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Old 08-06-2009, 17:17   #76
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It sounds like the solar numbers work in your application, and will work even if the panels only last a couple of years. The warranty leaves some room for "abuse" and doesn't mention any marine installation or salt-water intrusion, so one can only roll the dice and see what BP says down the line, when or if that becomes an issue.

I like solar--I just find it damn expensive in many comparables.

But, 510 watts of panels won't get you 240AH per day in any case. 510 watts at a nominal 12.6 volts would get you only 40A/H per day, I'd be surprised to see more than four hours worth (160AH) of power from them in typical fixed-mount application, even with an MPPT controller. Unless of course you're looking at the bottom end of the discharge cycle, where MPPT gives great amps...to batteries plunking around at 11 volts.
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Old 08-06-2009, 17:28   #77
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Chcechako;

Please tell me you just said that to give me a laugh!

My WHOLE premise is engine alternators are not a cost affective method of generating power on a long term basis in a cruising boat. If that premise is incorrect, I'd like to understand were my reasoning is at fault. It was technology designed to put back small amounts of energy expended by the starters and utilized by lights and other low load gear. We have done a great job of making it better and adapting it when there were no other solutions. It was great technology when petroleum was close to free. Now, there are perhaps better choices?
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Old 08-06-2009, 18:21   #78
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From 11:00 am to about 1:00pm in the Bahamas, my panel would put out about 11.8 amps (at 13.6 volts. This is from the MPPT panel). Even though it continued to get sun directly overhead, the output started to decline (possibly heat?). At 2 pm I was seeing about 10 amps at 3pm about 8 amps. at 4 about 4 amps at 5 about 4 amps, at 6 about 2 amps at 7 about 1 amp. But... thats not the point let us add another panel. that increases our available to 700 watts for 3500 available. at 13.2 volts that's 265 amps. This adds 70 days to our ROI.

Do you think the cost numbers of running the alternator solution is close?

The update on the post was a check in on the longevity. I put a panel up in the first part of January in 2006. It is one system that I have had No problems with, except having to wipe the dust off periodically and one u-bolt breaking (Glad I used 4, but I should have put in a permanent mounting solution) So, theoretically I would have met my variable cost at worse, about a year ago. If I count what I had originally estimated for the HO solutions (In my budget was $1,800. I was going to get two, so lets cut that in half $900) that brings us to $3,500 with a payback being less than 1 year. This is still without any maintenance, and depreciation. An alternator is going to require belts, it is going to require brushes, commutators are going to require truing. How long would you estimate the useful life of an alternator seeing two hours of daily use to be?

The MAJOR argument as I see it is not having daily use. If I were in a marina and only anchoring out on the weekend and only taking a week or two a year, the payback would be too long! But then again, I still wouldn't do the HO alternator either. I'd just take the hit on the weekend. I'd be back to the 1k Honda for $700, about the minimum cost for the HO alternator.

The other point, as you state is the high up front cost! shelling out $3-4k is not the most pleasant way to start cruising. BUT, given some of this analysis, it may justify putting in on a credit card. At 12% interest, it would amount to about $480 (okay, it is significantly less than that) in additional interest charges.

