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Old 06-04-2014, 03:07 PM   #1
Wil
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What do you do about Power?

What do you do to minimize your power footprint, thus allowing longer, quieter stays on the hook? Looking for your experience with, say, absorption cycle or eutectic or high efficiency 12v refrigeration, high quality windmills, solar cell setups, what-have-you. Ways to stay away from the AC generator as long as possible. Anybody out there with solid experience with off-grid dirt homes?

This thread could include stuff not yet on the market like the low wind speed archimedes windmill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?featur...&v=i6QyBdPGbFE , stuff well established e.g. highly efficient refrigerators like this: Sun Frost Energy Efficient Refrigerators, very quiet and conventional windmills like this one: superwind Gmbh, and so on.

It looks like we are soon going to have our very own Krogen 42, yay. It has an AC generator on it that I (and surely others) would like to minimize the running of. Ideas on this thread given by those who are actually doing it, and those who have good practical ideas of how to go about doing it. This is just a *Thought Exercise* and a place to speculate, so please members of the Marine Orthodoxy Council and Lecturers About the Norm please keep it down to a dull roar or nothing, thanks. We obviously all keep in mind that we don't want to burn our boats to the waterline. Well-reasoned out speculation; hard dirt off-grid experience; what works well right now for you; any kind of serious outside the box thinking--bring it on! Hope this might be of interest to others ??
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Old 06-04-2014, 03:26 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Wil View Post
What do you do to minimize your power footprint, thus allowing longer, quieter stays on the hook? Looking for your experience with, say, absorption cycle or eutectic or high efficiency 12v refrigeration, high quality windmills, solar cell setups, what-have-you. Ways to stay away from the AC generator as long as possible. Anybody out there with solid experience with off-grid dirt homes?

This thread could include stuff not yet on the market like the low wind speed archimedes windmill: https://www.youtube.com/watch?featur...&v=i6QyBdPGbFE , stuff well established e.g. highly efficient refrigerators like this: Sun Frost Energy Efficient Refrigerators, very quiet and conventional windmills like this one: superwind Gmbh, and so on.

It looks like we are soon going to have our very own Krogen 42, yay. It has an AC generator on it that I (and surely others) would like to minimize the running of. Ideas on this thread given by those who are actually doing it, and those who have good practical ideas of how to go about doing it. This is just a *Thought Exercise* and a place to speculate, so please members of the Marine Orthodoxy Council and Lecturers About the Norm please keep it down to a dull roar or nothing, thanks. We obviously all keep in mind that we don't want to burn our boats to the waterline. Well-reasoned out speculation; hard dirt off-grid experience; what works well right now for you; any kind of serious outside the box thinking--bring it on! Hope this might be of interest to others ??
We're working towards that goal. Thus far, we've replaced the electric stove with a propane unit, and increased the house battery bank. It's a small start, but one must take the first step....
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:05 PM   #3
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1st thing I did was to replace as many standard lights with LED. The old fluorescent were 22 watts, the new LED as little as 4... one that is 20 for large area light. Over 10 lights changed that way. Even if we only cut the draw by half that is over 100 watts there. oh, and the anchor light too! Running lights not really needed to be LED since we are always under power when those are on.


One thing I *could* do to save electricity would be to change the electric toilets.... but then momma would be less happy... and when momma ain't happy, nobody is happy...
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:23 PM   #4
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Minimizing the electric requirement is our approach. Our boat is all electric and previously had a generator and considered installing another. After using the boat a while we've decided to forgo any AC power aboard aside from the battery charger. Jury is still out if we will replace the 2 burner cooktop and fridge.
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:56 PM   #5
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learn to see in the dark. Eat dry food. Cook with gas. use led for anchor lights. That is what we used to do 60 years ago and you don't need much of fg a battery. We even had hand start motors. If that does not appeal get a wooping big battery bank generator and go led.
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:56 PM   #6
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Very few wind generators are quieter than my genset...unless you are inside with doors and windows shut...but then just to top off the batteries...I sometimes run my Honda 1000. It is silent except for a hum that is similar to what some of the wind generators create throughout the boat when cranking.

I find on the AICW, that except for a few anchorages, peace and quiet only exists for stretches of time anyhow. Something disturbs "peace and quiet" so the thrumming of a genset for a couple hours a day when banging around dishes etc...for breakfast...and a couple hours after dinner when TV or stereo is making noise anyhow...I don't see the big deal.

I sailed for decades and even that was noisy to a degree...but if I truly wanted peace and quiet ALL the time...I wouldn't own a powerboat....it's kind of kidding yourself to a point...
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Old 06-04-2014, 05:09 PM   #7
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Get a big battery bank & a robust large frame alternator coupled with smart regulator for recharging.

Skip the genset entirely if bank is big enough.

We use around 125 AH/24 hrs. Includes a 12v chest freezer, lights, tv, misc.

Cook with propane, heat water with propane, run the refer with propane(absobtion).


