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Old 07-06-2007, 22:03   #1
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Exclamation Wind, Sun, Power?

Hey guys, getting ready to leave for the bahamas for a month and a half on a 37' Beneteau Oceanis 370. We have two banks on the boat, starting and house, both consisting of two AGM deep cycl. batteries. I recently purchased two 65watt solar panels and installed a bimini mount for them. We also acquired a wind generator on the purchase of the boat but it working is questionable... We are going to "bench test" it next week and I am praying for it to work otherwise replacement might not be an awnser. I am curious to know if the two solar panels will be enough to supply power for constant refrigeration as well as electronics such as are garmin 3210 at the nav. station as well as are new 545 garmin costal cruiser at the helm. Also lighting at night, fans, head... Sure doesnt sound like it and we are concentrating on going to the exumas where shore power seems to be few and far between. Please let me know on any suggestions for keeping power and if I should really suck it up and get a working wind generator if the current one is dead...

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Old 07-06-2007, 22:27   #2
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Well, this is the right time of the year to get Max solar output, especially in the Exumas.
You will most likely see more than the panels are rated for.
3.8 amp hours per panel..?

Even if you get 9 amp hours from both panels, and 50 per day, it will not run all your stuff.
If you have a super effcient fridge system burning 40 amp hours, you still have to cook, play music and burn the anchor light.
Figure 80 per day, minus 50 from the panels and ya are down 30 every day.
Plan on hooking up the windmill and or running the engine so as to stay out of the -50 % range on the house bank..
(I use a No Less Than 75% range on my boat...4 days max= 2 X 75 watt Siemens)
Cloudy days I run the diesel in reverse gear for 30 minuttes every other day while anchored. (150 amp alternator)
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:12   #3
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Your solar panels are wayyy too small for your needs. Even twin 130's won't keep up with it. No matter what wind gen you put on, you will not make up your loss.

Instead of dissecting a thousand threads written on this subject, I will tell you to bet on 160-180ah/day (160 with no watermaker). You can close that gap some if you super-insulate your refridgerator. I wrote a thread on this here and on Sailnet called "Refrigeration Conservation". The fridge will be your biggest draw, about 50-60 ah/day (assuming you arenot running your radar/offshore). That is the cheapest way to extend your recharge time. Outside of that, your are stuck with running your main (not reccomended), running a generator (nice if you have one... but requires diesel and/or you being there)... solar and wind.

I am one of the few proponents for solar only. I bought an Air-X, went to set it up, then returned it for 2 more solar panels. Think about 4 things regarding wind:

1) There are nice breezes in the bahamas, but no one wants to anchor in a windy spot. You anchor in calm, secluded spots (in general). That renders your wind useless.

2) Wind is pretty close to worthless until you hit about 12k. DO NOT USE THE CARRIBE AS YOUR REFERENCE, use the Bahamas. How many times a day is it blowing 12+ (12 being the minimum that anything worthwhile is even being put out). 15+ is optimum.

3) Your placement of your wind gen is VERY likely going to interfere with your solars at some point in the day.

4) The things are loud and hated in a crowded anchorage or at night. Some interfere with SSB**.

Solar is clean, quiet, and has no moving parts to wear out. However, it is not without its idiosyncracies:

1) It requires a large bank to power a boat. Your little bank will not do much... even in the best of times.

2) Cloudy, rainy days they are about worthless. Any shading of the panels almost makes that panel worthless, and on some (without diodes) it will actually pull off the other panels.

3) The RIGHT system is expensive. It costs a whole (WHOLE) lot more than a wind gen or a can of diesel.

My irritation with cruisers and solar is that they go to West Marine and buy these two flimsy little $100 panels, wire them directly up to their batteries, then start screaming a day later about how solar just does not work. WHAT A CROCK! You can't power your house off of two flimsy little panels, how in the world are you going to power your yacht!!

I wrote a very detailed thread on this on sailnet. Here I will only summarize:

1) If you want the least amount of money out go get a bunch of gerry cans, lash them on the side, then run your diesel (main). Better plan on being there every day though and running that thing for about 4 hours unless your bank exceeds 640 ah. That would be 3-4-D's, AGM. Don't even get me started on wets. Thus, go buy another 4-d, wire it parallel into your bank, and if you really want to splurge, increase your alternator to 100ish (I bet you have an 80 right now) and put on a Balmar MS regulator. West now sells them in packages (though I bet you can find them cheaper elsewhere). Page 376 on the new book. That way you are good for about 2 days and your charging will be a good charge and not a partial charge obtainable with a stadard alt and no reg.

