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Discussion Starter #1
One of my ongoing projects is getting a handle on our battery bank's abilities and pondering future upgrades to our charging systems. Currently we only have alternator charging using the stock Yanmar 80a alternator, and the Cristec charger while on shore power. I believe our daily energy demands are fairly modest as we only have 1 refrigerator, a Webasto diesel heater, and of course instruments, char plotter etc while sailing. I have just installed a Victron BMV712 battery monitor so we should start getting a better idea of our true power consumption in the coming months.

We are contemplating solar, however I am skeptical that solar panels are going to be sufficient particularly in the shoulder season. We don't particularly want to turn our boat into a solar farm!

Another option we are considering is an Efoy fuel cell. I know they are expensive, and have a relatively low output, but when you consider that output can be 24hrs/day regardless of the weather, it may very well be enough to take care of a lot of our power needs. Our boat neighbor has one on his 40ft powerboat and he swears by it.

I am curious how many sailnetters out there have one and can give me some feedback on their reliability and effectiveness as a charging source.



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Sourcing fuel is a big problem in most of the world.

Even if you only stay local, get a good handle on your Ah per day, convert to monthly cost, conservative rounding up.
 

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Without question, they are at their best in high latitudes.

I researched this at one point, and concern was drop in efficiency vs. time. With heavy usage, this could be 10-20% per year with a useful life of 3-5 years. And that is if you only use their ultra-pure fuel.

I can see it for a racer in cold waters, but that's about it.
 

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I'm in the same locale. We put a midsize Efoy (140 Ah/day I believe) on our previous boat (Dufour in the Cooper charter fleet). We did that because we used the boat in the off season and solar was not going to help much. We loved it and used surprisingly little fuel despite the boat being chartered, maybe averaging 1.5 jugs per year (of the 10 litre jugs). The great thing is that it just looks after itself, turns on/off as needed, and you don't even know it is operating. Fuel accessibility is a non-issue if you are staying coastal. We sold that boat in favour of a larger heavier offshore boat as we are heading to Mexico and beyond and we left the Efoy on the Dufour. Our thinking was that fuel would be an issue once away from urban North America but solar would not. Currently loading solar on our offshore boat. I can't comment on a performance change over time, we only had it a few years.
 

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No personal experience, but Patrick Laine talks about one for a couple minutes in his episode 14 video on YouTube.

Major points:
1. He had the 140 and it cost 3500€.
2. He uses it rather than wind or solar.
3. Goes through a 5 liter bottle of methanol in 10 days at sea.
4. He strongly recommends the next size up efoy.

https://youtu.be/N7VYsXuvWXs
 

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It's pretty cool technology. However, aren't methanol vapors flammable? It would seem fairly dangerous to have this fuel storage and generator down in the bilges.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
It's pretty cool technology. However, aren't methanol vapors flammable? It would seem fairly dangerous to have this fuel storage and generator down in the bilges.
No worse than having an Origo stove and the fuel for it. All fuel needs to be handled carefully on a boat.

The byproducts of the process are water vapor, and a small amount of heat and co2.



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No worse than having an Origo stove and the fuel for it. All fuel needs to be handled carefully on a boat.
You wouldn’t ever catch me with an alcohol stove, ever again, so I’m not sure that analogy helps. Would you store the alcohol in the bilge? I’m thinking a cruiser would bring gallons of methanol along on an extended cruise. I bet my gen locker would have room for their largest device and ample spare fuel, but what if it leaked.

Diesel is popular on boats, because it’s so forgiving. You could throw a match in it and it wouldn’t ignite. It’s certainly not foolproof, however.
 

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If you cant do enough solar and dont have onboard generator, maybe think along the lines of honda 2000 powering your 120v charger.
Youd want batteries that would take all you could give them in short time
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I certainly would not store alcohol in the bilge, nor would I put an expensive fuel cell there! (My bilge is not that deep anyway) for my purposes I can't see needing to carry any more than a single jug of fuel at a time, and it would be strapped down on the shelf next to the unit. If I did carry an extra jug I would store it in the same place as I store my outboard gas, in an exterior locker.

I would never consider installing a generator, and certainly not a portable one! Portable generators are dirty, noisy, and irritating to everyone around you. Firing one of those things up in a quiet anchorage is probably one of the most obnoxious things a boater can do...right up there with pumping their head!

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I defy you to hear our generator, which lives in an insulated locker, below the waterline, from the next boat in the anchorage. You can be standing on it, in the salon, and not raise your voice to speak to someone across the boat. In the most silent surroundings, you might hear the water splash from the exhaust. We can't hear it running, from our own cockpit.

