Cost is only one part of the equation when you make decisions regarding the best way to generate electrical power for your yacht.
If you spend your sailing life in the tradewind belt anywhere around the world, you have almost unlimited energy at your disposal. You have both solar
I have four solar panels
that are now around twelve years old, and when I am in the tropics, I count on them to supply about 50 amp hours a day as long as it's not overcast. That just was not enough power for my catamaran
without having to run engines to generate electricity.
I put one silent Aerogen 6 wind generator
on my cat in New Caledonia
, and to my surprise I went for six weeks without having to run my engine to charge my batteries. The trade
winds were really pumping in New Caledonia
When I decided to complete the last half of my circumnavigation
with two more people on board using electricity for computers
, and other stuff, I added a second aerogen 6 windgenerator.
With the two aerogen 6 wind
generators we had tons of power. In the tradewinds, we could get 300-400amp hours each day out of the wind generators when they both were working. Sometimes we would even feather one of the wind generators out of the wind because the electricity was just going into the dump resistors when they both were running. But when we had a couple of computers
going, running lights going, radar
on, and autopilt working around the clock, those two wind generators did a fantastic job and there was no need to use the engines to generate electricity. I got to the place where I regarded my solar panels
as a back up system that was there in case everything else failed. At least I could put some juice into the batteries to maintain radio communications
and essential electrical devices if other electrical systems failed for some reason.
Generating electrical power on a sailboat isn't cheap
, but most of the expenses are upfront expenses that you absorb ahead of time. If you know that you are sailing to remote
locations where there will be lots of wind and sun, and if you know that you are going to be doing it year after year, then solar and quiet wind generators are hard to beat.
But if you are going on shorter cruises in less windy and sunny climes, then I wouldn't invest in wind or solar. For me, it would be a waste of money
, not to mention the fact that my boat would probably look better without the solar panels
and wind generators attached to the boat.
I do confess that I like having the two wind generators when sailing offshore
. They keep me honest when I'm on watch because I look at the wind generators to see what is happening to the apparent wind. Those wind generators are always telling me what's going on without having to look at my calibrated wind instruments. It's just one more way of keeping track of how my catamaran
is interacting with the wind and sea.