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  #1  
Old 04-20-2012
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Wind & Solar

Hello,

I'm new here as a member but have been using the site as to educate myself on installation of Solar Panels and becoming self sufficient.

I predominantly sail around Vancouver Island & the Desolation Sound and want to be self sufficient but still have the essentials, freezer, radios, lights etc.

I am going to install two solar panels to meet my electrical needs but also operate on the "Belt and Braces" philosiphy and want to install a wind generator, I'm looking at the FORGEN brand as they apparently reduce the noise issue.

Electricity is a mystry to me, Ive been advised to think of water in wires but that doesnt help im afraid. Its just not logical...

My question is how/where do I connect the output from the wind generator, do I need a seperate control unit or can I piggy back it into the Solar controler.. if I have two controllers will that cause compatibility issues and finally is it recomended that I consider any other equipment

Thanks in advance

AM
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Old 04-23-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

I would also be happy to learn about this! While I don't yet have a boat, or even know how to sail, that is my ultimate goal, so I'm trying to learn as much as possible about self-sufficiency.
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Old 04-27-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

This is not a simple issue. Power from a solar voltaic panel or wind generator is normally used to keep the house battery (or batteries) charged. These batteries are normally deep cycle (like are used on golf carts) unless you have to start an engine with them in which case they are marine batteries.

Marine batteries are not designed for boat use; these are simply a compromise between automotive batteries and deep cycle batteries. In other words, marine batteries put out less cranking amps than an automotive battery but more than a deep cycle. And, they last longer than an automotive battery when fully discharged but not as long as a real deep cycle battery. Marine batteries are common on RV's because you can charge them off the tow vehicle's electrical system while driving. For the same reason, they are used when you have either inboard or large outboard engines that need to be started on a boat; you can then just charge them off the engine's alternator.

If the wind generator produces variable voltage then you would need a voltage regulator. You would also need a battery charger to avoid overcharging the batteries.

Most lights on and inside a boat are like the lights on and inside a car and will run off 12 volts. If you need to power something that uses 110 volts AC then you need an inverter.

Also, when you are docked with shore power (or if you use a generator) then you would want to charge your batteries from this source instead. This would usually require a switch to change over. Also, since most battery chargers wouldn't work with both 12 volts DC and 110 volts AC you would probably need two battery chargers as well. All this equipment together is about the size of a briefcase.

So, what is the condition of your little power station? To keep on top of things you would need battery level meters and at least some other indicator lights showing discharge or shore power (preferably in an easy to reach place inside the cabin). Also, if you do use shore power then it might need its own breaker panel (in addition to the inverter breaker panel) as well as its own switch. More sophisticated systems can switch over on their own when shore power is provided.

A simple version of this is a computer uninterruptable power supply or UPS. These plug into 110 volts AC but have a battery charger inside to charge the battery. If power is lost they have an inverter to produce 110 volts AC. Unfortunately these are not designed to have high capacity batteries and are not designed to be charged from low voltage DC such as a wind generator or solar panel would produce.

Last edited by brehm62; 04-27-2012 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 04-27-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

Does this still sound complicated?

Okay, first you need batteries. If you need to start an engine then you need marine batteries. These are very common; you can get them at Walmart and most auto-parts stores. Marine batteries have screws on top with wing-nuts to attach the wires. This particular battery is sealed to prevent spilling any acid (not a bad idea).


If you don't need to start an engine then you are better off with deep cycle batteries. These are not as easy to find. They are used in things like golf carts, electric scooters, and indoor fork lifts. These may not have wing-nut terminals. Again this particular model is sealed to prevent spilling.


Batteries designed for marine use like these: http://www.emarineinc.com/categories/Batteries/ are normally sealed while others might not be. This might be something to keep in mind.

So, how many do you need? Well, if you have to start an engine then it is often a good idea to have one starting battery and two house batteries. It makes it more complicated but you typically keep these on a separate circuit so that if you run down the house batteries you can still start the engine. Also, if you get a little fancier you can switch in the house batteries and still start the engine if the starting battery goes bad. If you don't need to start an engine then you might be able to get by with just one house battery. Many boats and RV's include just one but have room for two.

If you want to use regular 110 volt AC appliances you need a charger/inverter unit like this one:
Inverter Charger | Freedom HF Inverter/Charger | Xantrex



It can handle 20 amps which is enough for a small boat. It's like having one outlet. It will take care of charging the battery from shore power. You could also power it intermittently from a generator however you would probably need an adapter plug since a shore power plug is not like a regular outlet socket.

Let's suppose you wanted to use solar or wind power.


This diagram is not exactly right. The diagram makes it look like you only need a charge controller for solar but not wind. In reality you need a controller for either one. However, the controller and meter are often built into the same panel which is why they only show one panel for wind power.

