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Old 10-01-2009, 11:48   #1
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Solar/Wind Experiences

Hello everyone,

I started a nonprofit org, Boundless Books, and I am planning on circumnavigating the globe delivering books as a means of generating press for the org. I would like to make the trip as 'green' as possible and as a result I want to use solar/wind power. I was hoping people could share their experiences on pitfalls to avoid and tricks of the trade. I'm kind of starting from square one here so no detail is too small and I'd love to hear about any experience from the smallest projects to the largest.

Thanks,
Eric
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Old 10-01-2009, 11:50   #2
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Northern Arizona sun & wind is a great outfit to deal with and talk to about specific needs.
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Old 10-01-2009, 13:23   #3
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For us it had nothing to do with being Green. It was all about self-sufficiency and comfort.

The first thing you need to do is quantify your electrical needs/wants. This will depend on two things:

1. Lifestyle/comfort level: small refrigerator? Big one? None? Watermaker? Hot water shower every day? computer?, etc.

2. The specific equipment on the boat you will be cruising - eg. Halogen lights will use more power than fluorescents and fluorescents will use more than LEDs and solar garden lights use none at all. Until you have the boat you want equipped the way you want, the best you can do is an estimate of average demand on the boat with the equipment you think you will have.

Once you have a fair idea of what your demand will be, you can try to calculate what wind/solar equipment would be necessary to meet all or some of this demand and whether you can fit it on the boat you intend to use. How practical the result is depends in part on where and when you go. Becalmed in a fog bank off the coast of Maine, you either run down the batteries, fire up the engine/generator, or go without power. OTOH, your refrigerator will use less power on the Maine coast than it will on the Venezuelan coast.

FWIW, our electrical demands for our lifestyle were about 50 to 80 amps and we were fairly consistently able to meet them with solar and wind (360 watts solar panels and KISS wind generator) in the Bahamas and eastern Caribbean where there is a lot of sun and wind.
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Old 10-01-2009, 16:09   #4
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IMHO...I found a wind generator for the cost was not nearly as good of an investment as solar. I had both. As mentioned above, you can do more with energy conservation in the way of a very well insulated refer and all LED lights. Especially running lights. When I replaced my incandescent running light bulbs to LED's the amp gage went for 10 amps to 2.2 amps. A tri-color is the way to go for this new boat of mine.
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Old 10-01-2009, 20:12   #5
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...and I found the 160 watts of solar panels we had only gave me half as much power daily ON AVERAGE as my 4winds wind generator. It all depends on where and how you cruise...and how much space you have for panels! You need both in any event if you are going to have refrigeration in my opinion.
Find a boat first, then we can help with estimating daily amp needs, sizing a proper battery bank and wind/solar options. Lots of expertise here.
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Old 10-01-2009, 20:52   #6
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...and I found the 160 watts of solar panels we had only gave me half as much power daily ON AVERAGE as my 4winds wind generator. It all depends on where and how you cruise...and how much space you have for panels! You need both in any event if you are going to have refrigeration in my opinion.
Find a boat first, then we can help with estimating daily amp needs, sizing a proper battery bank and wind/solar options. Lots of expertise here.
Maybe it was the fact I had an Air-X that I did not get as much. Possibly I sail lighter airs on sunnier days.
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Old 11-01-2009, 12:28   #7
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Celestial...yep...brand/model and location make all the difference...not arguing with your actual experience...just pointing up that it can be quite different and that for real off the grid work on a global voyage...both wind and solar are a better idea than one or the other.
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Old 11-01-2009, 14:23   #8
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Celestial...yep...brand/model and location make all the difference...not arguing with your actual experience...just pointing up that it can be quite different and that for real off the grid work on a global voyage...both wind and solar are a better idea than one or the other.
I really respect that. My friend that has a solar company and ex-cruiser came to the boat and looked up at the air-x on the mizzen and said.."Oh...you got one of those things"? The other thing I did not like about where I located it was the crew and myself had to be vigilant about stopping it when releasing the halyard as not to have it hit the blades. You can imagine the mayhem if that happened. I may look into a K.I.S.S. system next time.
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