ePropulsion Spirit 1.0 Plus electric outboard, Torqeedo has competition

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

38 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    What type of speed/performance is it getting? I like the simplicity but I have a “10 foot” (west marine c310) dinghy and want to at least be able to happily beat currents etc. We have an old 2.5 hp motor, that doesn’t quite fill the need with wife/kid and me. Wife’s nervous about a new motor, cause she wants to make sure she can easily pull start, (I don’t want the weight/hassle of electric start)
    I’m tempted to look at the bigger electric motors, and then just build my own battery packs, but I really like the convenience of these. But I don’t want to buy one and find 25% of the time, I need more motor.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Chris, The Spirit 1.0 Plus easily took Rich’s heavy old Avon to hull speed, and so did my old Torqeedo 1003. These electric outboards have amazing torque, even at low speeds, and I don’t think that any of the models discussed above would have trouble pushing your RIB against a current with a full family load. And if you look at the specs for two direct-drive models, they both have a little more static thrust than my 1003, which will push a small daysailer around.

      These motors are not very good at high rpm planing but they are not really comparable to your gas 2.5hp in terms of torque. Plus electric starting is built-in 😉

      Also, I think that Mack Boring is trying to set up dealers with “try before you buy” demo models, and Torqeedo may have similar.

      • Cool, well, once bottom paint and some sonar upgrades are done, we’re moving to a marina that’s listed as a torqeedo dealer. I did fill out the form on the Spirit page, but looks like it’s a gap of no dealers from Florida to Maryland with me right in the middle in NC. 🙁 Maybe we keep rocking the old mercury until we sail south. Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. I just wish they were cheaper. But that seems to be true of everything. 🙁

  2. Craig Mudge says:

    Ben,
    My only complaint on my Torqeedo is the annoying delay I experience between throttle twist and motor response. Does the Spirit direct drive technology remedy this issue?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      I guess I’ve gotten used to it, but certainly did notice faster response on the newer Torqeedo 1103C, and also the Spirit Plus.

    • Mic Fite Mic Fite says:

      My 1003 also had that annoying delay when moving the throttle off of the zero position. This was not helped any by the force that was necessary to turn the throttle off of the zero position. My passenger was often surprised when the rocket suddenly launched, and not surprised in a good way. ;-/ (I guess that’s one of the “benefits” of low end torque.) I don’t experience a noticeable delay with my 1103.
      In my typical way, I did “hack” it to lessen the force necessary to turn the throttle. On the bottom side of the tiller there is a white plastic strip that presses against the throttle shaft and helps hold the shaft at the zero position. There are two screws that hold that plastic piece in place. Putting a SS washer under each of the screws, and a generous application of silicon grease, which lessened the holding force so that it’s very easy to slowly crack the throttle. And also achieve/maintain a supper slow speed for close quarters maneuvering. I applied this hack to my 1103 too and I’m really happy with the throttle now, as is Ms Passenger.
      Now, if I could just remember which way is forward and reverse.

      • Mic, I’ve managed to get used to the delay – just crack the throttle and do a mental 2-count before cranking it up to cruise speed. I’m glad to hear others have a hard time remembering which way to turn – I even wrote on the control arm with a sharpie to help me remember!
        Ours has loosened up significantly over the years, so not as bad as it was when new, but your fix does look useful.

  3. Hi Ben, interesting as usual, and it’s good to see competition in the small electric outboard market. That “in-depth comparison” contains some rather hazy language (what does “…three capacity 2kWh, 4kWh, and 9kWh with $0.5 unit price.” mean?). But if they’ve improved the power connector, that’s good news – Torqueedo needs work in the connector realm for sure. I have cussed that plastic connector a LOT.
    I do wonder, though – how does the performance compare? The Spirit claims a longer run time, but if it doesn’t go as fast, that’s a false comparison. You’d have to arrange to use one boat with both motors to make the comparison, of course 🙂 .
    I can vouch for the low-end torque of the 1103 – it moves our Fatty Knees right along at VERY low throttle, and with surprising authority.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      They’re talking about a retail price of about $0.50 per Watt hour capacity, and it is worth bragging about. The vaguely similar 3,500 Wh Torqeedo battery retails for $3,000, or $0.86 per Wh.

