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Old 14-09-2020, 11:13   #1
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Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

Hello all,


we have a 2009 Leopard 40 owners version which has been upgraded with 5 x 125w solar and 2 x 100w ampaire wind generators 11 years ago. we have 3 x 210Ah Lifeline AGMs for house batteries 2.5 years old and new Xantrex 2000w inverter charger.



Offgrid and without genny, we generally run the AGM's down to about 60% overnight and then recharge to perhaps 90+% if the sun and wind cooperate. Using an electrical analysis of our fridges, lights etc we use about 285Ah per day on the hook and 325 underway with radar autopilot etc.



Last week we found out that the Northern Lights 6Kw M673L2 generator is shot - basically the windings seems to be shorted so would need an expensive rewinding job on a 3300 hour unit. cheaper to replace it with warranty



My wife and I were planning to cruise full time in 2021, but for now we use the cat each weekend and 3 weeks a year locally and in the Bahamas foir vacation. we have 2 x 16000 BTu cruise air ACs which we really only use 3 or 4 months a year and then only at night - but we would like to be able to use one unit when it gets hot using a soft start - other idea would be using a new 24v zero breeze 2300BTU rechargeable unit in our master berth only - but we have no experience with that new technology so dont really trust it.



So the question to the forum is what to do? replace the Genny with the same unit and 5 yr warranty or upgrade the solar/wind/battery and high amp alternators like what I saw from Nigel Calder with Integral to avoid the cloud covered no wind day killing the batteries?


I did some quick math and over 5 years both options when taking diesel use and maintenance costs into consideration came out to about $35k. I would love to go green and get rid of that noisy genny - also was told that the unit likely failed because its in the moist forward lazerette and we have nowhere eklse to put it = same problem again in 5 years.



here are the comps:
replace Genny - "drill baby drill" @ avg marina diesel $4/gal US & $5/gal offshore

replacement $19,100 estimated cost (incl misc parts & labor)
fuel & maintenance $15,600 5 years (1 yr local Miami weekend @ 20 weeks x 2 nights x 10hrs per day + 4 years offshore 7 nights per week 2 hours per day to recharge battery bank)
new AGMs in 2 years @$2300



vs the "green new deal"


1. upgrade solar 5 x 200W monocrystaline + 1000w addl flexible solar $3000 and new controllers

2. replace 80Amp alternators with Integral system mounted on 2 x yanmar 3ym30s with current 2300 hours $20,215 (without batteries) from their website estimate (seems high) - does anyone have real life experience to share?

3. replace 2 x 100w ampaire with 2 x 140w rutland wind turbines $2500
4. $2700 replace lifeline AGM total 630 Ah 4DA @ max 50% DOD 315 Ah to firefly carbon foam 4V 450Ah x 3 = 80% dod 1080 max (I believe overall cost of firefly incl cycle life to be better that LiFPO - my opinion only - (any opinions on carbon foam vs lithium)

5. soft start for AC units (2 x 16000Btu cruiseaire) would only run 1 at a time and only if unbarebly hot) $500

6. diesel to run yanmars for 1 hour per day avgh exclusive to recharge $7400 over 5 years incl routine engine maintenance 50% proportion vs underway usage



Also we would likely sell the boat at the end of this 5 year plan, perhaps in Panama, so would be interested in difference in resale value.


that's a lot = but because the 2 estimates come out to about the same, I am just wondering if maybe I am miscalculating some hidden cost on the "green new deal" which would be preferable to us if we truly want to live on the hook mostly.


Thanks in advance for your feedback - its my first post so I hope its not too long "winded"


Cat-Keys
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Old 14-09-2020, 11:42   #2
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

Lot to unpack in this.

1. Your NL 6kw should not have failed at 10-years/3300 hrs unless not properly maintained, and then it's typically the engine, not the power plant. These routinely go for 10k hours, maybe needing a replacement oil seal along the way. You probably need to verify it was an early demise versus a maintenance issue, otherwise you may repeat the problem. But if it is the windings, the engine should have a long life left in it - would definitely get a quote on replacing the power-head. It will not be cheaper to replace the entire gen-set. You can figure consumption at around 0.5 gph on a genny this size.

2. I just purchased one of these generators - base charge on the gen/power head is around $9500. Total including sound-shield, gen-sep, and panels was $14k. Since you would be swapping like/for/like, and assuming you don't have to pull an engine to gain access, install should be under a couple days for a mechanic and a helper.

3. You are not running AC off a solar battery bank. Maybe a little here and there, but for the most part, if you want AC, you need a gen-set. AC simply consumes energy at a faster rate than can be replenished.

