How does an electric surfboard work?

One of the most challenging things about surfing is discovering the right kinds of waves to ride. Unfortunately, since nature dictates the waves we find, people cannot fully control the ability to perform this sport unless we use an electric surfboard. For some surfers, this fact can be a real deterrent when trying to practice or compete. Surfers have been known to travel everywhere, trying to find that perfect wave. 

Electric surfboards work by removing the requirement of finding the perfect wave and utilize an independent power source, like a motor or a propeller, to power themselves through the water. So, even if there are no waves, a person can still use an electric surfboard. 

Since there isn’t much information available on the Internet today regarding electric surfboards, we created this guide to help you. Below we’ll discuss how electric surfboards work, what defines an electric surfboard, the history of electric surfboards, and what you should look for when buying an electric surfboard.

How Does an Electric Surfboard Work?

Electric surfboards resemble traditional surfboards in structure and design. However, unlike traditional surfboards, electric surfboards feature an independent power source. These independent power sources typically come in one of two forms, either through the use of a Jetstream or a propeller. These independent power sources are typically powered by batteries that can be recharged. 

The way a specific electric surfboard works can depend a lot upon the manufacturer of the electric surfboard. As far as electric surfboards are concerned, there are several different electric surfboard manufacturers, and each manufacturer uses its innovative type of technology (source) to power the board. However, across these different types of boards, the basic principle of how electric surfboards work remains the same. 

All electric surfboards are designed to be extremely buoyant, and they all require some type of battery-powered engine to operate. 

  • Most electric surfboard batteries are comprised of lithium-ion, which means that electric surfboards typically use rechargeable batteries. 
  • Some manufacturers of electric surfboards allow for multiple types of batteries to be used with their products.
  • These types of electric surfboards allow you to exchange different types of batteries when your power gets low.

On the rear end of the electric surfboard is where you’ll typically find the electric surfboard’s engine or motor. The motor is typically placed at the end of the electric surfboard because that location allows the electric surfboard to gracefully move on top of the water as the jet propulsion pushes the board forward towards its destination. You can typically accelerate your electric surfboard by utilizing a wireless remote control, which you always keep in your hand . 

You can buy Radinn Explore board at Electric Board Company

One Specific Example: How the Radinn Boards Work

To better describe how electric surfboards work, we’ll discuss one example of a very popular electric surfboard brand, Radinn Freeride (AquaSportsPlanet is not an affiliate) and describe how this specific example works. While all electric surfboards don’t necessarily utilize the same process (source), most of them operate in a very similar way. The Radinn Freeride operates using simple technology. None of the technology used to power the Lampuga Boost is particularly fancy. 

Although the technology used to power the Radinn Freeride isn’t complicated, the way this specific electric surfboard has been designed demonstrates the beauty of the brand’s innovation. The board is comprised of carbon fiber, making it extremely lightweight but also very robust. This electric surfboard also features a built-in compact electric motor. 

The Freeride’s motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery that is both rechargeable and removable. 

  • That lithium-ion battery is then placed into a holder that’s found on the board. The battery then gives the installed engine its power
  • Then that power moves the board’s jet propulsion.

As we described earlier, this electric surfboard then accelerates through the water based on the remote control that’s attached at the board’s front using an optional front leash.

That tether also gives the user something to hold onto, which is something else that most traditional surfboards don’t offer. Everything on the Radinn Freeride then combines to give you a thrust that can propel you at speeds as fast as 25-32 mph (source). However, keep in mind that different boards can travel at different speeds. 

Different boards offer different driving styles and speeds. Still, most electric boards will operate for about forty-five minutes until they need to be recharged, or you’ll need to install a replacement battery. So, the removable battery system on these boards allows you to replace your empty battery with a full one. Surfing at such high rates of speed presents most users with a very intense and enjoyable experience that’s exhausting. If you are new to the hobby, you’ll probably need a break after about 15 minutes. 

Interesting Facts about Electric Surfboards

Most electric surfboards weigh somewhere between twenty-seven and sixty kgs, and that includes the battery. While this weight zone sounds heavy, as soon as you place your electric surfboard in the water, you won’t notice the board’s weight as long as your board has the right level of power. Most electric surfboards can last anywhere in between twenty and sixty minutes depending on 

  • The brand of your electric surfboard
  • The rider’s weight
  • The rider’s riding style 

If you already have experience in water sports, then you shouldn’t have any issues adapting to an electric surfboard. Water sports experience that should help you adapt to your electric surfboard quickly includes such activities like:

  • Kite-surfing
  • Traditional surfing
  • Wakeboarding

Having experience with any one of the above activities means you should adapt to your electric surfboard in a matter of minutes. That’s because electric surfboards are steered just like you’d steer a traditional surfboard. If you are considering an electric surfboard that offers a traditional surfing feel, then you may want to opt for the Waterwolf brand. 

