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Old 11-04-2013, 09:49   #16
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

Solar
Most bang for the buck. Solar panels now run at $1/W or less ($200 for a 200W panel).
We had 950W in series with an Outback Flexmax80 and got about 350Ah per day, with about 60A at peak time.

Regarding the recommendation to save. Yes - use efficient systems, but do not try to save by not having the comforts that would make cruising more enjoyable. In our case we limited water production and heating water using electric heater. We did not think much of it then. I recently spent two weeks on an identical boat. They started the genny every morning (not my preferred thing to do) to run the water maker and heat water for the kids. I enjoyed not having to think about every drop I used, so my next boat gets twice the solar and better batteries.
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Old 11-04-2013, 10:17   #17
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

Your in the Caribbean, it is always windy. I am in Grenada and have both. There are times when the solar just does not produce enough electric. Also the wind gen works 24 hours a day, the solar is 12. With that size boat I would have both and you can leave the refrig on with the beer cold.
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Old 11-04-2013, 10:19   #18
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

I understand the comforts of home, but this would be like taking a Winebago camping and expecting the camping experience.

Honestly, to begin with a person needs a 35-40 boat to approach the comforts of home.

Keep it as simple as possible, while still being, at least somewhat comfortable.

Part of the experience is the "hardship"(if I can really use that word), of the sojourn. The metal in one's heart and soul . . . even just a little bit.

For the others I say buy a floating house and have towed.

I have never heard fond memories of excursions that were perfect and un-eventful, but virtually everyone remembers, with heartfelt fondness, the excursions where they endured some degree of hardship.

Forget the electric stove, get a simple cooler, get oil lamps, change out to LED's, keep simple and get to know yourself.
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Old 11-04-2013, 10:40   #19
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

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Originally Posted by SURV69 View Post
I understand the comforts of home, but this would be like taking a Winebago camping and expecting the camping experience.

Honestly, to begin with a person needs a 35-40 boat to approach the comforts of home.

Keep it as simple as possible, while still being, at least somewhat comfortable.

Part of the experience is the "hardship"(if I can really use that word), of the sojourn. The metal in one's heart and soul . . . even just a little bit.

For the others I say buy a floating house and have towed.

I have never heard fond memories of excursions that were perfect and un-eventful, but virtually everyone remembers, with heartfelt fondness, the excursions where they endured some degree of hardship.

Forget the electric stove, get a simple cooler, get oil lamps, change out to LED's, keep simple and get to know yourself.
That was on subject and was very helpful, all while being a nice quiet slam on us who chose to have a larger comfortable boat.
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Old 11-04-2013, 10:49   #20
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Lots of haters on cf. The PC police do not want discussions of guns, religion,large comfortable boats, having actual money saved. We're all supposed to be atheist, pacifist, peons cruising on 30' boats.
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Old 11-04-2013, 10:54   #21
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

After 15 years of cruising with both solar and wind, my next installation would be all solar.

I had a 5 ft diameter wind generator (Ferris) and 230 watts of solar. I never did detailed measurements, but it was my impression that over the long term the solar panels provided more than twice as much power.

The wind generator was a constant maintenance item--it rusted, the brushes wore out, the blades got damaged, it needed balancing, etc-- I probably spent 3 times the original cost over 15 years.

The the solar panels required essentially no maintenance (once I stopped trying to use plugs and hardwired them into a weatherproof box) and were still putting out 90% of rated output after 15 years.

I also had to climb up on the stern pulpit and stop the wind generator whenever I wanted to use the SSB. This may not be an issue with the newer brushless wind generators. However, I also had to shut the generator down when the wind got over 30 knots, or it tended to crack its magnets and/or melt its solder joints.

My wind generator was not the noisest one in the anchorages, but it was not quiet in the gusts. However, I relied on the noise to wake me up if conditions got nasty.

The price of solar has come down dramatically, while the price of wind generators has gone up. That makes the decision a no-brainer for me.

The solar/wind system was augmented by a Ferris water generator which gave me excess power during passages. At anchor, I would have to run the main engine for an hour to charge the batteries once every 4 days on average. This was on a 45 ft boat with DC refrigeration. Over the years, replacing lights with LED's and going from laptops to netbooks cut down my power requirements, and I think about 500 watts of solar would cover my usage most of the time.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:07   #22
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

Why not both?
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:24   #23
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

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Originally Posted by Don L View Post
I hope there is something wrong with your post.
Sorry Don L you are correct... Got ahead of my typing...