      But then again the nominal 25.2v Power 24-3500 — https://www.torqeedo.com/us/en-us/products/batteries/power-24-3500-/2106-00.html — can be used for house power as well as integrating with a Torqeedo Cruise outboard, and I’m not sure that ePropulsion’s $2,000 nominal 51.2v 4,096 Wh E80 battery can be used for anything beyond the motors:

      https://www.epropulsion.com/e-series-batteries

      Also the E80 weighs 106 lbs while the 24-3500 is only 56, and the E80 claims a battery life of 3,000 cycles at 80% Depth of Discharge while Torqeedo specs the 24-3500 as expected to lose 25% capacity after “800 cycles with 100% discharge depth at 25°C.” In short, the specs are sometimes hard to compare, but they seem like quite dissimilar battery technologies.

      • Hi Ben, yes, that would explain that comment, though the “run time” brag remains unverified. And I don’t know why I wrote we had an 1103 – we still have our faithful 1003 🙂 It didn’t get much use this past summer 🙁

  4. Noelle says:

    Thanks, Enjoyable as always

  5. Mic Fite Mic Fite says:

    A few thoughts for those choosing between the 1103 and the Spirit 1.0+…

    For perspective, I owned a 1003 for 3 years and now own a 1103 since Feb.2020. I’ve looked at the Spirit 1.0+ and yes, there are many things to like about it: A bigger battery and shorter recharge time are chief among them. And a floating battery! I live in fear of accidentally dropping the Travel battery overboard. That would be an expensive mistake and having no working outboard for the dinghy could also impact cruising plans. A tether solves that problem but it is a bit of a hassle.

    The Spirit’s integrated battery latch is an obviously superior feature; one less thing to lose. The robust SS quarter turn barrel connector on the motor is also a BIG plus. I like the “idea” of the attached tiller, in as much as it would facilitate a two handed carry down the dock. However, my outboard lives on the boat so the need for a one-person carry is very minimal, and I have the carry bag for that. When leaving my dinghy at a beach or a strange dock I like to put my Travel’s tiller in my day-pack during shore trips for a little more peace-of-mind than taking the kill-switch magnet provides. I leave the outboard mounted during the cruising season so not leaving the tiller (and its electronics) exposed to the elements 24/7 also gives me some peace-of-mind. I just wish that Torqeedo would provide a weather proof cover for the tiller connector that’s on the battery. I like knowing my speed as provided by the Travel’s GPS, but it is not essential. I am really impressed that ePropulsion is already responding to user feedback by improving the tiller design. Speaking of design, the Spirit is a more modern and attractive design from an industrial design perspective, IMHO.

    My 2 Travel outboards have been very reliable (Although that’s only a sample size of 2) When thinking about reliability, consider years in production, number of units in the field, user’s experience and the factory’s response to problems. I’m curious to see what Spirit users have to say.

    The Spirit looks like a very well engineered unit at a competitive price. It’s great to see another strong contender in this space. I look forward to further advances in electric outboards that this competition could provide.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Mic. I’m told by knowledgeable friends that Travel batteries do not sink fast, and neither does the whole motor assembly. (Actually, that’s the same unfortunate friend!)

