The first thing I've learned now from 7 years of full time living aboard
(4 out cruising) and 3 now on a mooring
is that you just can't have too much power. We started out with 260W of solar, no wind, and a 100A alternator
Then over time and frustration, we have slowly upgraded to 1300W of solar, a KISS wind gen, Honda
2000, a 400AH LiFePO4 battery
bank, and if I could figure out how to do it I'd have a small pebble nuclear reactor aboard to quell the never ending quest for power. Could we conserve...can anyone? Of course...but then that would make cruising and living aboard
more like camping to us and my wife and kids
would be out meeting with a real estate agent today looking to move ashore.
I tell folks to put every W of solar you can on your boat first, then if you have room for the mount and budget
left in the cruising kitty, sure...go for a quality wind generator
if your cruising destination
has a track record
of good winds. [[And remember in full disclosure, I'm the owner/manufacturer of the KISS wind gen]]. Now once you make that wind generator
call, don't waste your time with a trickle charger
...you want as many Amps as you can get and that $500 savings in a wind generator
just isn't worth it in the lost
power you could have had between a low output and high output unit. Modern wind gens are all mostly quiet these days...it's the old school
AirX screamers that give the industry a bad reputation, but the noise
issue is pretty much gone these days.
Wind power is very seasonal for us. During the summer, it just sits there laughing at me for all the work it took to install it up on my mizzen mast
, no turning...no power....just another blob of shade on my solar panels
. But in the winter and especially spring when it blows 25-30kts every day, even on full cloudy days my batteries get topped off from the wind gen. Now sure without it I could just fire up the Honda
2000 (or the 8K diesel) but it's about the convenience of getting that "free power" without burning petrol.
The second thing I've learned is that anyone who tells you there is a "Right Answer" to the "How should I outfit my boat questions" on a cruising chat room is either:
A) a salesman hyping his product
B) an armchair cruiser who has never been out cruising yet.
C) the dock
know-it-all guy that made all the right gear
decisions for his boat and has to share with you the one right way to do it because his wife won't listen to him drone on anymore about it.
When I give seminars at boat shows, I tell people, (after declaring that I'm a self described cruising bozo) is that you have to answer an important questions: "What Type of Cruiser are you":
Are you the Marina Queen hopping from Marina shore power
to Marina shore power
? (no solar or wind needed here)
Are you the 365day/yr anchor
out guy that thinks he will be arrested for that 1975 warrant if he lands his boat at a dock
(better set up to be independent from dock power in every way you can)
Are you the Glamor/Glitz boat with all the new and latest gear
(plan on waiting for repair parts
to ship down if you can't deal with your wind instrument being off by 4-degs and 2kts)
Are you the normal cruiser, that doesn't go on a OCD fit over what gear the boat is outfitted with as long as you can get out there before the world melts down or you die from cancer?
(in this case, just go and figure it all out yourself** See Note)
Answering these questions HONESTLY for yourself and not based on how your dock neighbor or yacht club buddies tell you is Muy Importante to a successful cruise
A wind generator isn't a "Must have" item like an espresso machine or soda stream but if you have room and budget
on your boat then I've never seen anyone take one off their boat and sell it because it's just one more way to quench that never ending need for more power!
The best way to know what works out cruising for YOU is to GO Cruising and find out! This isn't a flippant smart ass answer, ok well it is a little, but it's still true. Go for a year without all the "stuff" and then figure out what you really want and need for YOURSELF. Then buy and install it. This approach is a little unconventional in a world that preaches you have to have everything ready the day you leave the dock (the boat show
lie) but it can also get you out cruising sooner and save you literally thousands of dollars!