Stay clear of the CCC (cheapo chinese crap) gensets.* I tried to talk myself into buying one for the bus but fortunately didn't succomb to the lure of the low price.* Last week we had an extension cord strung across the float to a fellow cruiser who bought a CCC set less than a year ago.* He said it made about 6 hours.* That pretty well matches what I learned when I was considering one of them.* Most telling for me was the retail places I found that used to sell the units but no longer carry them.* If you watch there's old Onans out there but you have to move quick because they don't stay on the market long.* I ended up finding a 6.5 Onan J series for the bus.* I also briefly considered the quiet Hondas but by the time you pay the price for one of them or better yet one of the Yamahas you might as well buy a real used diesel.
"The bitter taste of low quality lingers long after the sweetness of a low price has faded."
First up, panels extend battery life by keeping them well charged, saving you money longterm. When you walk onto the boat your batteries should be always full. Charged batteries seem to accept charge more easily.These advantages alone makes them worthwhile.
Rebel`s experience of panel output is what you`d aim for. You should at least be able to run a refrigerator off the panels. Friends with about 300watts of optimally located panels on a 32ft yacht can run 2 Danfoss powered reefers 24/7; so successful are their panels it took them a long time to realise the alternator on the auxiliary engine had failed.
You won`t run an espresso machine or vacuum cleaner but you can do a lot with panels,and you can add more as you need them.
Be sure to use good multi-stage regulators, and install inline fuses just before the battery connections.*
Avoid the cheap Chinese generators. Not reliable and the decibel output can be grossly understated.
-- Edited by BruceK on Tuesday 14th of February 2012 06:14:00 PM
I guess what I am seeing in replies, is that we are now talking lifestyle as much as whether we have a genset of some description or SP or a combination. We have a 30lt tank which we have for hot water and while it is not scolding hot by the 2nd day it is more than adeqate for our needs. We also dont stand under the shower and let the water run constantly but rather wet down, switch off, soap up and rinse off. For us this is as much about conserving our water resource that has to be ferried to the boat in the dingy as anything. Again in our neck of the woods marinas are scarce and expensive.
Peter your idea of wind generation is one I have been watching for a while and I believe there are some new carbon fibre blades that cut down the noise. I guess they are no noisier than some gensets I have heard running all night to keep air conditioning and other electrics going and certainly no noisier than a Honda 2000eu on a boat close to us on our mooring that runs almost constantly.
Rebel, mine has the new (hence black) carbon fibre blades, and when putting out ~ 10 amps is say 10 kn of wind, the swishing sound it makes is about the same as say one of those electric weed-eaters - here in Aus they call them whipper-snippers - ie basically an electric edge trimmer for lawns, with a nylon line as a blade. About as loud as that, with a very low level whine from the motor. We have had visitors sleep in the saloon, which is quite close to it as you can see, and on quite windy nights, no trouble at all.
I guess what I am seeing in replies, is that we are now talking lifestyle as much as whether we have a genset of some description or SP or a combination.
That's absolutely the message I was trying to convey.* You can choose to live a solar lifestyle but it is very difficult to choose to use solar power for your existing lifestyle.* And forget about wind.* Unless you're a lot different than us we choose our anchorages to avoid wind.
This brain storm has become very interesting. Not the same issue but within the same subject, I am a complete fan of the arrangement in the present pictures. This is made by one of the best professional boatbuilding companies in New Zealand, and it seems to be the perfect world.*The main*DC generator is connected to*the get-home engine. A second DC alternator, smaller, is*connected to the main engine...This is the way, I guess!
-- Edited by Portuguese on Wednesday 15th of February 2012 05:38:59 PM
A friend added three 135W solar panels atop his Bimini and they keep a , fridge, a small freezer and the other assorted DC loads going with full recharge by about 14:00 on a good sunny, summers day. His panels are wired in series for a 36V nominal system supply to the controller. His sytem wasn't cheap but he is happy and it works.
He uses an instant water heater, propane fired for the hot water for showers and sundry.
THis has been posted before although I can no longer find the specific thread, eyes glaze over.
With more room you could add more panels but of course you need the batteries to store the energy.
You need to really look at what you expect to run and for how long.
"Marine Air cond is about 15A of 120V , or 150A in 12V. A wind machine that size would be 30 ft in diameter. Although there are truck DC air cond that will cool a small cabin."
Certainly you can forget running aircon without significant charging ability, like a full on genset I would think. Air and solar generated power supplementing engine driven charging would not support aircon, other than a very tiny unit as FF says.* But many places don't require aircon, even tho it might be nice for some extreme weather conditions on occasion, and I'm including our area in Queensland in that, although we now have it in the home.
-- Edited by Peter B on Thursday 16th of February 2012 07:13:34 AM
For many folks a late PM ritual of buttoning up the boat and using a large deck wash to clean and COOL the deck will suffice for air cond , as the sun goes down and the insolation requirements decrease.
A large whole boat set of covers works even better , but are a pain in thunderstorm areas.
Dometic makes a 12 VDC, 3500 BTU Air Con unit.**They say it draws ~29 amps at 12 Volts and that's for the unit, blower and water pump.* Their recommendation is*AGM or gel cells only, no wet cells.* An interesting unit but I bet it's not cheap.
True, but that unit is designed to be run from shore power/charger, or when on the move, as you would need constant and quite high charge output to keep up with it - sort of like the one in your car, really. At anchor, it's use would need to be limited, as 29Amps is a fairly high drain. All the same, if I was to add air to our boat, as we are exclusively 12v, that's the way I would go, but even with the Airbreeze wind turbine charger, as the wind usually drops away at night, you would have to have extra batt capacity and just run it for a few hours to cool the sleeping cabin down.
Actually the Dometic , and their competition is sold mostly to OTR truckers that only wish to cool their sleeper cab , with out paying a gallon an hour to run the engine , or having to listen to a noisemaker.
Their operating for 10+ hours the next day is sufficient to bring the house batts back.
Underway all of these trucks use an engine driven air cond 10,000+ btu, similar to your car.
The heat load thru the windshield is far higher than in a well insulated sleeper.
Amen to the Honda 2000.* Coupled with a good battery charger, it will be your most economical power producer.* While at the Garrison Bight Mooring Field this winter, I ran the Honda 2-3 hours in the evening.* That topped my batteries, operated the TV, powered the hot water heater and a single burner on our electric range.* To keep the batteries up whenever we left the boat for a few days, I purchased an inexpensive little 85 watt solar panel from West Marine.* That provided ample power to offset bilge pump and anchor light draw.* Good luck!