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  #21  
Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

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Originally Posted by FarCry View Post
I have a 135 watt Kyocera panel, a well insulated fridge that makes ice cubes and keeps them frozen and beer at 34 degrees, 2 T105 batteries and a Victron BMV 601 to monitor things.
You my friend, have it figured out.

Thanks for the input.
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  #22  
Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

I have two 65w panels and a 210amp battery bank and never have to run my engine to charge unless it has been a week of rain. Rather than look for more amps of power I just reduced my consumption. My boat is 100% LED (the warm yellow kind) and I leave tons of lights on in the evening. My fridge runs on propane and I have modern low-power consumption electronics aboard. We use the laptop for movies and listen to music on the stereo quite a bit. My panels keep my batteries fully charged and I never see the voltage drop below 12.6v. I think that if I add a 12v fridge in a small, well-insulated box (drawing 30 to 40 amps a day) I could still get by using just solar, providing I upped my panels to 2 x 135w and added another 200amps to the battery bank.
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  #23  
Old 06-19-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

We go solar-only for days at a time. Fulltime liveaboards with lots of creature comforts. latitude 27-37 north. So I'm baffled by the replies on this thread that say you can't possibly. How do we make it work?

Efficient refrigeration: Frigoboat keel-cooler. Insulate the boxes, then insulate some more. We draw 25-30 amp-hour/day in 70 degree water, and that includes a shoebox-sized icebox.

All LED lighting.

Solid-state notebook instead of large laptop.

Small handheld GPS chartplotter instead of big screen.

No radar.

2 65-watt solar panels.

When it doesn't work: Autumn to winter, when there just aren't enough hours of daylight, especially when the water is still warm so the fridge has to work hard.

When we're running the autopilot (big power pig)

When I want to spend hours and hours and hours on the computer.

We still need to run the engine for hot water, or use a sunshower.
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  #24  
Old 06-19-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidB.UK View Post
I know there are lots of threads on solar power but some are quite old and of all of the threads I have read I am still yet to find an answer to the following question...

Has anybody (full-time) liveaboard managed to use solar power for ALL of their live-aboard power needs.

Computer+lighting+ refrigeration+Nav lights+water pumps+radio+etc

Basically, can it be done?
Has it been done?
How was it achieved?
Sure it can be done. Lots of cruisers are energy self sufficient, it is no big secret.

I have 400 watts of tiltable solar and 675 amp/hrs bat cap. [ 6 x 6v Golf carts. The Adler Barbour Super cold machine makes ice every day. The anchor light is on at night. I am a nethead so somedays the lappie runs for hours. If the sunshines I am fully charged by early afternoon and could easily run the Spectra watermaker which I rarely do as it costs more in Filters than to buy water.

I am on the hook about 355 days a year and run the engine JUST for battery charging about twice a year usually after 3+ cloudy days.

The guys who rely on wind generators usually have two and need to run their engines more often.

As for the guys who have a weedy wind generator that cast shadows on their flexible solar panels welllllll they burn lots of diesel.
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Old 06-19-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

Refrigeration is not a NEED. Computers vary widely in the power they NEED. And computers themselves are often not a NEED.

Bottom line is not whether you can survive on solar, but whether you can afford to buy enough panels to feed the lifestyle you WANT. Odds are that you can't, or that if you can, you'll find a genset and fuel to be much less expensive.
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  #26  
Old 06-20-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
you'll find a genset and fuel to be much less expensive.
Hmmm not sure about that. My 400 watts of solar would cost under a thousand dollars US. Running costs are zero.

A Yanmar generator costs $8000 and diesel is $5 a gallon out here.

Also you have to factor in the noise and pollution plus you will become a social outcast exiled to the far cliffs.
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Old 06-20-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

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Originally Posted by TQA View Post
Hmmm not sure about that. My 400 watts of solar would cost under a thousand dollars US. Running costs are zero.

A Yanmar generator costs $8000 and diesel is $5 a gallon out here.

Also you have to factor in the noise and pollution plus you will become a social outcast exiled to the far cliffs.
The bigger issue for me, is that you have to be there to turn the generator on and off every day. I like being able to get away from the boat for a day or two in order to go exploring.
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Old 06-20-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

ROFL. Comapring a 400 watt solar panel, which might put out 20-30,000 wat-hours per day, to a 5? 10? kw diesel genset that can put out the same power in just two hours instead of 24?

