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post #1 of Old 03-07-2003 Thread Starter
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Electrical Power Recharging Options for Extended Cruise

OK - I know this has been discussed in various places on these boards, but from the various separate discussion threads I really haven''t been able to draw a conclusion as to which option would be best for me.

I am generally a weekend cruiser. However, in April I plan to depart for an extended 6 to 9 month cruise of the Bahamas, East Coast, Maine, and Nova Scotia.

My electrical system consists of a house bank of 4-6 volt lead acid (golf cart) batteries and a separate dedicated 12v battery for starting. Capacity of the single house bank is 440 AH. I have an 3 step recharger and a high output alternator. I also have a Heart LINK 10 monitor attached to the system, so I am very well aware of my overall electrical usage and the draw of each electrical item in my boat.

When sailing on the weekends I don''t use refridgeration and my daily power usage is about 30 to 40 AH per day. The banks recharge completely during the weeks with a small solar pannel I have. However, if I use refrigeration (which I will want on the cruise), it adds an additional 50 AH per day.

I''ve seen a lot of comments about the efficiency of a high output alternatior for recharging batteries. I have not found that to be the case. If the batteries are 110 amps down and my alternator is rated at 55 AH, it will not take 2 hours to recharge - in fact it will take much much longer due to the three step regulator. So - I don''t view using the alternator as a real option.

Both solar pannels and wind generators are expensive - I figure it would run me about $1,200 for either one. After the cruise I will not really need either one - so I''m not anxious to add either to the boat.

That leaves the good old gas generator. Honda makes super silent 1000 watt and 2000 watt generators that sell for about $850. I figure I could run the generator twice a week while at anchor - plug it into my shore power outlet and charge through the 3 step AC charger on board. Also, since I don''t have an inverter, the generator gives me options to use my onboard AC or plug certain AC powered items directly into the generator. Obviously, I would need to carry gas for the generator - but I could do this with jerry jugs lashed to the deck. The additional advantage of the generator is that I could sell it on EBAY at the conclusion of my cruise and recoup most of the cost (vs the solar pannels or wind generator where that would be harder to do - in addition to the fact that these two options would leave "scars" as they would be permanently installed on the boat).

So - I''m thinking about going with the generator.

Does anyone have thoughts, comments, suggestions? Am I wrong in the way I''m looking at anything here?

Thoughts, comments, suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
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