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Old 12-06-2012, 07:37   #16
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Please don't take offense, impi, but...

Of course it is possible to generate enough electricity to live any sort of lifestyle that you would like. The point, though, is that a dollar spent on reducing your consumption will ordinarily save you $5-$10 spent on additional generation. In other words, you get several times the payback from things that reduce your consumption than you do from things that increase your ability to generate electricity.

The key is to look for all of the little things that can meaningfully reduce your consumption without reducing your standard of living (and I'm sure you've already done a lot of these things). Most people, whether on a boat or in a home, could reduce their consumption fairly dramatically without taking any sort of hit against their lifestyle. It's just a matter of putting in a little effort up front so that you can reap the rewards for years to come.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:44   #17
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

my boat is self sustaining until i turn on the air conditioner...then is dock power and self....dock for a/c and self for rest.
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:45   #18
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

A good goal indeed. There are two basic ways to get demand and supply to be equal. Either reduce demand or increase supply...

It can be a very slippery slope for those that simply, 'can't leave home without it'..
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:21   #19
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Our homemade cruising trimaran has taken us far and wide for 16 years, (12 as full time liveaboards), and no home base. Like the two boats that I built before Delphys, she is 100% solar self sufficient, energy wise, and WITHOUT a noisy wind generator to annoy my neighbors.

We use about 40 Ah/day, with ALL of the comforts, like a watermaker, computer nav, SSB, radar, refrigeration, etc... We usually get our batteries topped off by 11:00 AM by the solar panels alone, (by 5:00 PM if it is a totally overcast cloudy day).

Our boat's "systems" have been remarkably reliable, more so than any other aspect of the boat. The key is knowing what you're doing, careful installation, and going both small & energy efficient on EVERY aspect of the boat.

To know how, read my previous posts on the subject...

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Old 12-06-2012, 09:35   #20
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

I hope so.
I have not been plugged into shore power while the boat has been in the water for the last 5 years, so my batteries would be pretty flat by now
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:25   #21
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

The more portable solar panels are . . . extra in a sort of way.

Being a sailboat, no permanent panel location is safe from sun blockage per the sail.

The added benefits of the AA battery situation(and the smaller more portable panels), is somewhat simply put . . . simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.

I've always believed in backing up my systems and for each backup to be more simple than what it's backing up.

So, the next time "something" goes wrong with my boat's wiring(like mice or whatever), I've always got my AA operated lights to rely on.

I'm actually looking into making my own 3-volt backup LED navigation lights too.

I'd also like to increase my oil/kerosene lighting backup too.

Now if I could only find a nice source of reliable box/sun stoves.

Did I mention I really like having backup systems for everything?
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:37   #22
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

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In dock I don't have to worry about it.

BUT I want my boat to be self-sustaining & self sufficient, electrically.

I want to be able to sit at a dock, or at anchor with absolutely no difference in my daily electrical usage. Or, for that matter all my daily regimen.

Soon, I'll be looking into solar panels and expect to buy a couple of 185+ watt panels for my boat(Newport 28) to keep my batteries topped off.

I'm in the process of changing all my lights to LED and chucking almost all my navigation electronics. I'll keep equipment that runs "efficiently" off of AA batteries. Even then, I expect to have a couple of small solar panels for the recharging of AA batteries and such.

I just can't stand the idea of plugging my boat in any more.
A few thoughts :

If you have those solar panels you are best off keeping the navigation electronics, and having portable devices, run off AA batteries, as a backup.

I have given up on rechargeable batteries for boat devices as they are always going flat on you. It's the self-discharge effect - give it a few days at low temps and they are flat. So, unless you're willing to re-charge right before you use the device, they don't work so well. I now have bulk pack of Duracells.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:46   #23
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

we set up our boat to be as self sufficent as possible without being uncomfortable - we have about 500 ah deep cycle batteries with 3 kycera solar panels for 395w and a 2512 blue sky controller a blamar 150 amp alternator - we do not go into marinas very often and only hook up to elect when running power tools -
we have a fridgeboat reefer and increased the cooler by a factor of 6 in cartagena last year that actually cut our elect consumption, ssb,full electronics,watermaker, computers, have led lights that run off aa batteries in the salon and recharge from 12v recharger we found - but no tv - we rarely run the engine for elect - but we had one spell in panama of 29 days of no sun so had to run it on occassion to help the solar out -
somedays i wish i had wind but when putting the boat together i could not justify the cost/benefit ratio but sure think i could have in panama

it is all about how comfortable or uncomfortable you want to be

just our opinion
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:07   #24
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Rules of thumb are useful, but both solar and wind power are very dependant on location.
In summer we generate 150-200 A Hrs a day consistently fom our solar panels. In winter h same panels produce 50- 60 AHrs and we spend winter closer to the equator.
If you want to live independently *you need to be able to accommodate these differences.*
Rather than use rules of thumb look up the insolation values, or talk to local cruisers. It is easy to work out your output simply *by multiplying the ratio of their watts verses your watts.*
The same can be one with wind generation.
*Get the sums for your consumption and output correct and you will be happy and independent. There are many are disappointed when a few sums would have shown their dreams were unrealistic.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:35   #25
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

I've got two 130 Watt panels charging 220 amp battery bank and, without refigeration, have had electrons to burn. Made a 15 day passage to Hawaii with most of it under overcast. Ran my plotter, sailing instruments, LED interior and running lights, AIS, inverter powered computer for email, and HF radio without running the engine the whole way. Batteries were getting low before I started to see some reliable sun after 11 days, however. Once the sun came out, the batteries began to charge back up.

