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Old 01-30-2013
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Solar and Wind setups...?

Hello everybody,
I am currently planning, trying to calculate and figure out what works best electricity wise, so I was wondering what everybody has on their boats:

- What Pannels (how many Watts), Wind generator, etc?
- Charge Controller (one or two or more?)
- How big a battery bank?
- And what is running on it?

I am planning towards having chart plotter, fridge, lights, pumps, stereo, sometimes Laptop running on the system, maybe at some point an auto pilot too, but that's about it.
Where would you put the wattage there? And how big a battery?
And one more question:
I read that it is ok to put two charge controllers in parallel charging the same battery? Is that true? Read both opinions... so I'm not quite sure any more...
Thank you already for all your help!
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Old 01-30-2013
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RW Sailor View Post
Hello everybody,
I am currently planning, trying to calculate and figure out what works best electricity wise, so I was wondering what everybody has on their boats:

- What Pannels (how many Watts), Wind generator, etc?
- Charge Controller (one or two or more?)
- How big a battery bank?
- And what is running on it?

I am planning towards having chart plotter, fridge, lights, pumps, stereo, sometimes Laptop running on the system, maybe at some point an auto pilot too, but that's about it.
Where would you put the wattage there? And how big a battery?
And one more question:
I read that it is ok to put two charge controllers in parallel charging the same battery? Is that true? Read both opinions... so I'm not quite sure any more...
Thank you already for all your help!
I would suggest starting with an energy budget (less optimal as they are often very inaccurate) or installing a battery monitor (more optimal as they count Ah's from actual usage) FIRST.

Once you know actual daily Ah usage then you can proceed by figuring out the "systems".

I see far to many systems grossly over designed and grossly undersigned because actual usage was an unknown.

A properly installed, calibrated and used battery monitor will pay for itself and is free in the long run.....

Start there and we can help you better...
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

sweet, thank you for the advice, will do!
But I'm still curious about personal experiences from people. Just to get an idea about what is possible...
Thanks already!
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Old 01-30-2013
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

You need to sit down and write out an energy budget based on what YOU have and how YOU use it.
Every boat really is different, even if they are 1 hull number apart with the exact same options.
The truly best way to get a solid number on what your demand is is to install a battery monitor on your boat, then go out and use it in a typical day. That will tell you the draw on the batteries.

You can always sit down with pencil and paper and ESTIMATE what you use every day, but it will be an estimate, and will be off by a factor of your imagination and memory. For example the auto pilot. It draws between 1 and 5 amps. 1 is just being on, 5 is sloppy sail balance and lots of chop. How many minutes of each are you using it, and all the in betweens.
Same goes for the 'big' draw, the fridge, how many hours is it actually running (it's duty cycle). Some folks say 40%, some say 15%. both might be right.

Keep in mind that if your specific piece of gear's manufacturer says that your gizmo draws .5 amps they mean .5amps with a normal run of properly sized wire and solid connections. That's why paper and pencil estimates are just estimates.
In designing my 'systems' I did the paper and pencil deal, then added 40%, I'm still waiting on the actual use numbers (it's winter and a new to me boat).

As to parallel chargers, you'll have to explain that a bit better. In practice how would the one know what the other is doing?
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

As for the energy consumption I understand the point you're making, I realize that consumption can vary quite a bit and I will meassure for a while and later see how much it ends up being - once the boat is in the water.
For the Charge Controller connection:
I read in a different forum (can't recall right now) the person had a solar system installed with charge controller and panels and later added a whole new set (charger and panels) and connected it to the battery the same way as the other one, so basically they are in a parallel connection (the way I see and understand it) and therefore they wouldn't know what the other one is doing, they would only "see" what is happening to the battery, right?
Maybe I'm quite wrong here... but that's the way I understand it.
How would you add panels later otherwise? Just add them to the same charger? No space for redundancy?
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

I'd start with solar first and then go with wind generator if needed
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

Ah, real life experiences.
Okay.
On my Gemini 105MC - my previous boat up until this September.
We had a 20 amp Centaur 110v charger, seldom used.
80w Kyocera solar panel controlled by a C12 controller from Xantrex.
On average, here in the mid Chesapeake that generated 35 ah a day.
That fed 3 Optima AGM's, 210 ah as the house bank, and another Optima as the starter - run through a ACR and a 1/2/off switch to separate.
The engine alternator was a standard 55amp.

The fridge was a propane powered (Gemini is a catamaran so this works) model that only used 12v for the fan and solenoids.
Between chartplotters, instruments, autopilot, stereo, lights etc we used an average of 40 to 50 ah a day, easily maintaining the house bank at 80% or better by virtue of the motor going in and out of anchorages.

Underway, we drew more than sitting at anchor - the autopilot takes a chunk to run, the VHF on, the instruments are all drawing.
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

i have 200W of solar panels

20 amp charge controller

2 deep cycle batteries

Using my chart plotter, depth sounder, VHF, navigation lights and autopilot trough the night gets my bateries half empty. They are filled up again by noon. That is carribean sun though.

Alternatively, i am not sailing, thus not using any equipment and i can use my laptop pretty much continuously during the day.