I can stay on the hook for up to 5 days before starting the main for recharging. We rarely stay longer than 3 days at any one spot. The black water tank usually will need pumping before then.
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Old 06-04-2014, 05:46 PM   #8
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Over the last several years we have reduced our generator run time substantially on a sister ship, i.e. a Krogen 42. Being outside of North American the price of diesel is higher so we also have cost incentives to reduce generator run time. Our set up is:

Isotherm refrigerator and freezer with Danfoss compress and 12 volt and 110 volt capablities, a major improvement over the residential units previously on the boat.

Two 140 watt Kyoceria solar panels

Airbreeze wind generator

12 Trojan 105s as a universal house bank / starter bank for the main, generator and wing engine.

All frequently used lights are either LED or fluorescent , including the anchor light

Monthly equalization of the batteries

Separate 110 volt outlet that only supplies power when the generator or shore power is connected.
We leave cell phones, flood lights, IPODs etc connected to this outlet so they are charged whenever generator is turned on.

Propane stove

Propane barbecue

12 volt chargers for the computers, IPAD etc in lieu of AC chargers

Two large chargers (135 and 105 amps) used when the generator is turned on

Ammeters which show the output level of the chargers so they can be turned off as the output drops. The Magnum charger shows this on a screen, but my Victron does not.

Separate ammeters showing the draw by the refrigeration and by the 12 volt charging station (6 outlets).
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Old 06-04-2014, 05:47 PM   #9
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My Mainship 40SB
LED Lighting (all)
Larger house bank (AGM)
450 watts of MPPT controlled solar.
12vdc Refrigerator/ freezer
12VDC Spectra water maker
NICRO solar vents and Caframo 12VDC solar recharged house batteries source the fans
Smart Start circuits on the AC units

On my Gulfstar,
A wind Generator w/ a smart controller
400 watts of solar using a MPPT controller to supplement the house bank
420AH of house battery (initial)
2 solar hot water panels with a 12VDC circulation pump.
All LED lighting
Caframo 12VDC fans for moving air run off the alternative powered house bank.
12VDC TV LED TFT and a 12VDC KVH M3
Computers and a bridge router that run on 12VDC.
Have the ability to double the house bank to 840AH's if needed.
use a PureSine Wave inverter for the Microwave and coffee maker as needed.
12VDC Spectra fresh water maker.
My generator can produce 4.4kw of AC and up to 50 amps of DC as or when needed
Did I miss anything?
I will be installing diesel fire heaters for the winter
Judicious use of NICRO solar powered vents and Caframo 12VDC fans for cooling moisture control
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:22 PM   #10
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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. The borrowing, reinventing, and borrowing back between the marine industry and the dirt off-grid market has been real interesting to watch over the past 15 years. 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.

- Don't heat things with electric when you can heat with gas, but this is a problem on boats. Marine "code" (ABYC in the US) has very specific requirements for gas appliances that run on their own and cycle on an off. Refrigerators and water heaters fall into this category, and as far as I know, there are ZERO products that meet the criteria. Yes, you can ignore the standards and do it anyway, but I wouldn't.

- The trick to refrigeration is lots of insulation. That's what a SunFrost is all about. People have been very successful using more commonly available (and much less expensive) fridges and building more insulation around them. Also, watch out for automatic defrost. This little feature suddenly stops cooling and turns on the heat in your fridge for a while to defrost. Then to cools it back down again. It's completely counter productive from an energy standpoint. Our house fridge is propane.

- Hot water is tough. Heating off your engine works great, and is part of most marine installations. But otherwise you are kinda stuck running the genny. 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

- 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....

- Dishwashers have surprises inside too. Many have "boost" or "Sanitize" modes where an internal electric heater boosts the water temp. These consume huge amounts of power. Don't use those modes, or do what I did - go inside and disconnect the wires to the heater element so your wife and kids can't trick you.

That's what comes to mind from a conservation stand point.

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.

In contrast my new boat has a big flybridge hardtop that's ideal for solar, but I can only fit about 750W. That's less than 1/4 what my house has.
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:46 PM   #11
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What do you do to minimize your power footprint, thus allowing longer, quieter stays on the hook? Looking for your experience with, say, absorption cycle or eutectic or high efficiency 12v refrigeration, high quality windmills, solar cell setups, what-have-you. Ways to stay away from the AC generator as long as possible. Anybody out there with solid experience with off-grid dirt homes?

I started by first listening to the sound of our generator. I can hear it in the boat, can't hear it from 50 feet away. After that, I sat myself down and had a discussion -- mostly with myself -- about how much various changes would be worth to me. Which in turn meant evaluating components of consumption... and the systems which support those various components.

For example, refrigeration: Our are both AC or DC, running on a DC compressor, fairly efficient. Cost of using an inverter means a slight loss in the DC-to-AC-to-DC process, and what we've got works nicely on DC... so no change to the fridges really necessary. Cost of an inverter? I can do without. Need more batteries? Hmmm.... yep, need more batteries.

That has led to gradual and still on-going upgrades to battery banks... which in turn supports a whole bunch of other consumption components.

Dishwasher: Don't have one, don't want one. Dryer? Ditto.

