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Old 18-11-2016, 18:08   #1
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Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

We have a fairly low appetite for electricity, but we would like to keep the batteries topped up when we are at anchor. We Cruise year round Although our boat is usually Blaine Harbor on Shore power when we cruise for 10 or 12 days we would like not to worry about the batteries while we keep our radio a couple of small fans and a few LED lights running. I am interested in comments from people with experience in our area as to whether solar is all I need or should I consider a combined system with wind and solar.

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Old 18-11-2016, 18:19   #2
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

Oldguy, In the summertime, solar works perfectly around here. I have a 100 watt panel that can supply even a small fridge.

Winter time is a different animal. For example, today was a normal, cloudy day. The solar amps from the panel hovered right around 0. Also, there was not a breath of wind.......

If you size your battery bank large enough to hold you over for 3 or 4 days, you might be ok with just solar in the winter as we usually get a period of sun between the never ending low pressure systems.

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Old 18-11-2016, 18:30   #3
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

I have 540 watts of solar panel, have not seen the need for the wind generators, I object to the noise, but recently tied up behind a windmill equipped vessel during a sizable blow in Astoria, OR and did not hear it, so there are some better units out there than the ones that I have seen in Alaska.
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Old 18-11-2016, 21:53   #4
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

We cruised the PNW up to Glacier Bay in the last several summers. We have two solar panels totaling 170 W, and 220 AHr battery house bank. This worked just fine for our instruments, refer, etc. At dock, we could run the refer and things like computers without worrying about running out of power unless there were a few days of cloudy weather. We once spent 3 weeks at dock and never needed to run the motor or plug into shore power. So, solar worked great for us.

Bear in mind: while cruising, at night you will likely be anchored in a sheltered anchorage - with (hopefully) little or no wind. Also, you will be running your motor in order to anchor for the night, and leave the next day - this time adds up fast and recharges your batteries.

Have not done cruising in the winter, so cannot say if a couple hundred watts of solar is enough. Days are a lot shorter.

Good luck!
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Old 18-11-2016, 22:05   #5
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

I'm a wind gen. fan, even in places that often have sun in winter. Though they've always been big bladed, quiet, & of the sort that you can take down when you don't want them.
Where you are there's a lot of clouds from now until July, & then starting again 01 Oct. Which, it sounds as if you're already leaning this way, but just want confirmation.
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Old 19-11-2016, 07:31   #6
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

We have a SuperWind wind gen as well as 540W of solar panels and cruise from south Puget Sound to Alaska. The panels are semi-flexible and mounted to the top of our hard dodger and deck in front of the dodger and can be walked on. I am a big fan of the solar panels, not so much the wind gen as we just don't get much power from it. The solar panels continuously amaze me, and even on cloudy days we get 2-5A out of the panels. The most output we have seen up here is about 16A on a clear summer day.

At the end of September we spent three weeks in the San Juans and may have gotten 10Ah total out of the wind gen... maybe. And that included two fronts moving through with some decent wind. The problem is at anchor you are protected so while we saw gusts into the 30's, they were brief and the majority of the steady wind was below 20 knots, and you really need consistent wind in the mid-20's to realize the potential of the wind gen.

Our views on the wind gen may change once we get to the trades someday, but my opinion based on our experiences would be to not bother with a wind gen if limited to the PNW.

Hope this helps...
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Old 19-11-2016, 10:22   #7
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

As I am preparing to mount some flexible panels on my deck, how did you attach your panels to your deck?
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Old 19-11-2016, 10:31   #8
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

Solar is the way to go. You have long days in the summer that make up for being so far north. A wind gen will get you very little . In the summer there is not a consistent wind. In the winter you will most likely not be traveling when the winds are high.
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Old 19-11-2016, 11:10   #9
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

I have both, and like both. They compliment each other well. Solar is more consistent, but wind provides during those stormy, overcast times which can go on for days. And even when the amps are low, my windgen can produce all day and night. The overall amps add up.

If I had to prioritize Id put solar over wind, but so far Ive found my Silentwind to be worth the price and bother.

Other than where and how you cruise, the other factor for modest sized monohulls is space considerations. It can be hard to find enough real estate to place sufficient solar panels, especially when problems of partial shading is considered. Wind gens take up less space (although can also contribute to panel shading).

BTW, noise is not an issue for most quality wind gens these days.
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Old 19-11-2016, 12:27   #10
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

I have had both for more than 2 decades. My advice is to buy as many solar panels as you can fit and afford. Only after maxing out solar would I recommend a wind gen. A wind gen is rarely useful in port due to the protection of land, breakwaters, and other boats. It is also pretty inconsiderate to run at night if it is making any noise - by all means wire in a disconnect switch and use it for nights and when you are gone. (I spent a winter near an unoccupied boat with one free-wheeling during storms, creating a whistle that annoyed for a long distance.) Wind gens are great for passagemaking, but overall solar panels win the bang-for-buck contest hands down. BTW panels put out more power at colder temperature - the most I got out of my panels was during the winter, so there is some offset to the winter clouds.

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Old 19-11-2016, 12:51   #11
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

I am in the PNW and have both. I installed the blue. blades so it is super quiet
and more efficient. 440 amp hr battery bank. have had no shortage of juice so
far and spent a year cruising from olympia to Skagway.
average wind speed for the sound year round is 9 knts. many days in winter
I have been happy with my system.
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Old 19-11-2016, 13:33   #12
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

i live in the Pacific Northwest... Tacoma on my sailboat as a general rule unless there is a god storm coming in there is not enough wind for a wind generator to be worth the money.. i have a weather station on my boat... and most of the time i see 5 mph and lower winds... best to go with solar panels.. but double the amount you think you need they will still produce electricity but at a lower amount


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Old 19-11-2016, 14:07   #13
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

Sometimes the comments about wind gen. noise seem almost excessive. But surely they're less obnoxious than generators. Gas or Diesel. Especially when your neighbor fires up a 2-cycle one in order to use his power tools. Yet having generators onboard anymore, of one sort or another, seems the norm. What gives?
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Old 19-11-2016, 15:51   #14
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
Sometimes the comments about wind gen. noise seem almost excessive. But surely they're less obnoxious than generators. Gas or Diesel. Especially when your neighbor fires up a 2-cycle one in order to use his power tools. Yet having generators onboard anymore, of one sort or another, seems the norm. What gives?
Nah, they are using that super quiet Honda generator to power their AC water maker fire hose. They have the so quiet genset on the foredeck or in the dinghy to get the noise closer to their neighbors. How people think a Honda 2000 putting out any significant power is quiet is beyond me.
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Old 19-11-2016, 17:16   #15
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Re: Pacific Northwest - wind gen or solar or both?

I really appreciate all the useful feedback. It sounds like solar is the way to go, even if I need to add a little extra for the winter. Thanks to all who posted. Glenn

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