I'm in the process of installing a FrigoBoat cooled ice box. Went with FrigiBoat because of the water cooled condenser. Talked with a sailor who'd switched his box from an aircooled refrigeration system to the FrigiBoat water cooled. The FrigiBoat allowed him to cruise in the tropics without ever having to run the engine for battery charging. With the aircooled system he'd had to run the engine every couple of days. He had 200-300 watts of solar power and a windmill. Most of his generating capacity was from the solar as he didn't like windy anchorages. Will let you know how the FrigiBoat works for me but don't hold your breath, I work slowly. Doing a total rebuild on the relatively small icebox with 4 inches of foam insulation.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:52   #26
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Regarding the AA batteries, these are hardly "self-sustaining", unless you are using rechargables (and charging them from solar or wind). I like having AA-supplied gear as a backup, but look at the power numbers:

A typical AA battery has a capacity of about 2.2 Ah @ 1.2V (they start out at around 1.6V and we usually toss them when they get below 0.9V). Translate that to the 12V boat system and your 2-AA gadget consumes about 0.44 Ah (@12V) on one set of batteries. It's certainly more economical and sustainable to get this kind of power from your 12V system than to keep buying AA batteries. Even rechargeable AAs will ultimately burn more power if you charge them from your boat's battery (since you have two sets of charging losses to contend with).

So the trick is to use low-power devices wherever possible, and where you can power them directly from your 12V battery. Use AA batteries in things that need them, such as flashlights and your hand-held GPS.
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Old 21-06-2012, 23:18   #27
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Please don't take offense, impi, but...

Of course it is possible to generate enough electricity to live any sort of lifestyle that you would like. The point, though, is that a dollar spent on reducing your consumption will ordinarily save you $5-$10 spent on additional generation. In other words, you get several times the payback from things that reduce your consumption than you do from things that increase your ability to generate electricity.

The key is to look for all of the little things that can meaningfully reduce your consumption without reducing your standard of living (and I'm sure you've already done a lot of these things). Most people, whether on a boat or in a home, could reduce their consumption fairly dramatically without taking any sort of hit against their lifestyle. It's just a matter of putting in a little effort up front so that you can reap the rewards for years to come.
Absolutely no offense taken ... infact ... totally agree with you 100%.
What we were trying to achieve on Impi is a means to generate electricity mostly as a Bi-Product of what we were doing. eg. use engines during normal motoring will generate HUGE charge to the batt banks ... switch on Genset to fill dive tanks will generate huge charge to the batt banks ... sit in the sun will generate huge charge to the batt banks. Of course where possible we choose devises that run energy efficient and yes, we changed ALL our lighting to LED, TV to 12v, watermaker runs 12V etc. etc. ... Our lifestyle still demands roughly 300 - 400 AH per day!
You make a very valid point
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:11   #28
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Can you set up a boat with solar/wind power to run an air conditioner? If so what would it take?
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:30   #29
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Only if you have a ton of realeastate for PV panels and fill it all in and consitantly anchor in hurricane gulchs for the windmills. Air conditioning suck up too much juice for the generating capacity on a typical boat to keep up with. Get yourself awnings for the boat. Keeping the sun off the deck and a place for you to sit under it makes life a lot more comfortable in warm climates.
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Old 03-07-2012, 10:32   #30
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

We don't plug in at all and cruise 6 months a year in sunny Pacific Mexico. Our fridge/= & freezer use a whopping 150 amps a day in the tropics and the charge controller itself uses 20 amps per day, so we have to cover 170 amps a day before even thinking about microwave, laptops, TV etc.

We have three 185 watt kyocera panels, a Xantrex 60 amp MPPT controller, 2500 watt modified sine wave inverter and 600 watt pure sine wave inverter. We use the pure sine wave for everything (laptops, TV, charging portable things) except the microwave. We get 230-250 amps a day around the summer solstice and 160-170 amps a day around the winter solstice. We routinely see 33+ amps coming in from the panels in June. We have 640 amp-hours total in 4 4D batteries.

If I had it to do over I'd get three 210-240 watt panels and an Outback 60 MPPT charge controller (we have that unit on our RV). The Outback has a better display than the Xantrex. I didn't get it because it has a fan while the Xantrex has a heat sink and no moving parts. The 210 panels would have fit just fine (I thought they'd be too big). The panels provide awesome shade over our transom jump seats...

We didn't know how much our base usage was until we left the boat for three month with fridge/freezer turned off. Every single day the panels got 19 amps. The only thing plugged in was the charge controller itself.

Then we left the boat for a month with fridge/freezer turned on (in the sultry tropics of Chiapas Mexico). Every single day the panels got 169-170 amps. So the combined fridge and freezer and charge controller used that much!

The biggest shock to me was how much shade affects solar collection. One morning in full sun our panels were getting 22.5 amps. The boat shifted at anchor so one panel was shaded in a corner. We got 15.5 amps. Then the boat shifted so a portion of two of the three panels were shaded. We got 9.5 amps. I don't think you can avoid getting shade on the panels, especially under sail, but it's worth noting that the panels are really badly affected by shade...
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