Electric motors solve a lot of common issues that boaters face. They are cleaner, quieter, more reliable and require less maintenance. They are, however, functionally and practically a bit different than a standard gas engine.
The primary difference, from a day to day usage perspective, is power. This is obvious of course, but it is important to always remember to keep power at the top of your mind to make sure you have power when you need it.
Here are 3 tips that will help you manage your power usage.
Consider wind/waves/current in your range estimates
The Torqeedo motors do an excellent job predicting how far you can go given your current power consumption. The integrated LCD (or TorqTrac) provides real-time updates on your remaining capacity and distance. With my old Minn Kota trolling motor I was never confident enough to go any distance exploring in my dinghy because I had no accurate way of knowing how much battery capacity remained.
However, even with a handy integrated display, it is still important to think ahead about your consumption. Are you facing a strong headwind or current on the way home? What is the tide schedule? Is it going to be turning against you? Is there building waves?
When I am exploring with my Torqeedo 1003 on my RIB I usually cruise at around 3 knots, for a reasonable compromise of distance vs speed. It is not uncommon for river currents, or tides, to reach 3 knots or more. So, if you are fighting this current, you are going to be using a lot more power. Similarly, if you are fighting into larger waves they will slow you down and use more power.
Plan you charging
There are several ways that you can charge your batteries, including:
Each of these has its benefits. Regardless, you need to keep in mind when you will have access to the power and for how long.
How long will you be connected to shore power? It can take 5 or more hours to charge your batteries. What is the sun forecast for the day? Will you have enough sunlight on your panel to charge your battery enough? If you are charging from your main banks, do you want to run your engine/generator to keep that supply available?
Use the answers to these questions to guide you on how much power you should be using in your Torqeedo vs when you will be able to top up. For example, when cruising for more than a few days, I try to always charge my Torqeedo while I am motoring.
Watch your speed
This is an easy one. Watch your speed. It's always fun to go fast, but it has a huge impact on your range. For example, in my dinghy, I can go 3 knots at approximately 200W of power consumption. If I bump that to 3 1/2 knots my usage jumps to 400 W and at 4 knots it jumps to 800W.
Are you just doing a short trip out to your boat for a Wednesday night race? Open 'er up!