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Boating Newbie

First Boat-Hybrid or not?

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My partner and I are looking to get a boat built, we have been on quite a few narrow boating holidays and really enjoy it. We've never used a Hybrid, but apparently Hybrids are the way forwards (or so the other half says) All I can tell is that it adds a few thousand to the total cost. Is it the way to go and something that we should seriously consider or a waste of money?

  

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In my view, mostly a waste of money. You still need to generate all your power by Diesel engine, you just store some of it (with some inefficiency) in batteries. With a lot of added complexity and hence reduced reliability. Not to mention cost.

 

There could be some mileage in a more radical solution which would be all-electric propulsion but you would need the entire roof covered in solar, very short cruising days and access to charging points in the winter. For the future!

 

If a quiet and smooth engine is your goal, this can be done with a good installation including a hospital silencer. There are some ridiculously noisy boats about - including modern ones, and hire boats. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Edited by nicknorman

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I dont see why hybrid would be so inefficient. 

The diesel engine would ,presumably, only cut in when required. I feel stop start on cars does help save fuel (although that may be disputed).

A diesel engine is very inefficient when running  in neutral gear while an electric engine when not turning the prop consumes no energy.

 

Hybrid cars are efficient at slow speed in town but  not so efficient on motorway speed. A narrowboat is always going slow or stopped so should benefit from a hybrid arrangement.

 

 

 

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If you were doing a long flight of locks, then much of the time the engine is just idling, so with some decent batteries you could use electric power for the brief periods of moving.  But by the end of the day your batteries could be 50% discharged and unless you are using very expensive lithium batteries will take hours of engine running to recharge.  Also if the Diesel engine has barely run that day, then you will not have much hot water.  What is your motivation to go hybrid?  Is it too be green or to save money on diesel?  If the later, I doubt you would ever recover the additional cost in diesel saved.  If being green, then if you are a city living boat then hybrid will help a bit, but if you boat predominantly in the country side the environmental benefits of hybrid technology is dubious.

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42 minutes ago, MartynG said:

I dont see why hybrid would be so inefficient. 

The diesel engine would ,presumably, only cut in when required. I feel stop start on cars does help save fuel (although that may be disputed).

A diesel engine is very inefficient when running  in neutral gear while an electric engine when not turning the prop consumes no energy.

 

Hybrid cars are efficient at slow speed in town but  not so efficient on motorway speed. A narrowboat is always going slow or stopped so should benefit from a hybrid arrangement.

 

Yes it is of course true that Diesel engines are inefficient when in neutral - though of course far less inefficient than the equivalent petrol engine. However there is no need to leave a Diesel engine running for long periods when it is not doing anything - though it is something one sees a lot of on the canals. Not sure why?

 

Anyway the inefficiency refers to the energy inefficiency of lead acid batteries ( volts x current in, is a lot more than volts x current out), plus the losses of the electric motor. Plus limited life and the environmental impact of that. Lithium would be better of course.

 

I suppose it depends on why one is thinking of getting a hybrid. Carbon footprint? Other green credentials (it’s not all about carbon) or simply the joy of periods of silent propulsion.

 

As to the efficiency thing I think hybrid cars are fairly discredited - a decent modern diesel or even petrol engine (small cc, with a turbo) can make as good or better mpg than a hybrid, once you take away the ability to charge the batteries at night to get some “free” (ie the carbon footprint is at the power station, not at the car) energy.

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2 hours ago, Boating Newbie said:

but apparently Hybrids are the way forwards (or so the other half says)

 

Are they? According to who, exactly, other than the manufacturers?

 

Only non-technical people who don't understand the issues say this as far as I can see. Oh, and salesmen. Same thing I suppose...

 

 

 

Oh, and people who stupidly bought one :giggles:

Edited by Mike the Boilerman
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It is a personal choice but when faced with something like this I try figure out 'What am I am gaining for X pounds?"   

Then I try to decide if that extra cost is worth it to me. Is what I am gaining worth X pounds.

 

For me, I don't see any real advantage at this point for the way I would would use a boat. I want to Continuously Cruise and see as much of the country as possible. 
Might be different for you and the way you would use the boat.