Anyway, what shelf will the fuel cell be strapped to? Are you saying the unit live out in the open somewhere?
 

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I certainly would not store alcohol in the bilge, nor would I put an expensive fuel cell there! (My bilge is not that deep anyway) for my purposes I can't see needing to carry any more than a single jug of fuel at a time, and it would be strapped down on the shelf next to the unit. If I did carry an extra jug I would store it in the same place as I store my outboard gas, in an exterior locker.

I would never consider installing a generator, and certainly not a portable one! Portable generators are dirty, noisy, and irritating to everyone around you. Firing one of those things up in a quiet anchorage is probably one of the most obnoxious things a boater can do...right up there with pumping their head!

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There’s two reasons you’d never consider a generator I think:

1- you live in an area you really don’t need one. If you were in an area which limited your sailing due to heat maybe you wouldn’t be so hard and fast with this statement

2- there are many boats equipped with generators you really don’t hear them at all. Even those using the quiet Honda’s external ones , the don’t irritate anyone, they are not dirty and you can smell them. Most you don’t even know they are using them

3 - if you are that sensitive just anchor upwind
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I defy you to hear our generator, which lives in an insulated locker, below the waterline, from the next boat in the anchorage. You can be standing on it, in the salon, and not raise your voice to speak to someone across the boat. In the most silent surroundings, you might hear the water splash from the exhaust. We can't hear it running, from our own cockpit.



Anyway, what shelf will the fuel cell be strapped to? Are you saying the unit live out in the open somewhere?
I have the 2 cabin "owners model" which has a large "garage" instead of a 3rd cabin. There is a set of parts and tools drawers, with a shelf above them that looks to be the perfect size. It also happens to be right next to my house bank. There is even a opening window to provide ventilation to the space.

Generators are a pet peeve of mine because I have had a lot of unpleasant experiences with them in the past. While yours may be quiet, many are not, and many boat owners, (mostly powerboaters to be fair,) are less than considerate about when, where and how long they run them.

Saying "if you don't like it, anchor upwind" is exactly the type of response I would expect from those same inconsiderate boaters.

Anyway, I get that some boats have so many electrical loads that they are dependent on gensets. Perhaps because they are just large boats, perhaps just because they can't live without their air conditioning and microwave ovens.

But I'm not that guy. I have a sailboat because I like the idea of having a minimal environmental footprint. A diesel generator just doesn't fit with that philosophy. Perhaps I would feel different if I was crossing oceans or cruising in the tropics, but I'm not.

I understand Parks Canada is starting to institute generator bans in some marine parks. One more reason not to be dependent on dirty power.



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Discussion Starter #16
Sounds like youre going to go that route

Keep us apprised as you use it
I don't know if I will yet. It is very expensive, and I think it would be wise to gather data on my power consumption needs first. I might start with a solar panel on the Dodger since that would be much cheaper.

I was just hoping to get feedback from people who actually have one, but so far it seems not many people do.

I was quite surprised that my neighbor has one on his 40ft powerboat because many powerboats that size run 110v fridges and stoves, and can't function without either generator or shore power for any length of time. He claims that his allows him to stay on the hook living off his battery bank for several days longer than he could otherwise. I am looking forward to getting a closer look at his setup.

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....Saying "if you don't like it, anchor upwind" is exactly the type of response I would expect from those same inconsiderate boaters.
I never said that.

However, things like wind generators make noticeably more noise than generators. Often, the howling wind is the loudest and most distracting noise in the anchorage and I often use it as an ideal time to run the generator and charge batteries or do laundry or make hot water, etc. As I said, unless it's dead calm, you'd never even hear our exhaust splash.

I do get the point. Despite how quiet ours is, I'm typically first aboard our boat to awake and make the coffee. I never want to listen to the generator myself, until further into morning hours. That first pot of coffee is always made with the inverter.

.....I have a sailboat because I like the idea of having a minimal environmental footprint. A diesel generator just doesn't fit with that philosophy.....
I doubt anyone will argue with your motivation. The only question is whether you can replicate the power generation at the level you require. As I see it, even with a diesel main, generator and gasoline dinghy engine, the time we spend living aboard our boat is a far lower fuel consumption profile than what it takes to create energy for our home (the electricity is still heavily created by burning carbon) and the fuel in our cars. I realized that we burn 4x the gas in our cars that I burn on a cruise, in the same time period, to both move with the main and make power with the gen. Unfortunately, with all the petroleum by-products and the footprint of production, our modern sailboats might be much lower than living ashore, but I doubt are all that low an impact. I just bought new sails last year. They're made from petroleum.
 