4. Your energy budget numbers seem off - either you need to go on an at-anchor diet, or your underway numbers are too low. After refrigeration, Autopilot is the next biggest consumer aboard. Between that, MFDs, VHF/SSB, and other goodies typically run underway (but not at anchor), figure around 100AH/day above your at-anchor consumption. At the bottom of this link is an XLS with decent info on calculating an energy budget, including sizing a batter bank. It's a little dated and doesn't have energy savings for LED and digital radar, but you get the point.

Overall, you should have enough solar already, and your 630ah battery bank is decent; and 625 W of solar should get you at least 3.5kw of power (400ah @12vdc) on average. If I were in your shoes, I would first go on an energy diet and get my at-anchor below 200Ah/day if possible. Second, I would definitely look at repairing the existing NL 6kw Generator. Third, I would think long and hard about whether I need AC - if it's a gotta-have vs a wanna-have, then would definitely replace with a new NL if the old one is not repairable. Finally, I would install at least one big Balmar on one of the engines.

This is not a $35k problem. It may be over $10k, but not $35k.

Peter
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Old 14-09-2020, 13:38   #3
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

There is no practical way to generate enough energy from solar and wind to run your a/c at night out of the batteries - at least not with the available space you have on a Leopard 40.

Repairing your genset sounds like a more reasonable direction and as Peter commented here, it shouldn't cost more than $10K, but maybe you need to find a different genset service shop rather than the typical that always want to sell you a new one.
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Old 14-09-2020, 13:46   #4
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

We gave 2.2 kW (9 x 250w) of solar on a roof unaffected by sail shade.
Still need genset on days with little to no sun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cat-keys View Post
"
1. upgrade solar 5 x 200W monocrystaline + 1000w addl flexible solar $3000 and new controllers
2nd hand with 9.5 years left of a 10 year warranty 250watt Jinko panels cost me $80 each delivered to the boat.
Solar controller midnite classic 150 cost $800 delivered.
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Old 15-09-2020, 09:36   #5
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cat-keys View Post
Hello all,


we have a 2009 Leopard 40 owners version which has been upgraded with 5 x 125w solar and 2 x 100w ampaire wind generators 11 years ago. we have 3 x 210Ah Lifeline AGMs for house batteries 2.5 years old and new Xantrex 2000w inverter charger.



Offgrid and without genny, we generally run the AGM's down to about 60% overnight and then recharge to perhaps 90+% if the sun and wind cooperate. Using an electrical analysis of our fridges, lights etc we use about 285Ah per day on the hook and 325 underway with radar autopilot etc.



Last week we found out that the Northern Lights 6Kw M673L2 generator is shot - basically the windings seems to be shorted so would need an expensive rewinding job on a 3300 hour unit. cheaper to replace it with warranty



My wife and I were planning to cruise full time in 2021, but for now we use the cat each weekend and 3 weeks a year locally and in the Bahamas foir vacation. we have 2 x 16000 BTu cruise air ACs which we really only use 3 or 4 months a year and then only at night - but we would like to be able to use one unit when it gets hot using a soft start - other idea would be using a new 24v zero breeze 2300BTU rechargeable unit in our master berth only - but we have no experience with that new technology so dont really trust it.



So the question to the forum is what to do? replace the Genny with the same unit and 5 yr warranty or upgrade the solar/wind/battery and high amp alternators like what I saw from Nigel Calder with Integral to avoid the cloud covered no wind day killing the batteries?


I did some quick math and over 5 years both options when taking diesel use and maintenance costs into consideration came out to about $35k. I would love to go green and get rid of that noisy genny - also was told that the unit likely failed because its in the moist forward lazerette and we have nowhere eklse to put it = same problem again in 5 years.



here are the comps:
replace Genny - "drill baby drill" @ avg marina diesel $4/gal US & $5/gal offshore

replacement $19,100 estimated cost (incl misc parts & labor)
fuel & maintenance $15,600 5 years (1 yr local Miami weekend @ 20 weeks x 2 nights x 10hrs per day + 4 years offshore 7 nights per week 2 hours per day to recharge battery bank)
new AGMs in 2 years @$2300



vs the "green new deal"


1. upgrade solar 5 x 200W monocrystaline + 1000w addl flexible solar $3000 and new controllers

2. replace 80Amp alternators with Integral system mounted on 2 x yanmar 3ym30s with current 2300 hours $20,215 (without batteries) from their website estimate (seems high) - does anyone have real life experience to share?

