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View Poll Results: What types of electrical power systems do you have on your boat?
Inboard powered alternator 192 77.11%
Separate generator 89 35.74%
Shorepower charging 172 69.08%
Wind generator 84 33.73%
Solar panels 153 61.45%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 249. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 27-02-2003, 19:51   #1
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Lightbulb Only Solar

I did an enginedectomy on my 28 foot boat, pulling the inboard and turning the engine room into a sail locker. Instead of an inboard, I now have an outboard, which has done a great job. The outboard does not have an alternator so my only means of power are solar panels. I kept my boat anchored out so didn't have any access to shorepower either.

For a while, I had a 100W solar panel that gave a lot of power, but it was too big. It was an older design panel, and was not compact (The modern panels are more compact). I built a hard dodger to mount it on, but even then it just took up too much room. I sold it and bought a smaller 30W panel. It covered my minimal power usage while I was using the boat on weekends. I had a dusk to dawn anchor light, so there was some draw every day, but mostly the use was on weekends.

I figure that if I find the right sized panels to fit my dodger, I can get about 200W of panels up there. That should easily cover the power budget for fulltime living, including lighting, navlights, anchor light, GPS, depth sounder, music and tillerpilot. If I were to add a watermaker and an efficient cooler, like an Engel, I would probably need about 300 to 400W total panels.

My current battery bank is also modest, just two marine deep discharge trolling batteries from the local Wal-Mart. I have both batteries connected together as a single battery bank, my only bank. Adding more appliances would mean converting to a battery bank with four or six Trojan T-105's.

Half of the strategy in using solar power is conserving power while still getting the benefits of the appliance. For example, LED lights can be used to cut lighting amphours used. I have an LED anchor light to be installed for next season. It is also important to make sure that you can sail your boat comfortably if you lose power, for example with a windvane as a backup for the tillerpilot (or vice versa). Use a windscoop instead of a fan.

Conserving power by limiting the number of appliances is another strategy, just try to avoid powered things you don't really need, and look for non-powered or self powered alternatives. If you can learn to do without a fridge and watermaker, your power needs are minimal.

Electrical Power conservation benefits you in three ways:
1. It reduces the investment you need to make in solar panels.
2. It reduces the investment you need to make in batteries. You can get by with a small bank.
3. The weight reduction from reducing your battery capacity needs benefits your boats load carrying capacity and performance.

If you prefer to sail, and are willing to change your piloting style to learn how to navigate mostly by sail alone, removing the inboard and replacing it with an outboard expands the storage area inside your boat, while improving performance and load carrying capacity. You don't need an inboard to charge the batteries!

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Old 27-02-2003, 22:27   #2
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Thumbs up Our first poll

Thanks for making our first poll, Skylark



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Old 01-03-2003, 08:21   #3
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Former engine room, now a sail locker.

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Old 29-03-2003, 05:30   #4
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Solar Panel

I love my solar panel. It's a small one but does the job on my 26' boat. Next boat will definately have solar although bigger panel, maybe 2.
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Old 02-04-2003, 20:16   #5
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We lived-aboard/cruised our (small) C&C29 for 9 years (Bahamas & Florida); using:

(1) Dedicated Starting Battery (Group 29, I think).

(2) House Banks, each consisting of (2) 6V Traction Batteries (T105's).

Charged from:

(1) 70A Single output engine mtd. Alternator.
Used while 'motoring'.

(1) Smart 3-Bank, 20A Battery Charger (Statpower "Truecharge-20")
Used at dock, or while anchored /w Generator 'on'.

(1) Smart Single Bank (Waterproof) 10A Charger (Guest "Charge-Pro 2610")
Used as back-up & portable service for others.

(1) 600 Watt "Yamaha" Portable Gas Generator.
Used while anchored - about 6 hour/week.

No Solar, No Wind Generators.

