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Join Date: Jul 2008
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Re: generator a good idea?
Outside of high latitude exploration, if you need a generator, it's because there's a flaw in your setup. It may be not enough generation, inadequate storage, bad monitoring, or bad efficiencies. Working with a generator and hauling/storing gas is not fun or desirable.
For us it's inadequate storage... We have 540 watts of solar but only a single 4D wet cell (200 amp hours). That's really not enough battery for a 50' boat with 6 people living on it. Sure enough, over the summer we had 3 overcast days in a row, so I borrowed a neighbor's Honda 2000 for a couple days. The only reason I needed the generator is because we ought to have 2 more 4Ds.
How did I let this happen? We have a mismatched system, but with a good battery monitor I kept a close eye on everything. And we charge the 3 iPads, 2 computers, etc. during the day. I also have my Advanced Fridge/Freezer Controller* that aggressiveley (but carefully) lowers the fridge and freezer temperatures during the day. With extra "pink" inslation inside, our fridge/freezer doesn't have to run at night! Between that and LED lighting, we get very little drain at night.
As an aside, I found that I could run my inverter to power the microwave off a single 4D batery when I turned the engine on. The alternators would actually take-up half of the 120 amp load, and a 4D can do 60 amps for the few minutes necessay. This last part is probably why I'll upgrade my battery bank next summer.
My advice? Put your money into LED lights, batteries and solar. Watch an iPad instead of a TV. Get AGM batteries that charge amazingly fast, for when you do motor.
Note: wind is useless unless you are in a windy anchorage. And the average daily wind speed data seems to be actually average daily peak wind speeds. They are nowhere near actual. The years I spent on wind were a noisy waste, when solar power could be easily had, and for less than $1 per watt.
For what it's worth, we have our panels resting right on the bimini and tied to the bimini support poles and to attachment points on the deck, to the dinghy davits, etc. I glued padding to the underside of the solar panels to prevent chafe. This setup significantly saved the cost of a special frame for the panels. Since we coastal cruise, this meets our needs in terms of storm survivability. You may need a more secure mounting depending on how you sail.
*Built the Advanced Fridge Controller myself out of low-draw digital voltage and temperature sensor(s). True there was a steep, expensive learning curve, with too many hours spent on it, and if I sold them there wouldn't be enough demand to make up for it. Next is 12v hot water heating with extra solar power. But may never get to that project.
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Average minds discuss events;
Small minds discuss people.
The best minds discuss sailing (and a little bit of politics). I don't know why. It's a mystery!
Last edited by Bene505; 09-17-2014 at 05:43 PM.