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Old 23-06-2006, 10:47   #16
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Adam,

The natural differences between the way your alternator/regulator behaves and the way a panel will behave suggests a charging regimen: run the engine to let the alternator do what it can do efficiently, then let the passive panel continue to float charge the nearly completely charged bank.

Of course, you may need to use power during the day, so no doubt the panels will only be able to completely charge your batteries once in a while, but this will still extend the life of your batteries and occasionally put that smile on your face when you see the maximun numbers on your display.

And of course, the panels will be putting amp hours into your system whether the batteries are charged or depleted, and so will extend the time between engine runs anyway, letting you save on noise and wear & tear.

I see the panels as a good adjucnt to engine charging.
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Old 23-06-2006, 11:26   #17
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"How many ah's do you draw everytime you start the motor???"
Between 1 kilowatt (small engine) and 2kw for about 5 seconds? On a 12v system that's about 125A for 5 seconds or about 0.18Ah for a rough number.

"The regulator detects a 90% charged bank and puts out only a trickle charge amount of amperage (maybe 10A) ...When the battery is that fully charged, you can't make the chemical reaction go any faster." There's still a big difference between the actual TRICKLE charge that a conventional automotive type regulator quickly cuts back to, and the amount of charge that a true marine regulator with battery temperature sensor can apply.

(Who/what is a Quad Cycle regulator anyway?)
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Old 23-06-2006, 14:30   #18
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I have found that with smart regulators, the Quad Cycle and the Balmar MaxCharge if your batts are pretty full (10% discharged) the the output from the alternator is about 10 amps if you have 400-500 AH capicty... so you would need to run the engine for several hours (3-4) to add in 40AH.

Effectively it like the closer you get to being topped up the harder (longer) it is to get them back to 100%. Having a solar or wind would provide a constant trickle or float type charge of several amps... 4-6 amps per hour (w/200 watts of panels).

Free energy is a good way to keep your batts close to being full and use them at the same time.

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Old 23-06-2006, 15:48   #19
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From going over the posts on this thread it occurs to me how many boats are still using the engine alternator as a prime charge source with solar or wind as back-up?

For those that that applies to I would say that the main cause of engine failure that I have observed in the local fleet is attributable to low load running of the engine for long and or regular periods....battery charging or eutectic fridge. Cylinder glazing, ring fouling and injector failure are the usuals.

We just sold our big cruiser. In the refit we did back in 97/98 I threw out the eutectic and replaced with electric fridge. I also added two low out put "soft" solar panels to the three hard (50 watt) that were already on the boat. 2X32 +3X50=214 watt total. I provided a seperate 200ah batt for the fridge system which I left totaly isolated from the domestic/start batt arrangement. In normal mode I left one of the 32 watt panels connected to the domestic and the rest to the fridge batt. This has worked a treat for the whole time. The fridge has run constantly ever since, which is a great thing if you need to step off the boat for a few weeks or whatever.I also have a poor windmill that is horrible noisy and only loosed in desperation. I can count the times on one hand that we had to use engine and/or windmill in that time except when we were sailing using the auto pilot which draws big! In that case I would run the motor for about half an hour every 4 or 5 hours. The boat has only a 35 amp alternater. SOLAR is GOOD!!

BTW... you Americans are lucky that panels are so cheap there. Couldn't have anything to do with the fact a big oil company took over the solar panel business in OZ now could it?? (British Petroleum or BP now biggest supplier) figure $10 per watt here and still the way to go I think.

Cheers

Bob
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Old 23-06-2006, 17:29   #20
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Slightly OT, but how many hours can you expect from a marine diesel? And how much maintanence would be tolerable?

My 36HP is 21 years old and only this year did I have to do a top end rebuild. Very expensive but the engine has seen well over 4000 hrs.

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Old 23-06-2006, 20:31   #21
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Hi defjef
"Slightly OT, but how many hours can you expect from a marine diesel?"
OT?? as many as possible! Ours was an original installation 1972 perkins 4236. hours are unknown but certainly horrendous. The cost of my solar system total may have been cheaper and less hassle than your rebuild.
"And how much maintanence would be tolerable?"
However much is required but less is better I think.

Different strokes I think but what I described is a way that I tried and found very successful for our cruising style. It was gratifying to see my theory come good and perhaps there is someone out there contemplating a similar approach and I'm here to say, we made it work for us on our boat. Our next boat will be similarly equiped.

