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Old 06-04-2014, 09:11 PM   #21
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Kinda goes with the 12V vs 24/36V question...

Whether you think or not there a better way...there's simple and conventional or a little more complex and cutting edge.

So far many of us chose to stay conventional as rigging and balancing the new systems, tech, equipment, etc..etc...can be more challenging than it's worth.

Solar works in some places...not in others...

Wind works in some places, not in others.

New stuff works in combination for some and not for others because of location, boat, lifestyle, etc...etc...

A few batteries and a genset works for everyone except those that have a certain expectation of quiet...which for some is way off base..others just feel the need to be different...not in a bad way...just different.
ps, we are having a good time talking about what various people are specifically doing to make their boats better for them. Ideas related to less power use. Your last paragraph starts getting into personalities and who is 'different'. Please stop.
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Old 06-04-2014, 09:22 PM   #22
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Great point and the real bottom line.

There is no bad way to enjoy your boat. For some the boat is their home, others a second home, still others nothing more than a weekend getaway. We all enjoy our boats but in various locations and ways around the globe. The one thing we all have in common though is every one of us is free to do it our way.
"The one thing we all have in common though is every one of us is free to do it our way." Absolutely 1000% agreed. No one on here has said in any way that how someone else lives on or runs their boat is bad. This thread is not about saying the way anyone does anything on their boat is bad.

It is about how they do it and what thoughts they have about improving it.
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:28 PM   #23
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We have minimal power use with an alcohol stove, with butane backup, no A/C, insulated H/W tank heated by engine, so its only a few LED lights and a well insulated fridge/freezer drawing power. 2 big iceboxes help out for up to a week. I need a second solar panel to keep the fridge running as a freezer during the summer, but no need (or space) for a generator. its all very simple.

The minimalist approach works for us, because of the size of boat, our local climate, our financial situation, and personal lifestyle preference.

Its like going camping. Some take their luxury motorhome, whereas I was more into backpacking with what I could carry. Both are very enjoyable in different ways.
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:57 PM   #24
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For us it`s a combination. Some solar, and a genset. We have a 12v Danfoss fridge, sometimes a Waeco (?aka Dometic)Danfoss powered 12v portable, and eutectic fridge and freezer for longer cruises. LEDs fitted, but not the running lights, only on when the engines are. Our solar will usually feed the 12v fridge in daytime, batteries take over at night.
The most demand for power is refrigeration. If you can get them off the batteries, be it propane/solar/wind/eutectic fridge(via genset 2 times a day to maintain) or any other way, you are doing well. Unless you have a large house battery bank to rely on, but you still have to keep it fed.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:25 AM   #25
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Its like going camping. Some take their luxury motorhome, whereas I was more into backpacking with what I could carry. Both are very enjoyable in different ways.
Perfectly said.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:33 AM   #26
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(My very last day of backpacking after 38 years doing it. Cooked with white gas.)
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:34 AM   #27
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Those of you on absorption cycle refrigeration might or might not have an interest in this new online course being offered by Onna Lee and Roger Ford: RV Absorption Refrigerator Reconditioning Training Center. These folks have been doing RV absorption refrigeration for a long time, have a very down to earth approach to it.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:41 AM   #28
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Satellite TV

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- If you have a satellite or cable box, unplug it when not in use. These devices continue to run and consume full power even when you turn then "off". Just put your hand on one that's been turned off - it will still be warm. I ran the numbers and out satellite box consumed more power than our deep freeze. Next to your fridge, it's probably the biggest power consumer in your house. Shocking, right? And efforts to apply Energy Star standards to these boxes keeps getting shot down by the industry. Anyway, I digress....
A big Thanks for that one, TwistedTree--

Wow, this is a huge surprise for me, and exactly what I was hoping to learn from this thread. I too live completely off-grid and with a 8kw/hr PV array in the summer and add to that a 300' head hydro system in the winter I'm usually OK (except it quit raining out here in CA) but I will definitely remember this info about Satellite Receivers. And on a boat that would be HUGE.

I'm really interested in the small diesel DC gensets too, and going with that and the inverter. The area I'm most puzzled about is water heating, as there doesn't seem to be much of an alternative to engine heat exchange and an AC genset. Looking forward to catching up with all the info here--
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Old 06-05-2014, 02:00 AM   #29
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Northern Lights with sound shield.

No additional quieting.