I am trying to think of other application issues. The only one I can think of is the available space issue. This may not work for small boats with large system requirements. Our numbers are somewhat dependent on the notion that we have refrigeration that's going to eat our amps. Take that out, and what we need in energy goes WAY down I think. If we have a smaller boat, we may find it feasible to have less refrigeration. Could we conceivable drive this down to where one panel might be feasible? Something on the order of say 60 amp in a twenty-four hour period. For a 27 footer, might be possible. The other is the higher usage vessel. It would be difficult for me to see any solar scenario that would support Air Conditioning. Even Washer's and dryers are going to tax the available amps. But, once again a purpose built genset my be in order for that type of application. I am not sure even HO is going to support a 20,000 btu, or greater AC unit.
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Old 09-06-2009, 22:47   #79
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There is nothing worse to ruin my day then to hear an engine running for 2 or more hours a day and being downwind of it.
It is not a question of ROI, capital cost, running cost, etc. It is a question of freedom.
The freedom of being in remote locations and not having to worry about fuel, maintenance, a breakdown or the "rebuild".
One of the boats we travelled with burned 40 g/month of diesel just for the batteries, 3 hours a day of pounding, 1000 hours a year of run time, rebuild did you say. Then there is the $2000 in fuel not to mention oil, filter, standing on your head, etc.
If you are cruising in a remote area you need a lot of 5 gal tanks on deck. If not you will be buying sand and saltwater enhanced diesel or gas from a guy in a dugout canoe.
We have two wind generators. They rarely produces power anymore. To get a decent output you need to anchor in 12-15 knots of wind. That is a rolly anchorage. We do like to be comfortable so we avoid that. The only time they come in handy is during a long sail or crossing.
We use 150-175 Ah/day of power, 75 Ah/day for the fridge/freezer (it is superinsulated, 10 cu. ft.), the rest is for the lights, computer, SSB, music, anchor light, etc.
We have found solar panels are the way to go, we have 400 watts worth or 25-35 amps at midday. During a typical sunny day we get 140-180 AHr of power.
For an alternator I could not see spending over a $1000 for a high tech high output alternator. Anywhere in Latin America you can go into a auto supply shop and purchase for $40-$100 a 100-200 Amp rebuilt alternator of any make, design or footprint to fit your engine. For $10-$15 more you can pick up spare brushes, springs and diodes etc. Should you have any problems it is usually a dirty or corroded internal connection, brush or spring. Easy to fix yourself, have repaired or replace with another one.
With an hour of dissasembly (to hook up leads to the brushes, etc) and reasssembly you can hook it up to a external 3 stage regulator. There is always someone in an anchorage who knows about modifiing alternators.
We have 2-100 amp alternators on our perkins 235. During the initial acceptance phase we can charge at 180 Amps into a 900 AHr bank. It quickley tapers off when we reach 14.75 volts. Remember that charge voltage is related to battery temperature. The higher the battery temperature the lower the voltage. Check out the Trojan battery website.
Any deficit in the battery bank is quickley replaced when we shift anchorages every few weeks or so.
Our 4 L16H Trojan batteries after 5 years of use are still happy (the last year our poor boat has been stuck in a Marina due to events back home)
Bite the bullet, get solar panels, live free!
Once upon a time we parked in an anchorage outside Ustupo, San Blass for 3 months, never ran the engine. That's freedom.
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:57   #80
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"How long would you estimate the useful life of an alternator seeing two hours of daily use to be? " 2000 hours would be considered unusually SHORT life for an alternator in passenger car or light truck use. (100,000 miles.) And belts are typically changed out at five years, while still perfectly serviceable. So, 4000 hours, 2000 days, five years or so before any routine alternator maintenance. Which probably would be a remanufacture (new bearings, brushes, etc.) or swap out for $150 or so.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:04   #81
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Almost everyone I know who have the Ballmer HO alternators need them serviced once a year under heavy use in the tropics. Heavy use is 2-3 hours a day charging batteries. They usually carry a spare with them to swap out.
Comparing a car alternator to one in a cruising boat is like comparing apples and oranges.
Salt air is a problem for the brushes delivering current to the coil in the armature, corrosion.
They also wear out much faster; they pass a much higher current than in a similar installations in a car. The extra heat also can effect the springs, this reduces the pressure, this causes arcing/burning of the brushes which reduces the contact area, this will reduce the current to the coil in the armature that creates the magnetic field which produces the current in the field coil. This reduces the output of the alternator.
Diodes fail from overheating.
Bearings rarely fail. In 10 years of cruising I only had to replace one bearing. Every 6 months or so I take my alternators apart, replace the brushes and springs, clean the diodes, etc, and reassemble. Cost, $10 for the parts readily available at auto shops in Latin America.
Belts are always a problem. In a car the alternator only charges at high amperage for a very short time measured in minutes. In a boat charging batteries at 50-100 amps you are transmitting 3-8 hp through that belt for hours. It will wear a lot faster as it ALWAYS slips a little no matter how hard you tighten them. Look at power transmission tables for belts in engineering manuals.
Two belts are better but the tension puts a lot of load on the water pump bearing. Therefore it is better to have a dedicated belt(s) just for the HO alternator. Problem is still that tension. A lot of small engines, especially Yanmar, the bearing and shaft diameter donít like that. There is some distortion that occurs and the forward oil seal can and will eventually fail.
I hope this is of some help.
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:58   #82
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"Comparing a car alternator to one in a cruising boat is like comparing apples and oranges."
You're right, but it is the most widely documented and known application for these kind of alternators. Numbers for commercial trucks are also out there, and while again they don't run at that kind of power rating all day long, the closest application might be school busses and similar vehicles--and the alternator companies do use specific large-frame or hd alternators for that as well.
I'm just pointing out that 100,000 hours of use is considered a minimum for "poor" durability in one type of use.

