The time has come to redo the onboard power plant. I am hoping to solicit a sanity check from those who have been there done that, and possibly get some ideas that I haven't yet considered.
I spend summers on a mooring
in the NE and never plug
in. We are active most weekends and take a two week cruise
once a year. The current
arrangement, as set up by prev owner, is very basic and falls short of our requirements. We have the original 50A alternator
on W30 Westerbeke
, one 12V gel G31 (105 ah) house and identical start battery
. We have refer, stereo, periodic phone
and iPad charging
, small GPS
part time, LED lights
, and rarely use sailing instruments. Probably 50 - 70 a/h per day but that is only a guess. Radar
will remain a distant dream until I get this sorted out.
The plan is to change to all wet cells. Frankly I don't see the value in paying 2-3x for gel or AGM
. Wet cells are more forgiving and I can handle the increased maintenance
. I will up the house bank to 300-350 ah (all the room I have.) Install a 100 amp Electromax or Balmar alternator
with a 3 stage programable Balmar regulator
. Install a Xantrex or similar battery monitor
. OK so far?
Next comes the fun part.. how best to maintain and restore. On a 32' boat
without a bimini
I do not have the necessary real estate for solar
. The dodger
is shadowed by the boom. Fittings that hang panels
off stern rails don't appeal much to me. Foredeck is taken up by club footed stays'l so flex panels
like Solbian won't work
. I have looked with interest at panels on a stick by Custom Marine
Products but have not seen a single boat
with this set up and I am concerned about robustness in high wind
when the boat is unattended. A little on the ugly side, too.. For these reasons I am leaning more toward a wind generator
. As long as there is decent wind
they generate power 24hrs a day. That's when we use the boat. I think avg output over 4 days on the PS test was in the 60ah range per day. I understand that at times there will be little or no output. But even if I could find the real estate, I am guaranteed zero output from a solar
array from dusk to dawn 100% of the time. I won't totally discount solar until I am convinced that wind is the way to go for my situation. A long winter of pondering ahead...
I am not looking to Superwind or D400, arguably two of the best, because I don't believe the cost is justified by my cruising profile. Silentwind and Airbreeze seem to be a better fit. One is externally rectified and regulated (silentwind) and Airbreeze is internal. Both have pros and cons that I am still working through. But they are efficient and generally viewed to have solved
issues of the past. Emarine still sells the venerable Air-x with silent blades at the same price
as a new Air Breeze, but overall the Silentwind set up seems to offer more options and control. The mount is extremely important -it needs to be strong and look good. Emarine markets an aluminum
pole kit at half the price
of a Kato Marine
pole. Emarine is 1 1/2 " aluminum
with SS struts, while Kayto has 3" SS base of 5' with thinner section toward the top. Are there other options out there?
So that's the plan. It's a big investment but one that should pay off in the long run with reduced engine
wear and longer battery life. Would appreciate any thoughts/input.