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Old 13-10-2014, 01:27   #1
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Performance

Two weeks out and I write from the Whitsundays.

Just a few issues of debate that I can now confirm based on real cruising results.

Usage

2 fridges, freezer, nav gear etc you are talking 300AH per day. Watch the LED light arrays in the saloon. They pull a lot of amps.

Solar

Flexibles do not work. They run at around 25% of rated current at max whilst the normal solar panels run at 80-90%

Will I upgrade. No. We stay at a mooring for at max 2 days and normal running of engines will top up the batteries. As of today I have used the genny for 18 hours in 2 weeks.

At $2 per hour for the genny a solar upgrade is simply unnecessary.

I use the floating solar panels to charge my hookah batteries and to supplement normal batteries and that works well.

Fuel

My average fuel consumption is 3.9l per hour. The boat runs on one engine at around 2K for 7 kn and that is fine by me. Engines are 55Hp.

Anchor

The Rocna is magic. The 32Kilo drops in and holds with a little bit of reverse ever time. I sleep like a baby. 60m of chain is tons. Have not used any where near this, but on the other hand the Rocna will wear a 4x rode no probs.

Air Con

Single 16KBtu unit cools the saloon and owners hull no problem.

Based on our experience we now need:

(1) AIS transmit. I thought we could do without but am now convinced we must have it.

(2) Strong bimini blockout. We put clears on the side of bimini but this does not work in the strong Oz sun for 8-10 hours.

(3) Wheels for the runabout. I am pretty sick of pulling it up and down beaches.

(4) The glass on the engine hatches is thin and the pneumatic mounts need backing plates.

As to the boat I cannot complain. I have spent 2 weeks tightening screws and bolts and fixing things that should have been done properly in the first place, but the boat is uber comfortable and sails acceptably and is safe as all getout.

As a final comment I was told by many people that the coast from Brisbane up to and including the Whitsundays is the best in the world. I can only agree. I really feel like I have died and gone to heaven.

Looking forward to touring the Pacific next year.

Cheers
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Old 13-10-2014, 01:32   #2
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Re: Performance

Also

If you want continuous comms then get a satphone. 3g/4g aerials will not help you if you are out at the bunkers or Capricorn islands or even a substantial distance from a transmitter.

I will be ordering mine when I get back.
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Old 14-10-2014, 16:52   #3
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Re: Performance

Glad to hear you two are loving the QLD coast But disappointed to hear your eval of the flexible solar as being poor efficiency. Can you let us know which panels they are? Are they the fully flexible, roll up type, or the semi flexible ones. Do you think it might be a brand issue, ie some better than others?

I have heard really good reviews of the semi rigid ones & was hoping to get significant amps from them when at anchor. Store them under bunk and them onto tramps at anchor.
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Old 14-10-2014, 17:16   #4
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Re: Performance

Rob

They are the semi flexibles. I think they are very clever in their marketing in that they state they are 22% efficient, which apparently means they deliver 22% of their maximum rated current. On the other hand my floating hard panels deliver 80-90% of max rated current.

Mine are chinese but I do not think it is brand specific as I had the Italian ones on the Orana and same output.

The calc on solar panels is pretty simple really. We find we are typically using 400Ah per day if you include nav instruments. You have about 6 good hours of solar and assume 80% efficient then you need around 80Amps over the 6 hours. This means you need around 1.2KW in solar panels to break even. This assumes optimal placement of the panels and placement is never optimal. As a result any solution other than a large fixed solar array is going to require running the motors or generator for some time during the day.
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Old 14-10-2014, 17:37   #5
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Re: Performance

Wow, that is just such a huge disparity between panel types, that I'm wondering how it could be so. I don't think the cells are radically different, but could be very wrong. That means the semi rigid panels are effectively useless for what I wanted to do > very bad news indeed.

I'll do some digging into this issue so see if others are getting the same results as you.

