New solution for Lithium/Solar?

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Joined
Jan 20, 2019
Messages
613
Location
USA
Vessel Name
Freedom
Vessel Make
Hatteras 48 LRC
https://www.anker.com/products/b1790113

I already use one of Anker's smaller 2000 Watt "solar generators" for our Airstream trailer and very happy. I just plug my shore power cord into the Anker unit. No installation required.

I have already installed a traditional lithium battery/Victron setup on my boat. However,
looking at this new offering from Anker it could really be a fantastic alternative for those looking to upgrade. It eliminates so much of the complexity. I think an argument could be made it is likely safer than many DIY builds. Gives you 110/220 volt output, scalable battery sizes. For $3500 it is also very price competitive, almost certainly less expensive than DIY. Assuming it is as well designed and built as other Anker products it seems like almost a no brainer as long as you have the space. Charger, inverter, solar converter and LiPo all in one!

My boat had two gensets but now only 1. I am thinking it could drop in to that existing wiring that is still in space. In addition to extending my existing capacity it can power my 220v devices, even AC for some limited time. I would love to hear from the forum. Am I missing something?
 
I don't see the point of this on a boat. Maybe I don't understand what it is. To me it looks like a portable battery pack with an inverter. For a boat with an inverter you can buy a LOT of LFP batteries today for $3500 (at least 1200ah 12V)
 
I've been considering building my own solar generator. I mostly just want to plug in the reefer. We have no gen set. But I will probably just install some batteries and inverter mounted in the boat.
With the prices of the batteries dropping a lot lately, it makes sense to me to just install.
 
DonL and CharlieO, thanks for your response.

DonL, yes you might be able to buy an equivalent amount of batteries.Butif you factor in total costs to do this solution right and achieve the same performance I doubt you could do it for $3500.just the 6kw, 220v inverter would probably run at least $2k. Just cables, fuses and wire add hundreds more. Now solar charger and remote monitoring and a 5 year warranty as a single solution...still lower cost. Let's not talk about the time you would spend to build that.

CharlieO, If all you need is to make coffee or run small appliances you can get 1500-2200 Watt units for $1-1.5k. That is what we did with the airstream trailer.

I think these standby power systems are dropping in price and offering so many features one should seriously way them against building your own. Just sharing with the forum as it really is a new paradigm. Might not be best for all but pretty sure I would go this route if I were starting the LiPo transition over again.
 
DonL and CharlieO, thanks for your response.

DonL, yes you might be able to buy an equivalent amount of batteries.Butif you factor in total costs to do this solution right and achieve the same performance I doubt you could do it for $3500.just the 6kw, 220v inverter would probably run at least $2k. Just cables, fuses and wire add hundreds more. Now solar charger and remote monitoring and a 5 year warranty as a single solution...still lower cost. Let's not talk about the time you would spend to build that.

CharlieO, If all you need is to make coffee or run small appliances you can get 1500-2200 Watt units for $1-1.5k. That is what we did with the airstream trailer.

I think these standby power systems are dropping in price and offering so many features one should seriously way them against building your own. Just sharing with the forum as it really is a new paradigm. Might not be best for all but pretty sure I would go this route if I were starting the LiPo transition over again.

Yeah, we are not a power hungry boat. Definitely no need for 220 for us. I think the solar generators are dropping a bit in price but not quite as quickly as just batteries. I will be comparing the different options when I get that far down my to-do list.
A solar generator would be way more convenient to just plug into my shore power inlet and turn off my water heater and battery charger.

Thanks for confirming it as viable option.

Anyone else have experience with the solar generators?
 
I really don't see the point of this unit on a boat. In a home its a whole different story! Maybe for a boater that is not a DIYer. But if your off the slip, how do you recharge it? Solar panels? If thats the case, than just use the panels to recharge the house bank, no?

My first question, how do you mount it? Every time I want to use it, brake out the shore cord?

Years ago I bought a 5K watt generator for the house. If I did not have it, I would buy the same thing but from Ecoflow.
 
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I think this is a bit of 'apples vs oranges.' Solar generators shine when the energy demand is single-charge usage, not ongoing dynamic usage (concurrent charge and discharge where the batteries act as a buffer/reservoir). Sure, the solar generator can be slowly recharged, but there is no practical way to provide continuous ongoing off-grid power.

