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Old 01-28-2011, 01:15 PM   #1
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Battery Charging

I have been thinking about installing a wind generator or solar panel to keep my batteries topped off rather than relying on the generator while at anchor.

You see these on blowboats all the time but rarely on trawlers.

Anyone have any thoughts or experience on these?
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:01 PM   #2
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RE: Battery Charging

I've got an Aero4Gen. I'd highly recommend you go solar not wind, much more output.
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Old 01-28-2011, 03:17 PM   #3
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RE: Battery Charging

Quote:
marinetrader wrote:

I have been thinking about installing a wind generator or solar panel to keep my batteries topped off rather than relying on the generator while at anchor.

Anyone have any thoughts or experience on these?
There was a recent article about this in PassageMaker.* Over the past couple of years for WESTERLY, I set aside some space on the pilothouse top for a couple of panels,*left terminals/condiut access*available for wiring, and researched various panels and charging regulators.

The problem is that WESTERLY has a balanced system for the way the boat is used.* I get about 90 hours per year on the 5KW gen, and I estimate that this would be reduced to less then 45 hours with solar panels installed.* I don't think that this is sufficient to sustain the reliability of the gen, so have decided not to pursue solar panels at this time.

*
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Old 01-28-2011, 07:01 PM   #4
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RE: Battery Charging

I installed some panels on the roof of my pilothouse, +/- 10 amps @ 15 volts. I had the panels already so the big expense was already made. I built a rack for them and bought a good quality regulator for the install. Since they are mounted flat on the roof, I'm guessing I get maybe 50 to 60 amps gain during a clear summer day. Currently I'm looking for a good way to measure my gain just for curiousity sake. At this rate it saves about 1 hour of generator time/day while anchored, so worth it as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 01-28-2011, 08:57 PM   #5
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RE: Battery Charging

Quote:
DCBD wrote:

I installed some panels on the roof of my pilothouse, +/- 10 amps @ 15 volts. I had the panels already so the big expense was already made. I built a rack for them and bought a good quality regulator for the install. Since they are mounted flat on the roof, I'm guessing I get maybe 50 to 60 amps gain during a clear summer day. Currently I'm looking for a good way to measure my gain just for curiousity sake. At this rate it saves about 1 hour of generator time/day while anchored, so worth it as far as I'm concerned.
My figures also show saving 1 hour of gen time per day x 45 days.* If I didn't already have a generator, solar panels would probably have been installed some years ago.
Less than 4 hours/month on the gen set would probably require accelerated maintenance, and*some running*it just*for the purpose of running it.
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Old 01-29-2011, 02:42 AM   #6
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RE: Battery Charging

what specific solar panels would you suggest; brand, output etc?
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Old 01-29-2011, 06:21 AM   #7
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Battery Charging

Price is the key , and some "blems" are going for about a dollar a watt in Miami.

Good price !

The key is the voltage regulation system that charges the Batts.

We have used the Trace C 12 (12A) on both boat and motorcoach with great results and a single 75W panel.

The service is simply to hold the batts fully charged , sometimes for 6 months at a time.

For folks with huge areas to cover with panels , the trace folks offer a C 60 (60A) .

Topping off a batt is where solar really shines , tho if a half dozen panels are fitted and a GOOD (Not Household,,alt energy designed) fridge/freezer can be run.

This is expensive , even at a buck a watt , but does work.

-- Edited by FF on Saturday 29th of January 2011 07:23:07 AM
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Old 01-29-2011, 08:34 AM   #8
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Battery Charging

Quote:
FF wrote:

Price is the key , and some "blems" are going for about a dollar a watt in Miami.

Good price !

The key is the voltage regulation system that charges the Batts.

We have used the Trace C 12 (12A) on both boat and motorcoach with great results and a single 75W panel.

The service is simply to hold the batts fully charged , sometimes for 6 months at a time.

For folks with huge areas to cover with panels , the trace folks offer a C 60 (60A) .

Topping off a batt is where solar really shines , tho if a half dozen panels are fitted and a GOOD (Not Household,,alt energy designed) fridge/freezer can be run.

This is expensive , even at a buck a watt , but does work.