Worked fine - but could always use more power (no matter what you install).
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Old 28-05-2003, 05:59   #6
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Saving power

I also have been thinking about saving electrical power. Am seriously considering going over to kerosine lights instead of electric for interior lighting. Using canned and irradiated food to get away from the refrigeration/ icebox hassle. Use a net bag in the water for cooling down libations.
Ya know, I just had a thought. If you hooked up an alternator to a stationary bike, you could have a human powered generator like they used in WW2 to run radios. Charge your batteries and take off a few pounds at the same time ! What brought this to mind was that I have seen several Stationary bikes out by the road to picked up by anyone that wanted 'em. They'll last a week or more till the trash men get 'em. Just think recycle.
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Old 28-05-2003, 07:43   #7
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You must be some cyclist!
An automotive alternator needs at least 2000 RPM to start generating, and about 3,200 to get up to full output. Even assuming a 20 to 1" ratio, you'll be peddling pretty fast.
Good thought, tho'.
Gord
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Old 28-05-2003, 16:13   #8
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Lightbulb bicycle charger

Maybe if you could find one of the DC generators off of an old car or motor cycle, that might work better. They charge at lower RPMs. You would need the voltage regulator as well. Or even the generator out of a wind generator.
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Old 27-09-2003, 07:49   #9
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My 33' cutter rigged sloop have two 75 watt solar panels over the bimini top. Would not want to be without 'em:

They put out about 40 to 50 amps per day, enough to drive the compressor for the fridge/freezer...The Sun-Gods are cooling my beer for free..
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Old 08-02-2004, 11:33   #10
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No Solar !!!

THE HAZARDS of SOLAR ENERGY: (Annotated)

Many groups and individuals are proposing that our government spend tax money on research and development of systems to utilize solar energy. They urge construction of vast solar energy collectors to convert sunlight to electricity to supply our energy needs. They would even put solar collectors on roofs of homes, factories, schools, and other buildings. Proponents of this technology claim that energy obtained from the sun will be safer and cleaner than coal, oil, or nuclear energy sources.

This is a shameless appeal to folks who think the government always wastes tax money, and those who are automatically suspicious of large government programs. The suggestion that this would be a questionable invasion of technology into every aspect of daily life, even our homes appeals to fears of government intrusion into our privacy and personal lives.

We view these proposals with alarm. Unscrupulous scientists and greedy promoters are hoodwinking a gullible public. We consider it rash and dangerous to commit our country to the use of solar energy. This solar technology has never been utilized on such a large scale, and we have no assurance of its long-range safety. Not one single study has been done to assess the safety of electricity from solar energy as compared to electricity from other sources.

Loaded language here: "alarm", "unscrupulous", "greedy", "hoodwinking", "gullible", and all in one sentence! Followed by "rash", "dangerous", and "commit", all with emotional appeal. Characterize the technology as untested, and question its safety. Since electricity is the same whatever its source, the suggestion that it ought to be comparison-tested is simply silly.

The promoters of solar energy cleverly lead you to believe that it is perfectly safe. Yet they conveniently neglect to mention that solar energy is generated by nuclear fusion within the sun. This process operates on the very same basic laws of nuclear physics used in nuclear power plants and atomic bombs!

Suggests that the promoters are trying to decieve, and lying about safety. Use a totally false "danger by association" suggestion, playing on well established (but unfounded) public fears of anything "nuclear". Reinforce this false connection by noting that the processes by which the sun produces light operate on the same basic laws of physics as those in nuclear power plants and nuclear bombs. Doesn't everything going on in the universe operate on the same laws of physics? This is an appeal to unfounded fears, and to scientific ignorance.

And what is the source of this energy? It is hydrogen, a highly explosive gas (remember the Hindenberg?) Hydrogen is also the active material in H-bombs, which are not only tremendously destructive, but produce dangerous fallout. The glib advocates of solar energy don't even mention these disturbing facts about the true sources of solar energy. What else are they trying to hide from us?

This just gets worse. Now we throw in an additional "danger by association" by mentioning hydrogen as "explosive" (misusing that term), and hydrogen's use in bombs. Never mind that hydrogen is a component of water (H20), which we safely drink every day and which is necessary to life. We might as well have mentioned hydrogen peroxide, or hydrogenated fats in foods as being dangerous. (Darn, I missed that one!) Claim that advocates are hiding these facts (always a powerful emotional suggestion).

