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Old 01-02-2010, 18:09   #1
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Magic Bullet?

Hey folks,

I'm starting (once again) to plan out the complete gutting and overhaul of my sailboat's electrical system. I live aboard fulltime, and would like to have a reasonable amount (600-800 AH?) of capacity to draw from.

Currently I generate all of my daily electricity with a Honda EU2000i. I would like to take advantage of my 90A alternator and the Honda generator, and in the near-ish future I would like to add both a wind generator and photovoltaic panels, and possibly even a drag-along prop.

My current draw for household electronics is low, but I've got some other plans there as well, so I think my minimum inverter would have to be 2000w. I do not currently have an inverter at all.

Unlike most folks I know, I will rarely if ever be attached to shore power.

Completely blue-skying here, with price aside - is there a magic box that can handle all of my needs here? Charging from multiple sources simultaneously, inverter, auto-switchover between inverter and incoming AC from the Honda, etc?

If such a box does exist, is it even a good idea to put all of my eggs in one basket like that, or should I be looking at a more modular setup?
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Old 01-02-2010, 19:18   #2
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On Exit Only, we never put all our eggs in one basket. We had two Aerogen 6 wind generators, and in the tradewinds, we easily got 400 amp hours per day of current. We had four solar panels which gave us about 50 amp hours per day. We ran our 90 amp alternators as needed when there was no wind and skies were cloudy.

As far as I am concerned, the single most important thing in our electrical system on Exit Only was the acceptance rate of the battery banks. It didn't matter if my alternators could bulk charge at ninety amps if the batteries could only safely accept fifteen amps. That's why we ended up with two wind generators and solar panels. They matched the acceptance rate of our battery banks. The alternators did bulk charging for only a few minutes, and running the engine to charge batteries didn't make much sense if the batteries could not accept the bulk charge for more than a few minutes.

Check out my web page on Aerogen 6 wind generators, and it will help you understand our approach to managing electrical power.

AEROGEN 6 WIND GENERATORS*** Before I set sail
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Old 01-02-2010, 20:08   #3
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While not everything you want (you'll still need other charge regulators), the Victron Quattro (and Multiplus) is pretty magic. Has worked great for me.

Quattro / 3kVA - 5kVA - Victron Energy

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Old 01-02-2010, 20:50   #4
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Magic boxes tend to need magic parts that may no longer be available in a couple of years. Or, in the week that you need them right away.

Sometimes it is better to have multiple redundant systems, each simple and less expensive to replace, and just rely on your chief engineer to engage them as needed.
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:44   #5
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This might give you another option...

I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine at night that draws 6 amps, so keeping our batteries up is important.

Using a 110 generator is not very efficient charging batteries and our outboard puts out too little current, so I build a generator around a GM altenator......


......It has worked very well for us and ......................



....the build for it is here......................

Macgregor 26S Outside Mods page 13

............ Since building it we've added ......



Macgregor 26S Outside Mods page 22

....one 40 watt panel and we just got in an 80 watt panel that I will mount and we might also get another 40 watt panel. Our boat is small, so finding places to mount the panel is not easy. I've gotten the panels from these guys..................

Solar Cell, Solar Panel, Solar PV, Solar Products, Charge Controllers, Solar Trackers - Solar Panels & Systems

.....and they have had good prices and fast shipping.

The need for the new panels is we are adding a Waco 12 volt frig and I'm making a 12 volt computer....................



Computer-Chartplotter Build Index

...........chart plotter. I'd like to supply the majority of our electricity with the panels and use the generator as a backup.

c ya and good luck,

Sum

Our Trips to Lake Powell, UT - Kootenay Lake, Canada - Priest Lake, ID

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Old 03-02-2010, 12:08   #6
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Sum.

Thanks for jumping right in with those interesting project contributions!
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Old 03-02-2010, 13:09   #7
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Sumner-
A Delcotron, it looks like. My favorite alternator folks.<G>

Anything more available online on the entire setup?
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Old 03-02-2010, 13:13   #8
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And noise??? What's the decibel level of that shiny little thing?
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Old 03-02-2010, 14:06   #9
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GordMay thanks for the welcome. I've spent some time here reading before and the last couple days reading all of the wi-fi stuff. A lot of good info there and I appreciate that.

We are cruisers, but not at the level of most of you guys, so I'm a little reluctant to post, but I'll spend more time here . We do hope to do 2-3 months around south Florida and the Keys next fall, so that will be a big deal for us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
......Anything more available online on the entire setup?
Do you mean the build on it? If so it is here a ways down the page.....

Macgregor Outside Mods Index


Quote:
Originally Posted by cchesley View Post
And noise??? What's the decibel level of that shiny little thing?
It is a Honda so not that bad, but not as quiet as their small 110 generators. Still it is actually quieter in the cockpit right next to it than down in the cabin. The boat is so small that down there you pick up the vibrations from it resonating from the hull. I'm going to try some rubber mounts and see if that helps.

The exhaust takes the sound and fumes down to water level. I'm a little reluctant putting the exhaust very far down in the water as I don't know if the back pressure would be something this motor is designed for. I might try making a small muffler for it, but it really isn't bad. If I can get rid of the vibration noise down in the boat I'll be real happy. One thing is that with the 5HP motor you don't have to run it fast.

On our last trip of the year, Lake Powell.......



Sail Lake Powell Sep-Oct 2009 Index

.....where we tried (note the word tried) to sail the 150+ mile length of the lake we only used one tank of gas in it for the entire 18 days and I'd say we ended up averaging 15-20 minutes of run time a day.

We are real happy with it,

Sum

Our Trips to Lake Powell, UT - Kootenay Lake, Canada - Priest Lake, ID

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