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Old 01-06-2015, 23:31   #1
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Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

Iím currently outfitting a Jeanneau 45 for a cruise to Mexico and the South Pacific. Iíve read a few stories from cruisers recently that indicate they have (or will) ditch the wind gens for more solar. They seem to feel the noise, maintenance/cost just isnít worth it anymore, given the ever lower cost of solar. They also site erratic power generation and not wanting to anchor in windy anchorages when they have other options.
So what do those of you out cruising think? Solar is a fraction of the cost a quality wind generator. I have 660 watts of solar over my bimini now feeding a 400ah LiFePO4 bank (300ah of FLA reserve). I could add another 200+ watts of solar without much effort or mount the new 300w AirMaxx wind generator I have.
What to do??
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Old 01-06-2015, 23:56   #2
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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?
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Old 02-06-2015, 00:26   #3
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

How much solar charging do you get when sailing at night. My wind generator produces enough to run all the electronics including the radar and autopilot. I have both as practical, complimentary sources.
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Old 02-06-2015, 01:41   #4
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

It's not either, but both. They compliment each each other.

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Old 02-06-2015, 01:42   #5
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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Originally Posted by SimonV View Post
It's not either, but both. They compliment each each other.

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Yup and if you can insert a towed gen, such as an Aqua4aerogen, for use offshore so much the better.
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Old 02-06-2015, 02:03   #6
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

I think the noise/maintenance/breakages issues are down to what wind geny you go for.
Generally the more expensive one's have less issues.

I've been using a D400 for 5 years, one blade broke after going through hurricane force winds ( blades were secured, I assume it had been hit by debris). The maker sent me two replacement blades free of charge).

Also have two solar panels, and the two systems compliment each other.

Really depends on your sailing area, battery bank size, and power usage.
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Old 02-06-2015, 03:35   #7
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

I have 320 watts of solar and a Air Breeze. The Air Breeze beets the solar hands down. I would not be without both.
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Old 02-06-2015, 03:44   #8
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

Having pondered over the subject for some time now I have come to the conclusion that it is not worth buying a new wind genny. In my location. In some other location the decision might be quite different. For my location and situation the wind gennies are just too expensive and do not give enough in return. I prefer more and better solar power. Having said that, the panels are not so expensive, but quality controllers tend to be more so, for larger installations anyway.
For the occasions when there isn't enough sun amps, or your usage exceeds capacity, I see only one option: Honda EU2000i genny. Charges your batteries, and a friend even runs his 240V air con out of it. Pretty amazing.
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Old 02-06-2015, 05:26   #9
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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How much solar charging do you get when sailing at night. My wind generator produces enough to run all the electronics including the radar and autopilot. I have both as practical, complimentary sources.
Plenty, it's just delayed use called a battery bank. You have to size the bank for no charging for a reasonable period anyway.

I do believe solar has reached the point that with the exception of certain unusual situations, it's almost always more effective to install solar over a wind generator.

About the only time, I can see a wind generator being the more effective option is if you have a place to mount it but no place to mount solar. Maybe if you do a lot of high lattitude sailing where solar output will be substantially reduced.
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Old 02-06-2015, 05:31   #10
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

It is a question I am wrestling with at the moment for a new boat build.

As others have mentioned, wind and solar are complimentary. When it's not sunny it's often windy and vice versa. What has not been said, is that they are also antagonistic in that with the usual placement available on boats, the shadow from the wind generator will reduce the solar output.

Many of my cruising friends are moving away from wind generators, mainly because of noise and unreliability. Wear on the bearings seems a big problem. In some models I think they are moving away just as the problems are being solved. The new units are very quiet and there seem to much fewer bearing problems, although we probably will not know for sure for a few years.

I think a lot depends on your AHr demand. If you can fit more solar than you need, then solar is super reliable and needs zero maintenance. If you can install more wattage than you need the production even on poor days will cover much of your needs and the complimentary aspect of wind is of less benefit.

However, for what it is worth, my current thinking is to fit as much solar as possible with a D400 which seems to get great reports from users. The main reason is the installation of a washing machine. This demands a fair bit of power. Wash days will be when the D400 has reasonable output. This minimises the battery capacity needed compared to a purely solar installation.

Batteries are less reliable than wind generators, so it pays to minimise the required battery bank size and cycle depth. I know lithium is better than lead acid, but I am not yet convinced the life is going to be anything much over 10 years. Replacement of a lead acid bank is a pain in remote locations and lithium is likely to be more difficult.
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Old 02-06-2015, 06:21   #11
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
It is a question I am wrestling with at the moment for a new boat build.

Do tell....

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Old 02-06-2015, 06:26   #12
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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Batteries are less reliable than wind generators,
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.

To the original question: I started out thinking that wind was the way to go, but charged my mind because the output from the solar is generally better. I can double my solar for half the cost of a wind generator complete setup. But the OP already has 600W of solar and I know it is preachy but it would seem that with a good size battery bank that is enough.

Far as the "the sun doesn't shine at night", well that's what those reliable batteries are for.

To me the real answer to the original problem/question is to do nothing till you have experience in the real conditions of concern so you know if you are trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist or is small and has easier answers.
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Old 02-06-2015, 06:34   #13
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

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How much solar charging do you get when sailing at night. My wind generator produces enough to run all the electronics including the radar and autopilot. I have both as practical, complimentary sources.
You mean you rely on actively having power going into your battery bank 24-7?!

I did away with the wind generator after it threw a blade 100 miles South West of the Canaries and damn near took my head off. Solar just......... works! It makes no noise. It just sits there and makes power! What could be better than that?

The way solar technology is moving these days the panels are small enough, light enough and efficient enough that anyone who can't find space for them either isn't trying too hard or needs to seriously re-think their power system as a whole. It's almost not worth buying the really high quality panels, because they'll last for 20 years and by that time not only will hard panels be a thing of the past (give it two years in my view for this to happen on boats); people will just paint their decks with solar paint and job done.
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Old 02-06-2015, 06:35   #14
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

Go solar and get a small Honda generator for backup for less cost than the whirlybird. The idea is to anchor in protected areas out of the wind. No wind=no electric generation. So basically, if you've chosen your anchorage correctly, the whirlybird will just sit there.... doing nothing.

We plan on adding Solbian panels to the Bimini within the month, if the company will sharpen their quote pencil a little more.

Wind doesn't sound like a good investment to me.
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Old 02-06-2015, 06:47   #15
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Re: Does Solar trump Wind Generators these days?

i have found that solar is good ..until storms make sun fade away, when the wind generator will work --- try charging batts effectively in a furycame with only solar. you wil also want 2 wind generators. i choose air x as they are effective. so is the chinese knock off i also bought.
between the windmills and solar, i do get charged.
the solar is only so effective. wind takes allnight to dissipate, many times, and i LOVE being able to harness that energy to my advantage.
when sailing, the windmills will put out as long as you are actually in wind. many times out here there isnt the wind you counted on having .
doesnt matter. often there is no sun for your awesomest solar panels.
windmills plus solar is a win win win win situation


by the way--i LOVE the noise generated by my windmills. is the sound of CLEAN ENERGY> get used to it


i have a question for y'all..iff windmills are fading in popularity, then why do so many cruisers out here have them. with more cruisers every year coming out with windmills.. get real-- harness your energy and use it.
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