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sedentary 21-04-2015 20:44

What form of energy?
I'm sure there are a lot of these but I can't really seem to get a grasp of the right answer.

I need to get one of the major forms of energy. 1. solar 2. wind 3 portable generator. Maybe 4. efoy.

I can really only afford one at the moment. I'm leaning heavily towards a generator. The honda 2000 companion. The only real reason is that it's a 1000 dollars and i can plug it directly into my boat via the 30 amp plug (is this the right way to go?) .

My brain on energy says go with solar first. My brain on money says get the honda.

I have a hughes 38. I just bought it and I don't even know what the battery bank is off the top of my head. I think there are only two batteries.. I assume one is the starter and the other the deep battery... If this is the case I need energy now not when the sun wants to show.

My issue with solar is the mounting. I am having a bit$% of a time figuring out the right mount.... story of my life :)

I am going to be going through the welland canal from erie to ontario on May 11th... any help appreciated on that as well.

A very scattered posting but any help appreciated.


skipmac 21-04-2015 21:11

Re: What form of energy?
All things considered, it is hard to argue with solar as a long term solution but certainly mounting can be an issue, especially on a small boat. I'm putting my first panel on the davits. If that isn't an option then cabin tops, on the bimini, dodger and some mount them along the lifelines.

I would recommend, before you get too deeply into charging you learn more about your boat's electrical system.

First figure out what kind and capacity batteries you have.

Then figure your energy usage. If you don't have a fridge or autopilot then possibly energy use on the boat is very low and you won't need to go overboard with charging.

Kenomac 21-04-2015 21:17

Re: What form of energy?
Solar only works when the sun shines. Sunshine.... not clouds or rain. If you get a couple of days without sun... you got nothing.

On cloudy or rainy days, your production will drop by 90 percent! How do I know this? We have an 11KW solar array that powers 75% of our home and business. We have a generator on the boat.

Go with the generator, it'll even work a night.

sedentary 21-04-2015 21:19

Re: What form of energy?
Knew I was forgetting things.

No Bimini. I assume that the battery bank is small. I will be in a marina this year but who knows next. I really want to be more self sufficient in terms of power anyway.

I have relatively low power needs. Lights at night, though I love the lamps so I may use those more. I have a fridge/freezer but the marine kind in the cooler bin. It's well insulated but still probably the single biggest user of power on the boat. Second largest is my computer. I run that a lot. A LOT! I will be using it pretty much all day every day. After that, I imagine the gps will be my next largest.

That's about the extent of my power usage besides running lights. I'm converting to LED for all my lighting needs so that should help too.

sedentary 21-04-2015 21:24

Re: What form of energy?

Any experience regarding noise? I have a buddy who just bought a makita 3500w generator and said it was a noisy beast. From everything I've read the honda is quieter but I have nothing to judge it by.

Kenomac 21-04-2015 21:31

Re: What form of energy?
We have a large diesel unit on the boat, which is in a somewhat sound deadening compartment. But our friends who have the Honda, haven't complained about the noise. I've heard them myself powering outdoor booths at fairs etc, and hardly knew they were running. Seemed quite, unlike the portable units from 20 years ago.

Maybe go on and watch a few reviews.

mstrebe 21-04-2015 21:59

Re: What form of energy?
Get the generator first. It's immediately useful and requires no installation. You can use it for supplemental power (such as to drive an AC unit) any time you want. It's useful at home, in an RV, while camping, and in a dozen other situations. Finally, you can resell it if you find you aren't using it after you've put your permanent solution in.

I have the Honda EU2000 companion--it's definitely the right way to go IMHO.

This gives you time to figure out your solar mounting and do it right, not trying to make a May 11 deadline.

By my estimate, 750 watts of solar should be right for a boat with a small 12VDC chest type fridge and a reasonable autopilot. that's 3 fixed 250 watt panels, and you'll want a combined MPP charger/combiner/inverter that'll put you back a few boat bucks.

TacomaSailor 21-04-2015 23:37

Re: What form of energy?
"By my estimate, 750 watts of solar should be right for a boat with a small 12VDC chest type fridge and a reasonable autopilot. that's 3 fixed 250 watt panels, and you'll want a combined MPP charger/combiner/inverter that'll put you back a few boat bucks."

I think you may overstating the required power from the solar panels.

We've had 500 watts (4 x 124 watts) for 15 years. While cruising full time for three years in the Sea of Cortez and as far south as Zihuatanejo we never once had a problem keeping the batteries (2 x 8D Gellcells) fully charged.

We have a 12V BD50 refrigeration compressor and a Spectra 380c water maker (17 amps at 13.8 V = 16 GPH water) and a Raymarine ST6000 / 12V Type 1 Linear Drive autopilot.

The batteries were always full charged by 2 PM and we could then run the
Spectra, the BD50, and still put an amp or two into the batteries from 2 PM to 4 PM.

We made no effort to reduce our electrical consumption ' cause the solar panels make so much excess power.

The longest we sat on the hook without starting the Yanmar was 22 days - all power delivered by the sun.

And, we have just a old "dumb" Trace C-40 controller circa 1999.

