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Old 03-03-2008, 15:02   #1
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A GENERATOR AND SOLAR PANELS.......

I'm looking for opinions or reasons on "why" I should install SOLAR PANELS when I already have a new KUBOTA generator..............

This will be for CARRIBEAN CRUZIN'...........

What do you think the advantages are, considering the costs involved purchasing and installing some "high-end" solar panels, OR. just sticking with the generator.

any thoughts are greatly appreciated........
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Old 03-03-2008, 15:22   #2
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Originally Posted by High Cotton View Post
I'm looking for opinions or reasons on "why" I should install SOLAR PANELS when I already have a new KUBOTA generator..............

This will be for CARRIBEAN CRUZIN'...........

What do you think the advantages are, considering the costs involved purchasing and installing some "high-end" solar panels, OR. just sticking with the generator.

any thoughts are greatly appreciated........
Cost of buying solar panels and extra batteries vs cost of diesel to run the genset can be debated. I'm not going to bother.

So, solar panels:

They can charge without using fuel, which leaves more fuel left for out manuevering that storm, or making those final miles through the doldrums.

They work even if the genset breaks down.

Solar panels are a little quieter than a genset.

-dan
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Old 03-03-2008, 15:23   #3
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A genset has to make noise and burn fuel to operate a few hours per day. Solar panels run without noise and a wind generator runs with a lot less noise. You can take advantage with a wind generator while making a passage but not much advantage at a quiet anchorage. The solar panels work in any sunshine.

You could be just fine with only a generator assuming it worked all the time and you had fuel to run it. The alternatives don't output that much but are far more reliable and provide more peace and quiet.

The costs of solar panels and a wind generator are high compared to the output they produce. There is nothing as noisy as a generator except for the main engine.

You can easily look at it either way. There are no other compelling alternatives other than not having a generator and running the main engine as required.
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Old 03-03-2008, 17:49   #4
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Don't waste your money

on solar panels. Why spend a couple of thousand dollars for large solar panels that make electricity whenever there is light for the next 25 years. Put that money in the fuel tank, filters, oil, maintenance and eventual replacement.
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Old 03-03-2008, 21:15   #5
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solar

It depends how the boat is setup. ie DC for refrigeration comes to mind. Before I removed the engine dependent holding plates I had to run the engine each day which limited how far or long I was away. All DC & solar it does not matter.

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Old 03-03-2008, 21:25   #6
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If your budget allows for it get as many panels as is whats reasonable and spend money keeping your generator in top shape as well. It's nice not having to run the genset as often. It's more of a backup situation where one backs up the other, than an either/or situation. The more sources you have for charging up your 12VDC system, the better. Backups are a good thing.
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Old 03-03-2008, 21:26   #7
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Go green, Don't add greenhouse gases.

The quieter the power the better!
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:25   #8
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A quick bottom line since you already have the Kubota. If you use 100-150AH's a day you will spend about $1000 bucks a year running and taking care of the Kubota of which about 75% is fuel cost.
To get the same amp hours out of solar panels you will need between 5 and 600 watts + a good charge controller...figure $3500 in parts and maybe another $1000-1500 in labor if you hire it out.
So...economically...it will be worthwhile to have solar economically if you plan to be out for 5 years or so. You can of course mix and match capacity with lower wattage panels and some running of the Kubota...but I don't think the payback time will vary much as it is sunk up front.
Note...these are rough calculations and I stand ready to accept anyone who can cite better numbers. Just thought that some ballpark, back of the envelope calculation might be useful here.
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Old 04-03-2008, 12:15   #9
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Once nice thing about solar is that the panels charge even when you aren't at the boat. So, with our first boat, a Chrystler 26 which we kept on a mooring can, the solar panel always made sure the starting battery was nice and charged.

But since you have a generator, that you will maintain anyway, why bother? The marginal cost of running it 5 more minutes per day to produce whatever the solar panel would have produced will be next to nothing.

And don't kid yourself about the solar panel being "green." How much energy and polution went into the manufacture of the solar panel in the first place?
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Old 04-03-2008, 12:49   #10
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And don't kid yourself about the solar panel being "green." How much energy and polution went into the manufacture of the solar panel in the first place?
Never looked at it that way. Very interesting point. I wonder if there is a place to figure that out?
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Old 04-03-2008, 13:16   #11
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I would think it is a one time shot for the solar panel NOT being green. Then the next 25 years it is nothing but GREEN. I use panels, and a wind generator to supply my needs. The previous owner had a small Honda generator as back up. Then there was always the two Yanmars equipped with a switch for a faster charge.

The Honda being extremely quiet, and fuel effecient. The panels being absolutely quiet. The wind generator being the quietest, and highest output I have seen yet. All add to the beauty of being surrounded by Nature's quite often quiet beauty. If they are in your budget you will learn to appreciate them in your sometimes peaceful surroundings. Much nicer than listening to a deisel genset rumbling along.
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Old 04-03-2008, 13:16   #12
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I didn't see this mentioned in any of the replies..so my 2 cents. I also have a gen set; actually a diesel power plant which drives two alternators , one refer compressor and a cat high pressure pump for the water maker. The charging system produces more than sufficient power to run all of the got to have gizmos. When I first installed this I thought I would never have a use for expensive solar panels, not with all of the power it produces in such a short time period...but I was wrong. Batteries slowly sulphate when occasionally they are not fully charged. The alternators work fine putting a lot of power back in a short time but are very inefficient for that last 20% or so. And when away from the dock for any length of time the batteries start to lose there capacity from sulphation. The solar panels top the batteries off and greatly reduce this problem, they also maintain higher battery voltages in between daily charging so DC refrig ,fans, etc work better. I am sold on them.

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Old 04-03-2008, 17:40   #13
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WOW.... didn't expect so many intelligent answers that really make a lot of sense!

On the other hand, i could buy and install a "wind generator".............

I should have included that alternative to my question.........

but having said that, I guess I should do some research on "sun" versus "wind".....
having either of these for a back-up wouldn't be a bad idea, just don't really know how to figure the "costs" involved on an annual basis.

I'm probably gonna buy one or the other, so I appreciate the input from you guys!
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Old 04-03-2008, 17:48   #14
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Quote:
I'm probably gonna buy one or the other, so I appreciate the input from you guys!
Solar is always a good bet if nothing else. The trick is finding the mounting for it.

Wind is best when you are doing passages as you'll have more wind and in a good 15 - 20 knots the Wind generator will pump more amps than solar.
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Old 04-03-2008, 21:53   #15
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I have a 3.5kw Kubota generator. It sips about 1/5 of a glallon per hour. Lets say diesel is $5 a gal and you need to run 1.5 hours a day. Ok thats one gallon every three days that is $608 a year. Maintenance lets say $100/ year. Round down to $700 a year it would take 5 years to pay for the parts and another two to pay for the install. I wonder what the cost would be to just have enough solar to topp off the last 20%. This would be hard to do if you had the refer going.
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