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Old 09-10-2010, 09:18   #1
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Noisy Wind Generators

Be aware... These are very unpleasant to listen too! Not nearly as bad as the previous Air Marine or AirX versions, which made a weed whacker sound, audible for 1/4 mile, but the Air Breeze still makes a rapidly pulsing weed whacker noise, audible for a couple or 300 feet! If it doesn't bother you, think of your neighbors...

The AroGen, LMV, and AmpAir wind generators are totally silent, (but low output)... However the Kiss brand is great in output, and the soft "fan sound", audible for only about 50', is not at all anoying. Much less antisocial options!

Then again... Given room, Solar is a much better way to go anyway. They produce over 60% of their power rating, 90% of the year, VS wind generators (on boats), which (due to sheltered anchorages), produce "0" power 95% of the year, and 500% of your power needs the other 5% of the year.

I've had both wind & solar on my boats since the 70s, professionally installed them too. I have also spent years living in the anchorage with them as well. "Silence is golden".
Mark
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Old 09-10-2010, 11:59   #2
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A Question on Best Solar Set-up

Mark,

What solar panels do you recommend? I am thinking about a couple of hundred watts or more.

Thanks,

Bob
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Old 09-10-2010, 17:09   #3
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My last boat had Arco, and it is now on a pond boat's wet storage garrage roof. It is now about 23 years old & still works! My current trimaran Delphys, has an 85, 35, & 55 W that are Siemens, and a BP solar that is 110W. I bought acording to what would fit best, of the better brands, 14 years ago when I installed them. They are all still working fine, but the edges of the crystals are showing some evidence of deterioration. In another 10 years, they may need replacement, but who knows. So far the BP Solar is holding up best. These panels are not prone to sudden failure, (unless you crush it), but simply put out less as they age. I think that the warrenties were for within 20% of new, for 20 years!

You need a panel voltage of about 17 or 18V, (fairly standard), because the heat of the sun drops the voltage, and it must not get below say 15V if it is to have enough push to do the job. I recomend you search the "Back to the land" cabin dwellers type catalogs or web page. The panels on boats these days are "house" panels, and can't be walked on, (although I have stepped on them by accident, without harm)... These panels last much longer than the old "Marine panels" from decades ago. This is simply because the sealing technology has come that far.
A 20 or 25 year warrenty is to be expected. You should use a 4 stage adjustable smart charge controler, and we also got ours from one of the above sorces. Our controler is 11 years old & works great! Since we usually have some of our 4 panels shaded, I did opt to install a "low loss Shotkey blocking diode" on the + wire from each panel. (this reduces back flow from the sunny panels to the shaded ones, but reduces output a bit) IF your panel / panels are close together, and either all sunny or all shaded, I'd omit the blocking diode.

If you want to go 95% solar self sufficient like we did, (rarely run the engine), the best bang for the buck is to go as low energy as possible on the boat's gadgets. Vacuum panels on the small frige, don't make ice, LED cabin & anchor lights where possible, (fluorescents otherwise). Use the smallest "Power Survivor" water maker, avoid the use of the boat's inverter by NOT running AC wall "black box" items like TVs or computers, off of AC. Look at the AC black box that came with the computer.... It will say something like 120V AC in, 19V DC out. In this case you can get (from a generic computer supply web site), a 12V DC in "step up" transformer, (With cigarette lighter plug in wire, and the correct small computer or flat screen TV power plug out wire that is the appropriate 19V, (or whatever). It is also best to get 12 V (auto) DVD players, and if you watch movies like we do through the sterio, make sure it is a 12 V sterio. By doing this, we rarely use the inverter, which cuts the amp hours of watching a movie for example, in half.

We have spent a couple of thousand nights on the hook, and our average is somewhere in the low 30 Amp Hrs / day. Our amp meter tells us the amps being put out, and the amp hours charged is actuslly a bell curve. However, on a sunny day, It averages out to at least the max output X 5 hours / day. So we could theoretically get from 50 to sometimes 60 amp hours / day. This means that we have our batteries 100% FULL by noon or so on a good day. If it is overcast, it might take all day. You need to size the array for TWICE your normal daily consumption, to make up for cloudy days. IF you bring up your batteries to 100% each day, (not practical with an alternator), The batteries will last twice as long! This pays for one of the panels.

We have our panels spread out to make it where if one is shaded, the others are not. A VERY dark line shadow like made by the mast or boom, may cut the panel down to 20% of it's rating, but an extreemly overcast sky will usually only reduce the panels output to about 60% of it's rateing. (a very bright but cloudy "white out" day, may be 90% of max output!) A radar arch, or davits, or bracket like mine, are great for a big 110 W panel. (larger panels are cheeper / watt) IF you have a wind generator on the arch & it shades the panel on ocasion, you would be far better off removing it and let the sun shine on the panels.

Our collective 285 Watt solar array, With our 2 @ 340 AH Trojan L-14 6V batteries (in series) works together perfectly for our normal daily usage. By cycling the batteries so lightly, they should last at least 10 years!

