Electric Solar Boating on 

Caracruiser Pike Lock Boat

In 2019 we decided to see if it was possible to convert our 40 year 

old Caracruiser to solar powered electric propulsion.

As we did not know if it was gong to work, a secondary objective 

was that the budget needed to be lower than replacing its
4hp 4-stroke petrol outbard.

K&A Clip

G&S Clip

Longer Youtube K&A video

Solar Powered Trips:   Southern Oxford 2020      Cheshire Canals 2021      Braving the River Severn 2021

About the Boat

Above is Pike Lock Boat with two 310w 24v solar panels used to support propulsion and a small 12v 12w panel to charge the 12v battery used for the lights, horn, charging mobile phones, running the satnav, etc. 

Pike Lock Boat enters one of the locks on the western K&A Canal during its inaugural trip in late July/early August 2019.

The K&A trip was very much a proving trip with unambitious distance targets. Over the course of 6 days we travelled between Bath and Honey Street and back including two transits of the Devizes flight of locks. The total boating distance travelled was about 100Km (60 miles) on this trip.

Another view of the solar cells. These cover much of the boats roof space but stay clear of the handrails around the boat at roof level.

From the side, the boat looks much as it always has.

The electric outboard motor is a Bisson 24v 1400watt unit costing less than 200 new.

The steering position is equiped with a display showing the voltage from the solar cells (green), the voltage on the 110ah 24v battery bank and the voltage being applied to the motor.

A cheap and cheerful ammeter shows the net current going into and out of the batteries. In this case, the control system is set to charge mode and about 15amps is charging the batteries.

The solar controller (right) and the pulse width motor controller (with a fan on it which was a 2 afterthought to to ensure it didn't overheat) are mounted quite close to the motor and batteries.

This is about as fast as we went and that was probably with a sympathetic tail wind.

The British weather cannot be relied on and results so far indicate that usefully long boating days are possible so long as the speed is kept down to about 2.1 to 2.3mph using the reduced solar cell input supplemented with 3 to 5amps from the batteries. 3mph with no battery input can be achieved in the middle part of the day when the solar cells are in direct sunlight.