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Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

We do it throughout the summer, living without shorepower. I suppose it boils down to your definition of "liveaboard".
We do not have refrigeration, air conditioning, hot water, television 20" monitors, etc, so we have no big constant loads. Our lighting is all LED, and largely AA battery powered. The only significant electrical loads are the stereo, autopilot and 1000 watt inverter, all of which are used sparingly. We have a single battery starter bank and a single battery house bank. We sail every day, so the incidental generation from the engine running an hour or so a day as we tool out and about and cruise around in addition to the passive generation from our solar panel keeps us topped up. Some may find our lifestyle too primitive, too damn close to camping.
We manage our electrical loads- for example, charge the netbook and the phone and the handheld vhf while motoring out, always make sure the panel follows the sun as much as possible, and if you don't need it turn it off. We have had a very sunny season so far, which is a BIG variable in the "how big a solar panel do I need" equation. In the UK you are going to get less generation from the same size panel than someone crusing in the caribbean for example.
The more luxury you have, the more energy you waste, the more wattage you need to generate, until, as someone pointed out, it becomes unsustainable.
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