3. replace 2 x 100w ampaire with 2 x 140w rutland wind turbines $2500
4. $2700 replace lifeline AGM total 630 Ah 4DA @ max 50% DOD 315 Ah to firefly carbon foam 4V 450Ah x 3 = 80% dod 1080 max (I believe overall cost of firefly incl cycle life to be better that LiFPO - my opinion only - (any opinions on carbon foam vs lithium)

5. soft start for AC units (2 x 16000Btu cruiseaire) would only run 1 at a time and only if unbarebly hot) $500

6. diesel to run yanmars for 1 hour per day avgh exclusive to recharge $7400 over 5 years incl routine engine maintenance 50% proportion vs underway usage



Also we would likely sell the boat at the end of this 5 year plan, perhaps in Panama, so would be interested in difference in resale value.


that's a lot = but because the 2 estimates come out to about the same, I am just wondering if maybe I am miscalculating some hidden cost on the "green new deal" which would be preferable to us if we truly want to live on the hook mostly.


Thanks in advance for your feedback - its my first post so I hope its not too long "winded"


Cat-Keys
If you have not already checkout Integrel's "Integrel Lite" solution that includes some lithium batteries to go on just one engine. If the gen set can be repaired that sounds like the best solution. Even if the gen set has to be rebuilt that will probably cost the least of the options.
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Old 15-09-2020, 10:16   #6
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

You can easily go fully Solar / wind, until you add in Airconditioning, thats the straw that breaks the Camels back. Pole actually AC is a big power user.
Rechargeable anything is power wasted, you have to recharge it, and recharging is inefficient.
Not popular for many, but if only for nights and a couple of months a year, investigate a Honda. $1,000 gets you 1600W continuous, and will easily run a 16k BTU AC with a soft start, my 2000 will, so I feel sure a 2200 will also.
My Honda has 1000 hours on it, and is no where near worn out, but even if it only lasts 2000 hours, thats only .50c an hour. $20K for 3000 hours, is $7 an hour or 14 times as much, roughly.
Or if a Honda is distasteful, for non continuous use, look into a Nexgen, much less money and less weight too, and should easily last much longer than 3300 hours.
Based on 3300 hours over ten years, that’s of course only 330 hours a year, do you really need a heavy, expensive continuous duty generator for 300 hours a year?

According to Yanmar, the Integral is a serious engine overload, you decide if Yanmar knows what they are talking about or not. I believe them, they designed it, they should know what they designed.

Fuel cost is insignificant, in 10 years based on a half gallon an hour you have burnt 160 gls, and I think your fuel burn is much less than .5 GPH.
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Old 15-09-2020, 10:33   #7
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
You can easily go fully Solar / wind, until you add in Airconditioning, thats the straw that breaks the Camels back. Pole actually AC is a big power user.
Rechargeable anything is power wasted, you have to recharge it, and recharging is inefficient.
Not popular for many, but if only for nights and a couple of months a year, investigate a Honda. $1,000 gets you 1600W continuous, and will easily run a 16k BTU AC with a soft start, my 2000 will, so I feel sure a 2200 will also.
My Honda has 1000 hours on it, and is no where near worn out, but even if it only lasts 2000 hours, thats only .50c an hour. $20K for 3000 hours, is $7 an hour or 14 times as much, roughly.
Or if a Honda is distasteful, for non continuous use, look into a Nexgen, much less money and less weight too, and should easily last much longer than 3300 hours.
Based on 3300 hours over ten years, thatís of course only 330 hours a year, do you really need a heavy, expensive continuous duty generator for 300 hours a year?

According to Yanmar, the Integral is a serious engine overload, you decide if Yanmar knows what they are talking about or not. I believe them, they designed it, they should know what they designed.

Fuel cost is insignificant, in 10 years based on a half gallon an hour you have burnt 160 gls, and I think your fuel burn is much less than .5 GPH.
Also checkout the Phasor smallest 2 cylinder gen set if you plan to replace your existing NL gen set. No first hand experience but smallest Phasor 2 cylinder runs at lower RPM similar to NL. But sounds like repairing the existing genset or going with honda portable or similar is the way to go for least expense. If you want to run air conditioning all night on demand in silence, every night it gets expensive because that means a good size bank of lithium batteries and enhanced energy sources to be able to charge the lithium batteries quickly.
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Old 15-09-2020, 10:51   #8
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

Replace the genset. Get the amt of solar and/or wind that makes sense in your area.


b.
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Old 15-09-2020, 10:58   #9
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cat-keys View Post
Hello all,


we have a 2009 Leopard 40 owners version which has been upgraded with 5 x 125w solar and 2 x 100w ampaire wind generators 11 years ago. we have 3 x 210Ah Lifeline AGMs for house batteries 2.5 years old and new Xantrex 2000w inverter charger.



