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Old 03-07-2012, 10:49   #31
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

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Originally Posted by settingsun View Post
the charge controller itself uses 20 amps per day
.
It should not be using that much in self consumption.
The loss in voltage conversion can be significant, but this is not normally measured.
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Originally Posted by settingsun View Post
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.
.
if this is how you came to conclusion that the charge controler was using so much I can understand it, but it's not correct.
A small part of this power will replace the self discharge of the batteries, some will power the controler, but a lot is taken up in keeping the batteries at the float voltage ( most of this goes into slightly heating the batteries up).
Batteries at sitting at a float voltage will still accept a small charge even when they are already at 100%. A battery monitor will count the AHrs in this small charge.
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Old 03-07-2012, 11:31   #32
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

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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 Outback units have a small fan in adittion to the very large heatsink. I have never seen the fan operating on mine (other than when battery power is first applied, when the unit does a self test). The solar forums report the same findings even with very large solar arrays.
Some of the electronics in an MPPT controler are subject to thermal runaway and the fan is installed as a "belt and braces" precaution. The equipment must pass CE certification which is a very brutal test requiring thermal stability at very high ambient temperatures with a gross overload.

Don't let the fan put you off using this controler on a boat. The Outback controllers (together with Midnite which were designed by the same person) are regarded as the best controllers.
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Old 03-07-2012, 14:32   #33
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Greetings Noelex77 --

Our Outback 60 MPPT controller's fan in our fifth wheel runs a lot. Maybe it wouldn't have in the boat, but given how often it runs in the fifth wheel we thought we'd try a different unit. As I said, in hindsight I'd go with the Outback again on the boat because of the bigger display. But then maybe I'd try a Morningstar (had good luck with one of those years ago on a different trailer) or a Blue Sky. Who knows?? But it all works great now, so no complaints!!

As for the charge controller using 20 amps a day, for me the technicalities of whether it was recharging the batteries after slight discharge overnight or spending energy keeping the batteries at float voltage, it doesn't really matter. It's just doing its job. But the bottom line is that between the panels, the batteries and the charge controller 20 amps were used up every day!
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Old 03-07-2012, 15:13   #34
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

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Originally Posted by settingsun View Post
Greetings Noelex77 --

Our Outback 60 MPPT controller's fan in our fifth wheel runs a lot.!
That is unusual, but interesting to know. There was a problem with the fans in a small number of the older MX 6O models ( rather than the current FX 60), but I think most of them have been replaced.

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Originally Posted by settingsun View Post
As for the charge controller using 20 amps a day, for me the technicalities of whether it was recharging the batteries after slight discharge overnight or spending energy keeping the batteries at float voltage, it doesn't really matter. It's just doing its job. But the bottom line is that between the panels, the batteries and the charge controller 20 amps were used up every day!
No I still do not think this is correct. The battery monitor may be telling you it's using 20A a day, but this energy is not needed to keep the batteries fully charged.
To keep the batteries at the float voltage say 13.7v takes energy. A fully charged battery normally rests at about 12.7v.

If you left the solar controler on, but disconnected the solar panels so there was no input the battery voltage would drop to 12.7v and the battery monitor would show a much lower consumption. This is the real power that is needed to run the controller. If you charged the batteries after a month and replaced the self discharge you would have an idea of the total usage. It would be much lower than keeping the battery at the float voltage for the same length of time.

Another way of looking at it would be if you raised the float voltage the consumption would also rise, but the batteries would still be at 100% not more. If you lowered the float voltage the consumption would be less, but the batteries would stay at 100%

The float voltage is like keeping a bowl of water full by constantly adding a bit too much water. The excess just spills over the side. It is wrong to conclude the evaporation rate is equal to the water added.

I don't think I am explaining it well, but hope you get the idea.
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Old 03-07-2012, 15:42   #35
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Hey Noelex77 --

The Outback 60 MPPT in our fifth wheel dates from 2008 and has kept us happily powered for 22 months of living in the rig without hookups over the course of 4 years. Whenever the fan is running it is hot outside, so I imagine the controller is just cooling itself off as needed.

As for the charge controller on our boat, I think we understand each other, but are saying it differently. Obviously if the controller were disconnected and standing alone it would not consume much. However, its ordinary condition is to be connected to both the batteries and the solar panels and we left it that way for 3 months knowing the batteries would be well taken care of by the controller.

In that configuration, due to the controller operating all day keeping the batteries at float voltage and also operating at night and waking up periodically to see if dawn had yet arrived, it used 20 amps per day. So that's our baseline -- if we turn on a laptop or watch a movie, the controller will have to replace those additional amps, so our consumption will be 20 amps plus X more for laptop or TV.

However it's defined, both systems work extremely well and keep us happily playing on the internet and watching movies and TV and running our lights at night and playing our favorite music on the stereo without having to plug in to shore power. THAT's the important part!!! Life off the grid is all about freedom and independence and fun!!!!