Many manufacturers of electric surfboards add a rope on the top of the board that helps the user adjust the direction of the electric surfboard. Other manufacturers also connect the remote control to this rope, allowing the user to keep one hand free. However, if you opt for the Waterwolf, you’d still have both hands free as you would in traditional surfing because the Waterwolf doesn’t come with remote control. 

Most electric surfboards also feature a security leash, and that helps protect the board after a crash. With the security leash, the surfboard won’t be able to wander after a crash and hit something that might damage it. If your electric surfboard comes with a Bluetooth remote, that remote will help you turn off the motor, too, as long as the electric surfboard is less than two meters away. Some of the newer electric surfboards can 

  • Go as fast as fifty to sixty kilometers per hour
  • They are so powerful that they can tow a wakeboarder. 

What Defines an Electric Surfboard?

Electric surfboards nowadays offer many choices. When you purchase an electric surfboard, you’ll be able to review several different:

  • Sizes
  • Functions
  • Shapes

Although all electric surfboards vary slightly from each other based on the manufacturer and type of board, they all share one basic principle. That basic principle is the fact that all electric surfboards use an independent power source and utilize a battery-operated engine. The use of this battery-operated engine allows these electric surfboards to cruise on waters without waves with ease. 

Check out the electric board components on Marine Products

Electric surfboards are made to 

  • Assist the user with paddling out
  • Help the user ride smoother waves with ease
  • Allow the user to ride around on the water when there aren’t any waves

With an electric surfboard, an individual can break out of the requirements placed on him or her by traditional surfing. That means the user can enjoy endless hours of surfing and not have to be dependent on the waves or the climate. 

A History Behind Electric Surfboards

Like most modern inventions that we see nowadays, electric surfboard had evolved and worked in many different forms before it became the product that is utilized in today’s society (source). The world’s first motorized surfboard came along surprisingly early in 1935. That first electric surfboard was titled “the surf scooter.” It was developed to help lifeguards get through the surf when they needed to save or help individuals in the water. 

Progress and time both affected the evolution of the electric surfboard over the next few decades. Several innovative designs appeared on the market as the years passed, and electric surfboards become more streamlined, practical, and functional. One of these electric surfboards was the Skimboat, which was an early form of a motorized surfboard that was created by Joe Gilpin. 

Throughout the 1960s, as surfing became more and more popular as a sport, the popularity of electric surfboards grew. More forms of motorized surfboards appeared on the market. One of these electric surfboards introduced the first board that featured an outboard motor, which was called a surf jet. As the decades passed, the designs of the electric surfboard kept evolving with the introduction of new and improved technology. 

Eventually, the designs of these electric surfboards evolved to introduce the types of electric surfboards we see on the market today. Nowadays, electric surfboards are a powerful form of watercraft that has decades of the following behind them:

  • Development
  • Invention
  • Innovation
  • Technology

You can purchase an electric surfboard in many different shapes and sizes. 

Factors to Consider When Purchasing an Electric Surfboard

Now that you comprehend how an electric surfboard works, you’ll need to consider a few factors before you can purchase an electric surfboard. Since an electric surfboard requires a substantial investment, you’ll want to assess a few things about them, so you know exactly what you:

  • Want
  • Need
  • Know how much to budget

Since different electric surfboards are designed for various uses, you’ll want to consider a few factors before you purchase your electric surfboard, so you purchase the one that is best for your specific type of usage. The key concepts we’ll be reviewing include:

  • Weight of the electric surfboard’s rider
  • Weight of the electric surfboard
  • Type of electric surfboard
  • Should You Purchase an Inflatable or Solid Electric Surfboard
  • Shape and Price of the Electric Surfboard
  • The Electric Surfboard’s Warranties
  • The Electric Surfboard’s Deck
  • The Electric Surfboard’s Speed
  • The Electric Surfboard’s Fins
  • The Electric Surfboard’s Battery Life

We’ll cover each one of these factors in more detail below. 

