- An electric prop designed to convert most stand-up paddle boards into an "ESUP" capable of ~5 mph speeds
- Extremely quiet operation, highly adjustable speed settings (1-99), reverse mode, wireless remote that attaches directly to your paddle oar
- Works with standard US fin boxes or slide-in designs (with adapter), built with marine parts including stainless steel screws sacrificial anode plate, solid one year warranty
- Lots of cool accessories including a solar panel charger, electric air pump (for inflatable SUPs) and a deck seat
The ElectraFin consists of an electric prop, battery and wireless remote that combine to transform nearly any stand-up paddle board into a little electric boat! Just like with bicycles… I’m sure some of you are thinking “isn’t paddle boarding all about getting exercise and finding some peace in nature”, and yes, that’s probably true for a lot of people. But what if you want to go further, keep up with a more advanced friend (or teach someone who isn’t as advanced as you) or hedge your bets against wind, currents and tides? With this little E-SUP contraption you can add 10+ miles of range and do it in a way that’s near-silent, doesn’t produce any emissions and is practically invisible to fellow paddlers. Everything on the unit has been designed with durability in mind including the impact resistant copolymer polycarbonate plastic fin, housing and prop (which are made with some rubber to help avoid chips and cracking). The metal hardware is stainless and there’s a sacrificial, replaceable anode just like on a marine boat… It’s all rated IP65 waterproof and you get a full one year comprehensive warranty for peace of mind. If after several years you find the battery losing some range you could get a replacement pack for ~$500 and Current Drives (the company that makes the ESUP) also offers a bunch of other accessories like a 40 watt deck mounted solar charger (powerful enough to move the ElectraFin at ~1 mph on its own), an electric air pump and a slide-in fin box adapter (in case your board doesn’t use the standard US 8″ finbox). It’s really a fun, cool product in my opinion… aside from the relatively high expense due to the quality Lithium-ion batteries from Samsung and the custom controller and prop mount, this thing doesn’t have many drawbacks. Maybe the added weight and some drag when it’s powered off? It comes with a backpack and can be ordered with or without the inflatable board shown in the video and pictures here.
Driving the ElectraFin is a 400 watt brushed cylindrical motor unit that was chosen based on durability (according to one of the founders). It has o-rings and grease seals for durability and is actually manufactured in Seattle by a company that used to make torpedo parts (and other less-friendly but very durable marine grade hardware). I was able to turn the motor on while it was out of the water and it operated very quietly and smoothly. The controller uses pulse width modulation for smooth and efficient operation at an incredible range of speeds. There are actually 99 levels of power output on this thing and you can greatly increase range by running at a lower level. The motor puts out ~1.5 horsepower at the highest level and can hit ~5 mph top speed. This means you don’t have to register the ESUP or have a license to operate it in most locations. While visiting the Current Drives headquarters in Seattle we talked about how some owners commute to work at Amazon on South Lake Union and others cross the river from one side of town to the other and pair this with a bicycle (or electric bike!) to avoid commuting by car. The prop attached to the motor and the surrounding circular guard and plastic fin mount are all made with impact resistant polycarbonate that should protect it from rocks, coral and other hazards while also reducing any harm it might do to plants, animals and other people who are in the water.
Powering the ElectraFin (and the optional electric air pump) is a high quality Lithium-ion battery pack. It offers 15 volts of power with 29.2 amp hours of capacity. Many electric bikes I review offer something like 24 or 36 volts of power so this thing is definitely weaker that way but the amp hours are nearly triple the average size of a bicycle. I think they designed it this way to emphasize range and efficiency vs. raw power. I can attest that ~5 mph on a standup paddle board feels pretty fast and the diameter of the prop is much less than most wheels on ebikes so you don’t need the same torque to get going. Okay, so the cells themselves are very high quality, coming from Samsung, and they reside inside a white plastic box along with a switch board and controller that receives the wireless signal from the button pad (that you mount to your paddle). It’s a clean, well organized unit that easily connects to the rear of your board using bungee cords. The whole box weighs ~7 lbs and should float if it fall off of the board for any reason (unless the lid is open for some reason…) You can charge the battery in four to five hours using a standard wall outlet and I’d estimate a 20 mile range is possible if you’re trolling at 2 to 3 miles per hour.
