The real world. Lived on photo
voltaics for nearly a decade. Photovoltaics and the whole off the grid power generation idea is not ready for prime time. Unless you live where the sun shines all day, every day, photovoltaics are just way too expensive. A slight haze significantly effects panel output, overcast cuts it to near useless. Orientation of the panels
also has a big effect so a tracker is mandatory for optimum output. To make up for the vagaries of direct sunlight, you need to go way overboard
on solar production capacity. We are talking getting well into the 5 figure $ expenditures on just the solar panels
The real weak link is the \inverter, however. Despite all the propaganda they are grossly inefficient in day in, day out usage. They only approach reasonable efficiency when they are at or near there maximum output. Low level usage probably eats up more DC juice than the AC output. The biggest problem with them, other than cost, is not efficiency, however, it's reliability
. The inverters just don't seem to hold up all that well. Ours took great pleasure in crapping out in the middle of almost every large gathering we had at our house. Some inverters require shipping
back to the factory for repair, a huge expense especially if you live at the end of the world. Others are modular and you can swap out parts
but the inverter
is still down till the parts
Last but not least, you have the batteries. They need care and feeding and really get pissed off if they get overcharged. We had four brand new 400 amp hour batteries blow up when the charge controller on our panels
malfunctioned. Then there is the problem of recycling the batteries with all their attendant hazardous materials. Something that we had to do about every 4 years.
Essentially, we ended up with a very expensive photo
voltaic system that was a back up to a generator
. Just because it's warm out doesn't mean that photovoltaics will work for you.
As far as a boat, photovoltaics are a good source of electrical
generating capacity. You will need more capacity than the numbers tell you but you won't have to listen to that infernal auxilliary engine
. It is not dollar efficient but it is tranquility efficient.
One last thought, a few years back this was true and probably still today. It takes more energy to make a solar panel than it will produce in it's lifetime. Those that are promoting photovoltaics as a solution for our energy needs aren't looking at the true cost.