2) If you don't want to screw around with the engine every other day (though you probably still will), put a wind on there. Four winds probably is the best. My guess is about 2k without mounts, though others on this board know the price better. Air-X is cheaper, and I have heard good things, but I also understand it is not effective until about 13-15k and it may cause interference with SSB***. At any rate, just budget about 50-70 AH/day on that thing. That, with your new battery will get you about every two day... possibly three if a front comes through.

3) If you do not want to listen or deal with the wind and its drawbacks, put on a real solar bank. You will need a minimum 2 kc-130's (which will give you a little over 80 ah/day in the right conditions) to 4 KC-130's. That is 260-520 watts. THis must be tied into a MPPT charge controller. Blue Sky is cheaper and is good for small banks (like 2 KC-130's). Outback is more expensive but appears to be superior to the BS - though it really needs more than 2 KC-130's to be really effective. You cost here is a little over $600/per panel, about $500 for the Outback, and about $500 in wiring and lugs. You will also need a place to mount them. They weigh about 30lbs/piece. THus, a large array is really too much for your bimini. I had a solar arch built outside of my davits... though many people will use davits and stanchion mounts to save money.

FYI: at 520W, I average about 176 ah/day. That almost equals my burn rate if the kids turn off the lights (smile). Kyocera is a good product, but ther are others. Beware of a cheap panel!!! If they are much/lot less, something is wrong!!

I hope that helped. If you need pics or have other questions, etc, let me know.

- CD

*** The SSB Interference appears to be limited to Air-X. This was discussed in depth on the SSCA board.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:35   #4
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On average over several winters in the Bahamas...our 160W panels gave us about 30-40 amp hours/ day....vs. our needs of 100-150 a day. With a new MPPT type regulator, I believe we could have gotten 40-50 A/H per day on average. I think 1/3 of rated wattage in A/H's is a good number to workwith for an optimized installation with no shading and top of the line regulation.

Wind power for us generated aboout 2x as many A/H's in the Bahamas on average.
Alternatively, I'd suggest a Honda type generator to charge things up for you since your solar array will not give you what you need and you don't wanna be running your diesel for charging as it is both inneficient and damaging.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:45   #5
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Alex,

I have a KISS wind generator and a Honda EU2000i generator. I use less than 100 amps daily and that is mostly refrigeration, Waeco, separate freezer and small upright fridge. Beneteau 393. Wind will not supply all your needs all the time. I looked into solar but decided on the Honda because of the cost involved with solar. I have 2 4D AGM's as the house bank and a separate starting battery. Last season ( I'm there nearly six months every winter) in the Bahamas I think I ran the Honda three or four times. That's all. It was a nice breezy year. I have a 100 amp charger/inverter so the Honda runs a couple of hours maximum. I would like another 4D but can't seem to find a spot for it. You have to remember that when you're at anchor and using your batteries all the time you are only usually using 35% (based on discharging to 50%) of your capacity because putting in the last 15% takes a long time. I have been relying on wind since 1990 (had a Windbugger on my other boat) but you might not have as much wind if you're going in summer. We are always there in the winter. If your wind generator isn't working I'd suggest a Honda and a large battery charger. Try this before you spend a lot of money on new panels, controller, and mounting hardware. As for placement of the wind generator, it should be on the port side of the boat to lessen interference with the sun at anchor with the prevailing winds. I can understand Cruisingdad's comment regarding noise and not being liked in a crowded anchorage. That's the Air-X syndrome - nobody will anchor near you if they see one of those on your boat!!
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:02   #6
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I'll add a third vote for the Honda EU2000i. Make certain that your shore power charger is a minimum of 50AMP....larger is better. Running it for 1/2 hour daily will bulk charge your bank to 80%. That should be enough if you run it daily.

Roger
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:10   #7
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l too have the Honda 2000 and find it more economical than originally thought, as yet l have not installed solar or wind though admit l have been considering both.
My point is that refrigeration is such a large draw on the banks l have contemplated doing away with it.
l am in Canada and have been without the frig this year as my system failed this spring and have not gotten around to replacing it yet..instead l have been placing a block of ice in my 20 year old poorly insulated 7 cu ft ice box it lasts around 3 days and have not had any spoilage todate.
l realise that the refrigeration will be replaced but l question having it run constantly.
Once the contents have been cooled and you restrict the "open box time" what would be the efficiency (batteries) to shutting down the system or at least restricting its operating time to say evenings only.
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:18   #8
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Quote:
l too have the Honda 2000 and find it more economical than originally thought, as yet l have not installed solar or wind though admit l have been considering both.
My point is that refrigeration is such a large draw on the banks l have contemplated doing away with it.
l am in Canada and have been without the frig this year as my system failed this spring and have not gotten around to replacing it yet..instead l have been placing a block of ice in my 20 year old poorly insulated 7 cu ft ice box it lasts around 3 days and have not had any spoilage todate.
l realise that the refrigeration will be replaced but l question having it run constantly.
Once the contents have been cooled and you restrict the "open box time" what would be the efficiency (batteries) to shutting down the system or at least restricting its operating time to say evenings only.
Dave,