Yes, the fuel costs money. But you're cleverly ignoring the question of how much power is needed in one day, and whether your 400W solar panel could even make a DENT in that "requirement" including a fridge, computer, and other devices. And of course, since you can't have sun all the time, you'll also have to upsize your battery banks to make sure you can carry through 2-3 sunless days, when the genset wouldn't need that.

Not that solar can't be the answer--if you properly phrase the question. In the past 3 years the prices for solar panels have plummeted but again, depending on what someone's energy budget is, sometimes you simply can't fit enough of them onto a boat. In secure locations, unshaded.
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  #29  
Old 06-20-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
ROFL. Comapring a 400 watt solar panel, which might put out 20-30,000 wat-hours per day, to a 5? 10? kw diesel genset that can put out the same power in just two hours instead of 24?

Yes, the fuel costs money. But you're cleverly ignoring the question of how much power is needed in one day, and whether your 400W solar panel could even make a DENT in that "requirement" including a fridge, computer, and other devices. And of course, since you can't have sun all the time, you'll also have to upsize your battery banks to make sure you can carry through 2-3 sunless days, when the genset wouldn't need that.

Not that solar can't be the answer--if you properly phrase the question. In the past 3 years the prices for solar panels have plummeted but again, depending on what someone's energy budget is, sometimes you simply can't fit enough of them onto a boat. In secure locations, unshaded.
This is what I've figured thru previous posts, from a weekender's standpoint, that doesn't even have a boat yet .

The price of fuel compared to the the energy created to provide luxuries on the water is minimal.

The initial cost for solar, while not incredibly expensive, coupled with the living adjustments to maintain battery power, seems like a greater loss in living comfort, when, primarly relying on a solar system for power regeneration.

I think it would be beneficial to combine the two, but then again, is it really necessary to have 2 systems? It seems for a weekender, no. But a cruiser, definitely.
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  #30  
Old 06-20-2012
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Re: Solar power ~ no more running the engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
ROFL. Comapring a 400 watt solar panel, which might put out 20-30,000 wat-hours per day, to a 5? 10? kw diesel genset that can put out the same power in just two hours instead of 24?

Yes, the fuel costs money. But you're cleverly ignoring the question of how much power is needed in one day, and whether your 400W solar panel could even make a DENT in that "requirement" including a fridge, computer, and other devices. And of course, since you can't have sun all the time, you'll also have to upsize your battery banks to make sure you can carry through 2-3 sunless days, when the genset wouldn't need that.

Not that solar can't be the answer--if you properly phrase the question. In the past 3 years the prices for solar panels have plummeted but again, depending on what someone's energy budget is, sometimes you simply can't fit enough of them onto a boat. In secure locations, unshaded.
Can't follow your math in the first sentence. A kilowatt hour (kWh) is equal to 1000 watts per hour. I think you meant 2-3 kWh per day for the solar output, but maybe not. Or we can make it really simple, 400 watts worth of solar is possibly actually getting 400 watts of power into the battery bank every hour for a few hours each day, in a perfect world.

If we can agree on math and terminology then what I think what you are trying to say is that a 5kw generator can put out "roughly" double the power of the 400 watts worth of solar panels in one hour of run time. And then what? Would you suggest having a massive battery bank to store the excess power? Would you suggest running the genset 24/7 with a minimal battery bank? If not, how long are you suggesting it should be run in a 24 hour period? What was the initial purchase price of the genset? What is the expected life of the unit? What does it cost to run per hour when considering all costs over it's expected life span? Do you have some advanced system logic that automatically turns it on and off when the batteries need charging if the boat is not occupied? Are you running it while heeled over during long crossings? How big is the boat you are basing you assertions on and what exactly is it's electrical budget for an average 24hr period? What latitude is this boat?

Until you decide to provide more information to back up your comments, disagreeing with what I have seen on my boat over the past couple of years and TQA has clearly stated has me wondering what you are basing your claims on. Maybe you are running A/C 24/7....
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