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Old 11-06-2007, 10:33   #31
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Quick note on Air-X
Ours seldom made power at anchor due to where we anchored. In 'northers' it did, and sounded like a banshee... now we have solar and will be getting a Honda 2000 so we CAN use A/C on the hook if unbearable in tropics. The refrigerator is GAS propane, (advantage of catamaran flat sailing) and we're working on finding reliable gas supplies and proper SIZE fittings in the Carribbean. Anybody experience on LP supplies Bahamas/ Carribbean?
regards.
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Old 11-06-2007, 12:10   #32
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Every where we went in the southern Caribe and Venuezla we had no problems getting propane refills. The Caribe is used to Amercian style fittings and everyone seemed to have them. We did have problems with our spare tanks (original to the boat which use the European standard) we finally passed the tanks on for junk as no one wanted them even though they were new and contained propane.
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Old 11-06-2007, 12:35   #33
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You are quite right about using mains as your primary method of charging and after a shakedown cruise in November I'll know for sure. What I am hoping is that a short running of the engines will provde most of the bulk charge while providing hot water. After 20-30 minutes, the Honda would take over.

I definately will be adding solar, there is none as of now. My experience with a wind generator was very negative. I want to sail because it is quiet.
WE were not able to sleep because of noise and vibration. Had to turn it off at night.

I know that the best way is to reduce the amps you use. However as I become an oldfart, I don't want to camp on water.
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Old 11-06-2007, 15:37   #34
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Excellent response, CD. Thanks for elaborating.

I suppose your estimates, which ignore damage to the main from using it to charge batteries are looking at more of an "instant cost" rather than a "cost over time", which is where my estimates lie. I look at a 5-10 year cost, rather than an annual cost. Charging batts with your main every day is an enormous "cost over time" (due to ingoring damage to the main), while it is indeed a very cheap way to do it in the short run. I would agree with that.

My bet is that I'll do >$3500 worth of damage to the main (this included the cost of my twin 90 amp chargers, btw) in the next 10 years using it to charge the batts. Also, I like the redundancy of multiple power sources.

Good discussion... but I'll keep quiet so as not to derail the thread.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
SSulivan,

Thanks for the reply.

Well, when I said the cheapest way out, which it is (running the main), I SURE did not mean the best. I just finished an article in Mainsheet last night (for August) on this very subject. Running you main to charge your batts is tough on the main, eats fuel, and unless you have a MS Reg, is probably not just really good for the batts either.

However, it is the CHEAPEST way out. Even using $3500 as your example (which is darned cheap) is a WHOLE lot of diesel... even at todays prices. How many years will it take to break even on the genset? Now, I am not counting the wear on the main. As I currently have 520W on my boat right now, with 2 more panels sitting beside me as I type this about to go on (an increase it to 780W... a small solar plant!!) you can guess how I feel about running the main to charge the batts.

However, many people do not want to drop thousands into a GOOD solar setup, and cruise on very, very tight and limited budgets. THat is what you do. It is sure a lot better than running the bats below 50%, and doing partial charges without a MS Reg.

Regarding the generator auto function, many (most???) of todays high-end generators have this function. I know Mastervolt does, and am almost positive FisherPanda does. You can set the battery voltage/rate of discharge desired for autostart. The new generators, especially the MV, is a piece of art that runs and diagnosis itself and its surroundings. It would know if it was being harmed before you would. It is great piece of equipment for the right budget (about 15k intalled). FYI, though, you can disable the autostart function, which I have. I would see it useful when I am away from the boat for a long time and the solar just did not keep up... but that seems unlikely and I prefer having the control. So I do not use that function though it is there. For the push-button boaters, which most are... as I am sure you know, this is a nice function whcih keeps them from finding themselves stranded.

- CD
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Old 11-06-2007, 15:54   #35
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SSulivan,

I think if you really take the time to expand out that cost, you will probably find a large solar bank as the best solution. I think I ran those numbers on one of these boards some time back. However, it takes MANY years to pay off solar.

However, cost-amp is not really the leading thrust for most cruisers (or even those with houses) that use solar. I think it is the fact that it is free after the inital cost, that it is quiet, that it is maintenance free in theory (in theory... theory being the optimum word), and quite candidly - it is good on the environment. Not to mention, it will run without your participation.

But the cheapest way out up front??? Dream on. Even diesel at its worst will take a long time to add up to a large solar bank. I hope that changes and my children can grow up in a world free of burning fossil fuels. However, I think that is a bit unlikely unless the technology improves enough to make it cheaper and more efficient. Until then, I have made my investment and am completely off the grid... and I spent a lot of fossil fuels to do it! (smile)

Take care. Let me know if I can ever help at all.

