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Old 05-23-2010, 05:51 AM   #1
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Solar and Wind

How many have solar panels or wind generators?

What do you prefer?

How and where do you mount them and what size are they?

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Old 05-23-2010, 02:49 PM   #2
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re: Solar and Wind

We have 2 x 80W monocrystalline panels mounted flat on the pilothouse roof.

On a sunny day, here in Auckland NZ, they will run two 24V fridges and a 24V freezer and still top up the batteries. They seem to max out at around 4 amps (wired in series to give 24V). On a heavily overcast day they still produce an amp or so. A good regulator is essential, we use a Steca controller.

In Queensland, you will get even better performance. I have seen charter powercats there with 4 x 80W panels producing huge amounts of power (relatively).

Don't know much about wind generators except that they are noisy!

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Old 05-24-2010, 01:25 PM   #3
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re: Solar and Wind

Depending on what you want to do with it.
Solar is a dependable way to keep your batteries topped off, and in quantity can supply a lot of your daily needs, but needs a good controller, preferably a MPPT one. MPPT is a maximum power point tracking controller that looks at the incoming current and supplies the correct charge for you batteries. It can be more effective but also more expensive than a standard controller.
I have 2 100 watt panels on our boat, currently not hooked up as our controller died. I had planned on adding a additional 260 watts more. Solar is only effective for ~6 hours per day, less in the winter of course. It is quiet but takes up a lot of space and once installed will last for a long time. Costs are going down, but still to high imo.

Wind is a dilemma. It can be difficult to get a good output on a wind generator in most areas. You need a minimum of 10 knots of wind to get a output on them, although some will start at 7 knts. But to get a significant out put , you need over 15 knots of wind or more. So if you are going to depend on it at anchor lets say, you would need to anchor in windy places. Not the best place to anchor. It can also be noisy, and a hazard to your fingers, head and what ever else. In high wind conditions you much be able to shut it down or it can self destruct. Vibration can also be a issue.
The best wind generators are the four winds 2 and the KISS. They consistently have the best outputs at the lower wind speeds. Costs can be over 2K plus install.

On a sail boat, a combination on solar and wind is the best way IMO, but not sure about power. I suspect that a solar only would be best, if one had the space to install a few panels.
4 130 watt panels with a good MPPT controller should be able to supply 120 amphours/day.
But for a larger boat that has a genset... not sure if it would be a cost effective solution. Maybe I would put in one small panel to keep my start batteries happy.

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Old 05-24-2010, 02:54 PM   #4
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Solar or Wind

In our experience, solar panels give a useful output for 9 hours per day in summer and about 6 in winter, This is at Lat. 37 deg South. Queensland is a lot further north so I reckon you would be getting 11 hours in summer and 9 in winter.

Our biggest load is refrigeration, and although the output is less in winter, so is the load with lower ambient air temp.

Steca is a MPPT controller, adjustable for wet, gel and AGM cells. We have 800ah of gel cells.
Jeff b

-- Edited by Bendit on Monday 24th of May 2010 02:55:04 PM
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Old 05-25-2010, 04:39 AM   #5
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Solar or Wind

I use both.* As mentioned, here in Queensland we have an excess of sun, (which makes it obscene we are not further ahead than we are in the area of domestic solar power production.* Some European countries even shame us in that).* However out on the Bay, solar is good, and so is wind, as average daily winds out there are (seem to always be anyway), 15-20 knots, so the Airbreeze whiiishes away nicely most of the time.* Whereas once in an achorage I preferred not much wind, but got it anyway.....now I just smile, look at the ammeter, and say..."boy that was a 10 amp gust then....mmmmm, good, free power...blow your wee heart out baby".* Of course on the move there is the alternator too, so between the three, I remain 12 volt only, can run my frig and all, and the batts are always right up there, and we need no genny, or 'noisemaker' as FF likes to call them.* The 2 solar panels (30w) are up on the aft section of the flybridge, the turbine in such a place no-one can accidentally be 'clipped'.* Oh, and she can add a fair bit of wind as well, but don't tell her I said that, or I'm a deyad man.
PS Oh yeah, the day of the pic was one of the rare still days, looking at the prop......

