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Old 22-11-2006, 08:19   #1
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wind or solar

I plan on sailing down the east coast and then beating to the caribbean. I'm in no rush, and will be spending a lot of time in anchorages. Should I save my money on the wind genorator and invest in a few solar panels? I have a 1000w honda genorator I will be bringing along reguardless, but I would like to refrain from having to use it every day if possible. If the solar or wind genorator cant keep up and I'm going to have to use the genorator every day, it seems pointless to buy alternative energy at all.
The main power consumer will be the refrigorator.

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Old 22-11-2006, 10:41   #2
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need will depend on consumption, only you can answer this, but it is the fundamental starting point.

Solar is great cause it is quiet, but does need catamaran type space for decent power (and sun)

Wind is good if beating to windward, (not so good when running) and can be noisy - but high power like Kiss and duogen 400 use big long blades so are much quieter.

Towed systems are good - duogen is the best but expensive, aquagen les expensive, but looks a bit like sharkbait.

Perfectly possible to provide enough power so generator and engine never need to run
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Old 22-11-2006, 11:15   #3
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Chad.lawie;

I've been going through the same decision making process as you are. I haven't made up my mind as yet but I'm leaning toward a wind powered generator.

Firstly: The wind can blow 24 hours a day. The sun only shines a maximum of 12 (roughly). The fact that you may have a dead calm is a "con" against wind power but is balanced out by the "con" of an overcast day as related to solar.

Secondly: The further south you get the more you will get into the trade wind zone where a steady breeze can be relied on. On the other hand, the sun will be higher and hotter (good for solar) but still shines only 12 hours a day.

Thirdly: Solar panels work at maximum efficiency when they are angled 90 degrees to the sun (which requires constant adjustment), have no shadows on any part of them (particularly difficult when ships spars and rigging are considered), and are not efficient in the early morning and late evening. Wind powered units are not so particular, but can be loud in a strong breeze.

There are trade-offs to both, but those are my thoughts so far and I'm still gathering information. Let me know what you decide on.
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Old 22-11-2006, 13:03   #4
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My only real power concern is the frig. Nothing else will be run constantly. I'm looking into alternative energy just to supplement the power consumtion of the frig. I don't know how much power it consumes at the moment.

I was leaning towards wind.. but i heard some talk about there not being much wind in a sheltered anchorage. makes sense.

is there anyone out there who has used both wind and solar to power a frig? which one worked better? or is a combination of both truly the best road?
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Old 22-11-2006, 14:47   #5
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I have both on my CSY 33. The Gozzard 36 has two solar panels and no wind generator. The CSY has just 75 watts. I know the Gozzard PO ran the solar panels all through the Caribbean for 4 years (we have only had it a month). He thought they were the best thing he added to the boat. It made power management allot easier.

When the wind blows good wind generator (CSY has a Four Winds) you can make more DC power than a normal boat can use. Trade winds in the Caribbean blow pretty much like clockwork. In the Chesapeake in the summer - not hardly ever. The solar panels will make something any day but strong bright sun is better. I think it really gets down to the actual fridge if like me that is your hardest thing to solve. With a modern well insulated fridge in the tropics I would think you might run a very long long time with 150 watts solar.

While sailing, an autopilot eats a fair bit of power as does a transmitter or radar. Watermakers are high amp user as well so how you choose to use any of those devices are elective but could be significant in any one particular day. Luxury items like a TV eat lots of power as does everything you run from an inverter.

I would say with something as backup (solar or wind) is the difference of charging every other day by engine or maybe every 3rd or 4th day. Maybe longer with a wind generator and good wind. I spent 2 1/2 days at an anchorage and left with a set of batteries on float using the wind generator (it blew all the time). You won't have that every day I would hope.

Alternative energy will buy some extra time of pure silence. Maybe a whole day or two between charging by the engine. maybe it just keeps you from discharging too deep.

You don't need it if you you pretend to be a power boat and go places every day running the engine. It comes down to what that might be worth to the overall enjoyment of the adventure.
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Old 22-11-2006, 15:17   #6
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The answer to this question is pretty complex and depends how you sail, where you sail, how you "live", and how long you intend to keep the boat.

Alternate energy sources can replenish electricity you use. Use for what? If you have a high output alternator and a diesel which you run periodically it may be able to replenish the power you would typically use. But that you have to figure out by doing a little spread sheet for typical power use... sailing, at anchor and so forth.

As bizarre as it sounds simply using block ice can be a good way to keep complexity and cost down ... if you have access to it and you use it for only a few yrs.

Autopilots use varying amounts of power... my Alpha is pretty miserly with the juice use... but most radars use juice like drunken sailors... But in the carib you rarely NEED radar because of poor visibility. If you have time to plan your passages in day light, stand proper watch... you could forgo the radar and the need to charge batts from radar use.

Motors are noisey smelly and the fuel is not cheap. But diesels are pretty reliable and a high output alt may do the job... if you have a hot water with a heat exchanger you get hot water and charge your batts at the same time!

I weekend sail now and have 110w of solar power which keeps the batts topped up. Living aboard I'd probably use the engine and we have engine driven refer.. which has been going for 16 yrs or so... but my system was based around using the engine an hour or so a day... to recharge batts, cool refer.. and make hot water.

Do the energy calcs first based on how you sail, live and so on and then you know how many amps you need to replace and then it is a matter of how to do it.

