Electric Outboards

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 08:15
ThreadID: 32909 Views:5711 Replies:9 FollowUps:8
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We are looking at buying a zodiac inflatable (2nd hand - around 2.6m).
Question becomes - do we go for electric or petrol outboard?
As we rarely camp in c-van parks, the recharging of a battery for an electric is the main issue. (No generator - just 2nd battery on Patrol).
Anyone been there - done that?
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Reply By: revhead307 - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 09:53

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 09:53
Hi Keith,

Personally i would go a small petrol. I like the idea of an electic motor, but as you say, if you are not going to buy a generator, charging it will become an issue. there is no fast way to recharge it, and if you are staying in one place ...then running the car for any lenght with be inefficient and slow.

from my limited knowledge of electic outboards they are best suited to calmer waters, ie rivers, estuaries etc. (you can get more expensive ones that handle saltwater) But as you get more powerful electic motors their consumption goes up considerably which affects your range and frequency of charging.

Petrols are a little more robust if you wanted to fish some inshore reefs etc (we only ever went out 2 - 3 kms max in our 12ft Ali wih 15hp.) If your vehicle is petrol, you have a fuel source...if diesel you will need to carry a gerry can.

Electrics have the benefit of being quiet. I would love one on a 3 man canoe or as a second motor on the dingy...but wouldnt use as sole motor.

my 2 cents.


AnswerID: 167109

Follow Up By: Member - Willie , Epping .Syd. - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 15:38

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 15:38
What Revhead said makes good sense - you will need a big electric to push an inflatable around in the wind .
FollowupID: 422183

Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 11:36

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 11:36

Would go for a small ? 4 stroke. Daughter's partner has a Honda 75 or 90 4stroke, and you talk over the top of it, at half revs or better. As Rev said, you are limited to still water with electric. Would be a bit ominous trying to run against an out going tide somewhere, with darkness approaching rapidly, with only a 12volt battery between you, and the elements.

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AnswerID: 167119

Follow Up By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 09:34

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2006 at 09:34
That last sentence paints a very grim picture. I was in a similar situation up on the Kimberly coast some years ago in a tinny with a dodgy diesel outboard trying to get through The Funnel before the tide changed.


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Reply By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 13:04

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 13:04

Four strokes have their
distinct benefits however on your boat your going to have to carry and mount the motor each time you use your infalatable, in addition you will need to carry it inside your vehicle.

For these reasons you do need to go two stroke.

You can lay the motor on its side with no fear of crankcase oil leaking etc:, in addition you have a weight advantage in your favour. Weight for weight the two stroke delivers more power. I believe 4 to 5Hp. would be adequate for your needs.

Contact a dealer/distributor for Zodiac who will be able to advise the recommended HPO rating for your intended purchase.

Forget Electric Trolling Motors, the motors themselves are not the problem, its lugging around the very heavy deep cycle battery that will take the edge of what should be any enjoyable outing


AnswerID: 167128

Follow Up By: Member - Willie , Epping .Syd. - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 15:40

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 15:40
Ian ,
I was told by my Merc mechanic that I could only lay my 15 hp 2 stroke on its side one way and not the other . Was he having a lend of himself ?
Willie .
FollowupID: 422184

Follow Up By: blackmax11 - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 21:01

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 21:01
You can lay your 2 stroke Merc on either side however you must ensure all the water is out of the leg. Being a two stroke the leg is the exhaust through the gearbox and prop hub , any water left in there can enter the engine powerhead if the lower end is higher than the engine end. You will note that the engine is designed to initially be laid down with the back of the engine cowl and thus the prop to the ground. The design is such that the engine will be higher than the lower end allowing any water to drain from the leg.Once dry you can lay on either side.
Even the design of the carry handle is such that the engine balance puts the engine powerhead higher than the prop when carried.
FollowupID: 422227

Follow Up By: Member - Ian W (NSW) - Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 19:39

Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 19:39
I don't believe your Dealer is taking the P3$$. I believe what he was trying to say was that you need to ensure that you don't damage the gear change lever.
My instruction manual for my 8Hp Yammie says that if the motor is to be laid down then fold the tiller handle and lay it on the tillier handle with the gear change lever upermost.


FollowupID: 422551

Follow Up By: blackmax11 - Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 20:27

Monday, Apr 17, 2006 at 20:27
Yes gear change lever is a consideration however the 15hp Merc has the gear change in the tiller control handle not on the side like your Yamaha.
There is a Merc 15hp Super (18hp in another brand) that has the side handle.
Good point.
FollowupID: 422569

Follow Up By: Member - Willie , Epping .Syd. - Tuesday, Apr 18, 2006 at 11:41

Tuesday, Apr 18, 2006 at 11:41
Ian and Blackmax ,
Thanks for the info . It was good to clarify that .
Cheers ,
Willie .
FollowupID: 422729

Reply By: geocacher (djcache) - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 18:41

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 18:41
I have a Stessl Edgetracker 3.85HD with a 30HP 2 stroke on it and a 55lb Transom mount Minnkota electric.