Anyone else who is using semi rigid panels is welcome to comment PLEASE!
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Old 14-10-2014, 19:01   #6
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Re: Performance

Rob

The problem is self heating of the panels installed on fibreglass. This is why you see roof panels with a minimum distance to the tiles so that they do not heat up. Performance reduces dramatically with temperature.

I think there is a thread on this somewhere. The lack of performance of these panels is well acknowledged. I guess I simply had to see for myself.

I have just checked and at 11am 480W solar are generating about 12A which is about 25% maximum rating.

Compare this to my floating hard panel (120W) at the moment and it is generating 8A (70% max rating).

This is all up 20A which is still 5A shy of current demand.
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Old 14-10-2014, 19:44   #7
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Re: Performance

Thanks Chris, that is really valuable empirical, real world data. Much appreciated. Just to clarify, your semi-flexible panels have no "breathing" then, they are directly on the warm fibreglass?

What about if they were on the tramps, and got airflow underneath them? Any guesstimate on if and by how much that might improve output?

I've read it can improve panel output by up to 30%, but there is still a long way to go to get to 80% like on your rigid, floating permanent installation.
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Old 15-10-2014, 02:46   #8
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Re: Performance

The efficiency rating is simply w/m2 so you can check it yourself. I'd be interested to see the rating of your flexible panels. Output shouldn't be effected as much as you are experiencing with heat alone.
Ie our panels are 1mx1.6m, 280w, eff = 280/1.6= 17.5
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Old 15-10-2014, 03:16   #9
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Re: Performance

Well, my experience has been different. My semi flexible panels are 10 years old and now need replacing. To begin with they put out MORE than their rated output, and slowly dropped to the rated output. At about 9 years old, they dropped output quite quickly. I will replace them with new semi flexibles. they are mounted on the canvas bimini. (monohull)
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Old 16-10-2014, 21:38   #10
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Re: Performance

Hello cwjohm, Helia 44 here........

Sorry, with the same boat, I think you have the importance of solar inappropriately prioritized. Yes the generator is cheap, and BTW have you calculated in the fuel of the genset running that much as my engine consumption seems less...??

Yes the generator is cheap and easy, but there will be times in my experience when getting good diesel on board is a bit hard to get to. Raised solid panels with laminar air flow underneath have a better efficiency IME (In My Experience).

You wrote: "I have just checked and at 11am 480W solar are generating about 12A which is about 25% maximum rating." Something is wrong with that.. Either the panel array is slightly shaded by something, or your battery voltage is on the higher end. The solar input will go down as the battery voltage comes up, that is how the systems work. Batteries down under 12 volts, and even this time of year with the solar declination, I would expect about 20 amps out of a 480 watt array.. On a higher solar declination later in the year, possibly in the 24 amps input if the batteries were down to say 11-11.5 volts. Something is wrong or your batteries were not that low. If you tested them with the batteries in the 11-11.5 range, you would have to have one or two panels not working, not hooked up right to get such a poor result IME... I have had solar arrays on yachts since the ARCO solar panel experiments on yachts (mine) in the early 1980's, I can assure you my figures are pretty close with my 40 years experience..

I am going to put portable panels on the trapeze when I am on a pleasant sail or at anchor, even tie them down if it is blowing any.. I have just ordered some multiple folding ones that four fold go to 120 watts and will lay them on the trapeze and plug them in. I may go to four sets of them... My DC water maker will work with 18 amps, in the peak of day 10-2 I can generate that on them alone IME...

Diesel is all and good, if you can get it easy enough. I for one do not want to have to go hunting for it.

One more thing, I am going 80 Meters, for the times when I want to anchor out deeper... 20 more Meters at 2 kg a meter is 40 kg or 100 lbs... With the water maker, I am going to carry 400-500 litres less water, run on 200-300 litres, that gives me a thousand pounds less weight to play with..

Comments on the anchor I agree with.. I held with the same boat in 25 kts gusting 30, with a 20 kg Kobra2... The 33 kg Rocna is TWICE the flukes in area, easy.. HUGE....

Other readers: On my 2013 Helia 44, I have not experienced any deficiencies in the engine hatches. In all fairness this might just be a "batch variation" year to year..

