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Old 02-06-2015, 06:55   #16
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

I have both, and like it. So far our windgen has been problem-free (SilentWind), and is pretty quiet. Works well when solar does not ... and vice versa.

The right answer for each of us likely depends on cruising grounds, boat space, power needs and budget. It's true that the cost of solar has come way down while quality windgens are still quite expensive, but $$$ is not my principle driver. On my boat (smallish, classic double-ender), it would be hard to find enough real estate to replace the power input of the windgen with solar.

As with most of these questions, the answer really is: It Depends... .
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:44   #17
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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Do tell....
I would like some feedback and advice from CF members. There are so many knowledgeable people here and I hope to tap into that brain trust. We are only in the early planning stages at the moment and still debating the pros and cons of so many options.

So I will start a new thread shortly.
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:47   #18
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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I don't agree and feel that batteries are very reliable! The only part of batteries that aren't reliable are the things that charge them.
Their life is quite unpredictable. I use good quality gel batteries in my boats. Over 5 years and I start to become nervous that they will fail in remote location, but I have had over double this life out some batteries so it seems indulgent to replace them at the 5 year mark. Good quality batteries outside the USA can be expensive. Monitoring the charge and discharge characteristics can give some clue, as can a load test, but batteries can and sometimes do fail quite rapidly.

Most boat parts can be purchased anywhere in the world and couriered to your location reasonably rapidly. Batteries are harder. They are regarded as dangerous goods so courier delivery is lot more difficult to arrange. In addition, they are very heavy and the transport cost can be large percentage of the total.

So we have an expensive component that is difficult to get with an unpredictable life that is pain (literally) to move on and off the boat.

Contrast this with solar panels. I still have a small solar panel that I purchased over 20 years ago. It is still going strong and puts out almost what it did when new. Providing the electrical connections are made correctly, it would not surprise me if it is still OK in another 20 years.
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Old 02-06-2015, 07:51   #19
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

Hi there!
We primarily have solar but my husband would like to have a wind generator as well. I personally don't like the sound they create, though my husband says when he hears it and he thinks, POWER!

It's definitely a personal decision.

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Old 02-06-2015, 08:13   #20
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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I have 320 watts of solar and a Air Breeze. The Air Breeze beets the solar hands down. I would not be without both.
Bob

We've got 130 watts of solar and an air breeze........I'm the opposite though.....on a day in day out basis the solar has pumped far more amps into the batteries. The wind is nice when it's going, but short lived bursts of 10-12 amps never beats the tortoise like regularity of 5 amps for hours at a time.


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Old 02-06-2015, 08:39   #21
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

before i bought my two windmills, i was advised that if i wanted efficiency that i needed two of em. so i bought two for under 500 usd, err, coconutz...
so far--i LOVE em.
i didnt start out with wind and poopoo'd the idea as ineffecient and ineffective, until i installed 2 of em. now i adore em.
there is an abundance of wind after sun fades, and i am able to make the best of this. my solar panels do not catch all the sun--it is difficult to place em in such a manner as to catch an entire day's worth of sunrays.
if you or your cruising partner like watching movies at night or playing online with your friends, then you want more than mere solar power to play with.
this is an individual choice-- what ye need to do is experiment out here to see what your absolute needs are and adjust accordingly.
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:08   #22
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

Living in northern Europe we have more wind than sun, so I decided to opt for a wind generator. Research on the internet and visiting marinas and listening to various brands of wind generators, led me to the most expensive, highest output model on the market.

The SuperWind 350 can output up to 350 watts, has a convenient braking system, doesn't overcharge my battery banks, is built of the highest quality material for the marine environment and the firm has great service. I have had the blade(s) broken twice, once by crew raising an oar without considering the spinning blades, in both instances, a new set of blades was overnighted.

Many consider wind generators to be too noisy. Well, the SuperWind was quiet from the first installation, no whirring sounds, no vibration or humming. With the original blade design when I was sailing on the wind, I would hear a slight "whoosh" when I was in the groove. Then the firm did a modification to the blades and I can't hear anything. If I am in the cabin, I have to actually look at the generator to see if it is spinning, it is so quiet.

A purchase of a SuperWind is one of the rare cases in marine equipment where you actually get what you pay for...
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:12   #23
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

I have large solar panels and they will provide most, if not all, of the power required during normal days at anchorage. I would like to add a windgen if I can afford it later. I won't like the noise or the esthetics of it sitting up high but not having power when you need it is worse.

