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Old 02-15-2006
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Michiel is on a distinguished road
Solar/Wind Power

I'm possibly interested in purchasing a wind generator or solar panels (or both) for a 6 month cruise on the west coast of Mexico. I am trying to find out which is more economical- solar, wind or my engine. I would like to know if you have a solar panel or wind generator, how many amp-hours a day can you typically expect? What are the ratings for your instruments (the maximum output for solar panels, or how many amps per knots of wind?) Does a wind generator trickle-charge in light winds (5-10 knots)? How about prices? What about all the hidden costs (mounts, regulators, back-up parts)? I've done some calculatoins based on some estimates i came up with- expecting 48 amphours a day for a wind gen., 15 amphours for a solar panel (the higher end ones). My results told me a solar panel would economical if you used it for more than 45 days, and a wind generator after 300 days. Any expierences with these would be much appreciated!
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Old 02-17-2006
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Neither solar or wind power is better or more efficient than the other. They are both different and actually work well together. Wind power will make more power on a windy day than solor but solar makes more power in the sun light on a windless day. The wind turbine works at night. The solar panel makes no noise with no moving parts. Your engine will make more power than either but it has to be running to do it and it consumes fuel and makes nosie.

Solar panels take up space you may not have.

Search the sailnet archives and you can find a lot about working the numbers vs the costs. It is hard to generalize as your habits and mine are not going to be the same.

On my own 33 ft sailboat I find if the wind is blowing 20 knots I can run all my gear for an unlimited amount of time under normal operation. It makes more than I need. I find if I pull into a boat slip with a 25% down battery bank it gets almost topped off in several sunny days with my 75 watt pannel alone. I don't like to anchor where the wind blows 20 knots however. I like to stay in a calm breeze that really won't make much wind power but can make solar power. If under sail I can make some of both.

Yes, you need regualtion just as you need a properly designed charging system form you engine or shore power line too. You genrally make the best by not consuming electricity more than required. High efficientcy refrigeration is the key as the fridge is where most of the power goes. Spend the money on the better fridge first.The power you don't need to use is the chepaest solution.

It's not totally possible to be self suficient on our boat but with the wind and the solar it reduces the need to run the engine. That is what I think it really comes down to.

I also like having a battery monitor that can display the current ah load and the projected time left and the ah's consumed. Once you start to measure what you use you can figure out how ytou can save power. You really need the mindset that you don't ever have enough.

Hidden costs don't exist. You pay them all eventually.
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