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Electric Boat

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Boat pic 1

My first solar electric boat came from an old faded blue 20 foot Gruman aluminum canoe.  The boat was slow in the water and noisy.  By adding some photovoltaic panels, batteries and an electric trolling motor it became quiet and fun water transportation.  A combination battery box and seat along with new paint made it look okay too and gave it the name Teal.

Teal is a canoe and the PV panels raised the center of gravity making the boat a little more tippy.  People who know how to handle canoes have no trouble, but Teal is not a freight boat.

I came across two 14 foot aluminum outboard boats that had been in the rental trade for many years.  They were heeded for recycling because of leaking rivets and dents so I got them for a good price.  They were designed for planing with a moderate horsepower gasoline engine.  I needed a displacement hull pointed at Elec boat 2both ends, like canoes and most sailboats.

Using a circular saw with a carbide tipped blade, I cut the transoms off both boats at slightly different distances from the transom.  The asymmetry allowed one bow end to slide inside the other bow end making a 20 foot double ended boat.  Pop rivets mechanically joined the hulls and Gorilla glue sealed the joint.  Structural strength came by overlapping the gunnels and three keels and adding a marine plywood frame for torsional strength.  The battery box and seatback provided seating for 4 with 4 other seats available from the original boats.

This boat got more PV panels, more battery and a larger electric trolling motor as well as new paint.  It has been up the Hudson River 4 locks from Troy and out the Erie Canal to Utica.  It is now called Sirius Sun and is currently a fun and freight boat on an Adirondack Lake.

The two boats proved the concept and serviceability for my use. However, neither boat has a good, efficient, hull shape and neither can comfortably carry 4x8 sheets of plywood, for example.  My son suggested a specific boat design which I had lofted with 50% more stability for the photovoltaic roof.  So I have started a multi-year project to build Sol, a 25 foot wooden boat, designed to be solar electric, and able to carry heavy loads of people and freight including 4x8 plywood.



       Boat Table



     Boat                        Teal       Sun     Sol

Hull (ft) material        20 AL   20 AL   25 Wood

PV (Watts)                   250      600      1200

System Volts                12        12        24

Battery (AH)                300      400      400

Motor (Watts)              360      600      2000

Note: 1000 W will get Sol close to hull speed, 5.5 knots (about 6.3 MPH).

Comments on "Electric Boat"

  1. Dan Gibson's avatar Dan Gibson October 04, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Very interesting article David. On a sunny day, do the panels keep up with the motor? Can you send a picture of Sol? Thanks for sharing. Dan

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  1. David Borton's avatar Howard Stoner September 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm


    It looks like you connected the sterns rather than the bows together.