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Old 22-11-2006, 15:25   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chad.lawie
My only real power concern is the frig. Nothing else will be run constantly. I'm looking into alternative energy just to supplement the power consumtion of the frig. I don't know how much power it consumes at the moment.

I was leaning towards wind.. but i heard some talk about there not being much wind in a sheltered anchorage. makes sense.

is there anyone out there who has used both wind and solar to power a frig? which one worked better? or is a combination of both truly the best road?
We started out Mexico cruising with 2 solar panels (total 106w) and a Four Winds generator, but we finally sold the wind generator and built a cockpit bimini to hold a total of 8 solar panels. It provided much needed shade as well as putting out 22 amps from sunup til sunset. It powered HAM radio, watermaker, microwave oven, 110 volt stereo, TV VCR etc. We had a killer refrigeration system which provided ice and cold water on demand, held ice cream.

One thing you should make sure about before you leave and that's the other end of the equation. Make sure your fridge is as well insulated and airtight as possible. Glacier Bay's website has lots of hints to make your box better.

Steve B.

I'd never go back to wind.

Wife was very happy, as the wind generator noise was a constant albeit slight source of anxiety about dragging anchor. Her state was also not fun for me either if you get my drift.
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Old 22-11-2006, 15:46   #8
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NIki and I have two era 1991 Kyocera 36watt solar panels mounted on the hard dodger and in the Summer months we put into the battery bank 5 amps for around 5 hours then it tapers off till sunset lowering to 1.5 amps. As we added the Isotherm fridge(that is a miser on consumption)we noticed that we had to pay a little more attention to our usage. As it is now we have to still run the engine to top off the batteries, but we only have to run every THREE DAYS as opposed to the one to two hours every day. Again, that is Summer months here in San Diego. We are currently shopping for a 65 or 75watt panel to put in the middle of the other two this should keep us off the engine for about a week +/-.
I had installed a 120watt panel on a friends boat before he left for Costa Rica last month. Here in San Diego , winter again as it were, he was getting 4-6amps. Talking to him last week from Puerto Villarta he was getting the maximum output from his panel , rated at 7.5 amps for 5 to 6 hours a day.

LOVE THE SOLAR.
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Old 22-11-2006, 16:13   #9
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sounds like solar is the popular choice.
Thanks everyone for your feedback.
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Old 23-11-2006, 05:17   #10
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i say solar i have 360w and even with conservative calulations this should be enough for my power hungry catamran
sean
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Old 23-11-2006, 05:42   #11
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i say solar i have 360w and even with conservative calulations this should be enough for my power hungry catamran
sean
Sean:
How do you define “enough”, and "power hungry"?
A 360W array may provide something on the order of 100 - 125 A/H per day.
I had no problem consuming nearly that much with just refrigeration.
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Old 23-11-2006, 08:06   #12
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I return again and again to the notion that you must begin by producing an energy use value... adding it all up.. lights, radios, refer, autopilot, electronics.. windlass... whatever loads you use in a typical day at sea and at anchor.

When you know your projected USE then you can figure our how to top up your storage batts. what types of charging sources and how much each one can be relied on for.

Unless you use little power, and have lots of alt charging sources, you will probably need some sort of engine driven altenator or genset to make up used energy... and that means FUEL.

No?

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Old 23-11-2006, 09:14   #13
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I know I have mentioned this in another post so I aplogize.

After a couple years in the Caribe we discovered that the best is a combination for us was Solar first and wind second. We carried 480 watts (one our friends on a mono carries 360 on his bimini) of solar for the first 1 and half and then added a Kiss wind gen (350-400watts).

The solar covered all of our loads in the caribe. We spend 6 weeks in the Gulfo de Carico without having to start an engine. We are an electricaly intensive boat and do not live without our showers and washing machine. The wind gen prodcued zero and solar kept the 680 amp bank full to floating.

The wind gen is great, but even in the Caribe with all of the wind, I was amazed at the number days and weeks tucked in behind islands where the wind gen didn't put out. The max output is only at higher wind speeds. The caribe average is 10-15 and most wind gen make less than 10 at those levels. SO you will find having to recharge by other means.

We added the wind gen for saling. Previously on overnights we would have to fire the engine up to recharge. (we run the radar on full, radios, vhf & SSB, autopilot and sometimes the water maker).

I like the solar as primary and the wind gen as support. There was also a side benifit that is rarely mentioned. The solar panels dramitcally reduced our cockpit temps by shading.

Coming soon is a built in solar water heater, but that is for another post
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Old 23-11-2006, 10:14   #14
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Cat Tales (35 foot cat) went from Canada to Trinidad with a Airex Marine wind generator. It provided a fair bit of power, but only if the wind blew over 15 knots. Below that, the output was quite low. When coming back from Trinidad, we added 250 watts of solar, but also added a watermaker that used 21 amps to make 8 usgph. The need for the engines from time-to-time was about the same both ways.

However, the batteries seemed healthier with the solar panels. The trickling-in of small amperes over long periods meant that the batteries spent more time at full charge, driving off of sulphation. I think that regardless of the energy equation and my primary sources of energy, I would support at least some solar. With a small panel and a big bank, you needn't bother with regulation - which lowers the cost and complexity of the installation.
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Old 23-11-2006, 12:30   #15
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Batteries are much happier topped up... I think despite all the tales of taking them down and cycling them back up... Solar seems to work well for this purpose.
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