Scott, it should be possible to purchase
that Aqua Signal unit cheaper. Over here cheapest I found is 300 Euro's. I got a "special action" 10 % discount, this made it 270 including 19 % VAT tax. But 300 euro's is 450$, so it should be possible to have it cheaper. Maybe order in the UK with VAT refund?
I have thought about replacement LED's. These are OK for the anchor light, but too weak for the 3color light. Plus there is the risk of VHF radio
EMC (interference) from the switch-mode regulator
in the LED light. The antenna
is directly next to it! I assume Aqua Signal have done good job to prevent this EMC, otherwise I'll just send it back.
There is a good test of all 3color options in an English
magazine, Practical Boat Owner, of last summer. I will mail a scan of this to those who send me their email
address. The Aqua Signal is test winner. Replacement LED's for the 3color were not bright enough, and the wrong color.
Also in some forums
there were people whose LED units had failed. With these new products, do not believe the lifetime specifications! These might be just the figures for the separate LED's. But there is also the switch-mode electronics
that can fail, and all the connections. I was in the electronics
industry and I know how hard it is to design something really robust against early failure.
If my main problem was power from the anchor light I'd go for a replacement bulb for the anchor light. But we do night sailing, and that 2 Amps of the tricolor is too much. The anchor light is only 0.8 amps.
I'd also like to exchange ideas on the solar panels
. So far my thoughts are:
only between the davits
or also outside them? (port and startboard of them)
- Material aluminium or stainless steel
? Probably aluminium. Easy to rivet. Lighter. Less corrosion
risk with the anodised aluminium frames of the panels
- 4 panels better than 2 ? Reason: partial shading. Solar panels
loose more than 50 % of power when shade is 10 % of surface.
- If 2 panels between the davits: better to have them oriented crosswise than in the length of the ship. Reason: this way you still have power in case of partial shading by the bimini
- Wires to go through the port davit, shortest to the battery
- Mark's regulator
looks very good from the spec. But two smaller ones is also attractive, especially for partial shading.
- How big is the risk of waves or storm damaging the panels? We have had waves going over the engine
hatches. (force 9 in the baltics). But we have not had waves going into the dinghy
, only spray.
- Better to take 12 or 24 V panels? Mark uses 24 V models. Lower current
, less wire loss.
- Which brand of panels? I was considering 85 Watt Kyocera
KC85GX-2P, 2 or 4 pieces. Mark use Sunpower. Plus is higher power/m2 for Sunpower. But power/$ is better for Kyocera
- Weight is important. Last summer we had to tack against force 5-6 with very short steep waves like you get in the Baltic
. We had just taken in full water
, 540 liters. We dumped this and gained more than 1 knot
, close to 1.5. From 4.5 to 6 knots. With those steep waves the ship is really braked by the waves when too heavy.