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Old 15-07-2014, 06:41   #1
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Power Saving Tips

Thought I would ask for power saving tips. Anything you might do that could help save power. Since I keep my computer running for OpenCPN I added a dongle to listen to FM radio rather than turn on another radio. I can also tune in the weather saving turning on the VHF and charging my cell phone with the USB port.
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Old 15-07-2014, 09:55   #2
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Re: Power saving tips

We downgraded from a PC (netbook) to a 7inch tablet.

HUGE power savings.

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Old 15-07-2014, 10:14   #3
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Re: Power saving tips

I'm not sure what all this power savings stuff is all about. LEDs are "THE" thing these days. Except for running lights (and NOT the steaming light), my energy budget says that switching to LEDs for interior lighting is a waste of time & $$. If sailing all night, the draw of two running lights (bow combo and stern white) is relatively large.

Interior lighting is a small percentage of my daily use. I have switched to an LED galley light only because our old fluorescent fixture died after 25 years.

Unless you keep all of your interior lights on from dusk (say 7-8 p.m.) to midnight or later, I simply don't see how the load can justify the switch. 3 fixtures at 1.5A for 3 hours = 13.5 ah. So I could drop this to 1.3 ah, saving maybe 10 ah, or 10% of my daily load. Big deal...not so much.

This assumes you have a 12V DC fridge which uses 60ah per day, for a general daily use of 100 ah.

Comments?
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Old 15-07-2014, 10:22   #4
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Re: Power saving tips

I sincerely hope you're nowhere near other boaters with your VHF off. As far as saving power, switch all your lights (interior and exterior) to LEDs. Or use oil lamps inside (can be dangerous though).

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Old 15-07-2014, 10:24   #5
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Re: Power saving tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
I'm not sure what all this power savings stuff is all about. LEDs are "THE" thing these days. Except for running lights (and NOT the steaming light), my energy budget says that switching to LEDs for interior lighting is a waste of time & $$. If sailing all night, the draw of two running lights (bow combo and stern white) is relatively large.

Interior lighting is a small percentage of my daily use. I have switched to an LED galley light only because our old fluorescent fixture died after 25 years.

Unless you keep all of your interior lights on from dusk (say 7-8 p.m.) to midnight or later, I simply don't see how the load can justify the switch. 3 fixtures at 1.5A for 3 hours = 13.5 ah. So I could drop this to 1.3 ah, saving maybe 10 ah, or 10% of my daily load. Big deal...not so much.

This assumes you have a 12V DC fridge which uses 60ah per day, for a general daily use of 100 ah.

Comments?
It really depends. If you run the engine everyday to recharge, then saving 10% is probably insignificant. On the other hand, if you rely on solar/wind to keep your batteries topped up, you probably want to conserve wherever you can. Unless you have significant excess of solar/wind capacity.
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Old 15-07-2014, 10:26   #6
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Re: Power saving tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by DeborahLee View Post
Thought I would ask for power saving tips. Anything you might do that could help save power. Since I keep my computer running for OpenCPN I added a dongle to listen to FM radio rather than turn on another radio. I can also tune in the weather saving turning on the VHF and charging my cell phone with the USB port.
On laptops, you can save power by turning off features that you aren't using- Bluetooth, wireless, etc.
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Old 15-07-2014, 10:27   #7
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Re: Power saving tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
We downgraded from a PC (netbook) to a 7inch tablet.

HUGE power savings.

b.
You don't even need to go that far: the ASUS line of 12-inch netbooks are very thrifty with their power draws, and knock out OpenCPN perfectly well. You can even plug a VGA cord into them if you want to occasionally turn on a monitor for the "big picture". They do not, due to processor speed and video card limitations, run things like video very well, but nav programs are not, perhaps contrary to intuition, particularly resource-intensive.