The panels need air flow under them, Biminis are a good place for a 90 W on each side, and if mounted to a cabin top like some of mine, the homemade "Starboard" side mounts, provide both ventilation & a "snag free" installation. The articulating bracket on the back is great! Anchored out & facing the prevailing easterly winds, I can tilt it toward the afternoon horizon at 5:00 PM, and it will put out power untill the sun goes down. (on the rare occasion that I actually need the extra 8 amp hours)

NOW... The exception of this scenario is overnighters! We have cruised both sides of the Caribbean, but guess we average only about 25 overnighters per year. On these 25 days, we may use 80 amp/ hours or more. That's what the engine is for. The best time to crank the engine is when the batteries are lowest. (when they can accept the 35 amps that our 55A alternator actually puts out). We therefore run the engine for about 45 minutes, starting at 5:00 AM, then the solar takes over as the sun comes up. When we switch our tricolor light to LEDs, our consumption may go down by 18 or 20 more Amp Hours!

That's about it. Spend the money on solar panels & conservation, or a much larger amount over time on house batteries, diesel fuel, & a prematurely carboned up engine from running @ low RPMs.

Best, Mark J
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Old 09-10-2010, 17:17   #4
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BTW... one thing I forgot. All of these solar panels have endured both golf ball sized hail & many hurricanes, including Hurricane Ivan, a high cat 3, bordering on 4, all night long! The small kevlar control strings on the 110W aft bracket panel, held perfectly in the 150 MPH gusts! Mark J
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Old 09-10-2010, 18:31   #5
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That was great Mark!
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Old 10-10-2010, 15:57   #6
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For the most part, I detest wind gens and we often move if an air-x boat anchors next to us in windy conditions. However, recently we have been around boats with duogen D400's and also air-x fitted with those quiet purple blades. These wind gens are virtually silent.

We appreciate the people who buy these models.

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Old 10-10-2010, 16:35   #7
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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
For the most part, I detest wind gens and we often move if an air-x boat anchors next to us in windy conditions. However, recently we have been around boats with duogen D400's and also air-x fitted with those quiet purple blades. These wind gens are virtually silent.
One of the things I was most hoping for when I installed my Air-breeze is that people would stop anchoring so close. However, the darned thing can't be heard more than a boat-length away. If anything, the result has been that newbs tend to anchor closer because when they see the generator they figure I must be a real cruiser who knows where to anchor.

The OP's claim that the Air-breeze makes a weed-whacker noise audible for 300 feet borders on hyperbole.
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Old 10-10-2010, 17:34   #8
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i enjoy the sound of wind generation. is a pleasant sound. quiet and unintrusive.
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Old 10-10-2010, 17:37   #9
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There ought to be a law ...

There should be a day shape or flag signal to be hoisted by anchored boats signaling that "My generator and/or windmill is/are noisy; anchor near me at your own risk." Of course, a noisy boat shouldn't anchor near another boat unless that previously-anchored boat has hoisted such a signal.
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Old 10-10-2010, 17:42   #10
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One of the things I was most hoping for when I installed my Air-breeze is that people would stop anchoring so close.
We had a four winds on our last cruise( named whoopee, for the noise it made). I had never considered this benefit from having a wind gen, but it probably saved us a good bit of unwanted company, well, that and the fact that we had 3 and 9 year old boys on board.
You can get used to just about anything with time, but I was planning on foregoing the wind gen this time in favor of solar. I may just have to re-think this. I am planning on going with a couple of 130 watt panels and the 2 55s i have left over from the last boat.
The main incentive for me is that you can get about 500 watts of solar for the cost of a wind gen and never need to listen to it. maybe I can get an alarm to sound when the batteries are charged and have the same effect on neighboring vessels. That or maybe a dummy wind generator, kinda like a scarecrow.......
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Old 10-10-2010, 17:45   #11
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I had one of the original air marine windgens--it didn't sound like a weedwacker--at over 30 knots it sounded like a P-40 on takeoff roll. One time we were off the boat when a thunderstorm hit. As we raced back on our bikes, I could hear the windgen from over half a mile away.

We are looking for more solar panels, so I asked at the Boat Show today if the price had fallen. The answer was 'it has come down quite a bit (like over 50%) for home panels, but has not dropped for (his) marine panels. Yea, pal, which bridge did you want to sell me?
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Old 10-10-2010, 17:51   #12
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what is difference between house use solar and marine use solar?/ connections?? do your own. they look the same. they weigh the same. i use ones from a city in the midwest -- they change them out yearly due to hail damage. even the undamaged ones are changed out. i like the price. the wind gen we used last yr was not marine grade-the only difference was in the connections. we did our own. saved many hundreds of dollars. i would look again at the label marine grade--is kinda like all natural or guaranteed organic..LOL.....
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Old 10-10-2010, 17:53   #13
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The OP's claim that the Air-breeze makes a weed-whacker noise audible for 300 feet borders on hyperbole.

Ahaa! So that's what you call a self-serving gross exaggeration!

Cheers,

Jim (who has lived with and near to wind gens of all sorts for the past 25 years, and does not find any but the early Air Marine units with the fluttering blades to be un-neighborly)
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Old 10-10-2010, 18:08   #14
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I had one of the original air marine windgens--it didn't sound like a weedwacker--at over 30 knots it sounded like a P-40 on takeoff roll. One time we were off the boat when a thunderstorm hit. As we raced back on our bikes, I could hear the windgen from over half a mile away.
You must have been "popular" in that harbor.
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Old 10-10-2010, 18:18   #15
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I have a Rutland 913. It is extremely quiet and can't be heard at all from below. You can hear it from the cockpit but not from the bow.

Mine typically gives 50 - 60 amps/day at sea but some days at anchor gives zero. It saves about 30 mins/day of diesel time, mostly at sea.

It has never reached the manufacturers claimed output but otherwise works just fine.
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