Right now we have a multi-million dollar view out the window and our fans are running and the laptop is humming and hubby is napping and it's all for free. We couldn't buy a stick-built home on property like this if we worked another 30 years.
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Old 03-07-2012, 16:24   #36
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

I agree about the view. This is our current anchorage. I cannot take a picture because it's dark! but google earth gives you an idea.
We can stay in these places as long as we want. Solar makes all our power and even water.
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Old 04-07-2012, 06:40   #37
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

On my last 3-month cruise, I never picked up a slip and never plugged into shower power. My first two cruising boats didn't even have a shore power systems.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:22   #38
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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
chuck patty svsoulmates
on the hook rodney bay st lucia
What is a fridge boat reefer is this possible to explain?
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:24   #39
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

it is a brand name of the reefer unit - we have an air cooled unit - not a keel cool - and we get ice

by the way we are in a marina in trinidad ((UGH)) for hurricane - and are not plugged into for electrical - we will do it at some point WHEN i use power tools to do some work - we have an inverter but i do not want to totally drain the batteries

just our thoughts
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in trinidad for hurricane season
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:42   #40
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it is a brand name of the reefer unit - we have an air cooled unit - not a keel cool - and we get ice

by the way we are in a marina in trinidad ((UGH)) for hurricane - and are not plugged into for electrical - we will do it at some point WHEN i use power tools to do some work - we have an inverter but i do not want to totally drain the batteries

just our thoughts
chuck patty and svsoulmates
in trinidad for hurricane season
It's 12 volt and has a utectic plate?
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Old 05-07-2012, 07:56   #41
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

Self sustaining is an interesting concept and somewhat depends on ones definition. I don't know anyone who has successfully gone self sustaining without occasionally having to add fuel to the boat, but then again I don't know everyone, so if one becomes an absolute minimalist one can probably do it. I know people whose boats have never been plugged into shore based electricity, but they occasionally have to resort to running their engines to charge the batteries after several days of unfavorable weather conditions.


I spent the last 8 months without plugging into the "grid" though I did have to use a lot of diesel fuel for my genset. My 300 watts of solar panels simply could not keep up with my 150AH per day consumption. I had days when I only made 20 ah and my best day was 88AH, so I did a lot of generating with the genset. My experience is that clear blue sky is a rare event on the water and that my average was probably about 55AH/day. Besides clouds, the biggest limiting factor was shadows from the rigging. These were largely controlled by the wind, since at anchor that determines which way the boat is facing. In the tropics, the wind is mostly from the east, varying from NE to SE most of the time. If you can place most of your capacity on the south side of the boat and keep the panels out of rigging shadows you'll be better off, as long as you stay north of the sun that is. I don't have a wind generator yet, but that's on my list. I figure if I added that to my solar and could average 5AH/hr from it in addition to my solar I would not have to run my genset. In the entire 8 months I had only a couple of days when I could not have generated that much and never 2 days in a row. I was on a mooring in Hopetown in the Abacos very close to a guy with one of those new 600 watt rated wind generators from Sunforce and could not hear it at all even when I tried and it was quite windy. One of those is now at the top of my acqusition list.

As for AC, I've found very little need for it while anchored out. The best thing I would advise is to get a rain proof wind scoop for your hatch and a small low draw fan for those rare still nights. There are omnidirectional wind scoops for use in marinas, but I've never seen one of those that was rain proof. We did turn on the AC once, but that was to dry the boat out after 3 solid days of rain. We were running the genset anyway to charge the batteries. Good luck with your efforts.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:03   #42
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

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Originally Posted by southace View Post
It's 12 volt and has a utectic plate?

not sure what a utectic plate is - but we had a small condensor box that came with the reefer - when we were in cartagena we upgraded to a box that i think is 8x larger than our old one without adding any motor capacity and of course with the larger conderser box once cool it takes less energy to keep the box cold

and we can make ice - limited - but enough for a sundowner or 2 or 3

and while we are here i will be looking at a wind generator - not sure i will put one on but will look

just our opinion
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in trinidad for hurricane season
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Old 07-07-2012, 06:42   #43
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

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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...

M.
Mark,
Please lead me to the threads that describe your system. I just don't see how you can run it all with that amount of usage. What's your secret?

RT
PS I assume since I am in south Florida with all that sun I can accomplish the same?
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Old 31-07-2012, 14:42   #44
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My 320 Wp solar panels (4x80 Wp) produce 160 Ah in summer time. A fridge and a 50 lt portable deepfreezer works continously in summer, since the weather temperature is arround 35-40 degrees Celcius in Aegean Region. The energy produced by solar panels are enough to fill the 320 Ah battery bank at the end of the day. I have designed a special solar panel support that can be mounted to any sail boat. I use the whole system for four years. Last year I installed 400 Wp solar panels (4x100 Wp) to the same support for another sail boat (Cyclades 39). The special support's height and width dimensions can be adjusted and it can be loaded with extra 100 Kgs. to lift something like an outboard or an anchor or a gangplank. The support can handle 5 x 100 Wp solar panels. With this specialy designed support you can put your solar panels behind the backstay at the height of the boom. No shading effect for the solar panels.
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Old 31-07-2012, 16:41   #45
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Re: Is Your Boat Self-Sustaining Electrically?

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My 320 Wp solar panels (4x80 Wp) produce 160 Ah in summer time. A fridge and a 50 lt portable deepfreezer works continously in summer, since the weather temperature is arround 35-40 degrees Celcius in Aegean Region. The energy produced by solar panels are enough to fill the 320 Ah battery bank at the end of the day. I have designed a special solar panel support that can be mounted to any sail boat. I use the whole system for four years. Last year I installed 400 Wp solar panels (4x100 Wp) to the same support for another sail boat (Cyclades 39). The special support's height and width dimensions can be adjusted and it can be loaded with extra 100 Kgs. to lift something like an outboard or an anchor or a gangplank. The support can handle 5 x 100 Wp solar panels. With this specialy designed support you can put your solar panels behind the backstay at the height of the boom. No shading effect for the solar panels.
Is there a bracket or framing for a double ender?

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