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Old 22-04-2015, 09:08   #16
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What form of energy?

Sedentary, I have a Honda 2000 and am very happy with it. I'd still like solar if I can overcome the cost of mounting them. My boat is a double ender ( no davits ). The Honda is extremely reliable, starts first pull every time for 3 years now. It provides more than enough power. I have 460 Ah of golf cart batteries. Two of us living aboard full time and we run the Honda for about 2-3 hours alternate days. Amp hour consumption on the battery monitor never goes below 80% and we recharge to 97-99%. We do have LED lighting, and no A/C but we have an old below deck autopilot which uses a lot of power.

On economy mode it is fairly quiet ( much louder running high when we turn on the water heater ). We keep ours lashed on the cabin top since we don't have a swim platform and the vibrations in the cabin are noisier than we'd like. We put an industrial kneeling pad under it which helps somewhat. We also installed a CO alarm in the cabin and are very careful to always close all hatches and ports when the Honda is running.

Solar may not work if the sun doesn't shine but the portable generator doesn't work if you are not there to start it. If you are planning to be energy self sufficient solar would be an important component of your plan. If you're away from your boat solar keeps your system up. If you're on your boat, using your computer, solar is silent. If you have some solar, even if it isn't enough to meet your entire energy needs it will reduce the frequency you will need to run the generator. (I think I'm talking myself into finding a way to mount solar on my boat after all.)


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Old 22-04-2015, 09:16   #17
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Re: What form of energy?

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Originally Posted by sedentary View Post
My brain on energy says go with solar first. My brain on money says get the honda.
I feel your brain is right. All together my solar with a 290W panel ended up being about $1600. But my 2200W Hyundai inverter generator was $525.

But you have a third option of just using your engine for now.

A lot depends on what your battery capacity is and how much motoring you are going to have to do.
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Old 22-04-2015, 09:21   #18
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Re: What form of energy?

Build your charging system so that you can add other types of charging in the future. You never want to have to rely on one source of power.

The downside to the Honda generator is that you will be having to deal with gasoline and a source of carbon monoxide on deck. Gasoline vapors sink and the carbon monoxide has the possibility of going below deck. Salt spray is also very hard on a gas generator sitting on deck. It's not a very practical ultimate solution but could work for now.
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Old 22-04-2015, 09:54   #19
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Re: What form of energy?

^^^^

What he said. You don't need anything right now. Your engine will charge you up as you motor up the canal.

When you've figured out your power consumption and batteries, you can think it all through. You have time.
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Old 22-04-2015, 10:05   #20
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Re: What form of energy?

Echoing what others have said. Either do nothing, or spend the money on a high output alternator. The alternator is cheaper than the Honda and far better for your stated needs IMHO. Long term the high output alternator and solar are all you really need.
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Old 22-04-2015, 10:10   #21
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Re: What form of energy?

TacomaSailor--thanks for the practical real world advice! My solar calculations are for my 38' boat based on the amp draw we see and for our area of insolation, but it's pure estimation, not experience. So it's great to hear some real usage scenarios.

I do think sea of Cortez/Mexico is very best case scenario for solar, but then I live in San Diego, which is as well. I'll scale my plans back to 500 watts based on your advice.

My home solar system is performing better than expected, so I may be a chronic over estimator.


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Old 22-04-2015, 10:21   #22
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Re: What form of energy?

We have lived aboard in San Diego since Sept 2010.

The only time we use AC shore power is to heat water in the hot water tank and on those rare cool nights to power a 1200 watt space heater. Other than those two uses we have no need for shore power.

And, we could do without it all together because we have a very nice Ardic hydronic diesel heater system that will heat the water tank and keep the cabin nice and toasty.

We cruised all over the Pacific NW (47 degrees and north) for five summers with our solar panels. They provided all the power we needed for electrical use, again with the exception of hot water and cabin heat (required on many July and August evenings while anchored in 52 degree water and 64 degree air).

To the OP - Atlantic Towers has, at sometime in the last 20-years, made an arch for almost every boat in existence. There arches are very well made and quite easy to install, albeit expensive ~$2,100 for one custom made for our boat.
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Old 22-04-2015, 10:50   #23
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Re: What form of energy?

mstrebe - You've greatly overstated solar requirement. I've 420 rated watts of solar panels providing ALL of my power requirements. I installed them in San Diego in 2005 and 2006 for use in the Sea of Cortez. My equipment included 12V refrigeration, 200GPD watermaker, radar, VHF, SSB, computer, 2-GPS, lights. I've never run the engine to charge batteries after I installed the solar panels. I'm now berthed in Pittsburg CA and not connected to shore power (cuts down on stray current corrosion) and my batteries are always fully charged. I installed a Morningstar TriStar 40 controller and Bogardus TriMetric battery monitor after the failure of a Xantrex controller fried my batteries in 2009.
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Old 22-04-2015, 10:58   #24
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Re: What form of energy?

