Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Elite Dangerous Pilot Academy - Fuel Scoops

Fuel Scoops

You can't run a ship without fuel and free sounds like a pretty good price, but how much does free fuel cost?.  In this article I'll be adding up the numbers.

In my Ship Focus articles I try to recommend a particular scoop, or will say which scoop I choose for each build. The rule of thumb is that I'll be trying to balance cost and the other factors. Some builds won't call for a scoop at all while others expect nothing less than the premium Class-A model.

Power Consumption

Your fuel scoop is going to take some power to run.  This shouldn't be a problem - just remember to set it in Priority group 3.  This means you might not be able to scoop during combat but guess what, you couldn't anyway.
Overall the power consumption for scoops is very low and shouldn't blow your power budget. If you are struggling then you can pick a smaller scoop or a larger power plant and we'll deal with power management in another article.

Credit Cost.

Having a scoop is going to set you back a few credits. The larger scoops differ by being faster, so if you are time-critical then spend the extra money. If you have time to spare then go for a Class-D or Class-E model and soak up the rays for as long as you need to.

Fuel Scoop Cost Size 1 Size 2 Size 3 Size 4 Size 5
Class E 309 1068 3386 10734 34026
Class A 82,270284,844902,9542,862,3649,073,694

Almost any pilot can afford the credit cost for a small scoop. The bigger models add capital expenditure and capital risk - you lose more if your ship gets destroyed.  Don't ever buy upgrades you can't afford to lose.

Time Cost

Time is of the essence so a premium scoop is always preferable, but even a budget model is likely to save you more time than having to make a stop to fill up at a station. This makes scooping ideal for fighters, or for long distance travel where stopping isn't a viable option.
Scooping rates here are measured in KG/s and you can work out how long it takes to fill a whole tank.
Fuel Scoop Rate Size 1 Size 2 Size 3 Size 4 Size 5
Class A 42 75 176 342 577

However... If you can make your trip in a single tank then stopping and tanning is going to cost your time.  If you are earning 150 Credits per second on your trade route, then stopping to scoop for thirty seconds is going to cost you 4500 Credits worth of time... It's likely to be cheaper to just dock and buy the fuel.

Capacity Cost

Some builds need every tonne they can spare. If you are carrying freight over short distances then you will be paying both the time cost for scooping AND the lost earnings from your reduced cargo capacity.  For me, these number don't add up and I don't outfit my freighters with scoops.

Range Increase

But scooping does increase your effective range. Even if you only scoop for a few seconds at each system while you align the next jump, you can make long 150Ly trips with ease.  This is especially useful for the low-tonnage and high-profit rare runs where you want to get from point A to point B without messing around.
My Rare Run builds always have fuel scoops. They are not tonnage limited, and I plan routes with a few strategic scooping stops.  You don't want to scoop after every jump as you will be running on fumes to maximise your range. The extra couple of Ly from a lighter fuel tank can reduce the number of jumps you need and get you home sooner.


Ninety-nine times out of ten I add a scoop based on the role of the ship. Rare runners get the largest Class-A scoop I can fit and still have enough cargo space.

Fighters get a budget scoop.  Maybe Class-C or D - just enough to fill up and get home. There is little benefit in shelling out and it's all insurance loss if I do.

Freighters max their cargo and go for the money, so I don't fit a scoop and wouldn't want to stop even if I had one.

As always, fly casual.