Offgrid and without genny, we generally run the AGM's down to about 60% overnight and then recharge to perhaps 90+% if the sun and wind cooperate. Using an electrical analysis of our fridges, lights etc we use about 285Ah per day on the hook and 325 underway with radar autopilot etc.



Last week we found out that the Northern Lights 6Kw M673L2 generator is shot - basically the windings seems to be shorted so would need an expensive rewinding job on a 3300 hour unit. cheaper to replace it with warranty



My wife and I were planning to cruise full time in 2021, but for now we use the cat each weekend and 3 weeks a year locally and in the Bahamas foir vacation. we have 2 x 16000 BTu cruise air ACs which we really only use 3 or 4 months a year and then only at night - but we would like to be able to use one unit when it gets hot using a soft start - other idea would be using a new 24v zero breeze 2300BTU rechargeable unit in our master berth only - but we have no experience with that new technology so dont really trust it.



So the question to the forum is what to do? replace the Genny with the same unit and 5 yr warranty or upgrade the solar/wind/battery and high amp alternators like what I saw from Nigel Calder with Integral to avoid the cloud covered no wind day killing the batteries?


I did some quick math and over 5 years both options when taking diesel use and maintenance costs into consideration came out to about $35k. I would love to go green and get rid of that noisy genny - also was told that the unit likely failed because its in the moist forward lazerette and we have nowhere eklse to put it = same problem again in 5 years.



here are the comps:
replace Genny - "drill baby drill" @ avg marina diesel $4/gal US & $5/gal offshore

replacement $19,100 estimated cost (incl misc parts & labor)
fuel & maintenance $15,600 5 years (1 yr local Miami weekend @ 20 weeks x 2 nights x 10hrs per day + 4 years offshore 7 nights per week 2 hours per day to recharge battery bank)
new AGMs in 2 years @$2300



vs the "green new deal"


1. upgrade solar 5 x 200W monocrystaline + 1000w addl flexible solar $3000 and new controllers

2. replace 80Amp alternators with Integral system mounted on 2 x yanmar 3ym30s with current 2300 hours $20,215 (without batteries) from their website estimate (seems high) - does anyone have real life experience to share?

3. replace 2 x 100w ampaire with 2 x 140w rutland wind turbines $2500
4. $2700 replace lifeline AGM total 630 Ah 4DA @ max 50% DOD 315 Ah to firefly carbon foam 4V 450Ah x 3 = 80% dod 1080 max (I believe overall cost of firefly incl cycle life to be better that LiFPO - my opinion only - (any opinions on carbon foam vs lithium)

5. soft start for AC units (2 x 16000Btu cruiseaire) would only run 1 at a time and only if unbarebly hot) $500

6. diesel to run yanmars for 1 hour per day avgh exclusive to recharge $7400 over 5 years incl routine engine maintenance 50% proportion vs underway usage



Also we would likely sell the boat at the end of this 5 year plan, perhaps in Panama, so would be interested in difference in resale value.


that's a lot = but because the 2 estimates come out to about the same, I am just wondering if maybe I am miscalculating some hidden cost on the "green new deal" which would be preferable to us if we truly want to live on the hook mostly.


Thanks in advance for your feedback - its my first post so I hope its not too long "winded"


Cat-Keys
Given that your only genny location will cause in the same problems with a new genny. I'd start by upgrading your solar - you only have so much real estate and you could do much better than 225 watt panels up there. Next I'd upgrade the battery bank to Lithium ( I see that you think Fireflys are better - but most of us don't believe that) At that point I'd see how much you really need that genny and perhaps go with a Honda 2000 if you still come up short. I'm aware that the Honda runs on petrol but you carry that anyway for the dinghy. Obviously your hurdle is running the A/C occasionally as it seems you already generate enough power for your other daily needs.
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Old 15-09-2020, 11:06   #10
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

Those NL generators routinely go 10k hours when maintained. Early death is usually engine, related to exhaust elbow. If it was the power-head that crapped-out, I'd take the used NL with 3000 hrs and a replacement power-head over a brand new NextGen, Phasor, or other lightweight generators.

There must be a reason the NL died. There are voltage regulators and alternator assemblies - this may not be a massively expensive repair.

Peter
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Old 15-09-2020, 12:53   #11
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

I tend to be anti-generator, but I'm really opposed to the maintenance requirements and fuel consumption.

Our 9kw generator failed and rather than replace it, I added a battery. We were barely using it at that point.

We have 4x300Ah Relion batteries. That provides over 1000Ah of usable 12v power, at up to 400A.

We have 2100W of solar potential.

We have a 2800W inverter.