-- Edited by Peter B on Tuesday 25th of May 2010 04:41:27 AM

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Old 01-14-2016, 09:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter B View Post
Of course on the move there is the alternator too, so between the three, I remain 12 volt only, can run my frig and all, and the batts are always right up there, and we need no genny, or 'noisemaker' as FF likes to call them.* The 2 solar panels (30w) are up on the aft section of the flybridge, the turbine in such a place no-one can accidentally be 'clipped'.*[/size]
Hello Peter. I too have solar panels and a wind generator. Plus an alternator and am moving up from a three battery house bank to five Group27's.
Plus a separate Start Battery, Group 29

[The battery switch is always set to All. One is Start, and Two is the House bank.]

My question is in your hot leads from solar and wind. What have you done?

On Seaweed, House bank battery #1 goes to the Perko Switch, #2 gets Solar in, and #3 battery receives power from the wind generator.

Ground is to the engine block via a honking big 00 cable. It's a mite excessive on size however the price was perfection. A friend was upgrading and the length was too short for his new set-up so I was blessed with the old one.

All cable runs are 18" or less (it's a small boat)
I will be buying more wire as I have increased the number of batteries. Advice on size would be appreciated. Currently everything is 4-gauge or bigger.

And yes, I'll pull out Calder's in a little while. Figured I'd get all my Wind and Solar wiring questions out of the way at once.

From another thread (I've learned advanced search)
Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceK View Post
Allan and Peter,
I used multistage regulators and an inline fuse in the + lead just before each battery.
I later installed a 25w panel via a simple regulator for the genset battery.
My lead acid (dinosaur) batteries love it. Boat lives on a swing mooring.
Panels put out immediately in sun. During install, or other work, put them to sleep by covering them.
Hope this is some help.
Hello Bruce. I have been reading and listening to an EE friend who says he has a fuse or circuit breaker for each of his batteries on the positive side. He has two batteries and two solar panels, two controllers (each separate from the other)

I don't have that setup.
I've got five solar panels feeding two shunts, then to the solar controller then to one of my house bank batteries. Would One fuse be sufficient and what type?

Five 12 volt batteries, 109 amp hours (Standard deep cycle marine Group 27's from Walmart)

and one Group29 Start battery

The alternator is small (I've got a bigger one but that's mission creep -- not to be discussed or dealt with until the basic system is satisfactory)

My Air-Breeze also puts power into a different battery in my House Bank. Does it need a fuse ? I know there's a breaker in the switch from the wind genny so believe I've got that "covered"
What say you?

What type of economical fuse would work for me and is one enough? Thanks.
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Old 01-14-2016, 09:54 PM   #7
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Hi Janice, I have two separate banks of 90w of panels. Each set serves an 8D battery via a regulator which has the "one way" diode.
From memory the idea of inserting a fuse just before the battery came from a Don Casey article I saw online. I used a marine version of a simple auto inline fuse holder with old fashioned glass fuse in the + line, sizing the fuse by the max theoretical amp output of the panels (watts divided by volts = amps), so 90 divided by 12 = 7.5 (I wish, in practice I never get that much).
If the the feed goes to one of 5 house batts connected in parallel, one fuse should be all you need, and all you can fit anyway.
As to the wind generator, the breaker may be enough but a fuse can`t hurt, and it protects the battery at the last opportunity. Peter B has an Air Breeze or similar, you could ask him or he may read this and respond.
Glad you have the wind and solar serving separate banks, I was afraid you`d ask about regulating the two connected to one bank. Peter might have the answer to that too. For my part I kept my set up as simple as I could.
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Old 01-14-2016, 10:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceK View Post
Glad you have the wind and solar serving separate banks, I was afraid you`d ask about regulating the two connected to one bank. Peter might have the answer to that too. For my part I kept my set up as simple as I could.
Thanks Bruce... however the wind goes into Battery #3 of the house bank and the solar currently goes into Battery #2 of the house bank.

I have five Group 27's (one bank) and one Group 29 for my Starting bank.

It's my understanding that the 29 cannot/should not/ be in the same bank with the 27s.
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Old 01-14-2016, 11:59 PM   #9
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You should have a start batt separate from the house bank, just as you have. (IG does not do that, but somehow it seems to work).
It would make sense to send the wind charger output to the house bank after it fills the start batt, shame to waste that free charge. Then you need auto switching, and better advice. I think Blue Seas make a device to do that, others will know what and how.
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Old 01-15-2016, 01:27 AM   #10
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Hi, Janice and Bruce. Actually, it is probably not necessary in the normal situation with reasonably regular running to put anything into the start batt other than when underway. The drain if used for just starting is fairly minimal as it is so brief, but I have a small 10w panel which does not need a controller just to trickle my start batt because we don't go out that often. The other large panel & wind genny are dedicated to the house bank, in my case just 2 x 100 AH AGMs in parallel, and like Bruce there is a blade type fuse in-line between the solar controller, which is just a simple PWM (pulse width modulation) type, and the batteries. The Airbreeze, in the marine set-up, actually has a 20Amp fusible link between the incoming positive feed and the battery anyway, (in line with disconnect switch, and ammeter, if fitted), so needs nothing else.