If you can only afford one item now, It's a no brainer for me, the generator would be my first choice. It works all the time, rain or shine or lack of wind.
The Honda 2000 is a great generator and sips fuel. You can run on Eco for 7-10 hours on a tank. For 1k it will always provide you with power either in the water or on the hard.
If your considerate while running it's not a big deal. Now, being inconsiderate can really irritate your neighbors, no matter where you are. Running a couple hours during the day just to charge the batteries, and you'll make friends. Run it at 10Pm in a quiet cove and forgetting to turn it off.....well you get the idea.

When you have the funds later on you can look into other options.

Good luck!
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Old 22-04-2015, 11:55   #25
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Re: What form of energy?

If you only have two batteries, go with the generator. My first choice is solar but you probably dont have enough storage capacity to make solar practical. I also have a honda 1000.
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Old 22-04-2015, 12:23   #26
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Re: What form of energy?

For all those recommending against the generator. Especially for a boat with minimal power requirements and considering a portable generator like the Honda, without a doubt, for a long term solution solar would be a better option.

However, having a portable generator on board for emergencies I think is a very good idea.
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Old 22-04-2015, 13:28   #27
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Re: What form of energy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tayana42 View Post
Sedentary, I have a Honda 2000 and am very happy with it. I'd still like solar if I can overcome the cost of mounting them. My boat is a double ender ( no davits ). The Honda is extremely reliable, starts first pull every time for 3 years now. It provides more than enough power. I have 460 Ah of golf cart batteries. Two of us living aboard full time and we run the Honda for about 2-3 hours alternate days. Amp hour consumption on the battery monitor never goes below 80% and we recharge to 97-99%. We do have LED lighting, and no A/C but we have an old below deck autopilot which uses a lot of power.

...


S/V B'Shert
It sounds like you could get away with using the generator a lot less. Batteries accept lots of juice when they're run down, but taper off quickly above 80%. It can take an hour to go from 75 to 85% but three to go from 85-95%.

The most common way to charge batteries with a generator is to let them run down further (50-60%) and then charge the quickly to 80% and leave them there.

Solar or shore power can top up batteries, but it's very expensive and time consuming to do it with a generator and alternator.
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Old 22-04-2015, 14:25   #28
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Re: What form of energy?

Sedentary,

Just a note on the Welland, it requires 3 people aboard, so crew up! We had an easy trip in one day, but I've heard that can be impacted by shipping traffic. We ended our day at the wall at the north end and walked to town for pizza.

For power, I am in a quandary too. It would be SO simple to plug in the Honda, pull the starter, and go make dinner. However, the Honda requires attention, fuel, and storage when not in use. I would rather not have more gasoline on the boat and I don't know where I would store it or the gas when underway or away from the boat. If I were to solve those two things, I might just go with the Honda. Additionally, it would power an AC high-volume watermaker, which I also want, but again it is not a set-it-up and forget it system.

For most of the reasons supporting it in this thread I want solar and a DC watermaker but I don't have to decide right now, so I'm putting it off.

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Old 22-04-2015, 14:43   #29
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Re: What form of energy?

i have been using solar only until this year, when i added 2 not 1 but 2 nicely loud windmills--one an older first gen air X. yaaay, and the other a chinese knock offf
and i am sooo glad i got these to augment my solar as we have had little sun this winter in tropical mexico--many fronts spawned from monsoonal trough and sped thru to masachussets to give a friend a lot of snow and coldness.
i have been here in mx 4 years now plus some, and i have finally found the perfect solution to power woes.
both and lots.
go for it.
you wonnt be sorry.
i have 12 amp in of solar and 2 windmills and 2 batt banks. i rock.
so...
diss my wind stuff and diss my sun stuff
i win.

btw i donot have my solar nor wind permanently mounted as yet... i will be making a hard dodger and a hard bimini for those as well as other lovelies you may or may not be privvy to as i go, but will see pix of as i go....
lol
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Old 22-04-2015, 20:56   #30
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Re: What form of energy?

love my efoy! Not the cheapest.. but easy to install, works as intended...and works in the dark!
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