      So you may have a chance to nab one before it gets too far, but if you fail, it may travel quite a ways before settling on the bottom 😉

      • Mic Fite Mic Fite says:

        A traveling Travel battery! Haha.
        Nice to know, if it comes to that. Regardless, I’ll do my best to avoid conducting any of my own settling distance tests.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Cool! The great small boat video site OffCenterHarbor.com just debuted a thorough review of the IP Carry, a smaller lighter electric outboard with several interesting design features not seen in the motors above:

    https://www.offcenterharbor.com/videos/sail-oar-camp-cruising-part-2-sail-more-electric-motor-ep-carry-review/

  7. Keith Pleas says:

    I’ve had an EP Carry for two seasons – it’s wonderful. My wife loves puttering around harbors in the dink (Achilles LSI-88 8’8″ air deck). And the grandkids quickly took to running it as well, even the (then) 4yo. The EP Carry is made near me so I was able to spend upwards of an hour (pre Covid!) with the creator – he demo’d things like jamming the propeller with a thick stick while running at full throttle (built in resistance sensors immediately cut power with zero damage) and showed one that’s been left un-tilted into salt water for more than a year with no effect. And I’m sold on the LiFePO4 battery with none of the limited life characteristics of the Torqueda’s older technology.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Thanks, Keith. The EP Carry tilt and drop system seems very slick, as well illustrated in the OCH video. And the little motor is pushing a pretty big boat, though the videographer Steve Stone says it won’t do much against about 15kn wind. Also, I think that the 24v 9.6 Ah EP Carry battery works out to 230 Wh, versus the stock Torqeedo 1103 battery at 915 Wh and the Spirit 1.0 Plus at 1,276.

      • Mic Fite Mic Fite says:

        Yes, I want that brilliant tilt mechanism. That is something to be emulated and improved upon. I always struggle a bit to get the motor tilted up before hitting the beach. Leaning back to grab the back of the motor and lifting is awkward at best, especially with all the other things you have to manage when beaching.
        Also, the auto-stop feature seems very worthwhile. I’ve destroyed one Travel prop when I hit a rock (at low speed) and the drive pin tore up the prop’s hub. We were up in AK and had to get a new prop flown in. Ugh. (Tip: I carry a spare prop now)

  8. Mic Fite Mic Fite says:

    Let me throw out another couple of thoughts for anyone considering switching to an electric outboard, a benefit that had not occurred to me until I’d experienced it.
    I have a good friend who is a pro-grade amateur nature photographer. Myself, I’m definitely in the low amateur ranks. And even if not photographing I really enjoy getting up close with nature. As soon as we drop the anchor we’ll go “hunting” for wildlife. We have been amazed at how close we have been able approach wildlife without disturbing them. The direct drive motor is soooo quiet and the low speed torque gives you great drift control. You can be sitting in your dinghy absolutely still and quiet and still position yourself for the perfect shot.
    A similar thing could be said for slow trolling an area for fish and then hovering over a hot spot when you find it, all without the noisy smelliness of a gas outboard.

  9. WD says:

    I have loved my e-Propulsion motor for two seasons. It has worked flawlessly. My only regret is buying two batteries as I have never found that I need the second one. I power both my 19’ Flying Scot sailboat and the inflatable tender on my big boat. It powers both with aplomb. On the FS I can ghost along silently with all sails set powering through lulls between puffs. It has given new enjoyment to those still summer evening harbor cruises. Best of all it is silent. No noise. Also safe, no gas cans to store aboard. No oil mess. I don’t need those bombs on my sloop. This gets me where I need to go I just cannot waterski on the way. That’s ok by me.

  10. Larry Olson says:

    Tried to contact them… didn’t work with two browsers. Tried to get a dealer to call…. nothing. I don’t know why manufactuers won’t disclose better contact info.
    I can imagine what warranty would be like.
    Oh well, I’ll just stay with gas.

  11. Colin A says:

    I’m happy to see more competition in this space. I think I have said this before but I will say it again, I’m a bit amazed motor guide or minn kota has yet to try and compete in this space. They have a good basis for a design, some more efficient motors (like what Garmin and Lowerence recently released) controls and props for non trolling motor application would seem to be what is required.
    They do offer some pontoon boat motors but I’m unsure why not go into general purpose small outboards.

  12. Larry Olson says:

    I finally found a dealer to email to get additional info. I’d love to switch to electric, but have concerns about performance and warranty/parts.
    They say it will go wide open for an hour, but 4 hours at cruising speed. Is cruising speed on plane?
    Any comments from users?

