Both are good...in their right place. Before investing in either of these expensive solutions, there are a host of other projects you should probably do in order to maximize your return on either solar
First, do you have LED lighting
in the interior
? If not, I would search for high quality bulbs to replace as many frequently used interior
lights as possible. Look for bulbs that have some sort of constant control capability to deal with the fluctuations of battery
voltage that are inherently present in a boat. Knock on wood, I'm going on 2 years on a single
set of bulbs that I replaced out...prior to that, I was replacing a halogen bulb *SOMEWHERE* on the boat every couple of months. Not only that, I've knocked down the amp usage by an order of 80-90% for bulbs.
Second, I'd invest in the installation
of a good battery monitor
system. Personally, I've installed the Victron BMV-600 avaialable for under $200. This has been an amazing investment. Not only do I know the true state of charge on my battery bank, I've been able to track down stray and parasitic drains on the bank. For example, I was able to track down a .2 amp leak on my boat to a parallel relay that the manufacturer installed badly. .2 amps may not seem like much, but over 24 hours, thats 4.8 aHs, which is the equivalent of running my fridge on full tilt for 1 hour.
Third...invest in a good battery bank. I've recently upgraded from a group of Deep Cycle Group 27s to a set of 4 six volt Golf Cart batteries from Costco. For around $600 including wiring
(cables I made myself) I have installed 400+ amps of capacity, doubling my prior capacity of the OEM banks. I prefer the simplicty of flooded cell golf cart batteries since they're available nearly universally and taken care of, will match or exceed the lifespan of gel or agm
batteries. Also, I have no need for mounting my batteries in odd locations or upside down, negating the benefit of gel cells.
Fourth - insulate insulate insulate that fridge!! 12v reefers are infamous amp hogs. By insulating my fridge cabinet and venting the compressor
area better, I've been able to knock off almost 20%-30% off of my amp needs for the beer
cooler. I've also invested in a separate "deep freezer" (a Waeco chest) that I put all the food
that doesn't need to be looked at every day but kept cold so that my day fridge doesn't have to work as hard.
Now, lets talk about wind vs solar. My caveat on this is that I prefer solar. They're passive and beyond the wiring
and mounting costs, pretty maintenance
free. The challenge with wind is that while they can crank out amps in windy days, the reality is that even the best models need around 10-15 knots to produce any good amperage. In such conditions, you're likely in an exposed anchorage and not having much of a good time...simply to top up the battery bank!
Solar in my kneck of the woods (South Florida) is a passive charging
method that works nearly every day for 4-5 hours peak output. With a MPPT charger
, I'm able to squeeze an extra 15%, so with two 190 watt panels
thats around 80-90 amps a day being put back into the bank. Thats enough to keep me a few days before running the little Honda Eu2000
between top-ups, but reality is we move around some when out traveling so the engine
tops up frequently enough.
I've thought about Wind for extra amp coverage - investing in a KISS generator
from Trinidad. But fears of mechanicical/moving parts
and the noise
level have kept me away.