Cheers

Bob
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Old 23-06-2006, 22:24   #22
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OT - Off Topic but only slightly
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Old 23-06-2006, 22:47   #23
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OOHH! thanks... i always feel like such a dummy when I have to ask. I forget who it was that posted me once and said to check my PM....... Post Menstral what?

cheers
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Old 24-06-2006, 02:43   #24
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How many hrs??? same question as how long is a piece of string and followed by, so is green string longer than blue. It depends on engine make, No. of cylinders, your maintenance schedule, load, operating conditions, and of course, Luck!
Ruffly put, each 1000hrs of operation would be equivilant to about 100,000Kms or 60,000 miles. A 6 cylinder engine using good oil and regular service shedules should be able to last 500,000kms or 300,000miles which in a boat would be around the 5000hrs. Of course, there are a few differences between a road vehicle and a boat with how an engine is loaded, operating temp, idling time etc etc, so the numbers above can't be taken as accurate, just a ruff approx.
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Old 24-06-2006, 10:27   #25
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Cheap Solar Panels?

I recently purchased eight 80 watt solar panels at a total cost of $4,400 USD. I then applied for and received a rebate check for a total of $3,200 USD... which boils down to $150 per 80 watt panel.

It is my understanding that this rebate program is a direct result from the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Exxon was fined a squillion dollars by the US federal government and the money was (and still is) applied to alternate energy projects at the consumer level. The U.S. Virgin Islands offer the highest rebate level at $5.00 per watt but I'm told that every state & territory of the United States participates in the program at different rebate levels.

Purchases of wind generators, solar controllers, batteries and even the conductor wires are also covered by this program - however at a lower rate.

Of course - this rebate program is not very well known nor is it actively marketed by the government but every state & territory participates to one degree or another.

I qualified because our boat is registered in the USVI and is our primary residence. We reside at a marina but I do not beliebe this has any actual bearing on the rebate we received.

My simple plan is to build a solar powered ice maker on our boat. I'm hoping for a deep freeze but I'm sure I'll be satisfied with whatever degree of cold we get.

In closing - I'm not sure what to think... but I believe it's remarkable that Exxon has been prodded to fund rebates for solar panels supplied by Shell.

Cheers,

Kirk
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Old 24-06-2006, 10:58   #26
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Kirk, who is your rebate program from? (Supplier? State or federal tax incentive?) I haven't heard of anything like that being offered to the general public in the US.
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Old 24-06-2006, 11:00   #27
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Where did you apply? Can you provide a few details? This may help other sailors afford solar panels.

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Old 24-06-2006, 21:45   #28
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Solar Panel Rebate Program

The rebate program is administered by the U.S.Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) who are also responsible for local boat registrations, moorings and law enforcement, among other things.

I contacted one of the local authorized solar panel distributers who provided me with the necessary paperwork. When the panels arrived, I sent the paperwork to the specified DPNR office along with receipts, signatures & serial numbers of the panels.

I received the rebate check within 60 days.

I cashed the check immediately, pinched myself on the arm and applied the money to the cost of fabricating a stern arch to mount the panels.

It is my understanding that the funding for this rebate program is provided by Exxon, administered by the federal government and distributed by state / territorial governments. The program seems to be "on again and off again" around here so everybody tries to keep the money in hand and their ear to the ground.

I paid $4400 for eight 80 watt panels.

I received a rebate in the ammount of $3200.

Which made my cost $150 per panel.

Happy hunting,

Kirk
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Old 25-06-2006, 09:04   #29
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Sounds like it should be listed on http://www.vienergy.org/ (but doesn't seem to be) if the program is still running, but more important this sounds like a "domestic" program for the USVI only.
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Old 25-06-2006, 14:42   #30
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Try speaking with the guy I purchased my solar panels through. He's one of the authorized dealers participating in the rebate program and might be able to clarify some of the details. His business name is:

STORM KING
tel 1 340 775 1266
fax 1 340 775 1701

Or call the DPNR Energy Office at 1 340 773 1082 or 1 340 772 2133 and ask for a Ms. Muller.

But PLEASE don't tell them that I sent you, okay.

Give 'em a call. We're in the Atlantic Standard Time zone which is presently the same as Eastern Daylight Savings Time... or GMT + 4 hrs (I think). It's probably worth the call if you can get contact info on which federal agency is holding the purse strings on this generous rebate program.

If nothing else - it's as good excuse as any to sail down to the Caribbean and take up residence in the Virgin Islands for a while!

Happy Hunting,

K
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