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Old 08-01-2016, 14:01   #1
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Wind generator and Solar Panels

We are refitting a 32' Fisher Catamaran. We have used a wind generator and solar panels on our Morgan 382 purchased from West Marine in 1998. I have forgotten the manufacturer but it was a good product. We are ready to purchase a new system and would appreciate any reviews from other sailors to their preference and operation of units.

Thanks, Janie Douglass
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Old 08-01-2016, 14:10   #2
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

I prefer solar, if you have the space. A wind generator around $1200 (minimum, they go way up from there) will produce around 400 Watts maximum. (And you need fairly strong wind to get that.)


For similar money you could get much more solar Watts. And they're quiet, have no moving parts, don't chop up birds, last for decades, etc..


Everything has pro's and con's though.
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Old 08-01-2016, 15:55   #3
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

Thanks for the info. We use both but it has been almost 20 years since we have purchased any so I'm sure there is a big market for both. More research for me to do.
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Old 08-01-2016, 15:56   #4
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

I have both. 300w of panels and a air breeze. My reality is , over the years I believe the wind generator has cost me power. The slight shading depending on where the sun is takes away more than the wind generator generates over the long term. I believe they are very over rated. Now, if your staying at Lizard Island or somewhere similar then it might make sense but overall it dosent, I wouldn't do it again. Solar and a little Honda for the days when the sun don't shine.

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Old 09-01-2016, 07:24   #5
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

Solar any time! As much as you can squeeze in as there is no such thing as too much power.
Our (in relation to boat size) large arreay of 560w allow us to keep the standard battery bank which is pretty small @300Ah. But it needs to last only from dusk till dawn.

Compared to wind solar is cheaper, no maintenance, no hazard and no noise keeping you awake and annoying the anchorage.
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:15   #6
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

I agree with the other posters and would take it a step further. I think for tropical sailing latitudes wind gens are no longer competitive given that the benchmark Kyocera solar panels only cost about $1/watt now. We've got 1,000w and it does everything we ask of it, even making water and ice cubes, silently & reliably. Load up on solar if you've got the room.
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:03   #7
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Four Coconuts View Post
I agree with the other posters and would take it a step further. I think for tropical sailing latitudes wind gens are no longer competitive given that the benchmark Kyocera solar panels only cost about $1/watt now. We've got 1,000w and it does everything we ask of it, even making water and ice cubes, silently & reliably. Load up on solar if you've got the room.
" Load up on solar if you've got the room"

Aye, there's the rub.

I disagree about the wind generator, however.

Quiet is important, and there are lots of tests which will show you what to expect; current blade technology has made a huge difference in the noise level of any/probably most windgens.

We have a KISS and its power contribution difference (vs not having it) is huge. Yes, it probably shades part of a panel at various times, but if the wind's blowing, it doesn't matter what time of day or year, or how your solar panels are pointing, it keeps on putting out when your solar is dead.

I anally (well, you get the idea) balanced my blades and at 15A, it's a whiiiish. It can get a bit noisy at 30 knots, but then, so is everything else.

A D400 will put out up to 50A, and is probably the quietest one you'll find, albeit at double the price of a KISS, but you can't service it yourself. (The KISS uses off-the-shelf bearings and seals; an alternator shop could probably rewind it for you if it came to that [we've horribly abused ours, including salt and fresh water immersion, for 10 years], and I've replaced bearings once, seal twice, magnets once in 10 years- they rusted apart after one of my excursions to the bottom - and, lately, when the breeze has been nice here, it keeps on putting out 10-15A all day and night, except in gusts where we occasionally peg our analog 30A meter).

If you're in low-wind areas, a Rutland will quietly give you some small level of amps come rain or shine, and they're cheap.

That said, solar is the least expensive way to generate replacement amps IF your situation can use them.

What does 'IF' mean? IF you have reliable sun, and IF you have a place to mount them, it's probably the most cost-effective amp replacement. The least cost-effective would be an engine-driven alternator, and various other IC means get only a bit less expensive per watt.

I'm - right now - trying to figure out how to replace my 370W/3-panel array on my arch with a couple of 340W (buying them in less than pallet lots is my current challenge) panels. If I can do that, I won't have to spend many boat bux building a hardtop bimini which could hold a megawatt, albeit probably only 500w of which would be available due to boom shading.

There's a place for both technologies; if you can RELIABLY replace your watts used with solar, it's the cheapest. But if you can't, and the wind ever blows where you are, wind is a good bet to go with it.
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:21   #8
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

OK.. I'll put a counter point in favour ( note the spelling - I'm from the UK!) of wind vanes.. Particularly a very particular one called a Duogen ( easy to google it). It is a v quiet wind generator - but also, when lowered into the sea behind the boat, it can easily produce c 6amps at 5 knots, and slows the boat c 0.15 knot.. Of course, I also believe that Solar panels are great, - but don't dismiss the Duogen since, when being towed, it will easily support a hungry fridge and a self-steering unit..
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:34   #9
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

I like having both, especially when you can mount the air gen so it doesn't shadow the solar panels, and doesn't get blanketed by the main (usually in my case).
When you're doing an overnight passage using lights, a/p, vhf, gps, various instruments, and maybe the radar, having lots of solar is not any help.
Especially if you don't turn off the reefer lol.
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Old 09-01-2016, 11:06   #10
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

I had a Duogen 400 and no solar. Duogen is really silent but like all others, it requires steady and non turbulent wind which is close to impossible to get when you sail. Solar is definately the way to go..
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Old 09-01-2016, 11:23   #11
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

Hi Yeloya.. Yeah - I get it about the wind.. But how was your Duogen for you when you used it in its "in water" mode?? I've used it and it's great!
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Old 09-01-2016, 11:58   #12
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

We have both - two D400 wind generators that are never used at sea and over 1000 watts of solar. The solar provides most of our needs but we supplement power on some occassions with the D400's which really pump out the power. On our boat we shall stay with over 1000 watts of solar and a single D400.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 44'cruisingcat View Post
I prefer solar, if you have the space. A wind generator around $1200 (minimum, they go way up from there) will produce around 400 Watts maximum. (And you need fairly strong wind to get that.)


For similar money you could get much more solar Watts. And they're quiet, have no moving parts, don't chop up birds, last for decades, etc..


Everything has pro's and con's though.
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Old 09-01-2016, 12:02   #13
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

FSMike, of course solar has nothing to offer at night, but I think the answer is more a function of battery bank capacity. A battery bank should be sufficiently sized to run a boat overnight without any issues.
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Old 09-01-2016, 12:08   #14
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

Skipgundlach- try www.emarineinc.com out of Florida. They have 330w Kyocera panels for $430 on there website, and I know at the boat shows they discount them from there.
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Old 09-01-2016, 14:47   #15
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Re: Wind generator and Solar Panels

I had the latest Rutland and have just removed it. You needed at least 25kts to be some what useful. My 350w solar is ample with the 1kva Honda as backup which I rarely use.
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