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Old 08-22-2016, 11:24 PM   #1
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Solar vs Wind

I wanted to start a discussion on solar panels versus wind generators. I am considering a setup for next year's cruise. I see mostly solar on power boats and wind on sail boats. Both have advantages and disadvantage.

I saw this wind generator (D400) and was very impressed. It was very quiet.

The D400 micro wind turbine
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Old 08-22-2016, 11:31 PM   #2
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Well that subject sort of fell by the wayside Tom, maybe the difference is you need a sail with the wind unit? Just seemed to mell together by terminology. Just saying


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Old 08-22-2016, 11:52 PM   #3
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It really depends on 2 things.
1. Where you are and how much sun and wind you get.
2. What real estate you have for mounting panels or wind generators.

We usually get plenty of sun and wind, but I prefer solar. The sun comes up every day and solar panels will always generate some power even on cloudy/rainy days. Windless day produce zero power.
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Old 08-23-2016, 12:05 AM   #4
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Why not both?

Modest solar setup for those long sunny days of summer with sporadic afternoon winds and a wind generator for those short winter days/long nights where the wind and rain can last for weeks.
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Old 08-23-2016, 12:41 AM   #5
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I agree that wind generators are almost invariably on sail boats, with solar being on both sail and power boats. Seems to me the main reason is that sailboats typically have a lot less electrical systems on board and daily Ah demand. Refrigeration and freezer demand is usually the biggie, and sail boats will typically have far better insulated units than power boats, reducing daily Ah demand significantly.

Wind generators such as the one in post #1 just don't give enough output to be worthwhile on a power boat where I am. Its not even close, they are an order of magnitude too small. Now if you have low sun angle, short days, cloudy/windy weather then you just might get enough out of one over a 24 hour period to justify the outlay. So location is an important consideration. Still, if you have a generator you are going to be running it regularly and the wind genny will not reduce your main generator hours by much at all.

I have 6 x 345W solar panels. Although its winter I'm getting peak performance of up to 138A (at 12V) and 1880W from them. But more typically the atmosphere has particulates/moisture in it and even on bluebird days peak is often "just" 100A +/-10A. But daily Ah from these panels is over 500Ah when not on shore power or cruising and getting alternator charge as well.
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Old 08-23-2016, 01:19 AM   #6
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Alaskan Sea-Duction said...
I wanted to start a discussion on solar panels versus wind generators. I am considering a setup for next year's cruise. I see mostly solar on power boats and wind on sail boats. Both have advantages and disadvantage.

I saw this wind generator (D400) and was very impressed. It was very quiet.

The D400 micro wind turbine

Quote:
Originally Posted by MurrayM View Post
Why not both?

Modest solar setup for those long sunny days of summer with sporadic afternoon winds and a wind generator for those short winter days/long nights where the wind and rain can last for weeks.
That is the best compromise if one is wanting to avoid running a generator - usually why folk want to have solar or wind generation in the first place. And that, of course, comes back to how much power demand your boat needs, as Brian says. If you run Ac 120v or 240v stuff, then a good generator is still the best, but if like me, I have no AC on the anchor - only for batt charging & quick initial water heat at the berth, then using all 12v stuff, and converting as many lights to LED as possible makes good sense.

I have solar panels up on the aft part of the flybridge deck, where no-one needs to walk, and the Airbreeze wind Gen. It suffices for what we draw, but more panels would be needed if we ran more electrics.

That unit in your link Alaskan Sea-duction is a good unit. Better than what I have I think. And it is amazing just how good and quiet they can be in winds that are not all that strong. Certainly plenty of summer nights will also see charging happening, as well as during the day.

Just important to preferably have a decent MPPT typer controller, preferably designed to control both solar and wind gen. together, or otherwise they tend to get into fights, with one tending to shut the other down. Usually the solar panels win.
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Old 08-23-2016, 04:08 AM   #7
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Have two 140 watt (12v) solar panels and one small Airbreeze wind generator on Bay Pelican. We are in the Eastern Caribbean where there is plenty of sun (12 hours only) and steady wind.

In normal situations the two systems seem to have an equal output over 24 hours.

In our location I would add more solar if I had the real estate for mounting. The solar panels are maintenance free and for all purposes don't exit. The wind generator is another mechanical electrical machine that requires maintenance from time to time.

As far as sailboats with wind and power boats with solar, in our location most of the sailboats have both. The cats with their large fixed biminis usually have multiple units. The monohulls generally have solar panels hanging off the rails or on top of their dinghy davits. The trawlers typically start with solar. A couple have added wind. A friend with a Nordhavn 46 put six solar panels on his pilot house roof and for the most part stopped using his diesel generator.

On Bay Pelican both systems have paid for themselves in reduced diesel generator run time, as well as providing options if the generator fails. In this calculation I am including the ongoing maintenance items for the diesel generator, such as oil and filters as well as the diesel. Run time has been cut by an hour a day.
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Old 08-23-2016, 05:55 AM   #8
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Power boats frequently have noisemakers , as well as no power problems while powering underway.

The sailors use the wind machines underway .

Small solar will top off a batt bank, usually all a sail has room for.