Instead of making it a goal to minimize your power footprint, which in and of itself does not add or take away from the "on the hook experience", perhaps it might be useful to think of it in a different way.
We are also very impressed with the quietness of Northern Lights.
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:05 AM   #30
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Six golf cart batteries - built my own refrigerator (DC) with 6" of insulation, DC TV, propane stove, 6" of insulation on the water heater.

four days between running genny for four hours at a time.
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:33 AM   #31
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ce


- If you have a satellite or cable box, unplug it when not in use. These devices continue to run and consume full power even when you turn then "off". Just put your hand on one that's been turned off - it will still be warm. I ran the numbers and out satellite box consumed more power than our deep freeze. Next to your fridge, it's probably the biggest power consumer in your house. Shocking, right? And efforts to apply Energy Star standards to these boxes keeps getting shot down by the industry. Anyway, I digress....

.
I have used a Kill-o-Watt meter to confirm this with my TV, navigation computer, radio/stereo and my microwave. Have put on and off switches on all of them so that when not in use there is no phantom / vampire electrical draw.
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:54 AM   #32
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We have a dirt dwelling in VT (where I am now) that is 100% off the grid. It's been like this for about 15 years now…. Lessons learned are:

- Reduce consumption is key. It's pretty much always cheaper and easier to reduce power than to generate more power.

- We use CFLs for lighting because everything is AC, and LEDs didn't exist for lighting 15 years ago. On a boat, go all LED for lighting.

- Cook with gas, not electric.
Our house fridge is propane.
In our house we have a propane water heater.

- A clothes drier is another electric pig. In our house we have a gas drier, but that's a no-go on a boat due to the code issues same as hot water heaters.

- An LED back-lit TV will reduce power a bunch

As for generation, we are all solar with a backup generator. This big difference between a house and a boat is that you can put enough solar on a house to meet your power needs. On a typical boat, there just isn't enough room. I have 3600W of solar for our house and the only time the generator runs is between Nov and Jan, and mostly when the whole family is in residence and we are washing clothes and dishes all the time.
Twistedtree, as we are talking alternative power sources, and I have had solar and wind on the boat for years, so was already sold on the concept, so few months ago we finally took the plunge, as the move is gaining momentum rapidly here in sunny Queensland, (there are Govt rebates to encourage this, and if you put excess back into the grid you get a modest credit for it), and went solar on the house as well. We put up one of the larger arrays around, 24 x 250w panels giving a theoretical max of 6kw, (compared to your 3.6kw), and we are pleased with the output, but are yet to see how much of a dint in our power bill it will actually make - as opposed to what the salesman claimed, that is. If you get the sort of performance you mention out of 3.6kw, then we should do pretty well with 6kw, surely..?

I was intrigued by your mentioning almost no power required from other sources (generator in your case - off the normal grid in our case), except for you coldest, shortest daylight months, so how do you cover the night time when there is no solar output..?

I am keen to ultimately use the same concept we use on the boat, so we might be virtually free of grid requirement, but up to now there have not been batteries with enough capacity. I gather that is being developed even as we speak, however, but they are not currently readily available. Do you use batteries for night demands, or how else do you do it..? I am really interested.

Cheers,
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:01 AM   #33
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The area I'm most puzzled about is water heating, as there doesn't seem to be much of an alternative to engine heat exchange and an AC genset. Insulation works regardless of where the heat comes from.

Propane works here too but a shower requires a bit of different plumbing.

There are 12v and 24v heating elements , but they are slow , so would require great insulation.

The folks at Home Power mag have various advertisers for heating water dieectly with sun power , but most require a tiny DC circ pump to make it work.

And the water solar collectors are not small.
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:36 AM   #34
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To not run a generator or an engine in a 24/36 hour period may not be the goal but if it is than heating water comes down to solar power collectors or an electric water heater.

By my calculations to heat 6 gallons of water electrically would take approximately 40 ah of 12 volt DC battery capacity. 1500 watts 110 volts for 15 minutes.

In most climates boating situations 40 ah per day could be generated by solar or wind power using less real estate than a solar water heater. Unlike the solar water heater the solar panels or wind generator would not be a single use type item.

