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Old 11-04-2013, 04:48   #1
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Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

I am looking for advice on which to use, solar panels or a wind generator or both for extended cruising in the Caribbean. I have a 49' Beneteau with an arch so I'll have room for both, but which is most cost effective to purchase and maintain for that style of cruising?
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:00   #2
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

Solar panels, hands down. For about $1000 you can buy 500 watts of panels, a controller and wire if you do it yourself. 500 watts will produce as much as 200 amphours on a sunny day. Coupled with a decent sized battery bank for cloudy days, this will handle most cruisers power needs without ever having to run the engine or generator.

Wind generators only work well in windy anchorages. I like protected anchorages.

David
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:04   #3
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

I would go for both if you can afford it. But of course, much of your decision will be based on your electrical demand and capacity. Do you already have a generator? What size alternator? When considering your charging sources, the wider your variety, the more options you have to accommodate a variety of situations.

I have both solar and wind and both systems are pretty much fool proof but with my wind generator, I sacrificed power for quiet which is no big deal since my solar is the main charging system.
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Old 11-04-2013, 05:47   #4
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I haven't worked out the numbers but with that size boat the electrical demand will be on the high side. I do have a generator, the alternator is 80 amps and the battery charger is 150 amps. My house bank is about 1000 amps. The solar panels would be a definite. The question really is if a wind generator would be worth it since most of the time we would be at an anchorage.
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Old 11-04-2013, 06:27   #5
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

Well, your house bank gives you about 500 amp/hrs, which is a good thing but it will take a bunch to recharge it back up. A wind generator will probably cost you around $1800 to $2000 by the time it's installed, but a good one will last decades much like your solar panels. Are you thinking around 400+watts solar? That size array should gross on a good day around 80 to 100 A.Hrs/day depending on the exact configuration. A wind generator may average around the same or higher depending on the local conditions (assuming it's windy).
I have attached a link study on wind generators:
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...45107431,d.dmg
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Old 11-04-2013, 06:43   #6
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

We have both. Solar panels do not generally work well at night.
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Old 11-04-2013, 06:43   #7
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

I say before you determine what you need, wattage-wise, do what you can to reduce the wattage you need with better, more efficient everything possible.

If you can get your requirement within the level that a solar panel will provide on a cloudy day at minimum with an allowable battery discharge, then I wouldn't waste my time with a wind generator. If you still need more power, then you'll need that wind generator too.

In any case, if I ever do go with a wind generator, I'll make my own in a vertical alignment.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:13   #8
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

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Originally Posted by georgec View Post
I haven't worked out the numbers but with that size boat the electrical demand will be on the high side. I do have a generator, the alternator is 80 amps and the battery charger is 150 amps. My house bank is about 1000 amps. The solar panels would be a definite. The question really is if a wind generator would be worth it since most of the time we would be at an anchorage.
Friends of ours aboard a sister-ship to ours, a First 42, now in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia in the 3rd year of their cruise from the Tampa Bay area installed both to charge a 900 AH bank pf AGM's and have been very pleased with the combined performance so long as there is wind. In Cul-de-Sac Marin on Martinique, which is quite sheltered from the wind, they did have some issues with the wind generator and so had to partially rely on charging with their engine driven Balmar but, generally, the combined system works well. For more see Sail With Ocean Angel - a Beneteau First 42
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:24   #9
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

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Originally Posted by georgec View Post
I am looking for advice on which to use, solar panels or a wind generator or both for extended cruising in the Caribbean. I have a 49' Beneteau with an arch so I'll have room for both, but which is most cost effective to purchase and maintain for that style of cruising?

IMO the answer is both! But, if you can only afford one start with solar. Both have their pluses and minuses but, more bases and situations are covered having them both on board. Since I use electric propulsion I also have a Honda 2000 generator since no engine means no alternator for me. But, most of my needs are covered by the solar and wind turbine.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:27   #10
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

We have a 968 AH battery bank with 795 watts of solar run in series to a BlueSky controller, which produces about 45-48 AH in peek sunshine hours.

When we were down in Panama and the Southwest Caribbean, we found you get a lot of cloud cover reducing your solar output by 50% or more.

We are purchasing a wind generator next month when we swing through Florida to augment the panels.

Our choice is an AIRMAAX Wind Generator, which altough is expensive is also one of the quietest on the market (Six Blades) and has higher electrical output at lower wind speeds than other units.

Here are the estimated outputs:
1A in 6kts
3A in 10kts
11A in 16kts
19A in 20kts
28A in 26kts
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Old 11-04-2013, 08:32   #11
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

When we first began cruising in the Caribbean (Cuba, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras) we had a wind generator. As someone else stated, in a protected anchorage (the best kind!) you do not get all that much wind. And when you do get good wind, a wind generator sounds like a jet plane on your deck. So we sold the wind generator in Isla Mujeres and bought a couple of solar panels. They were much better. It is true that they do not charge at night, and with low efficiency on cloudy days. But with a good battery capacity (we used eight golf cart batteries) and a 2500 watt inverter, we never had a problem. And of course you can always run the engine to charge the batteries if necessary (I installed a high-output Balmar alternator).

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Old 11-04-2013, 09:16   #12
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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.
Ditto! We have a D400 wind generator as well as solar panels. Belt and suspenders. Both work well and compliment each other.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:19   #13
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

"We are purchasing a wind generator next month when we swing through Florida to augment the panels.

Our choice is an AIRMAAX Wind Generator, which altough is expensive is also one of the quietest on the market (Six Blades) and has higher electrical output at lower wind speeds than other units."

Check out the D400. Our experience is that it can not be heard above the ambient wind noise and we are very happy with the unit.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:22   #14
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

And what is this about protected anchorages and getting out of the wind? Guess I am more sensitive to mosquitos and no-see-ums than others as I like to anchor in the breeze.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:27   #15
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Re: Solar Panels or a Wind Generator

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Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
We have a 968 AH battery bank with 795 watts of solar run in series to a BlueSky controller, which produces about 45-48 AH in peek sunshine hours.

I hope there is something wrong with your post. I just installed 290W solar on my boat and it has been putting in 45AH into my 460AH bank up here in the Northeast. The boat is just sitting in the water by itself with the refrigerator running (has a couple of water bottles in the freezer) just for a load so I can see what happens.

Are saying that you are getting 45-48AH out of your solar BECAUSE that is all the daily system load on your system has been.

Or are you saying you are getting 45-48 AMPS?
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