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electric azipod propeller drive

New member thinking of buying and wonder if there are any boats out there that are electric direct drive via azipod propellers off battery/direct generator drives i.e. a diesel driving a generator supplying the motor drive [as seen in the P&O ship Arcadia} - thinking this may be the future - or not

Asked by: bill goad  | 8.31pm, Tuesday 19 March

WW says:

There are commercial systems that use generators to drive shaft drive installations already- pods themselves might not be the answer, unless access can be made to clear them via a weed hatch like a conventional drive.
Hybrid direct and indirect drive systems, with or without battery systems have been fitted successfully to inland craft as well. With all these items, the main stumbling block is cost- they do work out far more expensive than conventional diesel-shaft drive systems (or outboards on smaller craft).

Mark Langley  | 9.04PM, Tuesday 19 March

Most boats do have weedhatches- well, narrowboats and most widebeams at least... however some of the "yacht" commercial pod drive designs would not easily allow a weedhatch to be fitted- whereas others do (and are) fitted quite successfully.
For a boat at current... if you have the money to spend, then fitting an electric drive with a diesel generator is quite easy- you might also consider a large battery bank to allow quiet cruising in lock use, where you would not have to use the generator for short prop bursts.
A hydrid system- such as the Beta Marine system- which is a combined direct-drive diesel engine and motor-generator is available off-the-shelf.
The Thames and Electric Launch Company are also electric drive specialists and are worth discussing with. They are now distributing the Aquamot range of pod drives and this could easily be adapted to a combined generator-drive system.
As for resale value, the boat market is still quite conservative in its valuing of boats and that, currently conventional, well-installed direct drive diesel engines tend to be favoured, as people are not that confident in electric drive. This is especially true where (expensive) battery banks may be involved.
However, this should not put you off investigating- at the Crick boat show, you would be able to speak to engine manufacturers about their systems, and see how cost-effective they are.
The most important part of a boat, after the quality and design of the shell, is the engine and drive system. However, if you put a drive system into a boat, it is worth ensuring that it can be changed should it not perform as expected, for a more conventional system. Also, if you skimp on the quality of the shell or have a design that does not fit the markets perceived acceptability, you may find that the boat depreciates significantly more than a "conventional" boat.
Do let us know how you get on! It is also worth exploring those boats that have such systems fitted- most are very happy to show people over and discuss them with people.

Mark Langley  | 5.04PM, Wednesday 20 March

Readers say:

I believe most boats have weed hatches to clean the prop and shaft so can you identify a commercial system via the internet and indirect drive manufacturers or is the disel direct drive the best option

bill goad  | 4.10PM, Wednesday 20 March

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