TV? Well, we watch occasionally, but usually not while at anchor.

Cooking? Ah, ha! An issue. We have an electric galley. Needs big juice. Gotta run the genset for that. OTOH, gotta charge the batteries, too so we do both at once, one session in the morning, one in the late afternoon. Mostly solved. Cost of switching to other forms of cooking, like propane? More than what I'm willing to fool with. Might switch to an induction cooktop if the original ever craps out, but so far it hasn't been worth it to make that change to swap out a well-functioning unit.

Water heater? Another issue... except it's pretty easy to add that into the mix during the two genset period.

Air conditioning? Another issue... mostly fixed by anchoring whenever possible in places where we might get a decent breeze... otherwise, get over it, do without. (Mostly; this one's more difficult in 90F temps with 98% humidity around here sometimes in July and August especially.)

And so forth. The cost, including design issues and installation and so forth, of many nifty improvements hasn't yet outweighed the ease of use -- and cost -- of using our genset. Solar panels, for example, sound nice, and I've got some spare real estate on the hardtop. (Not much.) But making it happen would cut into our "use the boat" time... so it's not high on my list. Most other big technical shifts fall into that category too, so far.

It doesn't take much energy just to read a book

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Old 06-04-2014, 07:07 PM   #12
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Get a big battery bank & a robust large frame alternator coupled with smart regulator for recharging.
Skip the genset entirely if bank is big enough.
We use around 125 AH/24 hrs. Includes a 12v chest freezer, lights, tv, misc.
Cook with propane, heat water with propane, run the refer with propane(absobtion).
I can stay on the hook for up to 5 days before starting the main for recharging. We rarely stay longer than 3 days at any one spot. The black water tank usually will need pumping before then.
That's the direction I'm going too as budget and product development/mass production cost curves allow. We have a propane stove now, a 12v/110v fridge that doesn't use the space available, so maybe a SunFrost, though I hear the new 12v Danfoss compressors are pretty efficient. Propane brings into the equation more storage capability, and availability in foreign ports, but sounds pretty good.

The ideal for me would be a diesel stove (Wallas | Wallas 87 D boat stove and oven | 87 D Stove and oven | Diesel convection combo for boats, tried one, needs more development) and diesel fridge (they used to make kerosene ones....). A small diesel DC generator capable of 2-300 amps, AGM (now), TPPL (more development), Li Ion (more development and cost cutting 12V Lithium Ion Marine Batteries | Deep Cycle Batteries | Smart Battery, but wonderful potential) battery bank and sine wave inverters. Then just start working on all of the various ways to charge the DC bank (mostly solar and wind I guess).
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:18 PM   #13
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I think a lot of it, if not all of it, is based on what your living standards are. Is the boat your house or your vacation camp?

No generally right or wrong answers, but first, you have to be honest with yourself.
We had no house but our boat for 6 years +. We liked living on moorings and at anchor, and cruising. Even when we stopped full time cruising, we spent 50-100 nights a year on the hook. Washer and dryer? wonderful. Big dishwasher? check. 40 gallon water heater? you bet. Full size Sub Zero side by side with ice maker? uh huh, and don't forget the wine cooler and the full size Scotsman ice maker. Full size electric oven and cooktop? absolutely, and on and on. Decadent? sure! Fantastic lifestyle? None better!

But that was us. So what?
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:26 PM   #14
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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. The borrowing, reinventing, and borrowing back between the marine industry and the dirt off-grid market has been real interesting to watch over the past 15 years. Lessons learned are:........

- Don't heat things with electric when you can heat with gas, but this is a problem on boats. Marine "code" (ABYC in the US) has very specific requirements for gas appliances that run on their own and cycle on an off. Refrigerators and water heaters fall into this category, and as far as I know, there are ZERO products that meet the criteria. Yes, you can ignore the standards and do it anyway, but I wouldn't.
Great summary, very cool.

I wonder if any manufacturers build a marine version of the Instant-On, Flash-heating propane type water heaters? Might not even be an ABYC code for them. Seems like a good idea, they're off anytime you're not using them. No auto cycling, seems like they should be more energy-efficient what with not having to keep the water hot and insulated the whole time.

Interesting about the cable box....
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:44 PM   #15
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I bought the quietest generator on the market.

You cannot hear my generator run in an anchorage.

You can barely hear it while in the boat.

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!
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Old 06-04-2014, 07:49 PM   #16
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I bought the quietest generator on the market.
You cannot hear my generator run in an anchorage.
You can barely hear it while in the boat.
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!
What model genny did you get?

Anything special you've done to further quieten it down?
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:08 PM   #17
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What model genny did you get?

Anything special you've done to further quieten it down?
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.

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.
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:15 PM   #18
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I did not buy a boat so that I could live like the "good old days" I have a cabin in the woods of Alaska if I want to rough it.
Neither did I. That was not the point of my question. Minimizing AC--or all--power consumption while still keeping whatever level of comfort you choose to have was my question.
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:25 PM   #19
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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.
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:56 PM   #20
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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.
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.
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