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Actually, fuel alcohol is the safest fuel you can carry aboard other than wood or charcoal. I say that based on actually having had an alcohol fueled boat fire caused by my fiancé at the time trying to light the Princess without knowing how. She did a lot of camping and used a white-gas stove all the time and lit it in the same manner. She pumped it up, turned on the burner and when she heard the hiss, lit the burner. All the while, raw fuel was spilling out of the preheat bowl and onto the counter and floor. The fire quickly jumped off the burner and onto the counter and down to the floor. When she started yelling "FIRE", I took the bottle of water I was drinking and poured it over the stove. The water followed the alcohol, diluting it to a non-combustible cocktail and the fire was out in seconds. I needed to replace the Formica counter because of scorch marks but other than that, no problem.

We were out sailing 1/2 hour later.

Gasoline and diesel cannot be put out with water. Gasoline and propane explodes.
 

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......The water followed the alcohol, diluting it to a non-combustible cocktail and the fire was out in seconds.......
Glad to hear all ended well. I'm sure you either overwhelmed it with water or smothered the oxygen supply, because both methanol and ethanol can be mixed with multiple parts water to alcohol and still be ignited. Witness a flambe in cooking. Brandy, etc, are not pure ethanol. I think methanol will ignite at 4 or 5 parts water to methanol.

I think these fuel cells are pretty cool. My concern is the risk of a fuel leak. Methanol vapor is heavier than air, so will collect in the bilge and be a potential hazard, unless it's locker is ported overboard, like propane.

Tough to ignite diesel in the first place, even if it's leaking into the bilge, which is it's safety advantage. It certainly has many other downsides.
 

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I have the 2 cabin "owners model" which has a large "garage" instead of a 3rd cabin. There is a set of parts and tools drawers, with a shelf above them that looks to be the perfect size. It also happens to be right next to my house bank. There is even a opening window to provide ventilation to the space.

Generators are a pet peeve of mine because I have had a lot of unpleasant experiences with them in the past. While yours may be quiet, many are not, and many boat owners, (mostly powerboaters to be fair,) are less than considerate about when, where and how long they run them.

Saying "if you don't like it, anchor upwind" is exactly the type of response I would expect from those same inconsiderate boaters.

Anyway, I get that some boats have so many electrical loads that they are dependent on gensets. Perhaps because they are just large boats, perhaps just because they can't live without their air conditioning and microwave ovens.

But I'm not that guy. I have a sailboat because I like the idea of having a minimal environmental footprint. A diesel generator just doesn't fit with that philosophy. Perhaps I would feel different if I was crossing oceans or cruising in the tropics, but I'm not.

I understand Parks Canada is starting to institute generator bans in some marine parks. One more reason not to be dependent on dirty power.



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I don’t think a plastic sailboat which has limited life expectancy with miles of wiring, plastic hoses, synthetic sails, toxic bottom paint and chemicals for cleaning is an environmentally positive impact. The plant the boat is made in impacts the environment. The materials mined for the batteries are a finite resource and getting them out of the ground does not strike me as environmentally friendly. The bottom paint plant certainly doesn’t use environmentally chemicals and acids in creating the solvents.

Having a wooden or aluminum boat would be much more environmentally friendly and green footprint.

Just because it’s a sailboat doesn’t mean it’s environmentally friendly or makes you more “green”

My comment about moving if someone with a generator anchors to close or upwind of me is because I don’t feel I have the need to legislate or ban their usage and have others forced to follow my idea of environmentalism. I find it rude when other boats are inconsiderate with their generators. However ban them....no I don’t think that a good solution . That why I said just move or don’t anchor next to them, vs banning them. Maybe the reason the PB doing that more with generators is because their boats aren’t designed with the open ports and ventilation most sailboats have and that’s how they achieve it.

The same reasoning could be applied to Tenting , campers and RV and with both groups trying to enjoy the outdoors. Just because someone wants to use a quiet generator respectfully doesn’t ruin it enough for me to have them banned.

I try and be as “green” as possible. I however drive a car to work vs bike/ mass transit. I don’t have solar panels on my house but have instead it heated / air conditioned by fossil fuels. I still eat meat and fish , but try and eat ones not impacting the environment.

I cant even come close to being perfect with this, but I try not to force my ides of perfection on others . But that’s just me. It’s to hard to sit in that glass house.
 
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