  13. Colin A says:

    Also on the batteries. I think the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Bolt both use or used pouch cells, and I think BMW uses prismatic, so it seems EV builders are using all three. I don’t know how that shakes out in the real world thou.

  14. Jeff Tom says:

    Bought the epropulsion 2 years ago as I had issues with my last 2 gas outboards. I was skeptical at first but saw it at a trade show and got a discount for being one of the first to buy in Southern California. I use it on my tender a Zodiac 270 Cadet. It runs great, no issues. Always starts, great thrust, better consistent power with no dead spots like my Tohatsu. Recently, we added second battery and a high speed charger for picking up Lobster traps. We could use a full charge at various rpm for about 5 hours. We didn’t need to use the second battery, but it’s nice to have a second battery in case we run out. Concerned about what I’m reading here about lithium ion battery potential for spontaneous fires, and would like to hear more of this if anyone has some information .

    • Chris Humphries says:

      Don’t be worried about fires. While it can happen, usually its from serious mishandling or poor charging. IF you ever see lithium batteries getting puffy though, IMMEDIATELY stop using it and find somewhere to discard safely. I have seen lithium puff and explode, (rc racing, usually pulling insane amps from too small a battery) but its from being dumb. Gasoline can explode as well. 😉

  15. Jeffrey Tom says:

    Thanks! I will feel safer now. I will not go back to gasoline powered dinghy tenders,
    The torque and consistency is worth the charging inconvenience.

    • Lithium batteries are vulnerable to a thermal runaway condition that can cause an explosion or fire, but modern technology with smart regulators on each cell have made them pretty safe, absent some sort of physical trauma that disrupts the cell itself. You DON’T want to be anywhere near a lithium battery that has been ruptured or crushed (which is why they don’t want you to simply discard your old cellfone & laptop batteries,) I don’t know about the ePropulsion batteries, but our Torqueedo 1003 batteries are in pretty rugged cases, and the regulators are inside, so even careless charging does not create a risk, IMHO.

  16. Jeffrey Tom says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on this.

  17. Jeremy Bloxham says:

    I’ve had an ePropulsion Spirit 1.0 for three seasons (and during each of those seasons it’s made an appearance in Camden Harbor). I have no complaints whatsoever about it — it’s been faultless.

    What I like best: 1) storage (simply throw it in a cockpit locker in any orientation); 2) no gasoline on board; 3) quiet.

    One consideration is that fully charging the 1200 Wh battery will take 100 Ah out of a 12v battery system

  18. BARNEY says:

    DOES ANYONE KNOW IF AN ATTACHED 12 VOLT BATTERY THROUGH THE SOLAR CHARGER CAN MAINTAIN ANY RPM TO GET HOME WITH E MOTOR.
    IT DOES SAY IT CAN CHARGE WHILE RUNNING AND HAS A LIGHTER PLUG ON SOLAR CONTROLLER

  19. Sandeep says:

    Thanks much for the fantastic write up. I am considering one of these two outboard options for a 12 feet mini tugboat I am building. I am attempting to not cause unintentional damage by hanging the motor off transom, and was looking at an extension cable option to separate the battery unit.. did you have a chance to explore this option and which of these two would work in such a configuration ? Thank you

  20. David Mason says:

    Do you know if it’s possible to feed the power from the Spirit 1.0 hydro generator into a yacht’s battery system? 40W at 4kts (300w at 10kts) would certainly keep the autopilot going when long-distance cruising… but are there leads available to get the power from the Spirit 1.0 to the yacht’s battery charger?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Well, it’s possible to use the Spirit Evo with ePropulsion’s larger lithium batteries, or even third party batteries, but the bank has to be 48v. So, yes, there is a cable system available, and remote controls, but you’d probably have to do some DC-DC conversions to work with your yacht system. More detail shown in the new Spirit 1.0 Evo manuals here:

      https://www.epropulsion.com/download/

  21. David Mason says:

    Great answer – many thanks!

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