For several years now, many small boat owners have been hearing whispers about electric outboards. These engines are supposed to be the wave of the future, but do their benefits truly outweigh their detriments? When you hear someone trumpeting the use of an electric outboard, they tend to bring up environmental impact first. Let’s explore these and other issues by comparing electric motors to traditional petroleum-fueled outboards.
Bear in mind that there are always going to be tradeoffs associated with electric engines. They might be compact, but they require a heavy battery that can weigh your craft down significantly. On the face of it, electric motors might appear to be more eco-friendly than an engine that requires two cycle oil. This is not actually the case, however. When it comes time to charge the battery, how long will you need to run the engine? Any environmental benefits are therefore negligible, at least for now.
Electric engines also limit the speed and mobility of a small vessel. If you’re accustomed to motoring around a lake with quickness and efficiency, electric is probably not the way to go. Returning to the question of environmental friendliness, don’t forget that 2-cycle engines have improved by leaps and bounds in that department within the last few years. Most major outboard brands meet and exceed efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.