Kind regards to all, a fair Marine Engineer who used to work in the Industry many years ago, I have no commercial interests at all with the yachting industry, and I think I have unbiased views to offer help FOC and without commercial bias of ANY kind, Helia 44....
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Old 16-10-2014, 23:44   #11
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Re: Performance

Ahh, the old diesel myth.

Firstly, my usage of diesel on the genny is 5% in total. You need diesel for the motors, and to get from place to place, so if you are going from place to place you need diesel irrespective of the generator.

Secondly, I have quizzed every experienced sailor who shipped into Mooloolaba in regard to this so called problem with diesel and NONE have said it is an issue, even in the middle of the Pacific.

Finally, you said that the furthest you are going is to the Whitsundays, where there is diesel everywhere.

Why then, would you spend good money on EXTRA solar panels when power is available at $2 per hour. This is an emotional decision, not a rational one.

I am well aware how MPPT chargers work. I am an electrical engineer and have designed these chargers in the past.

Suffice it to say that flexible panels fixed on fibreglass are not efficient. I will be interested to see if flexible panels located on the tramp do work. They may well do but they will suffer from serious shadowing from equipment on the boat.

Finally, I did NOT say that I experienced deficiencies on the engine hatches. What I said was that where the pneumatic strut attaches to the engine hatch the glass is thin and I will beef it up a stainless plate.

In regard to anchor chain I have 60m and have not had cause to use anything like it at any time, just as other cruisers have reported
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Old 17-10-2014, 09:44   #12
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Re: Performance

Hmmm, sorry, no offence but it does not work like that on my boat.

Other Yachties: Lets see now: On my boat 1/2 load fuel consumption 2 litres per hour at average marine diesel price is $3.50. Then at average service at 200 hours oil filters belts misc even if I do it all myself about $1 hour. Then the life of the genset at something over 8000 hours but installation and costs with remotes at over $24,000 so another $3 an hour. Then maybe a Technician tune and injector service once a year maybe we call that .50 cents an hour? That is more realistic costs of $8 an hour (Australian) without breakdowns. Say 20 hours a week/ 52 weeks a year, $8,320 a year?

I just bought 120 watt fold up portable sets of solar with their own regulator for $400, 4 of $1600. In full sun I would expect an average of 20-24 amps out of them. If they cut my genset run time down by half they pay for themselves in 4-5 months. If they only cut genset run time by less than 1/4 they will pay for themselves in a year, EVERY year. They will put out 1 amp each in the rain and 2-3 amps each in cloudy weather. Hmmm 20-24 amps average year around on at sunny day from about 10 till 3, less off peak, but about 28 amps in summer when the need is greatest and the solar declination is high... Hmmmm then lets see, since if portable ones they 5 way fold up to a canvas briefcase size about 50 mm thick on a multihull I have room for 8 sets? Or build fixed down as in conventional for about the same money?

Friends, I would suggest their is a strong case for solar and wind generators...

Kid regards, Helia
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Old 17-10-2014, 14:37   #13
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Re: Performance

Sorry, no offence, but you obviously did not read my posts.

As explained several times diesel costs are sunk costs because you have to have it anyway.

Therefore the additional cost is 1l per hour or $2.
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Old 17-10-2014, 17:04   #14
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Re: Performance

Actually on reflection it does not even cost $2 per hour as the vast majority of time I run genny for other purpose and as such the charging is free.

Given your aversion to heat if you were up here the genny would run 4-6 hours a day to run the air-con and any extra charging source would be superfluous.
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Old 21-10-2014, 14:38   #15
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Re: Performance

Hi guys, we have just fitted an IridiumGo satellite router with a marine antenna. Very easy to install and set up. Have just sailed from Ibiza to Gibraltar and under sail at 8kt were able to email txt or chat using either IPad or smartphones great unit. Much easier than satphone and portable if necessary. The unit itself is not much larger than a packet of cigs.
Technology is great.
We have 800W of solar and on sunny days if batteries need it we have seen 40Amps pumping in.
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