The only potential cause of a problem can be if there is a bit of a fight between the different sources of current, and that is best addressed by essentially doing what Janice has done, ie the connections are to different batts in the house bank, ie physically separated, although, if the batts are all in parallel, then they are also in parallel, and effectively topping up all the batts in the bank through the one they are connected to, unless each is kept separate and only connected by a selector switch when needed, which would be an unusual arrangement.

Over-regulation can also be managed by the voltage set point, so the Airbreeze is set usually at 14.1v, and likewise a similar figure for the solar regulator, so they will only stop charging if the voltage rises above that. Usually I find that the panels do most of the charging during the day, and the wind genny comes into real effect during the night.

In larger installations, where one has several large solar panels, then they do recommend using a multi-input MPPT (maximum power point tracking) type controller, and you can get those with a dedicated separate wind genny input connection as well.

Hope that helps add to the conversation. As a PS, I can now address a confession I made in my original post re us Queenslanders not taking up solar power generation as much as we should. That picture has changed dramatically since I put that up, and now one in 10 houses in Qld has solar, and we put up a 6kw array (that's 24 x 250w panels through a 5kw inverter) in April 2014, and the power savings are considerable. I love it..!
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Old 01-15-2016, 06:12 AM   #11
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I have my 2 current panels mounted on hinges so they hang vertical when not in use.

An added bonus is because they are adjustible, often one is very efficient, the other still more efficient when tilted past horizontal from sun up to sunset.
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Old 01-15-2016, 06:47 AM   #12
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Solar is quiet , and with a controller you can be gone for 6 months (we do)

Wind is noisy and a PIA to the entire anchorage.

Wind also needs to be secured in a high wind situation.

Wind can sometimes make lots of juice , but you (and the anchorage) pay a price.
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:31 AM   #13
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I appreciate the advice and will get this wired/tied down when the rain stops later this week.

I've already got the wiring diagram laid out and have to do a count and see how many more short cable lengths I'll need. I will have someone else crimp on the ends and add the heat shrink, probably at an auto parts store. I'm buying my own wire probably from Marine Wiring, Boat Cable and Electrical Genuinedealz.com as recommended here. I had a good experience with them in the two previous orders, specifically good prices and shipped quickly.

P.S. - Did wonder if someone on the Site Team could change the title to Solar AND wind versus the "or" as is present. It might help someone down the waterway a bit. I'm not sure what site preference is so will leave that to the folks who are in the know.

In either event, thank you. I love that there's a place where I can get advice from folks who actually are out here doing it. I appreciate that more than y'all can ever know.
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Old 01-15-2016, 10:12 AM   #14
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As for wind noise versus generator versus solar? Of course solar is quiet. I like that I've got options and the wind generator provides that. The newer ones are not nearly as obnoxious as the older ones. And too my hearing isn't perfect so they don't bother me.

Cloudy days are often in tandem with windy ones. In that regard lack of power provided by solar is compensated by the Air-Breeze. And if it were not windy I'd like a Yamaha 1000 too someday.

Wind and generators are the sound of power. How you generate power is all about freedom. Your choice is yours and I'm certain your reasoning is perfect for your situation and lifestyle. Aboard Seaweed I've lived for years (literally) without refrigeration and that is over for me. I want ice in my tea, cold fruit in the reefer, and frozen sausages in the freezer. Plus cheesecake. I love cheesecake too.

To have all that I initially had success in breezy harbors with a wind generator. It wasn't enough so I started adding solar panels and battery capacity. Now I believe I have the means to live life exactly the same regardless of where my Seaweed is.

I'll be testing that out when I wire the newest batteries into my house bank. From my figures I'm there with excess power too. My life of decadence will not require a shore power cord.

A while back I was chatting with S/V Dream anchored close to me. He asked if I was bothered by his generator. His galley was all electric. I replied that the first couple times I heard it I looked around trying to figure out where the noise came from. But after that it became background and almost unheard.

I did not ask about my Air-Breeze. We each need to generate power for our lives. I would not presume to say one way is the only way.