Weight of the Electric Surfboard’s Rider

The weight of the electric surfboard’s rider is one essential factor to consider when you are trying to find the correct board for yourself. Keep in mind that the heavier you are, the more power and the stronger the motor that you’ll need. Electric surfboards that require more power due to the weight of the rider must also utilize:

  • Increased battery cells
  • A better heat management system

Because both items are necessary for electric surfboards to work with heavier riders, electric surfboards that utilize both of these features, unfortunately, cost more. So, the bottom line is that the heavier the rider is, the more power you’ll need, and the more expensive the electric surfboard you’ll have to purchase.

Therefore, you’ll need to assess the level of power you’ll need for the type of surfing you plan on performing. Either will typically power electric surfboards:

  • Propellers
  • Jet engines

Weight of the Electric Surfboard

Along with the weight of the rider, one must also consider the weight of the electric surfboard itself. Since electric surfboards are designed by using many  different materials, it would be incorrect to assume that the larger the size, the heavier the board. Much about the weight of the electric surfboard itself will depend on how you handle the board. 

  • Many newbies to electric surfboards feel that larger boards are easier to handle while on the water. 
  • However, others feel a smaller board is easier to handle when it comes to stability. 

The weight of one’s board can vary from 10 kg to about 40kg, which defines the average weight of most electric surfboards. One thing that might help you assess the weight of the electric surfboard you should purchase is your height. 

  • If you happen to be tall, consider getting a longer board. 
  • If you happen to be short, consider getting a smaller board. 

When you go out to purchase the board, you’ll want to make sure you can properly balance your electric surfboard. That means having the capability to balance while spreading your legs and standing on the board. Getting a longer board allows taller people to have the wide stance they need to surf. 

Type of Electric Surfboard

Nowadays, you’ll have many different electric surfboard types to choose from. Every different type of electric surfboard offers its own specific experience and feel, so you’ll need to assess the board that will work best for you based on that information. 

Some people enjoy electric SUP boards, especially families. These types of boards are best for individuals that enjoy cruising and seeing the various sights along the water. Suppose you are the type of person that enjoys going fast than an electric foil surfboard will allow you to go faster on the water. On the other hand, if you want to tow a wakeboarder around, then you’ll need to purchase a heavier board that can accomplish this.

As you can see from the above description, there is a wide variety of choices in the type of electric surfboard you’ll ultimately wind up purchasing. So, comprehending how you want to use the board, and how the different types of boards are used should help you make a purchasing decision. 

To help you find the right board, first realize what type of experience you want out of your board. Then consider purchasing one of the types of board categories listed below.

Foiling: Hydrofoil surfboards built for speed

Hydrofoil surfboards are simple surfboards that feature an extra hydrofoil that elevates the surface of the board. Most hydrofoil surfboards have attached propellers. Once you get the hydrofoil surfboard in the water, the board will lift off the surface of the water and focus on one foot. Hydrofoil surfboards usually travel at faster speeds in the water and are best for individuals that want to travel at a rapid pace (source).

Electric Surfboards: Best for Variety

Electric surfboards resemble traditional surfboards in looks. These types of surfboards can be quite powerful and speedy, but some of them are also smaller and slower. Depending on exactly what you want to do on the water, whether it’s cruise and sight-see or move quickly, you should be able to find an electric surfboard that works for you. 

Electric Stand-Up Paddleboards: A More Traditional Feeling

For those of you that would prefer to have an electric surfboard that resembles a more traditional surfboard in feel, you may want to consider an electric stand-up paddleboard. These paddleboards are also known as SUP boards and feel similar to non-motorized, traditional surfboards. However, SUP boards can be purchased with a motor. 

Should You Purchase an Inflatable or Solid Electric Surfboard?

Along the same lines as the type of board you want to purchase, you’ll also need to consider whether you want an inflatable electric surfboard or a solid electric surfboard. 

  • Solid electric surfboards tend to be faster and better for riding larger waves. This type of electric surfboard doesn’t provide flex, making them quite rugged.
  • Inflatable electric surfboards tend to be more lightweight, so they are easier for both transport and store. However, as far as performance is concerned, they don’t perform as well as a solid electric surfboard. 

If you don’t plan on using your electric surfboard all that often, and you are short on storage space on your boat or your home, then you may want to consider an inflatable electric surfboard. However, if you are more concerned about how excellent your experience on the water is, then opting for a solid electric surfboard would be your better option. In the end, the choice is up to you. 

Shape and Price of the Electric Surfboard

Before purchasing your electric surfboard, you’ll need to think about the shape of the electric surfboard you intend to buy. Electric surfboards come in many different shapes and sizes, including

  • Rectangular
  • Oval

The different shapes affect the way the standard electric surfboard performs. Also, the shape of the electric surfboard will affect how easy or challenging it is to both stand and balance on the electric surfboard. 

