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Old 21-02-2014, 13:26   #1
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Can You Help Settle an Argument?

That sounds a bit like I'm intentionally opening a can of worms... doesn't it?

Anyway... I have been thinking in terms of making everything possible on the boat.. electric. (solar powered and wind generator) They are coming out with electric engines.. and we are starting to see electric stoves on many cats now, plus airconditioning.. winches.. refridgeration, etc. My husband says that isn't realistic. He says there is no way that you could power all that on solar/wind power... he says that propane and diesel are the way to go...

What do you think? can we do it all electric?
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Old 21-02-2014, 13:30   #2
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

If you add a diesel genset. Yes.

No propane

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Old 21-02-2014, 13:37   #3
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

propane and diesel are the way to go. solar or wind to keep up with the lights and refrigeration and radio and pressure water and autopilot. i love cooking with a gas stove
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Old 21-02-2014, 13:39   #4
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

Sorry, but I agree with your husband. Diesel for propulsion and propane for cooking. Solar/wind for refrigeration and electric winches. The vast majority(if not all) of the boats using electric ranges and AC away from the dock are running gensets. Electric propulsion is doable if you are coastal and can deal with very limited range.

Refrigeration and electric winches can be done with solar/wind depending on your cruising grounds. We just removed our wind generator in favor of more solar. We can easily run our freezer/refrigerator off our solar with power to spare during daylight hours. This is from a total of 260watts. The new panels will bring us up to 400 watts

The last thing you want to hear pulling into a pristine anchorage is someones genset or Honda generator running all night so they can enjoy the AC and watch movies on the big screen TV. Our idea of cruising is getting away from it all that. We do have a 12v TV but use it mostly for a computer monitor and to watch local weather.
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Old 21-02-2014, 13:40   #5
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

It ultimately comes down to some basic technical certainties and constraints.

Energy density of your fuel source is important. Fossil fuels pack much more energy into a set volume or weight. The second is your peak and average energy demands and the duty cycle. For high energy long duration needs like propulsion fossil fuels beat electric hands down.

But for low energy, long duration unattended operation like battery trickle charging then solar stacks up well.

While it might look simpler on paper to go all electric it's hard to make a realistic argument for most people.

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Old 21-02-2014, 13:51   #6
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

Darn, you guys!!! I thought you were my FRIENDS?!?!?

1. I hate gas stoves... don't like the smell.. and I don't like the idea of an open flame on a boat..
2. I don't want to have to rely on buying gas and propane... rather be self sufficient.
3. I'm kind of getting into this whole "green" thing... I love the outdoors.. and I'd like to do what I can to keep it clean..
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Old 21-02-2014, 13:57   #7
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

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Originally Posted by scarlet View Post
Darn, you guys!!! I thought you were my FRIENDS?!?!?

1. I hate gas stoves... don't like the smell.. and I don't like the idea of an open flame on a boat..
Me too. We use induction and electric steam oven and you can easily have them onboard.
So if somebody loves propane that is OK, but does not disqualify electric.


Propulsion and AC will be difficult if you need to use it for a longer period without a genset.

Rob
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Old 21-02-2014, 13:59   #8
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

Scarlet, it is easy to embrace the whole green ting. You just have to rid yourself of conveniences. There are plenty of cruisers out there with no motors, refrigeration, AC, etc.

Check out the book "simply Sailing" they take teh green thing to an extreme and it works for them. Simply Sailing Online

Personally, I need my ice cream and cold beer which can be done with solar.
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Old 21-02-2014, 14:04   #9
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

Tim.. I said "I like to do what I can.. " that does NOT include giving up ice cream!!!!!! or frozen margaritas!!!!

Balance.. I need to find balance..

That being said... I'm intersted in that book though... I'll pick it up and let you know what I think..
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Old 21-02-2014, 14:05   #10
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

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Me too. We use induction and electric steam oven and you can easily have them onboard.

Rob

I will admit.. I have no idea what either of those things are... I'll go find out..
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Old 21-02-2014, 14:10   #11
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Going full electric is not a problem well unless you consider cost and how much room you have for solar panels wind generators etc, and let's not forget windage. But seriously I like being totally independent too. But still use diesel for propulsion and alternator when its not sunny or windy. If you have a large solar array it will probably be putting out more at peak than you can use to just charge your batteries. I like using my excess electricity for cooking on a hot plate, soon to be induction, vacuum cleaner, power tools and will soon be running my electric food dehydrator. In the far future I want a solar oven.
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Old 21-02-2014, 14:12   #12
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

Hiya Scarlet! You're thinking more of having a miniature nuclear power plant on your boat to supply you with all your energy needs; for propulsion and for everything else requiring electricity. Unfortunately, miniature and NUKIE are mutually exclusive.

Definitely, your propulsion must remain powered by diesel fuel; a non-negotiable issue. Everything else can be powered by electricity. Whatever total power consumption you calculate for all your gizmos/toys, multiply it by a factor of 2.5; future expansion needs/safety margin. ZATSA lotza mozzarella; extendable butterfly solar panels attached to the hull ($$$$$). (Solar panels glued to the keel, are not an option, yet. )

Think of a boat as a space slightly less in size of a one-bedroom apartment. There is so much you can put in it, until eventually you'd want to rent an actual apartment!

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Old 21-02-2014, 14:15   #13
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

Yes, it's doable. I did some research about 5 years ago. Catalina had an electric prototype. Beneteau was also looking at one. As I recall, they were looking at a 24 volt system as it was more efficient than 12 volt. Batteries weighed about the same as the diesel.

In addition to solar and wind, they also used an electric motor/regenerative generator. When under sail the electric motor becomes a generator to recharge the storage batteries.


One high tech option I researched used hydrogen fuel cells. The system produced hydrogen by electrolysis from clean water when the sun was shining and the wind blowing and stored it in metal hydride tanks in the keel and also used hydrogen for cooking. The electricity produced by the hydrogen fuel cell recharged the batteries and powered the electric motor.

A way out there option was to use thermocouples imbedded in the keel to produce electricity to charge batteries. That's the same concept used to power those space ships that travel to the far edge of the solar system...only they use nuclear to produce the temperature gradient need to produce electricity.

So yes, it's doable....but last time I checked, very costly compared to a diesel engine, genset and propane.
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Old 21-02-2014, 14:16   #14
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Photo of my boat. (Not really) but I do have 4 solar panels with four more to install
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Old 21-02-2014, 14:16   #15
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Re: can you help settle an argument?

I have an electric inboard on a 35 ft sailboat, and the problem is that it does use a huge amount of power which takes much longer to replace than the time to use it. 6 golf cart batteries will push me 2-5 knots, for 30-60 minutes depending on speed. Twice as long if I have the generator going and am going only 2-3, but it will still peter out in a couple hours even with it running. They are great for coming and going at marinas and harbors, setting anchors, etc. But for longer trips, I have an outboard mounted to transom. Nice to have the electric for day-to-day puttering though.

FYI... it takes 6-8 hrs to recharge the bank to near full, so you run for an hour than charge for a day. (And that's charging with a generator). I am contemplating adding another 6 batteries to increase range, but it will still be limited. Not sure how it will affect charging time yet.
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