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Old 19-04-2011, 13:34   #1
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Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

Dear CF,

We have 33' sailboat, flat top, with stern pole mounted radar.

Would like advice on adding wind generator or solar panel.

Which gives most bang for the buck?
Choosing one vs. combination of both?
Recommendations for products, brands, prices, buying new or used, etc.

Thank you,
from Ventura, CA
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Old 19-04-2011, 13:47   #2
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

I don't know the West Coast, but here on the East Coast your latitude makes a big difference. We get a lot of steady wind less than 30 degrees latitude. Above that and to the Chesapeake, I think solar is more consistantly producing, but then, further north, as the solar angle of incidence decreases, the wind generator may be the best choice.
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Old 19-04-2011, 14:24   #3
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

I have a 200W wind generator and tow 65W solar panels. Works well for me.
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Old 19-04-2011, 15:45   #4
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

Lowcountry does call the compromise! ....and I agree as I've a 100amp panel and a wind generator up my mizzen.
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Old 19-04-2011, 18:11   #5
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptForce View Post
I don't know the West Coast, but here on the East Coast your latitude makes a big difference. We get a lot of steady wind less than 30 degrees latitude. Above that and to the Chesapeake, I think solar is more consistantly producing, but then, further north, as the solar angle of incidence decreases, the wind generator may be the best choice.
A mount that lets you track the sun maximizes solar cell output regardless of what latitude you are sailing in. And the farther north you get the longer the summer days and the cooler the weather (improves efficiency).

Look at Atom Voyages | Voyages Aboard the Sailboat Atom - The Atom SolarTracker adjustable solar panel mounts for sailboats for one idea for a tracking mount.

On the other hand a tracker does little in areas that are consistently overcast. You would want to look at weather data for the areas you intend to sail and compare average overcast days with average winds for each month.
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Old 19-04-2011, 18:50   #6
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

The sun doesnt shine at night.. But the wind doesnt always blow during the day ( your conundrum) . Thats why many live aboarders tend to use both options. Rory Bourkes and Sandra Buchanans book " managing your bluewater cruise" has calculated costs per amp...

Diesel with 50amp alt- 12 cents per amp (CPA)
same with 150 amp alt- 8.2 cpa
aerogen 6.4 cpa
windbugger 3.6 cpa
solar 3.3 cpa
Water generator 6.6 cpa.

These costs are based on the capital cost of each unit and the associated running costs eg fuel-parts etc.
If you walk around a few marinas you will notice that casual sailors (as opposed to live aboarders) tend to have more solar than wind. Obivously, thier usage isnt as high as a live aboard.
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Old 19-04-2011, 19:01   #7
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

Just ordered a third solar panel, giving me 220 watts of power in optimum sunlight. Have 2- 60w (on a swivel mount pole to track the sun), and the new single 100w which will be mounted forward of the main hatch. Was seriously considering a wind generator just today but, after doing a detailed breakdown of varying conditions and power draw: Inshore, offshore, w/radar on and without, stormy conditions, etc., figured that having 3 solar panels was the best idea. There are no moving parts to break. The two I have already are very reliable. They are quiet. Can haul up only as many as needed for varying conditions. Note, I have removed the refrig. unit so that large power drain is not an issue. Solar alone would not cut it for most modern boats with freezers, watermakers, autopilots, and 48" tvs but am trying to keep it simple. Have researched tow behind generators which only work if the boat is moving and lose rotors to large hungry fishies in the wake, wind generators, which seem to be less than reliable from the feedback I've read and are obnoxiously noisy, and the combination swing up units which look great but are too damned expensive. So, going 100% solar. The two panels I have been using for two seasons now seem to be enough power but that's NOT what my numbers say including power draw of SSB, VHF, computer, nav lights, cabin lights, water pumps, radar, depth gauge, anchor light, and plotter figured in. Figured max power draw (foggy, nav lights, everything on) to be around 1650 watt hours/day.
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Old 19-04-2011, 19:05   #8
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

kyocera seems to be the most widely recommended solar panel. i have a 135 watt unit and it provides about half my daily usage but i'm a very light user. i think i would add a second panel if i had to really depend on 'free' energy, and even then i'm sure i would have to occasionally run the honda 1000 once in a while.

there are two liveaboards near me. one has both wind and solar and the other only has solar. both have to occasionally run their engines.

i'm trying to avoid windgens because they're too mechanical for me - solar is so maintenance free. but i don't deny that wind can provide power night and day.
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Old 19-04-2011, 20:16   #9
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NatKat View Post
Choosing one vs. combination of both?
For me, a combination of both is the best bet. During Ventura's "June Gloom," you may feel the same way. Solar does not do well under the marine layer.
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Old 19-04-2011, 20:27   #10
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

Solar only. Quiet. Reliable. When it gets cloudy and dark the refrigerator draws less so it all works out. Besides, if it's not sunny enough untie the docklines and sail to where it is.

Since I have no generator, or even an alternator right now, It's all solar here. Refrigeration, anchor windlass, starting, autopilot, computer, fans, SSB, everything.

Nice places to anchor don't have enough wind. Proper comfortable downwind crossings don't have enough apparent wind. That's my opinion anyway.
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Old 19-04-2011, 20:53   #11
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

I am in the same boat so to speak. I am leaning towards solar only as I find that the output from the wind gens is not high enough under low wind conditions. And the noise is also an issue. I plan on solar over 300 watts. I have a big empty cabin roof and have been waiting for the price to drop, which it has been happening.
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Old 19-04-2011, 21:08   #12
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

We've opted for 340 watts of solar. We also have a diesel genset, so adding a wind vane is pointless. Our house bank is 630 AH and all main lighting is LED.

So much of your decision is dependent upon local conditions. We're in the tropics so winds are often light and solar is dependable. A boat in Scotland or NZ would probably produce a fair amount of power with wind. Finally, not all boats have the space to install lots of solar panels.

From my observations locally, fewer boats are fitting wind as solar gets cheaper and better: Most now obtain additional energy via high output alternators or a small Honda genset.
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Old 19-04-2011, 21:27   #13
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

I have been living on my boat in the U.S. and Britiish Virgin Islands for a year. We are Amp HOGS. I had 2 solar panels installed before we left the states. I plan to add a wind gen soon. I believe, based on my one year experience, that a combo is best. We have some wind everyday. I have to run the gen about two hours per day. That's my two cents worth.
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Old 19-04-2011, 21:33   #14
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

If you can do both, do both... I am down in the OC on a mooring full time. Have not plugged into a dock line for over two years, beers are still ice cold!

I have both... Solar works great at 200w and an air breeze wind geny... When the sun is out the solar kicks @ss, around here it seems that when there is no sun there is usually wind... I went with a lower start-up wind due to lower average winds here in SO CA.

I would say around here the best bang for the buck is for sure solar, as bash has mentioned, the whole June gloom thing does get me a little jittery sometimes when the batteries get down in the 12.4 range...

Wind works great when at Catalina - Seems to blow real regular. Really cool when out sailing and using the auto and instruments... Bang the wind geny kicks in and poof full batteries!

Do both, you will be happy!
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Old 19-04-2011, 22:35   #15
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Re: Wind vs. Solar? Recommendations?

no reason for either or--- use both.kali gets benefit of both wind and solar as do many other places most of the year.
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