In addition to the known dangers cited above, what about the unknown dangers, which very well might be worse? When pressed, scientists will admit that they do not fully understand the workings of the sun, or even of the atom. They will even grudgingly admit that our knowledge of the basic laws of physics is not yet perfect or complete. Yet these same reckless scientists would have us use this solar technology even before we fully understand how it works.

Appeal to "fear of the unknown and misunderstood". Unknown dangers "might" be worse. (Couldn't they be negligible?) Suggest that because something isn't fully understood that "anything dire might happen" if we utilize it. (Most people use computers and automobiles that they don't begin to understand.) Equate incomplete understanding with misunderstanging. Loaded language: "reckless".

Admittedly we are already subject to a natural `background' radiation from the sun. We can do little about that, except to stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. The evidence is already clear that too much exposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer. But solar collectors would concentrate that sunlight, which otherwise would have fallen harmlessly on waste land, convert it to electricity and pipe it into our homes to irradiate us from every light bulb! We would then not even be safe from this cancer-producing energy even in our own homes!

Open with an air of being "reasonable" by admitting that we already are bathed in power from the sun. But then point out that even this everyday reality has known dangers. Suggest that these dangers would be made worse if the sunlight were concentrated for conversion to electrical power, and that those dangers would somehow be increased in strength and imparted to any energy derived from sunlight. Never mind that all the energy of coal and oil that we use was derived from sunlight and that the energy we get from the food we eat came originally from sunlight. Play on fears of technology invading our homes against our will and causing awful results. (Recall recent unwarranted public fears of radiation from power lines, and radiation from cell-phones if you want a comparison example.)

We all know that looking at the sun for even a few seconds can cause blindness. What long term health hazards might result from reading by light derived from solar energy? We now spend large amounts of time looking at the light from television monitors or computer screens, and one can only imagine the possible long-term consequences of this exposure when the screens are powered with electricity from solar collectors. Will we develop cataracts, or slowly go blind? Not one medical study has yet addressed itself to this question, and none are planned.

This builds even greater absurdities, and plays on people's fear of unknown dangers of things they don't understand. Not one medical study has ever addressed the dangers of eating potatoes either, for there's not the slightest evidence or reason to do so. But maybe, just maybe, eating potatoes causes cancer! Some more loaded words people emotionally fear: "cataracts", "blindness".

In their blind zeal to plug us in to solar energy, scientists seem to totally ignore possible fire hazards of solar energy. Sunlight reaching us directly from the sun at naturally safe levels poses little fire threat. But all one has to do is concentrate sunlight, with a simple burning-glass, and it readily ignites combustible materials. Who would feel safe with solar energy concentrators on their roof? Could we afford the fire insurance rates?

Emotional language: "blind zeal". Use a wild suggestion that solar power represents "concentrated sunlight", and compare its effects to a burning-glass. Appeal to concerns for safety. Suggest the economic burden of additional home insurance costs.

These scientists, and the big corporations that employ them, stand to profit greatly from construction of solar-power stations. No wonder they try to hide the dangers of the technology and suppress any open discussion of them.

Appeal to widespread distrust of giant corporations. Suggest that scientists employed by them have sold their souls to the company and cannot, or dare not, be impartial. Suggest that the whole lot is deliberately hiding dangers and suppressiong open discussion of them. The obvious example that will be conjured up in the reader's minds: tobacco companies. It's the "bad apple" principle. Just because you have one rotten apple in the basket doesn't necessarily mean that they are all rotten.

Proponents of solar energy present facts, figures and graphs to support their claim that energy from the sun will be less expensive, as conventional fuel supplies dwindle and technology of solar energy systems improves. But even if this is so, what will stop the solar energy equipment manufacturers and solar power companies from raising prices when they achieve a monopoly and other fuel sources disappear?

Appeal to the general feeling that proponents of any large and expensive proposal will inflate its value and conceal its dangers and side effects. Suggest that costs will be deliberately underestimated, and after a period of low costs has killed all the competition, costs will rise dramatically out of corporate greed. Now this appeal does have historical examples to support it, and is a legitimate concern in many cases. You have to be realistic occasionally in these matters.