That is Canada. Quite a bit warmer in the Bahamas and south. No way a block of ice lasts 3 days in a poorly insulated fridge. There will be days it does not get below 85 at night. Nah, budget 50 amps+ on fridge, then be extremely happy if it does not hit that.
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:19   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wind rose ll
l too have the Honda 2000 and find it more economical than originally thought, as yet l have not installed solar or wind though admit l have been considering both.
My point is that refrigeration is such a large draw on the banks l have contemplated doing away with it.
Dave

Since you already have a Honda, have you considered adding to your house bank, instead of adding wind or solar? We only use the Honda and 2-120 watt solar panels. I'm going to increase the size of my house bank from 440AH to 660AH (and increase the size of my charger to 75-100amp). This way I'll only need to charge with the gen every 3-4 days for about one hour.


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Old 08-06-2007, 09:24   #10
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Windrose II,

No refigeration!!! Ok Maybe in Canada. With a holdover plate type refrigeration that's how it works. Freeze hard, allow to warm, freeze again. I've had both evaporator and holding plate types and they used about the same amount of amps daily. These were both 12v systems and not engine driven. The only difference is the evaporator type cycles for shorter periods but more often. It's not how often it runs that counts, it's the daily electrical usage. And of course insulation is the answer.

I don't like ice in the fridge because everything gets wet eventually. Also once you go cruising it's a long way between ice machines. And you're lucky if you have any left by the time you dink back to the boat.
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:34   #11
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"I think we need a bigger boat"
Not saying l will be without refrigeration ,l do like a cold beer on a hot afternoon, but am questioning the requirement that it be used constantly.
As far as the larger house bank goes,l do have room for more batteries but they still have to be charged!
Restricting consumption is a necessity for cruisers.
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:49   #12
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Originally Posted by wind rose ll
"I think we need a bigger boat"

Restricting consumption is a necessity for cruisers.
dave
Dave,

I hope you're talking about restricting consumption of electricity and not beer! That's the secret of cruising. Although we have a microwave and 2000w inverter we seldom use it. Usually use it when batteries are topped up and it's still honking. Then everything comes out to be charged, power tools, spotlight, computer, etc. Our anchor light uses 4 amps overnight as opposed to the 24 amps of the 20w bulb type. Would like to replace all the halogen and incandescent lights with LED's, they're coming down in price now. Of course we don't have a tv, dvd player or electric coffee maker like some folks but the beer is cold and the ice cream is hard.
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:52   #13
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Originally Posted by wind rose ll
As far as the larger house bank goes,l do have room for more batteries but they still have to be charged!
Restricting consumption is a necessity for cruisers.
dave
Dave

The Honda can charge a 600ah bank as quickly as a 200ah bank from 50% to 80%, with a properly sized charger. If I were to start over again, I wouldn't spend money on solar panels and an inverter. I would have the Honda, my 110 alternator, a 100amp shore power charger and as large a bank as I could fit on board. One hour with the Honda every third day or motoring for a few hours and I'd be done. No real need to bring the banks back to 100% everytime you charge with the Honda. That will happen when motoring.
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Old 08-06-2007, 09:54   #14
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Oh ya...ice cream....l will be installing the refer today...as far as the beer goes...20 feet down over the side in Lake Ontario keeps it at a perfect temperature.
Dave
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Old 08-06-2007, 10:44   #15
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(and increase the size of my charger to 75-100amp)
Roger, do you plan to use Honda 2000i with 75-100amp charger? If so which one? I looked at Freedom Marine chargers and biggest I found that did not draw more than 13.3A AC (Honda's rated output) was Freedom Marine 10. It draws 12A (in max. charge mode) and it produces only 50A of charging current. I did not find numbers for other chargers, but math suggests that what you want to achieve should be possible: Honda is rated @ 1600W, average efficiency of charger seems to be around 85% which gives about 1360 usable Watts on DC side of a charger, and 14.4V bulk charge voltage should give around 94A of charging current. I do not know if I am correct or not, just asking. Does anybody have experience with Honda + 75-100A chargers?
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