With most any refrigeration at about 100AH of 12V it takes a big solar field to do refrigeration.
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Old 08-23-2016, 05:59 AM   #9
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Wind is good if you routinely anchor in wide open spaces, is steady for days and most of the time 15 knots or greater.

My study of where I boat....

I try to avoid anchoring in windy places
Wind rarely stays steady for days
Steady winds are rarely 15 knots or greater.

But if your boating area has those 3 things, then wind becomes more viable.

If you are sure about your wind speeds, please refer to the wind forecast thread where everyone seems to complain about wind speed forecasts....
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Old 08-23-2016, 09:45 AM   #10
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Don't know alot about them but the wind gen in the marina are loud don't know it I would want to hear that all the time
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Old 08-23-2016, 09:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
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Don't know alot about them but the wind gen in the marina are loud don't know it I would want to hear that all the time
We will with almost every boat in the anchorage having a wind generator. Noise level varies by brand and model. Also by the mounting. The new "blue" blades are much quieter.

We selected our unit based on sound, not output. We are very happy with the sound level.
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Old 08-23-2016, 10:23 AM   #12
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How quiet is quiet? That's the issue I have with wind generators. I find them supremely annoying when they are other people's boats, let alone mine.
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Old 08-23-2016, 10:25 AM   #13
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We have discussed this a few times here before. My takeaway has always been that as powerboaters, neither is really the best option for most. I understand why sailboats need it. They spend (or have the potential to spend) many days, or even weeks, underway without the engine running. Energy regeneration during these times is critical to them. Us? As powerboats? We can't do much of anything without firing up the engine(S). Even if you were planning on a few days at anchor, wouldn't an hour or two with the engine and/or the generator running be way more efficient of a charging method than either solar or wind running all day? Certainly more reliable should it be a calm or cloudy day.

Just food for thought. To me, it also seems like another full system to keep up with.
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Old 08-23-2016, 10:50 AM   #14
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wouldn't an hour or two with the engine and/or the generator running be way more efficient of a charging method than either solar or wind running all day? ......

Just food for thought. To me, it also seems like another full system to keep up with.
Our two solar panels (140 watts each) generate between 8 and 14 amps per hour from 9 am until 4 pm.

Our small wind generator generates 6 amps per hour 24 hours a day. When the wind howls it generates as much as 15 amps per hour.

Fully agree they are additional systems to maintain. But then I wish I had two small diesel generators so that if/when one goes down the other keeps me going.

In past years I had to pull into a marina when the diesel generator wasn't working. Not bad if you are in the US, Canada or Australia where you can get something fixed in a day or two, but for us it may be weeks to get the part.
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:31 PM   #15
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I have 4 each 140-150 (depending on which brochure I read) watt panels. When the batteries (4 each 225 amp golfcarts) see the morning light, those panels also see the light. They will charge just shy of 25 amperes for most of the day.

We are power pigs when on anchor and enjoy TV, lights and a 8.3 cu ft fridge with self defrost.

I am waiting for Atlantic Towers to find someone to haul my latest hardtop from NJ to MA along with doing the installation. When the installation is complete, heck I might add some more panels although what I now enjoy keeps my batteries completely charged.
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:59 PM   #16
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ASD, I'm sure you've already thought about this... One of the first things I'd consider doing prior to installing solar panels and or a wind turbine (Small Wind Turbines | Silentwind - Wind Generators) would be to figure out how to reduce my energy needs. For example, one of the easiest is to replace any antiquated lighting with LED. You might also consider, if you haven't already done so, is replacing your high energy consuming refrigerator with something more efficient like one or two of the Waeco CR140's. If you have a water maker, which typically consume large amounts of juice, or if you are considering installing one, I'd consider the 24v Spectra Catalina 300. It only draws 7.5 amps which is one of the lowest for the amount of water it produces.

Having both solar and wind power along with some retrofitting and, of course, a large house bank of batteries you could easily be on the hook for several days without having to run a generator.
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Old 08-23-2016, 09:59 PM   #17
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ASD, I'm sure you've already thought about this... One of the first things I'd consider doing prior to installing solar panels and or a wind turbine (Small Wind Turbines | Silentwind - Wind Generators) would be to figure out how to reduce my energy needs. For example, one of the easiest is to replace any antiquated lighting with LED. You might also consider, if you haven't already done so, is replacing your high energy consuming refrigerator with something more efficient like one or two of the Waeco CR140's. If you have a water maker, which typically consume large amounts of juice, or if you are considering installing one, I'd consider the 24v Spectra Catalina 300. It only draws 7.5 amps which is one of the lowest for the amount of water it produces.

Having both solar and wind power along with some retrofitting and, of course, a large house bank of batteries you could easily be on the hook for several days without having to run a generator.

Good general advise but not for all. If ASD has space for panels, he would be wise to consider them and of course your conservation suggestions.

I already admitted to being a power pig so the last thing I want to do is conserve. My solar is so effective I need only run my genny to make coffee in the morning, power the hot water heater and recharge a 24vdc bank. That bank provides a power for a couple of LeD lights. Its primary use is for my windlass.
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