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9 hours ago, Chewbacka said:

If you were doing a long flight of locks, then much of the time the engine is just idling, ................................

easy solution to that - as required by the by-laws on the Thames ....... switch the diesel off when stationary in locks.

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I can only report the experience of the owner of Felonious Mongoose, the first hybrid built by Braidbar. Using a big bank of Trojans, he reckoned to get one day’s electric cruising for every day of diesel. What he didn’t measure was how much extra diesel the engine burnt on the diesel days compared to a conventional drive. He also took every opportunity to recharge overnight in marinas.

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A typical narrowboat burns about 1.25 to 1.5 litres per hour. Lets say red diesel is £1 per litre and generously say the hybrid saves half of that (I'll bet it doesn't!). How long to recoup the additional cost of the drive even at 50p saving per engine hour?  There's more reasons to consider than pure cost, of course, but they need to be very convincing ones against the maths.

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3 minutes ago, Sea Dog said:

A typical narrowboat burns about 1.25 to 1.5 litres per hour. Lets say red diesel is £1 per litre and generously say the hybrid saves half of that (I'll bet it doesn't!). How long to recoup the additional cost of the drive even at 50p saving per engine hour?  There's more reasons to consider than pure cost, of course, but they need to be very convincing ones against the maths.

 

I’ve yet to see any evidence that ANY fuel savings are achieved. Where are you getting this idea from?

 

Given the extra inefficiencies in a hybrid boat drive, I’d expect fuel consumption snd running costs to be HIGHER than a conventional diesel direct drive in a narrow boat.   

 

 

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1 minute ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

I’ve yet to see any evidence that ANY fuel savings are achieved. Where are you getting this idea from?

 

Given the extra inefficiencies in a hybrid boat drive, I’d expect fuel consumption snd running costs to be HIGHER than a conventional diesel direct drive in a narrow boat.   

 

 

I couldn't agree more Mike - my point was that it wouldn't even stack up if there was a 50% saving to be made. I don't think there is either and I pointed that out in brackets.

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Nick answered it in post #2. You waste energy by creating it with a diesel only to store it in batteries. A hybrid will, by its very nature, be less efficient than a simple diesel powered boat. 

 

Of course you could supplement it with acres of solar, but then it’s not a hybrid, it’s an all-electric boat. 

With all the limitations that entails as detailed by Peter. 

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11 hours ago, nicknorman said:

In my view, mostly a waste of money. You still need to generate all your power by Diesel engine, you just store some of it (with some inefficiency) in batteries. With a lot of added complexity and hence reduced reliability. Not to mention cost.

 

There could be some mileage in a more radical solution which would be all-electric propulsion but you would need the entire roof covered in solar, very short cruising days and access to charging points in the winter. For the future!

 

If a quiet and smooth engine is your goal, this can be done with a good installation including a hospital silencer. There are some ridiculously noisy boats about - including modern ones, and hire boats. It doesn’t have to be like that.

 

Completely agree. Unlike hybrid cars which can recharge their batteries when coasting and braking boats cannot, so as Nick days they are less efficient than a diesel driving the boat through a gearbox. The only potential for fuel saving is when operating locks (and only then if you use ropes to control the boat). As this is when the engine would be normally ticking over the fuel saving is going to be quite small.

 

Given the number of canalside boatyards that struggle to fix relatively common, simple mechanical and electrical problems, most will be unable to cope with a faulty hybrid.

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People assume because a hybrid car saves fuel, a hybrid boat will too. 

 

An incorrect assumption in my view, if only because because a hybrid car has regenerative braking and a boat doesn't. 

 

I'd be most interested to read any claims by manufactures of increased fuel economy. 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, BruceinSanity said:

I can only report the experience of the owner of Felonious Mongoose, the first hybrid built by Braidbar. Using a big bank of Trojans, he reckoned to get one day’s electric cruising for every day of diesel. What he didn’t measure was how much extra diesel the engine burnt on the diesel days compared to a conventional drive. He also took every opportunity to recharge overnight in marinas.

But then his cruising pattern changed. Circumstances meant he took permanent mooring, at Sherborne Wharf, do his usual pattern would be to leave there on fully charged batteries and up to BCNS headquarters, so 9 locks and a few miles, then plug back in. 

