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Old 18-12-2008, 17:40   #1
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Electical System Configuration

OK so I've tried to piece together bits of knowledge from various sources. It's time to go out and start spending some money, but before I do, I thought I would throw out what I'm contemplating as a system and get some feedback from those of you who have done it all before.

What I have:

55A stock factory internally regulated alternator
180 Ah bank of flooded batteries
Trucharge 40 charger
Xantrex 1800 watt inverter (occasional use for microwave)
Xantrex battery monitor

We currently use about 40 to 50 Ah per day (mainly 12V refrigeration) summer cruising in the Pacific North West

The plan is to cruise in Mexico for a year. I anticipate load increasing to the range of 100 Ah / day (again mainly refrigeration, but also addition of SSB and laptops etc.) We want to be fairly independent from shore power.

I am contemplating:

replacing alternator with 100A externally regulated unit
upgrading batteries to 4 T105s
adding up to 3 130W Kyocera solar panels mounted on bimini
mppt charge regulator (what brand?)
possibly adding Honda 1000W generator
not planning wind or towed generator

Anyone have similar set up and have guidance? Or have I just thrown open all the questions of a thousand threads? Anyway much better to make my mistakes here before spending the cash.

Thanks

Steve
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Old 18-12-2008, 18:03   #2
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Steve,

Your power consumption will no doubt increase as you head south cruising, as you anticipate. Refrigeration will eat a lot, especially in a hot climate.

Mostly, what you plan sounds pretty much on the mark. You didn't mention a start battery; do you have a separate one? If you do (and, IMHO, it's a good idea) you could keep it topped off with a Xantrex EchoCharge or Balmar DuoCharge device, bleeding a bit of current off the house batteries. This is the preferred way to go these days.

The Balmar MC612 is a good external regulator, to go with your new alternator.

If you're going to go for a separate generator, I'd consider also the EU2000 rather than the 1000. Not much bigger or more expensive, but it can charge your batteries a lot faster if you have a substantial battery charger aboard.

Good luck,

Bill
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Old 18-12-2008, 18:16   #3
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[quote=waterdog;234708])

The plan is to cruise in Mexico for a year. I anticipate load increasing to the range of 100 Ah / day (again mainly refrigeration, but also addition of SSB and laptops etc.) We want to be fairly independent from shore power.

I am contemplating:

replacing alternator with 100A externally regulated unit
upgrading batteries to 4 T105s
adding up to 3 130W Kyocera solar panels mounted on bimini
mppt charge regulator (what brand?)
possibly adding Honda 1000W generator
not planning wind or towed generator


Steve,

Basically your scheme looks reasonable... in fact, pretty similar to the setup we've used on Insatiable II for the past 5 years cruising in the S pacific (latitudes 44 S to 15 S). We only have 240 watts of solar panels, but do have an Air-X. We find that at lower latitudes, and in the summer months (longer days, higher sun angles) we have no need to supplement the solar input. As the shorter days of winter approach, or we wander to Tasmania and higher latitudes (lower sun angles) the situation becomes less favorable. In some areas there is enough wind to help us with power generation, but you won't have that advantage. But eventually one must resort to converting diesel to amp hours... especially during overcast periods. With 4xT-105's and a 100 amp alternator you should get close to 100 amps during the bulk phase, and that kicks up the charge state pretty quickly. It will of course gradually back off as the battery voltage increases... how long you continue depends on just what philosophy of charging you adhere to. We have long discontinued charging when the charge rate drops to around 30% of the initial rate, and we usually get 3 years from a set of T105's (full time cruising).

One thing to be careful about: do try to locate your panels where they are not shaded even a little bit by other stuff that you have stuck up in the air -- like radars, antennas, standing rigging, flags, whatever. It really makes a difference! And if you can arrange mounts that allow you to aim the panels at the sun it can help a lot, especially with winter sun angles. Difficult to organize on most boats, though!

So to me it looks likeyou are on the right track... good luck, and enjoy the Sea of Cortez... we sure did!

Cheers,
Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Gladstone Qld Oz
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Old 18-12-2008, 19:19   #4
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Nothing much to add to the above comments which I agree with except that I would recommend the Blue Sky 3024 controller if you do go with 3x130watt panels...and the Bluesky 2000e controller if you go with a bit less of an array.
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