To save energy i have
-No 12V-110V converter for laptop or charging other devices. It would be stupid to convert to 110 and then back to 12 imo so i use a universal charger that works on 12V, the mCube mini.
-All LED lights
-A small amplifier with aux input for music, has just enough power for the boat, no screens etc, only an aux input and a volume button. When im lazy and i know i am not using the power for anythign else anyway, i just connect my laptop to it and actually waste shitloads of energy, but if i want to be energy efficient, i can connect a portable MP3 player to it.

So its similar, but i dont have the fridge. Except when i really use the laptop all day, i use only like half the power that the panels produce, so maybe a fridge could be added if i wanted. Depends very much on the size and quality of insulation of course.

Last edited by Arjen; 01-30-2013 at 02:20 PM.
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RW Sailor View Post
As for the energy consumption I understand the point you're making, I realize that consumption can vary quite a bit and I will meassure for a while and later see how much it ends up being - once the boat is in the water.
For the Charge Controller connection:
I read in a different forum (can't recall right now) the person had a solar system installed with charge controller and panels and later added a whole new set (charger and panels) and connected it to the battery the same way as the other one, so basically they are in a parallel connection (the way I see and understand it) and therefore they wouldn't know what the other one is doing, they would only "see" what is happening to the battery, right?
Maybe I'm quite wrong here... but that's the way I understand it.
How would you add panels later otherwise? Just add them to the same charger? No space for redundancy?
You and I are probably in different leagues, but on my boat I have one charge controller for two 70W flexible panels and a ~60W wind turbine. All generation sources are tied straight to the 200Ah battery bank (with blocking diodes), and the controller reads the battery voltage. Once it hits the trip point, the controller turns on some halogens to bleed off the excess energy. The controller was $40 off ebay.

Now I guarantee that Maine Sail is shaking his head right now if he's reading this. My daddy always taught me that you get what you pay for, and someday these chickens may come home to roost, but I am a poor sailor and this setup got me out my door. Please keep the "I told you so's" gentle when I come on this forum someday to complain about my fried system.

As to consumption vs. generation, we've been going down the coast for 5 months, in Mexico for the last two. With our wattage, (140W max most days with flex panels, which are good for most of the day in low or indirect light, up to ~200W if the turbine is running too but that's rare) the math goes like this:

Fridge running day and night at anchor, LED lights, keeping iPhone and iPad charged = batteries read 12.1 - 12.3 in the morning (not having been at rest so probably better than they look on the monitor), hitting the mid 13's by late afternoon. The battery monitor will say 70-80%, but we don't believe its voodoo.

Fridge off at night with the same setup = 14.2v trip point by mid-afternoon, time to charge stuff!

Fridge + autopilot = trouble
Fridge day and night + watching two episodes on the laptop at night = trouble.
Fridge by day + laptop = equilibrium, best we can tell.
Wife and I playing too many card games on the iPad = trouble.
Cloudy days = paperback books and lanterns.

If you are smarter, wealthier, or more patient, I'm sure you could have an energy system that allows you to not babysit your energy system. If you're more like me, then it's still possible to be out for weeks or even months without shore power if you can become accomplished at reading the tea leaves in the battery monitor.
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Re: Solar and Wind setups...?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffBurright View Post
You and I are probably in different leagues, but on my boat I have one charge controller for two 70W flexible panels and a ~60W wind turbine. All generation sources are tied straight to the 200Ah battery bank (with blocking diodes), and the controller reads the battery voltage. Once it hits the trip point, the controller turns on some halogens to bleed off the excess energy. The controller was $40 off ebay.

Now I guarantee that Maine Sail is shaking his head right now if he's reading this. My daddy always taught me that you get what you pay for, and someday these chickens may come home to roost, but I am a poor sailor and this setup got me out my door. Please keep the "I told you so's" gentle when I come on this forum someday to complain about my fried system.

As to consumption vs. generation, we've been going down the coast for 5 months, in Mexico for the last two. With our wattage, (140W max most days with flex panels, which are good for most of the day in low or indirect light, up to ~200W if the turbine is running too but that's rare) the math goes like this:

Fridge running day and night at anchor, LED lights, keeping iPhone and iPad charged = batteries read 12.1 - 12.3 in the morning (not having been at rest so probably better than they look on the monitor), hitting the mid 13's by late afternoon. The battery monitor will say 70-80%, but we don't believe its voodoo.

Fridge off at night with the same setup = 14.2v trip point by mid-afternoon, time to charge stuff!

Fridge + autopilot = trouble
Fridge day and night + watching two episodes on the laptop at night = trouble.
Fridge by day + laptop = equilibrium, best we can tell.
Wife and I playing too many card games on the iPad = trouble.
Cloudy days = paperback books and lanterns.

If you are smarter, wealthier, or more patient, I'm sure you could have an energy system that allows you to not babysit your energy system. If you're more like me, then it's still possible to be out for weeks or even months without shore power if you can become accomplished at reading the tea leaves in the battery monitor.
Well, we are not so different leagues at all, but after safing up for a nice little sailboat a lifetime I want to keep it nice and proper (not saying your way is not proper!)
And right now I have to go back to the ship for three months anyways to earn some money that I can spend on my boat afterwards... so I'm trying to get the right ideas before I make further plans and investments...
Thanks a lot for the input though, it's good to know that it could work that easy!
And yes - I could deal without computer for a good while, but other things I desperately need (VHF etc...)
Thanks for the reply!
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