People in Mexico routinely complain about not having enough wind for their generators though. Solar is more consistent. But one place I would like to have a windgen is on long passages when the wind pilot is not working and the autopilot is needed. We have had to do 10 day passages in that scenario and the times you need the most power are when it is blowing the hardest.

But - it is one more expensive gizmo - to buy, install, maintain. It does add up. I will have a Honda generator too before taking off again. The Pardey's and Pardey-likes of the world are giving us all razzberries right now.
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:26   #24
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

Solar is great...but are sailboats supposed to look like power plants with racks of panels soaring majestically above? I encourage big battery banks, properly designed high output alternators on the main engine and smart voltage regulators. Long voyages in the trade wind belts are often without sun, leaving diesel generated power a very cost effective alternative...not to be overlooked.
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:35   #25
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

FWIW, I have updated electronics thanks to a nasty storm and good insurance and drastically reduced power needs. I have a built in well insulated fridge and AC. I have 300 watts of solar that are rarely shaded and a 250 watts windmill. I also have 260 watts from the engines and a 2500 watt gas/propane genset. I have enough battery to run all lights and electronics and fridge for two days to have half charge. I am ok till the batteries fail suddenly, I am out of fuel, and there is no wind or sun for a couple of days. The gen set runs the AC and keeps the batteries up at night when used. Murphy seems to follow me around so redundancy is my copilot.
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Old 02-06-2015, 09:55   #26
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

Wind turbines being a mechanical, electrical and "mixed metal in salt air" device is bound to be higher maintenance and, with out maintenance, prone to premature failure. Silicone crystals solar cells will rarely fail unless moisture breaches seal and gets to the conductors. Wind and solar both are susceptible to weather seal breaches that cause failure from salt, but turbines, being more dynamic, are more difficult to seal. Bendable solar panels are intriguing but ultimately will fail from UV yellowing (not glass) or cracking once brittle, hence the much shorter warranties. Wind is a great compliment with minimal foot print as compared to solar at max of 20 watts per square foot with out shadow. Mono hull's with limited surface area are going to see a much stronger argument for augmenting with turbines. Over the last 30 years, mono crystalline panels are the most efficient and continue to be so. The "solar noon" rating system (optimum angle, light and temp) obscures the actual goal, Watt Hours Per Day (efficiencies range from 13.5% to 22% which equates to hours of additional daily charge time during low sun angle or low irradiance). I agree, batteries are the most reliable part of the total system as long as you size them appropriately for the autonomy needed. Serious cruisers learn quickly the reliability and value in a robust battery bank, not stressed by daily cycles.
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Old 02-06-2015, 10:02   #27
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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It's not just the noise. Apparently the props crack/break off once in a while and injure people. With the cost of solar well under $1/watt these days why would anyone consider anything else?
I know that solar has come down in price, but quality panels at less than $1/watt? I would be interested in where these are available.
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Old 02-06-2015, 10:33   #28
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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I agree, batteries are the most reliable part of the total system as long as you size them appropriately for the autonomy needed. Serious cruisers learn quickly the reliability and value in a robust battery bank, not stressed by daily cycles.

If we look at the reliability of the major electrical components my table (assuming lead acid, not lithium batteries) might look something like this:

Batteries: 3-7 years. Action after this time replacement.
Solar panels: 20-30 years. Action after this time replacement.
Wind generator: 5-10 years. Action after this time repair. 10-20 years replacement.
Alternator: 5-15 years. Action after this time repair . 10-20 years replacement.
Generator: Yearly service. Major repair every 5 -10 years. Replacement 20 years, but results very variable depending on initial quality and maintenance.
Wiring and CB: 20-30 years. Action after this time replacement
Water generator: Unknown-probably less than wind generator.

These numbers are only vague generalities. Premium components treated with care will last significantly longer in all categories, but I cannot understand why you rate batteries at the top of list. They have one of the shortest replacement cycles of all our electrical components.
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Old 02-06-2015, 11:18   #29
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

If you have the room for enough panels and battery capacity to meet your energy demands for 4 days in the winter time, short days and over cast. A redundancy source from engine alternator or battery charge with generator should be fine. I used my wind generators when I was ashore. During the summer when there was no wind I had to supplement the solar panels by running the engine a couple of hours a day. If I had the room for more solar panels and battery capacity, I would take the panels over a wind generator or listening to and engine running any day.


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Old 02-06-2015, 11:41   #30
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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I think the noise/maintenance/breakages issues are down to what wind geny you go for.
True and with an AirMaax...fiasco is just around the corner for you unfortunately. There isn't a marine company I know of worse than ElectroMaax...hopefully you will have better luck.
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