Belts & belting...well, v-belts are dead outside of old boats. And while there are plenty of companies making belts, there too is a large range of quality and other issues. Heat in engine compartments, yet another problem. Rebuilt alternators? Most cheap local shops finish their job with a coat of silver spray paint to make them look new. Uhuh, that one coat of paint on the diode rack or rear frame is enough to actually guarantee an overheat failure six months down the line. (Not my opinion, what I've been told by a couple of makers.)

Epoxy and powder coating for "marine" units? No matter what you do, problems.

Better and simpler to just paddle a log, right? <g>
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Old 10-06-2009, 13:29   #83
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Did a quick check on the tax credit thing. Solar PV panels qualify for a 30% credit from the US Federal Gov (I suppose you have to pay US taxes to get the Credit. The state of Maryland has a $1.25 per watt grant available (not 100% sure boats qualify for Md).

So on our theoretical system the starting cost being $3500. Feds give us $1050, Md, gives us $650. That's $1800 out of pocket. For me, it is a no brainer cause I was going to get 2 HO alternators at a cost of $1800 originally. This is the same cost, and no operating expense. So, I start profiting first day!!!

Now, aside from all the numbers stuff, cause as was pointed out, boats and ROI in the same sentence is rather ahhh, silly! Solar panels are such a pleasant way to generate energy. The only possible negative I can think of is the aesthetics. Maybe people think they are ugly!? Maybe the clean lines of the sleek sailing vessel would be marred by the inclusions of SP anyplace about the vessel. Well, another point I'd readily conceed except to say, have you seen most of the cruising boats I've seen? We don't seem to be bothered much by concerns for aesthetics!

Clean, quiet, maintenance simple, reliable, a useful life perhaps measured in decades and on a BOAT! Something is obviously wrong!
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Old 15-10-2011, 05:27   #84
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Re: H/O Alternator vs. Wind Gen

First....... what is ROI ? cant get it

And is there a regulator for a windmill that works the same way as a battcharger ?
If not.
what is the best one to get ?
i want to put on a D400 on our boat.
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Old 15-10-2011, 06:38   #85
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Re: H/O Alternator vs. Wind Gen

Quote:
Originally Posted by careka View Post
First....... what is ROI ? cant get it ...
Return On Investment
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Old 15-10-2011, 06:51   #86
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Re: H/O Alternator vs. Wind Gen

OK and thanks.
But ROI is not for us putting money into Boats, just forget it.
its a life investment for a good life. you dont need anything more back.
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Old 15-10-2011, 08:14   #87
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Re: H/O Alternator vs. Wind Gen

"And is there a regulator for a windmill that works the same way as a battcharger ?"
No. Windmills and other direct DC generators typically use "dump" regulators that simply divert excess power to another "dump" load (i.e. a heater coil) where battery chargers, which are usually run from an AC source, simply produce less power when it is not needed. Battery chargers and alternators typically "throttle back" on power production, wind generators just can't do that.
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Old 15-10-2011, 09:20   #88
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Re: H/O Alternator vs. Wind Gen

Did find this.....
KARASOULI ICC2AM DUAL OUTPUT MARINE 12V REGULATOR
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Old 15-10-2011, 10:59   #89
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Re: H/O Alternator vs. Wind Gen

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Originally Posted by Strygaldwir View Post
I was pondering the difference between a high output alternator and a windgenerator.(...)
Get both.

1. I would always consider a good regulator prior to upgrading the alternator.

2. Seen more windgens broken than solar panels. Think if going solar is an option.

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Old 15-10-2011, 11:51   #90
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Re: High Outpur Alternator vs Wind Generator

"Just needs the dump resistor to complete"
The Karsouli appears to be just a conventional dump regulator, requiring programming from a USB stick (?!) instead of having that integral.
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