As far as Honda 2000 or other gas powered generator - we made those boats anchor 50 yards down wind to reduce the noise pollution.

hellosailor 22-04-2015 00:05

Re: What form of energy?
Given your timeframe the Honda may be the only practical solution, but bear in mind that keeping it gassed up and storing the gas onboard are fire/explosion hazards, plus there's a carbon monoxide hazard, and with no "true earth ground" some risk of curling your hair. Not that it can't be done safely--but make sure you are aware of the hazards of using a gasoline genset on a boat.

Spend a whole day reading threads (search tool!) on power sources, on checking battery capacity, on charging systems. Never assume any part of a used boat's electrical system is working properly or safely, no matter what the seller says. And you may be able to make a few effective tweaks that improve an old system significantly. Things have changed in the last 40 years.(G)

RaymondR 22-04-2015 02:05

Re: What form of energy?
Buy the Honda, battery and solar panel technology is in a state of flux at the moment and there is a fair chance that you would be able to install a better system in a couple of years time and the delay will give you a chance to get up to speed with boat energy capture storage and use technology.

skipmac 22-04-2015 02:23

Re: What form of energy?
The Honda is a quick and easy fix to keeping the batteries topped off. And as Ken points out, the sun doesn't always shine. I've gone weeks in the sunny Caribbean with solid overcast every day.

On the other hand I own a Honda 2000 and it is NOT quiet. Way less noisy than a cheap generator but still clearly audible to me 100 yards away and this is on land. Over the water I would think it would be worse. You can build a sound box for the Honda that kills almost all the sound but make sure it is well ventilated or the Honda will overheat and die.

nimblemotors 22-04-2015 07:23

Re: What form of energy?
Doesn't this boat have an engine with an alternator?

a64pilot 22-04-2015 07:42

Re: What form of energy?
We hear non linearly, by that I mean what we perceive as twice as loud is actually about ten times as loud. It's the only way we can hear a pin drop or something sneaking up, but not be permanently deafened by thunder
I'm trying to explain how at a fair you really wouldn't even notice a Honda 2000 running a few ft away, but on a quiet early morning, you'd think the thing loud even if it were 100 yards away.
I'd say buy the Honda for a generator it is about the quietest there is, but be very aware of when you run the thing, nothing ruins a dead quiet anchorage, the kind you enjoy listening to the loons far away, like a generator can, except of course loud music, but that's another peeve.

NahanniV 22-04-2015 07:49

Re: What form of energy?
My advice would be to wait.

Make sure that the batteries and existing charging systems (shore/engine) are working.

Your planned trip will likely involve some motoring and marinas. Unless your batteries are dead you will likely be OK. Also keep in mind that you can't really safely use a portable generator underway.

It's a classic mistake to want to buy your new boat stuff; Get to know her first, figure out what she really needs.


hamburking 22-04-2015 08:00

Re: What form of energy?
Hi, I'm in Kingston, not far from your destination on Lake Ontario. You'll have fun doing the least you are going downhill, which is faster and easier.

You said you are going to a marina this year. So this year...DO'll have plenty of power at the dock from your big yellow cord. This will give you some time to get to know your boat, your battery bank, and your power consumption.

Now, more thoughts:

A generator will drive you mad. The noise and exhaust will get to you. And your neighbours will hate you too (especially at a quiet anchorage while you run your genny all night). Plus there's fuel, and maintenance, and where do you put it? Unless you are a big ship, the generator is the fools way out.

Refrigeration: The fridge is the biggest user of power. Your money is better spent on more insulation. A cold FULL fridge will stay cold at least a whole day, even if you have to fill it with cans of ice cold beer as thermal ballast. Also, you run the fridge when you run the engine. If you are cruising lake ontario, thats likely every day. And finally you can supplement your fridge with a block of ice which costs about $3cdn. If you bought a block of ice every day for our short sailing season, that would be only $180. Most likely you would use much less. I have no refrigeration, and spend maybe $30 a year on ice, and have all the cold drinks I can handle.

Lights: You have the right idea with LED lights. Replacement bulbs (12volt led) are still pricey. You can get a whole new marine LED light fixture (with LED bulbs in it) at canadian tire for under $20. Same thing at west marine for $60. Don't forget the running lights and mast lights.

GPS: Unless you have a mammoth chart plotter, class A AIS, or radar, electronics take almost no power.

Computer: I assume you use a laptop? You can recharge your laptop from your house bank with an inexpensive, low power inverter. My son charges his all day on my boat, with very little affect on the house battery volts. You would be better off investing in a 12volt (car) power adapter...these things cost like $50, but are far more efficient than inverting 12v up to 110, then down to 19v with your regular laptop wall plug adapter.

BATTERIES: A boat your size should have at least 2 deep cycle batteries for the house bank. Given your stated needs, that would give you plenty of reserve power.

WIND: The AIR MARINE is cheap, easy to mount (on a pole) and makes tons of power. At my end of Lake Ontario its windy every single day of the summer. Wind is definitely the way to go here. Solar is great too, but as stated previously, it takes a lot of real unless you have a cockpit arch or davits, they are hard to place. However, they are great at keeping your batteries topped up silently and effortlessly.

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