I have two trawlers in mind which rely totally on solar power for everything at anchor, six 140 watt panels. The sunlight in the Caribbean is different than in higher latitudes.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:36 AM   #35
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Twistedtree, as we are talking alternative power sources, and I have had solar and wind on the boat for years, so was already sold on the concept, so few months ago we finally took the plunge, as the move is gaining momentum rapidly here in sunny Queensland, (there are Govt rebates to encourage this, and if you put excess back into the grid you get a modest credit for it), and went solar on the house as well. We put up one of the larger arrays around, 24 x 250w panels giving a theoretical max of 6kw, (compared to your 3.6kw), and we are pleased with the output, but are yet to see how much of a dint in our power bill it will actually make - as opposed to what the salesman claimed, that is. If you get the sort of performance you mention out of 3.6kw, then we should do pretty well with 6kw, surely..?

I was intrigued by your mentioning almost no power required from other sources (generator in your case - off the normal grid in our case), except for you coldest, shortest daylight months, so how do you cover the night time when there is no solar output..?

I am keen to ultimately use the same concept we use on the boat, so we might be virtually free of grid requirement, but up to now there have not been batteries with enough capacity. I gather that is being developed even as we speak, however, but they are not currently readily available. Do you use batteries for night demands, or how else do you do it..? I am really interested.

Cheers,
One reason we get by with 3.6KW of solar is because we have paid a lot of attention to reducing our power load. But there are few if any compromises. We have just carefully selected propane instead of electric where possible (fridges, stove, hot water, clothes drier), and carefully screened for phantom loads (things that are on even though you think they are off, like the satellite or cable box). When I buy appliances, I check their "off" power draw before I buy. The US EPA Energy Star program has also been a huge help and has exposed poorly designed consumer electronics. New Energy Star TVs, for example, draw next to nothing when you turn them off...as they should. And like Bay Pelican, we have installed wall switches and/or switched power strips to really turn things off where needed.

A Kill-o-watt meter is an inexpensive and incredibly useful and revealing too. You plug it into an outlet, then plug an appliance into it. It will tell you exactly how much power the thing is drawing. I'd encourage anyone with the slightest interest in this topis to buy one and start measuring your appliances. Then you can be acting based on data, not guesses.

While on phantom loads, another source comes to mind. The little black wall adapters (wall warts) that come with many devices can be either very efficient or very inefficient. Older ones were transformer based and very poor. Newer ones are switching converters and are very efficient. It's easy to tell the difference. The old ones are much heavier because of the transformer inside, and they will be very noticeably warm to the touch. The switching converters will be cool or slightly warm, and are quite light. Even though they are small loads, they run 24x7 and really add up. It's just like the Satellite box. It only draws 20-30W, but because it runs 100% of the time (even your fridge cycles on an off) it becomes a top ranking power hog. Finding and replacing them can help a lot.

Back when almost all adapters sucked, I spent a lot of time seeking out gadgets where the adapter was 12V, then cutting off the end and running it straight off 12VDV from the house bank. I did this with phones, wifi, network hubs, computers, security systems, heating controls, etc. Now I don't do it anymore because the adapters are so efficient.

OK, I've gotten completely side tracked and forgot the question. Oh yes, running at night. It works just like your boat - batteries. Physical size and weight doesn't matter, so most use traditional flooded lead acid batteries, which is what I use. They still offer the lowest cost per Ah of storage capacity, by a lot. My current battery bank is huge. My system is 48V, and the battery bank is 1300 Ah, so that's about 67 KWh of storage. It will run the house for 2-3 days with no solar output. The inverter, by the way, is 6KW split phase 120/240V. That runs everything just fine, including my shop with a good size 240V compressor and car lift. I even run a welder off it. Those are huge loads, but they run for very short periods of time so the overall energy consumption is small. It a whole other story, but I think I have too much battery capacity, and will make it smaller next time. Bigger isn't always better.

Back to the batteries and running at night, there is no magic to it. Solar covers the loads and charges the batteries during the day, and we run off the batteries at night. When too much of a deficit accumulates, the generator automatically starts and runs until the batteries are charged, which is typically about 6-7 hrs.

As for battery capacity, it's been available all along. No new developments on the lead acid front. Where development is happening is around other technologies that are light weight for applications where weight matters. These are wonderful performing devices, but hideously expensive compared to lead acid. There also are thin plate lead acid and some other lifo or something - I forget the exact name - that sounds very interesting, but I would want to spend a lot more time with them before depending on them for my house, let along my boat. There is an extensive thread on CruisersForum on these new batteries if you want to learn more.

Your place is grid-tied, or grid interactive, where I am off grid. Your situation is preferable, in my opinion. You have the grid as a backup in case your system fails, and you can run off the grid at night and on rainy days. It essentially serves as your battery bank. Batteries are expensive and require replacement every 5-10 years. If you can eliminate them, consider yourself lucky.
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:55 AM   #36
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Oh...