The prices of electric surfboards are unfortunately not cheap. Instead, electric surfboards tend to be very expensive. Less expensive models of electric surfboards start at around $700. However, a higher-end electric surfboard can cost as much as $19,000 or higher. As you can see, there is a steep difference in price, and the cost of the electric surfboard will substantially affect the overall price of the electric surfboard. 

Typically, the more money you spend on your electric surfboard, the better the features on the board. More expensive boards tend to have a better

  • Extended battery life
  • Faster range of speed

However, if you can live without going fast or having an extended battery life and some fancy features, then you can purchase a more affordable electric surfboard and still reap the benefits. While that might cost you around one thousand dollars, you’ll still have plenty of fun on that type of board. Most people cannot ride around on their boards for longer than fifteen minutes or so without getting exhausted, and many people don’t care about how fast they go.

So, if you are one of those people, then you can easily opt for a cheaper board, especially if you are a newbie to this hobby. 

The Electric Surfboard’s Warranties

Another factor you’ll want to consider when it comes to purchasing an electric surfboard is the warranty that you’ll get with your purchase. While you may not know about every manufacturer of electric surfboards yet, you should at least look into the different warranties offered by the various brands.

Since electric surfboards are expensive, you’ll want to make sure that you buy a particular electric surfboard that has a decent warranty. That way, you’ll get peace of mind if you run into problems while you are out on the water. 

The Electric Surfboard’s Deck

Another essential factor to keep in mind if you are purchasing your first electric surfboard is the electric surfboard’s deck. Some electric surfboards offer smoother decks. However, smoother decks can make it more difficult for newbies to balance and learn when just starting the process.

If you do purchase an electric surfboard with a rougher deck, you’ll notice that you’ll get a more comfortable grip. However, standing for an extended period will become difficult on this type of board. So, there are pros and cons behind both smooth and rough electric surfboard decks. 

The Electric Surfboard’s Speed

Electric surfboards can travel at a wide variety of different speeds depending on the electric surfboard’s manufacturer and the style of board that you purchase. Electric surfboard speeds can vary between 30 km to 60km per hour, which provides you with a vast range of speeds. So, you’ll need to make the decision to either cruise and sight-see or to pick a faster electric surfboard. 

Keep in mind that the faster the electric surfboard goes, the more money you’ll probably have to invest in it. So, if you are okay with cruising and sight-seeing, you can save a decent amount of money on your electric surfboard. 

The Electric Surfboard’s Fins

The fins on your electric surfboard are also essential to review. There is a variety when it comes to fins and specific models of electric surfboards. Some fins come permanently attached to the electric surfboard, while other fins are removable. Purchasing an electric surfboard that offers decent fins can help boost your speed while you are on the water. Furthermore, better fins allow you to have more balance and control.

However, electric surfboards with excellent fins don’t come cheap. So, again, deciding on the type of fins you want with your electric surfboard can also vary widely depending on your budget. 

The Electric Surfboard’s Battery Life

The rate of speed you want to go on your electric surfboard will determine the quality of the electric surfboard’s battery life. Most of the higher-end electric surfboards can last up to forty-five minutes and sometimes over an hour. The lower-end electric surfboards typically come with weaker batteries and only last about twenty minutes.

The longer you want your electric surfboard’s battery to last, the more expensive your electric surfboard will be. So, you’ll need to consider your budget when taking a look at this factor.

Final thoughts

Electric surfboards function by using independent power sources to open up new adventures in water sports. They are incredible products that allow individuals to surf anywhere they’d like to go at any time. While the experience on an electric surfboard won’t resemble what you feel when surfing on a traditional surfboard, you will no longer be limited by waves and climate when you surf. 

Electric surfboards can also be incredibly agile and quick. No matter why you want to purchase an electric surfboard, you’ll have many different outdoor adventures and experiences utilizing one of these amazing products. 

Tim Conner, M.D.

Tim Conner, M.D. started boating in 1974. He has been involved in recreational boating continuously since then. Dr. Conner has been active in boating and watersports safety education for decades. He rode his first jet ski in 1997, and rejoined the personal watercraft arena in 2012 with a Sea-Doo GTX 155, followed by 2 supercharged SeaDoos. Scuba certification came in 1988, and he and the family have traveled the world snorkeling and scuba diving for decades. The family has recently taken up paddle boarding. Click the photo for a lot more.