You can charge via a small inverter while running the engine, but battery run time is lessened when you are powering a USB GPS "puck". Nonetheless, I can get about four straight hours of plotting without a recharge, and if you wanted to keep it plugged in all the time (if you have solar or wind to keep the batteries topped up), you could have it available as needed.
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Old 15-07-2014, 10:28   #8
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Re: Power saving tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
I'm not sure what all this power savings stuff is all about. LEDs are "THE" thing these days. Except for running lights (and NOT the steaming light), my energy budget says that switching to LEDs for interior lighting is a waste of time & $$. If sailing all night, the draw of two running lights (bow combo and stern white) is relatively large.

Interior lighting is a small percentage of my daily use. I have switched to an LED galley light only because our old fluorescent fixture died after 25 years.

Unless you keep all of your interior lights on from dusk (say 7-8 p.m.) to midnight or later, I simply don't see how the load can justify the switch. 3 fixtures at 1.5A for 3 hours = 13.5 ah. So I could drop this to 1.3 ah, saving maybe 10 ah, or 10% of my daily load. Big deal...not so much.

This assumes you have a 12V DC fridge which uses 60ah per day, for a general daily use of 100 ah.

Comments?
I guess that depends on whether you believe 10% is worth it. I did and switched the reading lights over since it was relatively cheap and they do get used a lot.

Bar none most important thing I did, though, was switch the anchor light over. It was using about a quarter of my Ah in a day, especially in winter when I have more power issues due to the furnace going.

I also did the tricolor for when night sailing, but left all the other nav lights and steaming light since I'll be motoring if I'm using those.

Insulating the fridge would be the best bang for my buck, probably, after LED, but it's an intimidating amount of effort. I have other more important items on "the list" that I need to do first.
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Old 15-07-2014, 10:40   #9
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Re: Power saving tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
I'm not sure what all this power savings stuff is all about. LEDs are "THE" thing these days. Except for running lights (and NOT the steaming light), my energy budget says that switching to LEDs for interior lighting is a waste of time & $$. If sailing all night, the draw of two running lights (bow combo and stern white) is relatively large.

Interior lighting is a small percentage of my daily use. I have switched to an LED galley light only because our old fluorescent fixture died after 25 years.

Unless you keep all of your interior lights on from dusk (say 7-8 p.m.) to midnight or later, I simply don't see how the load can justify the switch. 3 fixtures at 1.5A for 3 hours = 13.5 ah. So I could drop this to 1.3 ah, saving maybe 10 ah, or 10% of my daily load. Big deal...not so much.

This assumes you have a 12V DC fridge which uses 60ah per day, for a general daily use of 100 ah.

Comments?
LEDs are cooler and more durable than incandescents and florescents. I am retaining my nice Alpenglow for general pilothouse illumination, and probably a small halogen for my aging eyes doing soldering in the forepeak workshop, but all the rest will be LED area lighting. I particularly like dim LEDs (you can rig them with 9VDC batteries) for things like motion-detected illumination in deep red for companionway steps, or the cheapest sort of blue-white ones with magnetic contact switches to dimly light storage lockers. I even have a cheap LED on the underside of my toolbox...I open it at night and can see every wrench and specialty plier. Let's not forget that the significantly lower draw of LEDs means that the cabling in most cases can be 18 ga. or less, which saves money and the size of holes needing drilling. Lastly, there are "dimmable" types that are very attractive for indirect lighting of cabinets: you can have the boat's saloon lit for dinner with a few very cheap lumens and maybe one spot on the actual table. Or, if you aren't in the tropics, a good old fashioned oil lantern!

The implementation of AIS, the new style RADARs and LED lighting are the greatest electronics boons to cruisers in the last 10 years, I would contend.
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Old 15-07-2014, 10:44   #10
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Re: Power saving tips

Quote:
Originally Posted by cwyckham View Post

I also did the tricolor for when night sailing, but left all the other nav lights and steaming light since I'll be motoring if I'm using those.