I believe the Minnkota is about the equivalent of a 4HP outboard. On still water, no wind it's very good. The boat trolls at about 3.5kmh on half throttle all day. With a 120Ah on board I can troll for a day and a half between charges.

When I go up to the Murray it is fine but requires between 75% and 100% throttle to troll at a similar speed and reduces the battery life to less than a day.

You have to consider that the setup cost isn't just the motor, it's going to require several hundred dollars worth of deepcycle battery - and this is one time where the faster charging rate of an AGM is desirable in the extreme. Then you have to have the ability to put at least 120Ah back into it in a reasonable timeframe.

Even charging at 20Amps thats going to take 6-7 hours for a 100Ah deep cycle (the charging process is not 100% efficient if you are querying the maths.) That's a high charge rate to try to achieve at a camp site. Probably the only safe way of doing it is with a generator and a 3 stage charger and for one of those for 15-20A charge rate you are talking several hundred dollars also - plus the generator that will have to drive it. A genny for 8 hours is sure going to pi$$ the neighbouring camp off and probably yourselves as well. (As well as using a similar amount of fuel that the 2 stroke 5Hp motor would have used all day.)

I love my electric (there's nothing better than trolling Dartmouth all day in absolute silence!) and will probably upgrade to a bow mount for a number of reasons sometime soon, but for what you want unfortunately a petrol is the way to go.

I would estimate your setup cost to do what what you want to be something of the order of:
Motor $800-1000
Battery $300-450
Charger $200-300
Generator $100-1800 depending on quiet or noisy, crap or quality.

Petrols starting to look cheap.


AnswerID: 167150

Follow Up By: Jimbo - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 20:45

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 20:45

Good response, but I think you missed...................nothing.
FollowupID: 422221

Reply By: Keith_A (Qld) - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 20:54

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 20:54
Thanks for the input. The comments all made good sense.
Looks like a 3 to 5hp 2 stroke could be the best option.
Will go look at models and pricing.
AnswerID: 167165

Reply By: blackmax11 - Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 21:15

Saturday, Apr 15, 2006 at 21:15
Forget the electric it is not suitable for what you want to do, plus the battery needed to drive one is as heavy as a 5hp outboard and a problem in an inflatable boat..

I have a 2.7M Inflatable (Quicksilver) with a 5hp Merc 2 stroke. It gets up and planes with two on board, is lightweight, runs a good pace and uses little fuel. It also has a built in fuel tank plus a larger seperate tank. For general use of say up to 2 hours running the internal tank is fine for longer trips the larger 13 litre tank is used.
Forget fourstrokes for what you are doing. They are heavier and don't have the tourque of a 2 stroke. Less torque means hard to get on the plan, does not carry a load as well, needs more throttle to do most things a 2 stroke does with ease. They do however use about 25% to 30% less fuel, with a big outboard this can be a consideration not a 5hp.
AnswerID: 167173

Reply By: Member - Norm C (QLD) - Sunday, Apr 16, 2006 at 19:56

Sunday, Apr 16, 2006 at 19:56
Sounds like you have your answer Keith.
I have a Minn Kota that I run off a 120AH AGM. The main reasons for an elec motor are stealth (sneak into areas, snags etc with without disturbing the fish or silent trolling) and regulation (some dams that are used for water supplies don't allow petrol powerd motors). Our local dam (Hinze) is an example of a stocked dam where only electric motors are allowed.

If these issues don't apply, an outboard is the way to go.

Our Minn Kota is great, but we sometimes want to go a few KM, and if the wind is against us (or the tide in the tidal estuaries), it takes a while! But it is great for Jack fishing around the snags.
AnswerID: 167262

Reply By: geordie4x4 - Sunday, Apr 16, 2006 at 23:28

Sunday, Apr 16, 2006 at 23:28
I looked at the same options a few years ago. I found the Zodiac 2.6m with a 4hp Mercury is very slow with two passengers. I now have a foldable Porta boat which is much more streamlined in the water than an inflatable and OK with the 4hp (although a 5hp would be better). Lighter weight than the Zodiac and about the same effort or less to set up and transport. Dont need to inflate it and it dont leak.
AnswerID: 167312

Reply By: Member - Beatit (QLD) - Tuesday, Apr 18, 2006 at 12:00

Tuesday, Apr 18, 2006 at 12:00
Hi Keith,

Looks like the decision has been made but I was wondering where you were planning on using this outfit? I guess it helps with the motor selection but also the suitability of a zodiac in the first place.

Kind regards
AnswerID: 167543

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