That said, I agree the classic Victron DIY solution, while it works well, is overly complex and requires a lot of real estate and cabling. Here's a Will Prowse review of an all-in-one inverter charger designed for off-grid sustained usage and includes a 125A/48V charger with 8000W MPPT for solar input for $1400. Add a 100AH/48V battery for another $1400 and you have a helluva system.........except it's 48V which isn't currently easily adaptable to boats. But look closely at how clean the install is, and how expandable it is compared to the typical Victron install.


Peter
 
I think this is a bit of 'apples vs oranges.' Solar generators shine when the energy demand is single-charge usage, not ongoing dynamic usage (concurrent charge and discharge where the batteries act as a buffer/reservoir). Sure, the solar generator can be slowly recharged, but there is no practical way to provide continuous ongoing off-grid power.

That said, I agree the classic Victron DIY solution, while it works well, is overly complex and requires a lot of real estate and cabling. Here's a Will Prowse review of an all-in-one inverter charger designed for off-grid sustained usage and includes a 125A/48V charger with 8000W MPPT for solar input for $1400. Add a 100AH/48V battery for another $1400 and you have a helluva system.........except it's 48V which isn't currently easily adaptable to boats. But look closely at how clean the install is, and how expandable it is compared to the typical Victron install.


Peter

Another way to do it........... If you have the room.
 
Another way to do it........... If you have the room.

A constellation of Victron components circling a Quattro isn't exactly svelte, though since there are many smaller components, can be scattered about.

If it isn't already happening, new boat builds will pay much better attention to hi-output DC systems including space for server racks vs battery boxes. If I were looking at a new build, would be an absolute must-have-requirement, even in a smaller boat such as the Helsman 38.

Back to the OP subject, while the solar generators are an interesting novelty, I see their application on a 40-ish foot trawler style boat a bit limited.

Peter
 
I should also note that we don't have a dedicated house bank or an inverter at this time, so we have no refrigeration while underway or not on shore power. Our fridge right now is an old dorm style mini fridge(120), which will be getting replaced sooner than later.

I'd rather have the silent power of the solar generator as opposed to running a genset on the deck at anchor, which I have not done.

Our boat used to have a generator, but a PO removed it. So, if a nice diesel gen fell into my lap, I'd install it as all my infrastructure is still there for a gen.

I am still absorbing all the information I can to help decide which way to go to solve my issue of needing to power a fridge while underway and at anchor. We are just weekend warriors for now, so we move most every day unless we are at a transient slip somewhere.
 
I should also note that we don't have a dedicated house bank or an inverter at this time, so we have no refrigeration while underway or not on shore power. Our fridge right now is an old dorm style mini fridge(120), which will be getting replaced sooner than later.

I'd rather have the silent power of the solar generator as opposed to running a genset on the deck at anchor, which I have not done.

Our boat used to have a generator, but a PO removed it. So, if a nice diesel gen fell into my lap, I'd install it as all my infrastructure is still there for a gen.

I am still absorbing all the information I can to help decide which way to go to solve my issue of needing to power a fridge while underway and at anchor. We are just weekend warriors for now, so we move most every day unless we are at a transient slip somewhere.

If your boat used to have a generator, than it likely has a manual transfer switch on the panel for remote power, such as a rotary switch between SHORE and GEN. Personally, unless I wanted A/C underway, I wouldn't repatriate the generator either.

The most basic system would be a pair of 6V golf cart batteries from Costco ($100/ea). A small 1500W inverter/charger (guess around $500), plus some sort of a Blue Sea ACR switch between your engine start battery and the Golf Carts so they charge when underway. For around $1k you have a great start of a system that is durable, flexible, and reliable. For another $500 or so, you could create a small LiFePO4 bank and install a DC-DC charger instead of the ACR. Sure, the solar generator isn't a lot more money and it's plug/play, but it's porable and requires some additional care/feeding on it's own.

Peter
 
The most basic system would be a pair of 6V golf cart batteries from Costco ($100/ea). A small 1500W inverter/charger (guess around $500), plus some sort of a Blue Sea ACR switch between your engine start battery and the Golf Carts so they charge when underway. For around $1k you have a great start of a system that is durable, flexible, and reliable.

To OP, if you have one of the two-door under the countertop dorm fridges, mine in 80 degree ambient temps used 60aH over 24 hours. Buy yourself a Kill-a-Watt meter... it is fascinating to discover the power equipment actually uses.