I also replaced all 70 something lamps in the boat with LED's for about a buck and a quarter on Ebay. Second season and they're still going strong!

I forgot to mention; we've gradually done that too. The biggest culprit is the anchor light, and I've got that about halfway replaced as we speak. (It's wired, just need to complete mounting and bedding.)



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What part of using energy do you not like? Generally its not the using of the energy that you do not like, its the producing it that's bothersome.

So, minimize the bother of generating energy. Invest in a very quiet properly sized generator. You can quickly exceed the cost of a good generator in both time and hassle factor trying to minimize everything.

Good point, I think. For us, the overall cost of adding propane for some of our systems -- for example -- is absolutely not worth the investment, in all dimensions (design, rigging, installation, maintenance, hassle factor, swapping appliances, etc.).



Quote:
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Whether you think or not there a better way...there's simple and conventional or a little more complex and cutting edge.

So far many of us chose to stay conventional as rigging and balancing the new systems, tech, equipment, etc..etc...can be more challenging than it's worth.

My earlier post on the topic probably wasn't very erudite, but this captures much of what I was trying to say.

And the whole idea of replacing perfectly good (fill in the blank appliance) just to gain some very small improvement (if any) at significant expense(new power source, new appliance, related costs) just doesn't appeal to me... when I'd rather be out using the boat, instead of spending all my time morphing it.

And using the idea of propane as an example... well, it's not exactly common on fuel docks around here, whereas diesel is... and burning one fuel or another is still burning fuel. For us, a common power source (diesel genset) for all our appliances is just easier than engineering multiple power sources... again, so we can be using the boat, instead of re-inventing it.

EMMV. (Everybody's...)

Interesting discussion, though. I could see nifty high tech stuff... in a brand new boat... if I were to win the lottery. (Now if I could only just remember to play the lottery.)

-Chris
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:38 AM   #37
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Our water heater has the heat exchanger option wherein heat is extracted from the propulsion engine coolant...works extremely well. I've wondered about a design that plumbed the genset coolant through this heat exchanger for an overall system efficiency gain when on the hook....
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Old 06-05-2014, 10:18 AM   #38
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>I've wondered about a design that plumbed the genset coolant through this heat exchanger for an overall system efficiency gain when on the hook...<.

Called co-generation works like a champ as it usually frees up 1500w for other uses.

And it doesnt add anything to the fuel bill .

Another good way to use a smaller noisemaker to get better overall efficiency.
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Old 06-05-2014, 10:35 AM   #39
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Good point, I think. For us, the overall cost of adding propane for some of our systems -- for example -- is absolutely not worth the investment, in all dimensions (design, rigging, installation, maintenance, hassle factor, swapping appliances, etc.).

And the whole idea of replacing perfectly good (fill in the blank appliance) just to gain some very small improvement (if any) at significant expense(new power source, new appliance, related costs) just doesn't appeal to me... when I'd rather be out using the boat, instead of spending all my time morphing it.

And using the idea of propane as an example... well, it's not exactly common on fuel docks around here, whereas diesel is... and burning one fuel or another is still burning fuel. For us, a common power source (diesel genset) for all our appliances is just easier than engineering multiple power sources... again, so we can be using the boat, instead of re-inventing it.

-Chris
We feel the same way.

We like coooking on electric, and weve got to charge the batteries, and make hot water anyway, so why not have a electric stove and oven.

Same ideas here about propane. I can get my boat to within inches of a diesel pump. The nearest propane is somewhere on shore. Then I'd have to be monitoring the bottles to make sure I'm not out, etc...

The concept here is to have electrical systems that are sized to work together. Quiet generator, feeding high capacity charger. Electric hot water heater, stove, it all works together.
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:10 AM   #40
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And the whole idea of replacing perfectly good (fill in the blank appliance) just to gain some very small improvement (if any) at significant expense(new power source, new appliance, related costs) just doesn't appeal to me... when I'd rather be out using the boat, instead of spending all my time morphing it.

-Chris

Editing myself, here:

OTOH, something breaks -- the current stovetop for example -- and it's outa here, with a replacement induction cooktop in a heartbeat.

Replacing worn out stuff -- once it craps out or is approaching very near -- with new and better technology if it exists, makes lots of sense to me. Especially when it's relatively painless (electric for electric, very little leaping through hoops required).

-Chris
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