 

 

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First I have an all electric boat as others have said,

Point 1 red diesel is going remember so it will be expensive white diesel you will be burning.

Point 2 The hybrid motor is a large generator so with little effort and diesel it charges batteries quickly.

Point 3 By 2025 according to the consultation all new boats must be emissions free so you have made a start,

Point 4 how long before boats are charged for going into the multitude of low emission zones forced on cities/towns by the supreme court?

Point 5 with the addition of solar on sunny days you may only run the diesel engine for a short period to heat up some water.

The writing is on the wall for diesels, if you are buying a new boat Hybrid is a good choice as long as its LiPo4 batteries, Johnathon Wilson/Finnesse are going the full electric route however so maybe contact them?

 

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11 minutes ago, peterboat said:

The writing is on the wall for diesels, if you are buying a new boat Hybrid is a good choice

Now there’s an oxymoron if ever I saw one. 

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7 minutes ago, peterboat said:

First I have an all electric boat as others have said,

Point 1 red diesel is going remember so it will be expensive white diesel you will be burning.

Point 2 The hybrid motor is a large generator so with little effort and diesel it charges batteries quickly.

Point 3 By 2025 according to the consultation all new boats must be emissions free so you have made a start,

Point 4 how long before boats are charged for going into the multitude of low emission zones forced on cities/towns by the supreme court?

Point 5 with the addition of solar on sunny days you may only run the diesel engine for a short period to heat up some water.

The writing is on the wall for diesels, if you are buying a new boat Hybrid is a good choice as long as its LiPo4 batteries, Johnathon Wilson/Finnesse are going the full electric route however so maybe contact them?

 

Point 2. Little effort and diesel? It's not just spinning a couple of bearings. If you don't put a lot of power (by burning diesel) into it then you won't get much out, and you have to put more in than you get out.

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2 minutes ago, WotEver said:

Now there’s an oxymoron if ever I saw one. 

 

1 minute ago, Sir Nibble said:

Point 2. Little effort and diesel? It's not just spinning a couple of bearings. If you don't put a lot of power (by burning diesel) into it then you won't get much out, and you have to put more in than you get out.

Hybrid is a better choice than pure diesel given the direction we are going in, LifePo4 batteries dont require a lot more putting in!

I also said contact another boat maker about his offerings at least they will get a license reduction as well on an all electric boat

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1 minute ago, peterboat said:

Hybrid is a better choice than pure diesel given the direction we are going in, LifePo4 batteries dont require a lot more putting in!

Yet they do still require SOME more putting in. Therefore a hybrid is less efficient. 

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1 minute ago, WotEver said:

Yet they do still require SOME more putting in. Therefore a hybrid is less efficient. 

True but when diesel is 2 squids a litre and its 10 squids to enter a town, it will all seem very cheap as you silently cruise along😈

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Batteries require enough putting in to replace what's taken out. In a hybrid all the energy comes from the fuel tank however it's transmitted from there to prop. The most efficient way of getting most turns of the prop for a given amount of diesel is a gearbox.

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3 minutes ago, peterboat said:

True but when diesel is 2 squids a litre and its 10 squids to enter a town, it will all seem very cheap as you silently cruise along😈

In your dreams. Congestion/emission charges for boats will never happen. 

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37 minutes ago, peterboat said:

First I have an all electric boat as others have said,

Point 1 red diesel is going remember so it will be expensive white diesel you will be burning.

Point 2 The hybrid motor is a large generator so with little effort and diesel it charges batteries quickly.

Point 3 By 2025 according to the consultation all new boats must be emissions free so you have made a start,

Point 4 how long before boats are charged for going into the multitude of low emission zones forced on cities/towns by the supreme court?

Point 5 with the addition of solar on sunny days you may only run the diesel engine for a short period to heat up some water.

The writing is on the wall for diesels, if you are buying a new boat Hybrid is a good choice as long as its LiPo4 batteries, Johnathon Wilson/Finnesse are going the full electric route however so maybe contact them?

 

Point 1 how do you know this? Eu rules, but aren’t we leaving?

 

Point 3 might possibly become true for new boats within my lifetime. But it will never be retrospective.

 

Point 4 - a very long time, with the possible exception of London.

 

Point 5 no good in winter.

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