Which Garmin Products Work with Electric Boats?
The short answer: All of them. The longer answer: There are a few you’ll want to prioritize first.
Cars, boats, lawn mowers — if there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that we’re only going to continue to see electric versions of machinery that was formerly powered strictly by fuel. But it would be a stretch to say that the market will be exclusively electric anytime in the near future. For mariners operating boats with electric motors, or those interested in purchasing one, it’s good to know which tried-and-true marine brands are making products that accommodate both types of vessels.
At Garmin, owners of boats electric and fuel-powered alike can shop nearly our entire array of marine products. While we may be biased, there’s a wealth of options to choose from. But because electric boats in particular are mostly controlled from the screen, there are a few products in particular you’ll want to prioritize as you consider outfitting your boat.
On an electric boat (or any boat, really), you need a chartplotter that can do 3 things: navigate, connect and integrate.
- Navigate: Garmin chartplotters do much more, of course, but when most people think of a quality unit, they think navigation first. With premium charts and mapping, as well as the ability to control the autopilot with any compatible chartplotter, a Garmin unit is a no-brainer. It’s just a matter of which one you need. Some, like the GPSMAP™ 9000 series, come with an included GPS 24xd position receiver and antenna so you know exactly where you are at all times — and you’ll see it with crystal clarity on the 4K-resolution touchscreen. Others, like the ECHOMAP™ UHD2 series, come with preloaded Garmin Navionics+™ coastal or inland mapping to use alongside Garmin CHIRP traditional and ClearVü™ scanning sonars to ensure no fish is left behind.
- Connect: With an electric boat, it’s a little different than just looking at the gas gauge. You’ll need a chartplotter that can connect to your boat’s electric motor (whether that’s powered by a battery pack, solar panel or generator) to keep tabs on performance and safety warnings. No one wants to be out in the middle of the water when their battery dies. Also crucial is a chartplotter that can be updated regularly with the latest software updates — and a customizable homepage so the important information is front and center. A splash screen for a tailored experience won’t hurt either.
- Integrate: Whether through OneHelm™, NMEA 2000® or EmpirBus™, Garmin chartplotters are able to communicate with almost all electric propulsion providers or electric equipment suppliers — meaning your device is going to talk to the other devices on your boat to keep it shipshape. No need to worry about the failure to communicate with a Garmin on board.
Garmin chartplotters excel in these 3 categories, with a variety of screen sizes to boot. Whether your boat optimally houses a 5-inch screen or a larger 27 inches, the common, easy-to-use interface on Garmin chartplotters ensures you’re focusing on the stuff that matters, not figuring out how to work your device.
A captain is only as good as their maps, which is why Garmin cartography is a must for any electric boat owner. Garmin isn’t the world’s most innovative and recognized marine electronics manufacturer for nothing; our survey teams work tirelessly to provide enhanced data for mapping details. This data, as well as third-party data, is updated regularly and pushed into products like Garmin Navionics Vision+™ and Navionics Platinum+™ to ensure Garmin users always have the most up-to-date marine cartography.
Even better? Electric boaters don’t need to waste a dwindling charge scouting out the nearest charging locations. Instead, join the ActiveCaptain® Community to see details on various destination points directly on your Garmin MFD. Once you choose the marina you need, just engage Auto Guidance+™1 to see the best route to follow.
Every electric boat owner needs a digital switching setup. Garmin offers digital switching options across every boat type and size, allowing infinitely customizable ways to control your helm. EmpirBus, for example, is a digital switching system for new boats that’s made of one or more compact digital distribution control modules (DCMs). When paired with a Garmin chartplotter (or compatible third-party display), it allows you to control and monitor all your connected onboard electronics, including your electric propulsion system, right from the screen. And if that sounds like a little too much information, don’t worry: The customization capabilities allow for the setup of simple, interactive screens that can display the information you most prioritize during your time on the water.
As the electric boat market grows, not every manufacturer that’s traditionally operated in the fossil fuel-powered space will be able to keep up. But at Garmin, innovation has always been a priority. The products we’ve discussed are a great starting point for your electric boat, but those aren’t the only options. Check out our radars, autopilots, sound systems and more for additional ways to get the setup you want. Ready to outfit your latest watercraft? Start shopping the suite of Garmin marine products.
1Auto Guidance+ is for planning purposes only and does not replace safe navigation operations