For example, this 12 volt wind unit:
Air Breeze Marine 12V Wind Generator - eMarine Systems

includes the e10 panel:


This e10 panel is both the charge controller and monitoring panel in one unit.



As the above diagram shows you would hook the e10 panel to the battery. Since you would already have the charger/inverter you just hook both of them to the battery in parallel. In other words they hook to the same battery terminals. They will work together or separately to charge the battery.

You can use a solar panel like:
80 Watt/12 Volt SOLARLAND FOLDING SOLAR PANELS with Controller

This particular solar panel comes with a controller and monitoring panel but not all of them include this.

If it didn't come with one then you would need a controller like:
ProStar PS15 15A/12v Solar Controller - e Marine Systems


This unit is both charge controller and monitor. You hook it up in parallel with any other charger. If you had a charger/inverter, solar, and wind then you would have three chargers all hooked to the same batteries. Notice that there would still only be one inverter so even this arrangement wouldn't be too bad.

Now, this would get much more complicated if you tried to use one of their 24 or 48 volt wind turbine systems. This would require 2 or 4 batteries hooked up in series (rather than parallel) and then your charger/inverter would no longer work. As long as everything is 12 volts you can get a modern system put together without too much trouble.
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Last edited by brehm62; 04-27-2012 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 04-27-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

Harbour Freight has a sale on a kit for $149, solar panels
any thoughts?
-JD
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Old 04-28-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridajaxsailor View Post
Harbour Freight has a sale on a kit for $149, solar panels
any thoughts?
-JD
I don't know the specific one you are referring to. The units I've seen there are 45 watt units. They are not really durable and also may not stand up to a salt environment.

If you are trying to find a bargain you might try Amazon. However, you'll have to see if the units there can handle a boat environment. Another consideration besides durability is whether they have sharp edges or projecting screws that might catch or rip a sail. Also, many of the units there do not include the charger so that is extra.

The boat friendly units I've seen are pretty expensive, around $10 per watt. It depends on whether you use it while underway or only when you are docked or at anchor.

Last edited by brehm62; 04-28-2012 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 04-28-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by brehm62 View Post

The boat friendly units I've seen are pretty expensive, around $10 per watt.
$10.00 per watt holy cow!!!! Even some of the best solar panels out there in terms of marine reliability, with a proven track record, such as the Kyocera's, are running under $2.50 per watt for a premium "A" grade panel.

If you want premium flexible panels like the Solbiens then yes you may be up near $10.00 per watt but premium mono or poly panels are now in the $2.50 or less per watt range.

Pick your panel, pick a clean unshaded location pick your mounting system add your controller and wire it up. You can do a very nice system with marine warranty panels, in the 100W range these days, for under $450.00 with everything.... You can buy less expensive "A" grade panels than a Kyocera and get them for well under $2.00 per watt.

Solar has become very affordable in the last three years or so.. Our panel was $10.00 per watt back when we bought it but it is now about $2.40 per watt...

Feel free to read this:

Installing A Small Solar Panel
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 04-28-2012 at 12:39 AM.
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Old 04-28-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
$10.00 per watt holy cow!!!! Even some of the best solar panels out there in terms of marine reliability, with a proven track record, such as the Kyocera's, are running under $2.50 per watt for a premium "A" grade panel.
Let's see.
Kyocera 140 Watt Solar PV Panel
The product manual does not list any applications. In fact, there doesn't seem to be any product manual at Kyocera that suggests that these can be used for marine application. The Kyocera warranty specifically excludes salt damage.

If you look carefully you can find the discontinued products manuals. For example, the KC120-1:
http://www.kyocerasolar.com/assets/001/5180.pdf

This manual does indeed list Sailboat Charging Systems as well as Navigation buoys. In the Quality section it lists both water exposure and salt mist testing.

Any idea why Kyocera has changed its product information?

Stores like eMarine still tout Kyocera's marine application:
http://www.emarineinc.com/categories...cera-Solar-PV/

However, for installation they refer to the older KC manual even though the units now being manufactured are KD.

Last edited by brehm62; 04-28-2012 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 04-28-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

Hello,

Thank you everyone for taking the time to explain the subject, there are some quite comprehensive posts there with a huge amount of information. I thanks you for your patience.

I'll take a few days to go through it and see how well I understand what you've written but I'm sure there will be a few questions

Thanks again

Bill
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Old 04-30-2012
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Re: Wind & Solar

Yes thanks for all the info
The harbor freight unit is 40 watt
Your point, no pun intended, re: corners is quite sound
Big on safety
The issue of controllers is fascinating, off to do some in store research
Can most controllers work w the majority of panels?
Take care
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