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Old 02-09-2015, 08:02   #1
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Wind & solar generation added to my sailboat

I purchased an electrical & water package for my sailboat last fall in preparation for my cruise south, through John from Electromaax company in Niagara Falls. Their Airmaax wind turbine was impressive in that it generated raw 3 phase power at the turbine which is rectified in the boat near the battery bank, maximizing the power captured from the wind, and had good reviews from fellow sailors. It included an Airmaax wind turbine with mounting pole, two solar panels, charge controller for the turbine and solar panels combined, a 120 amp alternator with a serpentine belt kit for my Yanmar diesel engine with an external regulator, and an Aquamaax water-maker with pumps, filters and controls. It covered my needs for the trip and seemed a reasonable solution for 15 grand, installation provided by yours truly.
I only managed to get the wind turbine and alternator installed before departure time was upon me. The wind turbine put out 16 volts to charge the batteries, and the alternator had lots of power to run everything and charge the batteries at idle speed. It seemed I was all set to cruise.
Just three days before sailing, the wind turbine stopped charging. I contacted John at Electromaax, and as requested tested the three phases for voltage and sent them readings from the digital charge controller as I sailed south. The final verdict was one phase had stopped working.
When I got back home I contacted John, and he arranged for a return number to send the unit for warranty service. I went out to remove it from the boat and found the turbine head had come off the swivel and commutator mount and fallen in the water somewhere! After dragging the water, and having a diver friend look for it with no luck in our deep, dark and muddy inlet, I sent the mount back to Electromaax, noting that there was no welding or bolts to hold the turbine head to the mount, it just seemed like a press fit, it could be the factory missed this in quality control. I informed John of this, he seems a good guy and is also a fellow sailor; and now am waiting to hopefully get a replacement before sailing south again next month.
I am at present mounting the solar panels on a platform above my canvas cockpit enclosure, and trying to get the water-maker installation completed. I will send an update on my progress and the outcome of my wind turbine problem in a few weeks.
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Old 02-09-2015, 11:42   #2
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Location: Kona, Hawaii, Carlsbad, CA
Boat: 1969 Pearson 35 #108 & 1976 Sabre 28
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Re: Wind & solar generation added to my sailboat

You didn't post any details about your boat but it sounds like you have a boat with pretty high electrical demands. 2-300 watts of solar panels aren't going to hack it when the wind doesn't blow.

The Caribbean has a lot of windy anchorages so should get decent output from your wind generator there. Elsewhere is another story. The 15+ mph wind speed necessary to get decent output is uncomfortable to live in for me and was not common in SoPac anchorages. Most other areas of the world, windspeed in anchorages are too low to generate much, if any power. Would expect that you are going to get very good use out of your large alternator. Hopefully you have the battery capacity to get the max benefit out of it and don't mind the engine droning for hours each day.
Peter O.
'Ae'a, Pearson 35
'Ms American Pie', Sabre 28 Mark II
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Old 19-09-2015, 15:35   #3
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Thumbs up Re: Wind & solar generation added to my sailboat

Well, the guys at Electromaax really came through for me, they shipped a new Airmaax turbine to me as a warranty replacement. I installed it today and it is working fine. It seems that two units left the factory without getting the mount welding done, mine was one of them. John and Bob at Electromaax are stand up guys and made sure I got my replacement in time for my October departure for the Bahamas. I installed the two solar panels (100 watts each) a few days ago on a platform I built and mounted above the canvas bimini. I put my refrigerator back in service after a thorough cleaning, and set the charge controller to turn it on at 14 volts, and shut it off at 12.8 volts. The batteries are charging well in our Nova Scotia winds.
Now I am working to finish up the water-maker install, repair my electrical contactor for the anchor winch, and beef up the steering arc peg holder that I designed for the hydraulic autopilot , it is not quite strong enough to resist bending.
My boat is a 1981 Hughes 38 sloop with a 30hp Yanmar diesel engine. I replaced all the lighting with LEDs, and have installed low power draw B&G sailing navigation systems to lower the electrical loads. My refrigerator was drawing around 4 amps when I checked it yesterday. So far so good! She is a good ocean sailor, but a little trouble at certain places in the "ditch" due to her almost six foot draught, I much prefer the open ocean when weather permits. I am looking to have the systems up and running so that I can anchor for long periods in the Bahamas without worry about power and water needs.
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