C. This is probably the most easy to handle, plug-and-play, all-in-one solution. The entire motor with battery weighs just over 15kg (1003C model) and +/- 18kg (1103C model). Additionally, you will have a bit more power behind your boat to get out of a tight spot as you mention. The 1003C has 1kW and the 1103C has 10% more power. I would say the only slight minus of the Torqeedo 1003C is its sound. It is more noisy. The Torqeedo Travel 1103C model is almost entirely silent. The price of the latter is around 10% higher than the 1003C.

A third option is the ePropulsion. This is basically a copy of the Torqeedo. The motor is quite a bit heavier than the Torqeedo Travel 1003C. The main plus is that it is not as noisy as the Torqeedo. And it is a few hundred euros cheaper. On the other hand, the quality is clearly Chinese. The engine is not as efficient as the Torqeedo and has to compensate for that with a larger battery The ePropulsion simply does not have the experience and track record that the Torqeedo has. So unless the higher price is a huge problem for you, I would generally recommend the Torqeedo Travel.

With all options above, the 3-4 hour range is absolutely possible. With the Rebelcell battery on your Minn Kota this can be reached only if you go half speed mostly. So a second battery is another option here.

Electric outboard for 7 person canal boat

Customer question

I want to change for an electric engine and will appreciate your advice on how to size it.

Boat: Small, steel boat with a length of 4.5 m

Use: cruising in Amsterdam canals.

Max people: 7 people What will be the best size and your engine (with batteries and all, complete package) recommendation?

Answer

You will need a slighty more powerful trolling motor or an electric outboard like a Torqeedo.
A 12 volt electric motor (such as a 'fluistermotor' / trolling motor) will not suffice with 7 people on board. It will move forward, but if you have to abruptly change director or brake in the canals this will be much harder. 
 
My recommendation would be the Minn Kota Traxxis 80. This is a 24 volt motor, so it will need a 2x 12 volt battery pack. Please note that a semi-traction led battery weighs +/- 25 kg a piece. An alternative is a 24v lithium pack (much lighter, much more expensive).
 
You can find the Traxxis 80 with a few bundles with motor and battery on this page (scroll down for the set products).
 
A good alternative to the Minn Kota is  a Torqeedo Travel 1003C or 1103C. This is the electric equivalent of a 4HP engine. It has a thrust similar to the Traxxis 80, but has some fun features and a super light lithium battery built-in to the device. More info of the Travel motors, click here