The panels are in paired series running to a Blu Sky MPPT Controller that likes 36v to 48v from the panels and outputs 12v to the battery bank. The one propblem I have is mis-matched panels (4-135w and 3-85w)

I normally make 45-48 AMPS in optimal sunlight, and average about 250 AMPS a day in normal sunlight.

In good sunlight, I can remain on the hook indefinitly, but that didn't work in Panama... With the two refriderators/freezers going, computers, pumps & lights, I would usually go for about 4 days before turning on the gen set and recharging the house bank
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:34   #24
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970 W of solar panels, 880 Ah of lead acid batteries, a simple PWM controller for a third of the panels, direct connections for the other two thirds with a couple of switches in the cockpit.

No generator or diesel engine on our boat, but we have computers, fridges, water maker, etc, and a little 6 A alternator on one outboard.

The last time we plugged into shore power was 2010. Ya can't beat the cost and efficiency of harnessing sunlight these days!

We used to have a wind generator but would not go back unless we ran out of space for more panels.
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Old 11-04-2013, 11:56   #25
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

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We have both. Solar panels do not generally work well at night.
+1. Having both gives greater flexibility.
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:08   #26
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

+1 on both if you can afford them. Otherwise, dollars spent will probably get you the most bang for your buck in the following order (YMMV):
  1. Reduce overall electricity usage
  2. Solar panels and controller
  3. Wind generator
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:24   #27
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+1 on both if you can afford them. Otherwise, dollars spent will probably get you the most bang for your buck in the following order (YMMV):

[*]Reduce overall electricity usage[*]Solar panels and controller[*]Wind generator
My maths shows that adding more solar is economically more efficient (cheaper) than reducing overall electricity usage (via electrically efficient, but expensive lights and appliances).

For example, the grand we spent on LEDs was a poor decision when compared to the additional solar and battery capacity we could have installed to continue to run the old lights. With that lesson learnt the hard way, we subsequently bought a very cheap, very inefficient second fridge and all the cheap solar energy handles it fine.

I agree that in dollar terms, wind is last on the list. Until you travel to the high latitudes. . Everyone's mileage varies!
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Old 11-04-2013, 13:01   #28
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

Here's how I look at the math:

Solar panels are about $1/Watt. With batteries and installation about $2/Watt (and that's pretty low, assumes self install, etc.).

Typical solar production is around 5x nameplate (with considerable variation). So 1W solar will produce about 5 Wh/day and costs about $2 installed = $0.40/Wh/day.

A 15W running light/anchor light for 10 hours/day takes 150 Wh/day, which equates to about $60 in solar installation costs ($30 just for the panels). If you can replace that 15W with a 1W LED (10 Wh/day, $4 solar installation cost) for less than $56 ($28 if you only count the panel costs) then it makes sense to install the LED. If the LED is more than $56 then it makes more sense to install the solar to feed the incandescent (providing you have the room to install the panels).
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Old 11-04-2013, 13:10   #29
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

Obviously the combination is best. Whatcha gonna do when it is cloudy for days on end? The rainy season along the caribbean coast of central america, for instance. BUT, when the sky is gray is often when the wind blows best.

Now if you simply must go one or the other, obviously your cruising or living area's climate has a lot to do with your choice, but one thing I would like to point out, is solar has no moving parts.

The old Atomic 4 in my Cal 2-27 is getting more tempermental each day, and it has been raw water cooled since new, 1976. Next year I will be yanking it outta there, whether it still "runs" or not, and going electric, with a 10kw (about 13hp) ME0913 motor at 48 volts. Obviously, I will be installing solar or wind or both, since I won't have an alternator anymore. I am leaning toward initially installing around 400w of solar on a hard bimini and maybe some more back aft, tilting from the aft edge of the bimini or the pushpit rail. Wind will come later, and I will probably homebrew something using a smaller PWMDC motor for the generator and the appropriate controller. Basically just a smaller propulsion system but with a wind turbine in the air instead of a propellor in the water, and using just the regen capability of the controller.

Are there any electric boat owners reading this thread? Or anybody else charging a 48v bank? Most of the solar stuff I see is geared toward charging a 12v bank.
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Old 11-04-2013, 13:10   #30
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

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The price of solar has come down dramatically, while the price of wind generators has gone up. That makes the decision a no-brainer for me.
I agree, but turns out the cost of the panel isn't the main cost. This is the cost the past 2 months to install a 290W panel on my boat (yes I could have spent 4 times the cost of the 290W panel on 2 140W panels and used a cheaper PWM controller, but ...)

solar project 290W panel $ 279.99 electrical $ 907.97 mountings $ 392.93 finishing $ 31.00 $1,611.89

But I think wind would cost at least as much total project
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