Regarding the 1500 watt inverter, I purchased a 1200 pure sine wave from http://theinverterstore.com ... I was upgrading from a 1000 watt square wave inverter.

Here is what I discovered to my chagrin: That induction burner that utilizes 1800 watts at full power does not use 900 on low. Instead it cycles 1800-on and 1800-off at half the time. Meaning that my 1200 watt pure sine wave inverter will not power the induction burner.

If you have the space, I would opt for a larger inverter. Mine works fine for the microwave (I like my popcorn) however you might want more.

If I were where you are, I would do as other smarter folks have suggested: add a battery bank paired with a pure sine wave inverter. It is a lot more economical and having those extra amps available means you can enjoy ice in your beverages as a pod of dolphin swim by in some remote Anchorage.
 
Thanks, lots of good feedback/comments. Peter, at least relative to the Anker solar generator I have (used mostly for my airstream) it really is zero "care and feeding" required. Just plug into my 50 Amp on the outside of the airstream. It does anything I could do if I ripped out the existing AGM/charger setup (with only 200 watts of roof solar) and tried to build a nice inverter, LiPo setup. I paid about $1600 for that one and I think it is around 2200 watts. Unless I went crazy with the DIY route I could not power up more than the TV, lights, coffee and microwave in the trailer with either option. If you try to crank the AC on either option it is going to overload and shut down immediately. I just left all the factory set up in place and given the solar generator has bluetooth control I can use the Airstream factory AGM and 1K inverter in addition to the external solar generator. If I see the airstream I can keep my solar generator, nothing to rip out.

Again the intent of my post was only to point out that if you have an older boat without lithium and just want to make coffee, run the ocassional hair dryer, etc. you might want to weigh the ease of using a "solar generator". I am not crazy about that name!
 
I really don't see the point of this unit on a boat. In a home its a whole different story! Maybe for a boater that is not a DIYer. But if your off the slip, how do you recharge it? Solar panels? If thats the case, than just use the panels to recharge the house bank, no?

My first question, how do you mount it? Every time I want to use it, brake out the shore cord?

Years ago I bought a 5K watt generator for the house. If I did not have it, I would buy the same thing but from Ecoflow.

Good points. I would recharge from solar or my generator. To me the big benefit of solar is it will run so much longer than most AGM and you also cannot kill it very easy (unlike AGM). So you run the genset on less frequent intervals. You can also recharge LiPo MUCH faster than AGM and that is a great advantage for either short engine run times or if you are charging from your genset.

There are a lot of variable about how one uses their boats. A solar generator is not a one size fits all solution. But if you have a 40-60 foot boat without lithium I would at least look at these large 6KW class solar generators. I have 1080 AH of LiPo (12V) and I have a perfect spot very close to my shore power inlet/manual selector switch so I could have directly wired this in where there was an input for the second generator (no longer on the boat).
 
Options are out there now from EcoFlow, Goal Zero, Anker, and many more in smaller sizes, Bluetti, Jackery, etc., and they're very scalable. Even 240 split phase! I'd love to install a full-fledged Victron system on my boat, but getting all the parts and pieces together, and finding a place to install is daunting! Maybe these particular units aren't quite suited for the boating life, but Victron is hopefully taking notice of this type of simplicity!
 
If you can get solar on your boat, you will find it will significantly reduce the use of your genset. When we started our trawler rebuild project 3 years ago, my goal was to be electrically independent from Shore power, as well as when living aboard for extended periods on the hook.

We've had it in the water for two summers now. In both cases, I have declined the additional charge of shore power at my marina. Additionally, the genset is hardly ever used. I think the first summer we ran it twice, and last summer we didn't use it at all. And by the way, it's not like we use the boat only once or twice a month. We practically live on the boat all summer. We get plenty of power from the solar panels and or from the alternator when underway.

YMMV. If you can do solar, I would highly recommend it. I did my setup myself, but I'm always pleased to hear about the simpler configurations that allow even people with little knowledge to take advantage of this green technology.
 
I have a 2005 Mainship 34 Trawler and just purchased solar kit. I was wondering if anyone knows the best route to get the wire from the bimini to the engine room. I noticed that the wiring harness from the bridge goes down the starboard side of the boat and passes through the cabin (i believe) in a wooden trough next to the helm access door. How do you open the trough to get access or is there an easier way. If anyone has any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated.
 

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