-- Edited by FF on Saturday 29th of January 2011 07:23:07 AM
As FF says, price is the key, but also how you use your boat should be considered. Our boat has a refrigerator that sucks 7 to 8 amps/hr. Its a good fridge, but not on a boat. It's a household fridge that works on 110 volt only. I considered changing it to something more economical but when I started estimating the work to replace it I got scared. The past owner told me he moved around a lot when away from the dock so the 135 amp alt with the Balmar smart regulator had no problems keeping the batteries charged up. So he rarely used the generator. We're the opposite, we rarely get more than 4 hours from our slip, when we drop the anchor we're likely to stay there for a week before we consider our next location. We also prefer off season cruising so in our climate a heater is required. Currently we have a Webasto 2010 which is a great heater, but also a large power consumer.
So since I already had the solar panels, it was a no brainer for me to hook them up. They aren't the best type of panels, but the price was right when I bought them. Using the same footprint I could have purchased panels that would have given me twice the amps at 5 times the cost, so I figured at least the power gain I do get offsets the cost and work of replacing the fridge. I have also ordered a Dickinson diesel heater which should be waiting for me when we return to our slip next week. Once that's installed it will further reduce our power consumption and I estimate we can boat any time of the year and run the generator 1 to 1.5 hours/day.


*


-- Edited by DCBD on Saturday 29th of January 2011 09:39:28 AM
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Old 01-29-2011, 08:43 AM   #9
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RE: Battery Charging

For the cloudy rainy PNW the best is a wind generator as in the summer the thermals come up most days and in the winter the wind is usually blowing. Solar panels are good in the warmer sunny climates.***During the winter many times we have to go several days/weeks with out power so we start up the gen set for 2 to 4 hours several times*per day to*keep the batteries up.* The best is to reduce the*total amps used which is what we have done.* In*temps below 30 degrees we draw 30 DC amps per hour as the Webasto diesel heater draw 15 amps and the*other stuff draws another*5 to 15.**During that*time we read, watch movies on the computer/Internet and conserve energy.**

I been thinking about*installing another small*1 or 2 cylinder gen set for when we are on the anchor and/or at night.* Seem to be a better bang for the buck the solar or wind.*We have a 5 KW cruise gen off the 671 and a 10K KW main gen which*has some hours on it, so adding anther smaller gen set,*3 KW,*seems to be the best and*might added a wind*gen later on
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Old 01-29-2011, 09:42 AM   #10
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RE: Battery Charging

There is no magic answer... but the biggest factor is your location... the PNW gets little sun and more wind, So Cal more sun less wind, The Caribbean lots of sun and wind.
Solar panels take up space, wind generators SUCK it live around and with ( I had one for 2.5 years while cruising and hated it EVERY day! ) ,but wind generators do keep other boats from anchoring near you soI guess if you like to anchor alone there is that benefit too!. Last summer on our cruise we ran the gen set 1 hr. in the morning and at night and kept the batteries topped with a 100a charger, combine that with engine running when not setting on the hook for days on end and it worked great.* By far the biggest typical loads we have are refer loads... getting that to the minimum is the key. That is where the typical sailboat, chest style refer is ideally suited.. but a p.i.t.a. to use. We had a propane refer ( yes that is a whole different argument ... but it worked for us on Volunteer) So that is why our gen times were low.. even with 2 teenagers and all their electronics running non stop
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Old 01-30-2011, 06:39 AM   #11
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RE: Battery Charging

I have a couple of Uni-Solar (flexible type) solar panels up on the back of the top deck out of the way, one 11watts for start batt, one 50 watts, for the house batts. That plus the engine running was all I needed until the eutectic refrig unit carked and was too old to resurrect. I then went Waeco 12volt frig conversion and this meant I needed more charge, as I am only 12 v, and do not want to run a genny, so I added an Airbreeze, wind genny and we are now self-sufficient on the hook again for long periods without running the engine. We do not run a TV yet however, but I think it would still cope. We normally, (as he looks at forecast warning of 2 cyclones about to hit the state), get plenty of wind and sun here. Lately too much of the former, and not enough of the latter.
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Old 01-31-2011, 08:49 AM   #12
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RE: Battery Charging

Well I completed an electrical worksheet and see that my total electrical use is about 40 amp/hrs per day. Further study indicates I'll need about a 170 watt/10 amp panel to supply my needs. That size panel will give me about 50 amp hrs a day assuming a 5-hour sunlight day here in Florida
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