Of course every technology has risks. We might be willing to tolerate some small risk—if solar energy really represented a permanent solution to our energy problems. But that is not the case. At best, solar energy is only a temporary band-aid. Recent calculations indicate that the "Sun Will Go Out in a Billion Years As Its Fuel Runs Out" (Source: newspaper headline.) As that calculation was made a year ago, we now have only nine-hundred ninety-nine million, nine-hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred and ninety-nine years left during which we could use solar energy. Wouldn't it be better to put our human resources and scientific brains to work to find a safer and more permanent solution to our energy needs?

In case anyone hadn't gotten the joke by now, this closing paragraph should give away this game to everyone but the most imperceptive. It is an extrme example playing to the average person's innumeracy and lack of understanding of relative amounts when large numbers are involved. It's so extreme that no one could take it seriously. Mark Twain used this joke in his book Life on the Mississippi.

Sorry for the leg-pull
Gord
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Old 08-02-2004, 13:09   #11
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If I may add?

I believe that solar panels are considered hazarous waste when they are no longer usable, like flashlight batteries. As well, how much does it cost to produce solor panels.

I'm with you Gord.
I'd like to see more wind generators like on the hills just East of L.A., Calif. Or current and tide motion generators. Here in the Sound we have a rip tides so fast in some areas that there are warnings on the charts. It would be nice to put that energy to work!
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Old 08-02-2004, 21:50   #12
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Cool

Gord & delmarrey,
I have just read your comments re solar power, are you guys fair dinkum? My boat has 3X 60W regulated panels backed up by 50 amp engine driven alternator; this runs inverter, microwave, 12V fridge plus all normal ships requirements, admited I spend most of my time in Queensland (The sunshine state ) My Nephew & his family have lived in a solar powered house for some 15 years, subsidised by the Government as a cheaper alternative than running power lines to their property. Not to mention the danger of radiated energy from power lines. So far none of us have sprouted a second head. I am always willing to learn so if I am missing something here please let me know but to me solar power creats electricity which is the same regardless of how it is generated. Years ago when I worked in the hydro- electricity construction industry a lovely old lady asked me if the water was still OK to drink after we took the electricity out of it, I'm still not sure if she was pulling my leg.
Regards, Glen (sunglasses)
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Old 08-02-2004, 23:50   #13
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Setia,
I can agree that getting any pollution from the generated electricity is far fetched. But my concern is the use and manufacturing of the heavy metals used in solar panels. And what to do with them when they are used up and the hazards to the workers in manufacturing. I would think the cost would out weigh the value. Environmental motion generators don't create a waste product like nukes or solar panels.

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Old 09-02-2004, 08:34   #14
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Caveat Emptor

Although I was pulling your leg (sorry for that, not), Del makes a good point - regarding “Lifecycle Accounting”.
Even (so-called free) solar energy, carries several economic and environmental burdens, which are often overlooked by the zealous proponents of the various “green” technologies.
It costs energy, pollution, natural resources, & money to make these things - and then again at end-life to dispose of them. We seldom see the total cost of these “green” technologies accounted for.
I’m not suggesting that Solar or Wind energy would not stand up to the scrutiny of life-cycle accounting - just that no-one seems to do it.
My original post, about Banning Solar, was meant to (humorously?) demonstrate the principle of “Caveat Emptor” (buyer beware) - that the value of forum postings (even mine ) is often less than their cost; and that specious argument abounds.
Read critically!

SETIA: And is the water safe, after you take the electricity out of it?
Sounds like it could be de-ionized water, which is not safe for long-term consumption.

Regards,
Gord
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Old 10-02-2004, 08:40   #15
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Solar panels

There are articles written about the life cycle and efficiency on all these devices, including calculators computers vehicles and everything energy using or producing. I do not recall where off hand. The radiation comming from my desk lamp has modified the sine wave path of the thought patterns. The bit that got my attention about solar panels was the cost. BC Mike C
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