Our air conditioners have soft starts on them. We run at most 1 at a time (though I've tested running 2 and it can, I'm just concerned about long term excessive load on the inverter).

After a year and a half of this my conclusion is, I need a little bit more battery, and a lot more solar to run the aircon "freely". Right now we use it for a few hours to cool down and dehumidify the master cabin at bed time.

Otherwise, we're fine to run the washing machine, water heater, all the kitchen appliances, boat equipment, entertainment electronics, and office gear that we need, while living and working full time on the boat.

I've compensated for excessive daily usage and cloudy days less than a handful of times this year by running an engine for a few hours. I'd like to put a much larger alternator on one or both main engines to make the run time much shorter. But we try to take the opportunity to reposition the boat during those times anyway, so it's not much of an issue.

I would avoid adding wind turbines (we actually removed ours) because they are costly, intrusive, and don't provide much real usable power, since you're hoping to anchor in calm areas anyway.

Max out your solar potential first. Spend remaining money on batteries and inverters. Avoid diesel generators.
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Old 15-09-2020, 15:00   #12
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

I would agree with @loudmusic and @joelhemington above.

If you can use just a single air cond AND just use it to take down the humidity (in other words, you can live with the temp setting at 74 rather than 68) this dramatically reduces the duty cycle for it I think you could get by on 800-1k Ah. I know the new seawinds and others are putting 800Ah of Li with inverters on that run air.

A 5k BTU AC draws about 4amps (at 120V) so say 40A @ 12V. You would use 400Ah for the evening (I don't know what that is for the ambient vs inside is). If you used 400Ah, you would need to replace 400 early on if you need to use the batteries for autopilot/refrig etc.

800W of solar on a sunny day would do this. If you had dual high output regulated alts, you could prob put in about 100A from each in the 1st hour of running, so that would be another 200A. I found in coastal cruising if you were going harbor to harbor each day you would use the engines to get in and out so you could get those 200Ah in the morning. If you are sitting on a hook, you would have to run them in neutral. In that case, maybe it is better to have a portable gas generator.

I don't know if you could run the AC every night all night with just 800Ah and solar, but you can get close if you use it judicously. However, if you want to run multiple ACs at whatever temp, then you need a real generator.
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Old 15-09-2020, 18:11   #13
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

ASk your wife if she wants air conditioning. That will give you your answer. Find a used genset with good windings and replace yours.
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Old 15-09-2020, 18:44   #14
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LoudMusic View Post
I tend to be anti-generator, but I'm really opposed to the maintenance requirements and fuel consumption.
Ok

Quote:
I've compensated for excessive daily usage and cloudy days less than a handful of times this year by running an engine for a few hours. I'd like to put a much larger alternator on one or both main engines to make the run time much shorter. But we try to take the opportunity to reposition the boat during those times anyway, so it's not much of an issue.
Except you are now using 2 engines vs 1 genset
Twice the maintenance and using double the fuel



Quote:
Max out your solar potential first. Spend remaining money on batteries and inverters. Avoid diesel generators.
He already has one onboard
Just needs the end replaced or repaired.

It seems they can be purchased relatively cheaply
https://www.alibaba.com/countrysearc...lternator.html
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Old 15-09-2020, 19:49   #15
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Re: Replace Generator or switch to 100% solar/wind?

A lot going in here. In no particular order.

1. Resale value is hard to determine. Some people like solar and green energy, others not so much. In Panama, where you intend to sell your boat, everyone wants air conditioning, and not only at a marina. Thus a generator seems important. I believe buyers like to see equipment on boats maintained, not removed when non-operational. If you take out the generator, it will be obvious. If you leave it in, you have to point out that you decided not to fix it. The buyer will wonder what else hasn't been fixed or removed because it wasn't working.

2. The changes you describe to move to away from a generator are substantial. There are many systems involved, and they need to be installed, and then integrated into a funtioning energy system. This can be more involved and time consuming than it might seem. It will not be plug and play. Stuff won't work, you will have to figure ou why. You will get there eventually, but do you want to cruise or troubleshoot your science experiment. Further, there is no practical solar system capable of running AC, so you will have to explain to a potential buyer why AC in the hook isn't important in Panama.

3. A NL generator is a very good piece of equipment. Replacing the generator head is not that big a deal. You might look into a factory refurbished unit. I have a Westerbeke 15kw that blew it diodes. A factory refurbished unit, with a factory warranty was $2,700, compared to $8,000 for a new head. Add installation, for an installed cost of about $7,000. My generator was very hard to access. A well cared for NL should get to 10,000 hrs or more. Putting a refurbished generator head in is the least costly, and preserves resale value.
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