- CD
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Old 11-06-2007, 18:55   #36
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I've certainly ran the numbers... solar is not currently economical over the long haul since after buying all those "natural" power sources, you STILL have to buy a genset for the cloudy and windless days. That was the real kicker that tipped the scales for us. If you have hundreds of dollars worth of food in your freezer and want to keep that, you can't rely on solar and wind to do so without a genset. (unless you're in the tropics of course.. trade winds and lots of sun)

Otherwise, solar alone figured out to be the exact same price as an equivalent genset (assuming oil changes, diesel and replacing the genset every 5 yrs). It's no accident that solar figures out to be the exace same cost as a genset over its lifetime. I have a theory on why that is...

When the solar guys came to market, they obviously had to find a price point for their solar cells. After doing the math, it's clear that they used current costs of engergy as a model and simply picked the highest price they could that wouldn't be more expensive than the other methods of energy production. (More shareholder profits that way) It's capitalism at its best.

We northerners can't use solar to live on a boat off grid (as I do too) until it can produce energy at night and in the dense fog.

You're (understandably) coming at the issue from the perspective of someone located in the South. Up here in Maine, we are sticking the solar "where the sun don't shine."

I too hope at some point that there will be a better energy source... be it solar, or something yet undiscovered. Cheap and clean... those are the hallmarks of a good energy source. Would love to come across one.

Great discussion on this topic. Thanks again. It's one of my favorites, and obviously something you have carved a writing career out of. Fun stuff.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruisingdad
SSulivan,

I think if you really take the time to expand out that cost, you will probably find a large solar bank as the best solution. I think I ran those numbers on one of these boards some time back. However, it takes MANY years to pay off solar.

However, cost-amp is not really the leading thrust for most cruisers (or even those with houses) that use solar. I think it is the fact that it is free after the inital cost, that it is quiet, that it is maintenance free in theory (in theory... theory being the optimum word), and quite candidly - it is good on the environment. Not to mention, it will run without your participation.

But the cheapest way out up front??? Dream on. Even diesel at its worst will take a long time to add up to a large solar bank. I hope that changes and my children can grow up in a world free of burning fossil fuels. However, I think that is a bit unlikely unless the technology improves enough to make it cheaper and more efficient. Until then, I have made my investment and am completely off the grid... and I spent a lot of fossil fuels to do it! (smile)

Take care. Let me know if I can ever help at all.

- CD
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Old 11-06-2007, 19:23   #37
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If you had an engine drive compressor on your frig you wouldn't use amps for cooling!
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Old 11-06-2007, 22:06   #38
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Turn your fridge off at nite. That'll chop the amp hours down a bit. Otherwise, I'll chime in with cruisingdad & say that solar is the way to go. No moving parts. Doesn't break, and makes amps even when it's cloudy. My two 150's kept up with an Adler Barbour and a belowdecks pilot quite nicely. I'd love two 200's for my boat, but am probably opting for three 130s.
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Old 11-06-2007, 22:07   #39
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Quote:
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If you had an engine drive compressor on your frig you wouldn't use amps for cooling!
Would running the engine for the benefit of the compressor be better than running it for the benefit of the alternator?
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Old 12-06-2007, 03:34   #40
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I hate running the engine when it's not for propulsion. But, if I have to run it for another reason, I like it to be for multiple reasons and in my case it is for rapid battery charging with a high output alternator, making hot water and cooling the refer.

Since the noise is annoying I take a shower when I do run it in the am so I replenish the used hot water, and don't have to listen to it while I shower, vacuum and clean up... do breakfast dishers etc. Also I use the noisey time to prepare the boat for a sail... remove sail covers, set up sheeps and so forth.

Running without a load is no no, but listening to Sullivan's genset is torture. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

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Old 12-06-2007, 03:51   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef
... Also I use the noisey time to prepare the boat for a sail... remove sail covers, set up sheeps and so forth ...
jef
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Wow - you carry sheep?
What breed?
What's involved in "setting them up"? (I hope you're not talking about match-making)
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Old 12-06-2007, 04:58   #42
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Of coursxe we sheep in a lot
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Old 12-06-2007, 06:21   #43
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Makai carries 480watts of solar and when at anchor it more than supports of high electircal life style. WM, SSB, computers, etc. We like the solar as I don't like running the engines. Our longest without starting and engine was 6 weeks and that was only to move to another spot. Solar's payback is high but convience which is hard to calculate needs to be footnoted when making performing the analysis.

Part of the reason of heavy solar is that it is a simple system once installed, no fuel (except sunlight) and minimal maintance. Solar starts with the sun and works until it goes away, even on cloudy days the solar farm does generate electricity.

If you depend on a genset as a primary and it fails you may not have the abilty to maintain you house bank and all that it supports. Plus the need to carry extra (expensive fuel). Though my mains carry a pair of 180amps alts and the stock 55's as a last resort.

Finally. I like the quiet.
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