There was that time this guy pulled in with a Northern Tools or Harbor Fright generator. I moved Seaweed.

That's the beauty of having a boat. If the neighborhood goes to pot you can leave and there are always better spots around the bend.

Life on the hook is great. I love it and have spent a lot of thought, time and dollars making my home more comfortable off-the-grid than she would be tied to a dock with nosy neighbors.

Remote areas are amazing. That's not to say that I would not mind a cruising partner -- IF he had his own boat. In tandem might be decent. I'd love someone to share the moments with but he's got to have his own boat. And he cannot use a Northern Tools nor Harbor Freight generator. I do have my standards!
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Old 01-15-2016, 11:45 AM   #15
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I have neither. If I were to add one, it would be solar, hands down. As a few folks have mentioned, wind generators make noise and only work if it's windy. Even if the noise didn't bother me, it would surely bother nearby boaters in an anchorage or marina. Solar makes no sound and is pretty much maintenance free.
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Old 01-15-2016, 03:09 PM   #16
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For serious cruising without wanting to use a genset.....both are pretty handy or a healthy bank of batteries/low demand to store energy is required.


Generally, days on end of cloudy, shorter winter days are usually accompanied by wind. They complement each other much of the time...one more productive than the other due to weather.


But starting out...I chose solar over wind for all the reasons given so far...though noise is much less of a factor than older versions of wind power.
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Old 01-15-2016, 05:24 PM   #17
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Wind versus solar. Bay Pelican has both and my general comment as to which is better depends on where you cruise. We are in the Windward Islands and a steady 15 kt+ breeze does wonders for the wind generator. We have a five year old Air Breeze and while we can hear it it is quiet enough that it doesn't bother our sleep. Over a 24 hour period it produces at least twice the power of our two 140 watt solar panels. While we have tropical sun, at 14 degrees north, we have sunlight for only 12.5 hours per day and the solar panels really kick in for only eight hours.
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Old 01-15-2016, 05:59 PM   #18
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We are also in QLD, and I have a single 300w 12v panel on the hardtop of the fly bridge, and I use a voltronic 320W MPPT controller with a remote LCD display, the panel returns between 50-80 amps per day into the house batteries 3 x 220amp AGMs. We are power pigs and consume around 200 amps per day, running a huge fridge, 2 TV`s, stereo, underwater lights, chargers for iphones, tablets and so on. The solar works well for us. I have also had the alternator rebuilt, it gives us 60 amps at idle and 120 amps at 2000 rpm into a sterling power charging splitter, and the battery charger is a Victron Energy 60amp charger for when we either running our portable eu20i generator or plugged into shore power. The 60 amp Victron charger draws 1000w (240v) and I had to change the hot water element to 800w so I could run both from the honda generator. (next boat must have a inbuilt genset)
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Old 01-16-2016, 01:04 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Solar is quiet , and with a controller you can be gone for 6 months (we do)

Wind is noisy and a PIA to the entire anchorage.

Wind also needs to be secured in a high wind situation.

Wind can sometimes make lots of juice , but you (and the anchorage) pay a price.
FF you bring this up every time. Once again I will repeat, nearly all wind gens nowadays are much quieter than they used to be, but they do make some noise, and it is true many marinas, (ours included), discourage their use in the marina, especially if there are live-aboards there. However, this issue is simply addressed by leaving them in the braked position, where they rotate too slowly to make any noise, (achieved by feeding the current back to the head unit by a special two-way switch, where it has a braking effect, or by securing the blades so they don't rotate at all, especially if high winds expected, or one leaves the boat untended for lengthy periods. Also easily done, and it's what I normally do.

After all, in a marina it is simpler just to connect to a decent shore power type smart charger, so in-marina charging is seldom the only option, even on a sailboat.

Out on the pick, the noise from the wind gennys of today are quieter at the usual anchoring distance apart than most diesel or petrol gennys, certainly not going to "bother the whole anchorage"...
Frankly, to rely totally on solar, we would have to have double the panels, and double the batteries. No room for either, and we would have to have at least a 4 stroke Honda eu20i type generator as well, with their exhaust/noise issues.
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Old 01-16-2016, 05:09 AM   #20
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At our old marina there was a catamaran that had a wind generator, a old noisy one. The guy who owned the catamaran use to leave it going all the time, even though he was plugged into shore power, annoying everybody. He only use to go to his boat once every two weeks sit on it and drink beer all weekend, he came down to his boat once to find a life jacket tangled up into it, I think someone got sick of it wurring away 24/7
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