Insulating the fridge would be the best bang for my buck, probably, after LED, but it's an intimidating amount of effort. I have other more important items on "the list" that I need to do first.
Same here with the nav lights. If they are on at anchor or while sailing, LED is the way to go, but I have deck-level Aquasignal 40s (25w) that are actually upsized for my boat's LOA. They aren't on unless I'm motoring, and they make me resemble a trawler or a patrol boat at a distance, so they stay until they burn out. I did, however, pop an IMTRA LED into an old Aquasignal tricolour, and it's actually hard to look at on the bench, it's so bloody bright. So that's a no-brainer, but I took extra care rewiring it and sealing it for "extreme conditions".
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Old 15-07-2014, 11:53   #11
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Re: Power Saving Tips

I have 15 ea 13W interior lights, that is one amp ea. My wife has a habit of once turning one on, she walks away, leaving it on. Faced with either become the energy Nazi or going to LED, I went to LED.
The LED replacement light bulb pulls .087 W and gives a little more light. That means she can leave eleven of them on, and still not pull the same amount of power that one incandescent did.

My fridge when running pulls 5 amps and is my biggest consumer, but if she leaves three lights on continuously, that is more draw than the fridge as it's intermittent.

Anchor and running lights are my next priority.
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Old 21-10-2014, 20:13   #12
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Re: Power Saving Tips

I switched all my interior lights on Siren Song to LED's last winter and it was one of the better moves I feel I have made. They dramatically improved the lighting over the old incandescent bulbs (I can easily read now), and had the anticipated reduction in draw...from over 9amps with all the lights on to less then 1amp. I do not have solar /wind charging and I don't like to run my engine, so anything I can do to reduce load and improve atmosphere is great. And I no longer have to chase kids/guests around turning off lights.


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Old 21-10-2014, 22:15   #13
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Re: Power Saving Tips

If you have anyone on your boat who has a habit of opening the refrigerator door just to see what's in it or leaves it open while unwrapping sodas and beer to put in it, either have a serious talk with them or do it your self. The door needs to stay open as little as possible.

If possible chill or freeze things before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer.

Convert all your lighting to LED and turn lights off when not needed.

If you have an older TV, replace it with a modern 12 volt, more efficient unit.
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Old 22-10-2014, 02:05   #14
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Re: Power Saving Tips

cwyckham,

Some time before you head offshore for good, deal with the insulation on the fridge: that will serve you very well in the tropical zones which have so much appeal.

We have some friends in Tasmania who have done this, and some of the new insulation materials are really good, light weight and easy to work with.

If you enjoy a bilge temp. beer where you are, you'll want cold further south! ;-)

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Old 22-10-2014, 03:12   #15
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Re: Power Saving Tips

Hi DeborahLee.
What a great question you have raised, and some great responses.
I am taking a different tack in my reply, and suggesting that you look at your lifestyle on board.
As well as a 35foot keeler, we have a 21foot trailable with very limited electricity storage. We have found that making a few small lifestyle changes, makes a significant difference to our power and gas useage.
When on the boat, we tend to be up with the sparrows and dine before the sun goes down. It means we are utilizing natural daylight. I made a wind scoop to utilize a cooling breeze. We minimize the use of the fresh water pump by filling a few containers at a time and leaving one in the galley, and one in the head. If boiling the kettle heat only enough for immediate use (this is the one thing Ian can't get his head around, but I still love him).
Our mode of cooking is different than when we are on land, and also our diet. We use a pressure cooker (cooked a date and banana loaf today in 20 minutes). Pre-cooked sachets of rice or noodles are very energy efficient if you have the storage space. We avoid slow cooked (but yummy!) meals, and we try to limit the number of times the fridge is opened. I have made some mistakes along the way, and rock-solid ice-cream is no longer on our menu!
Websites like 'The Boat Galley' have lots of great ideas and I am sure you will become very adept at staying within your energy budget.
Good luck

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