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Old 05-29-2012
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creature comforts on a small boat

i want to have a small frige/freezer plus also use a couple 12 volt fans on my 26ft paceship!the rest of my electrical useage will be from my engine battery banks.i've been experimenting with installing a solar system,i already have a couple of el-cheapo panels[45 watts]a gpl-8d battery of doubtful condition and a new morning star pro-30 controler,i want to install enough battery storage and am thinking about replacing my bimini top with a frame to accommodate two kyocera 135 watt panels which will give me a total of about 300 watts,any comments/sugestions,can i accomlish this for around $1000?
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Last edited by sawingknots; 05-29-2012 at 07:22 AM. Reason: more
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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

Yep, that should do it. The wiring costs more than you would think, and that really drives up the price if you aren't careful, those heavy gauge cables are not cheap! and the connectors are expensive too.

I'm a big fan of solar. I have about 300 watts of panels and that works for me, but I would never try to run any kind of refrigerator off of it, maybe it could be done, I don't know, but not with the amount I use the banks for radios and such.

Here is some stuff you'll probably end up buying

Deep cycle batteries
Battery cables to hook them together
Big fuse to blow in case it all gets screwed up somewhere
Heavy fat cables for the solar panels to the charger
Charger (sounds like you already got this)
Heavy fat cables from the charger to the fuse/bank
I think most people fuse protect the panels
Some kind of disconnect switch to disconnect the panels
Bits of hardware, metal, or whatever to mount all of this stuff somewhere
Fuse block of some kind for your 12vdc stuff
Wiring and plugs and assorted hardware for wiring your toys up to the system
Copper for your grounds, etc ...
Etc, etc ...

The little stuff really adds up, believe me. When I went back and looked at it all the wiring for my system was a significant amount of the total cost. I used welding cable to get from the panels to the charger, you really have to go thick with this stuff.
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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

i agree about the little stuff adding up fast,thanks for your info
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Old 05-29-2012
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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

A friend of mine has a wind generator to run refrigeration. But even shopping bargin catalogs (Sportsman's Guide, etc.) $1000 may be a little short. I've used ice for decades and don't find it is a hassle. A properly packed and insulated built-in cooler on most boats that size will go 4-5 days between ice fill-ups.
Just my 2 cents.
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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

i'm currently doing the ice thing too,i have a ice chest inside a bigger one which is fine if you have a home marina and only go out for 1-4 days at a time but i like the idea of being a little more self sufficiant and drinking warm water or beer when the weather is around 100 degrees is not fun
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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by sawingknots View Post
i agree about the little stuff adding up fast,thanks for your info
Have you considered on of those 3 way fridges ie 120 vac,13vdc and propane?
I'm looking at putting 180 watt panel on my boat and thats just for lighting,radio,depth and a laptop navagation. I don't think an additional 120 watts would come anywhere new enough to handle a small fridge.

Another angle might be one of those small electric coolers that plug into a 12vdc power port ie cig lighter. I believe most will keep the temperature to 30 degree's cooler then ambient air temperature.

BTW all lighting on our boat is LED so very small load there.

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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

i tryed a coleman electric cooler once,it barely kept anything near what i would call cool and it would drain a good marine battery overnight,maybe it was a dud but a waste of money and time,i haven't done any math but it seems to me that 300 watts of solar and an ample array of batteries would power a small frige,the fans could even run off my engine/house batteries if necessary

Last edited by sawingknots; 05-29-2012 at 03:11 PM. Reason: more
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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

I actually figure that a 135 watt panel will power a small freezer/fridge.

I'd overdo the battery bank. If you start wih a battery of limited capacity, it will be using a huge percent of it's remaining capacity during the night and, therefore, go permanently dead really fast.

I've been thinking lately that you could add those blue ice packs to your freezer and have them freeze (super cold) during the day and thaw during the night, to help keep the battery drain to a minimum. I'm thinking about adding a second thermostat so I have a day (or dump load) thermostat and a night thermostat.

Regards,
Brad
(about to instal a 135 watt panel, just behind the backstays)
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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

Two 65-watt panels power our (good-sized) Frigoboat fridge AND all our everyday living, although I gather that's not the kind of installation you had in mind, I'm also guessing that the wattage you're describing could take care of you. The big battery bank is an excellent suggestion. Also, insulate the heck out of your fridge box, then insulate some more. That silver bubble wrap stuff from a hardware store (Reflectix) is good, and easy to work with. If you can live with just refrigeration without a freezer, your power needs will be less.
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Re: creature comforts on a small boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bene505 View Post
I've been thinking lately that you could add those blue ice packs to your freezer and have them freeze (super cold) during the day and thaw during the night, to help keep the battery drain to a minimum. I'm thinking about adding a second thermostat so I have a day (or dump load) thermostat and a night thermostat.
I would think that a variation on this theme would be to use a portable ice machine during any of the following circumstances - 1) as a divert load for your wind power generator so that it runs when you have "too much" power, 2) have it wired to an inverter so it only works when you have the engine on, 3) have it wired so that it only works when you have a generator running, and/or 4) have it wired so that it is a spill load on your solar charger that runs when the bank is full. Most of these little ice makers start making ice after about 10 minutes, how hard is it to transfer the ice over to a cooler to replace ice that has melted ? It is basically the same idea as using excess power from your wind generator to heat water with a coil so that you aren't wasting the power, except you're getting ice instead. The only question I would have about it is what happens when the power is "blinky", because it won't be even power, it'll be on/off on/off on/off as the wind blows, the sun shines, etc. Wiring to the alternator and/or a generator would be a sure thing I would think.

Edit - thinking more about this, if you used an ice maker as a spill or divert load for a solar or wind power generator, I think what you would need is to make some kind of a circuit that would turn on and stay on for at least one "cycle" of the ice machine, many of them seem to run in about a 7 to 15 minute cycle and then shut themselves off until the next cycle. What I imagine is your wind power generator hitting the set voltage on your bank then turning the circuit on, which would then start a cycle and would continue to run even when the wind stopped, running your bank down a little, but not that much, and then the wind generator would charge the bank back up when the wind started blowing until it hit the set point again and started the cycle all over again. Same for solar. That would even out the cycles and make sure you weren't just resetting the ice machine's control circuit over and over without getting any ice.

Edit #2 - or, of course, you could just turn the ice machine on when you know that the bank is full up and let it run until you stop it, and then put ice in your glass.
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Last edited by wind_magic; 05-29-2012 at 05:53 PM. Reason: Additional idea
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