Operating the ElectraFin is a multi-step process but it’s not confusing or complex. If you had an inflatable paddle board like the one shown in this review you’d need to pump it up (potentially with the electric air pump they sell that runs off the same ESUP battery) and then attach the fin and battery box, then you would make sure to connect the leash to the cutoff point on the board and your leg, then click the large power switch on the battery box… At this point the board is ready to go and you can power on the wireless control pad by pressing forward or reverse! The motor should begin spinning at whatever speed you last left it at. Again, with 99 levels to choose from there is a lot of room for finding your preferred speed to optimize range and efficiency. The control box is fairly small, water resistant and easy to interact with. It uses a Velcro strap to attach to your paddle and the wireless signal it uses seems very responsive. Any time you want to stop you can press the stop button or pull the leash out on the battery box. This shuts the motor off and you’re set to either stow the ElectraFin or take a lunch break and let the optional solar charger recharge your battery. Do keep in mind that you should shut off the battery box when you’re finished using the ElectraFin to reduce phantom power draw. I also recommend storing it in a cool, dry location and at 50% for longer periods vs. leaving it plugged into the charger.
I didn’t grow up on a lake or near the ocean but I love surfing, boating and swimming. Stand-up paddle boards are great fun and the large inflatable ones offer durability, room for multiple passengers (or your pet dog!) and they are intuitive to use. Not everyone is at the same skill level in terms of balance or strength so I think the ElectraFin offers something really important to families or groups who want to stick together. For those who use their SUP for commuting and aren’t always at 100%, this could take the edge off and reduce the drag of high winds and currents or tides. From what I could tell, the battery box, motor unit and control box were all designed to be durable. You get a solid one year warranty and they sell a bunch of cool accessories and replacement bits. Current Drives clearly payed attention to the fit and finish of the ElectraFin, it looks great and includes all of the necessary safety features (like the power-cutoff leash system). Maybe in the future we will see the unit get smaller or lighter weight with the advancement of battery technology but at ~15 lbs total (battery, fin and controller) it’s not too bad. I love that they sell a combo-package if you want to buy their inflatable SUP and that you can get the deck seat, electric air pump, solar panel, fin box adapter, surface mount inserts and paddles all on their website. The product is a blast and it’s very non-intrusive, I think they did an excellent job creating it and their website is also very professional.
- Offers enough power to fight wind and some gentle currents (like in a stream or due to tides), and could help you keep up with a friend or just go further (up to 20 miles per charge on low power)
- Works whether you’re standing or seated and Current Drives offers a SUP kayak seat to mount to your deck for added comfort
- The battery pack that powers the ElectraFin motor can also be used to run an air pump if you have an inflatable standup paddle board
- Optional solar panel charger can be left on the deck of your board while paddling to extend range, apparently it can nearly double range when the light is good
- Works with standard sized 8″ US fin boxes as well as smaller slide-in fin boxes (Current Drives sells an adapter piece to make this work)
- Available as a kit to use with a solid or inflatable board you may already own or you can get it with the Huey 2015 inflatable sup sold by Current Drives
- Uses a motor-cutoff leash system that stops the board from powering away on its own if you fall off, similar to a jet ski leash
- Extremely quiet, much more peaceful and clean than an internal combustion engine powered prop, legal in more locations and for a wider range of users without license in some spots (top speed ~5 mph)
- Offers a reverse mode which can be helpful for slowing down or repositioning the SUP in a confined environment like a marina
- Sturdy fin, propeller and circular enclosure to help protect the device from rocks, coral and other ocean, lake or stream hazards as well as to protect marine life and fellow people from getting nicked
- I like that they included a battery level charge indicator right on the battery box so you can easily look down and see how much juice you’ve got left (and whether it’s time to head home)
- Fairly expensive device but the quality seems good and you get a solid one year warranty, also, replacement parts are available (including a new battery for ~$500)
- Adds some weight (especially with the battery pack and box on top) and drag which is noticeable if you decide to paddle under human power only
- Reverse doesn’t work especially well, I found myself going in a sort of awkward circle instead of straight back (but it least it offers reverse :)