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The advantage with Sun and wind is that it is free and clean. The problem with wind and solar is that neither are guaranteed to be there when you need it, so they can not be relied upon to generate energy each and every day. However they are worth considering.
We have 2 x Kyocera 130W 12V panels with a 15amp Steca PR1515 controller,
I have taken some data over the cruising season. Click here to see how much power we received from the units during the cruising season
Solar panels take up a large amount of space, and work best when aligned to the sun, so ideally need to be 'movable' when cruising. To get around 1Kwh per day a panel around 4ft x 4ft will be required. But even 1Kwh per day is not a lot of power; to keep to 1Kwh/day the use of hairdryers, irons, vacuum cleaners etc. can not be used. But 1Kwh will run the fridge freezer, a little TV / hifi and energy efficient lights.
There are different types of solar power panels, the Polycrystalline panels are around half the size of Amorphous panels, but slightly more expensive (at a given power output).
We have 2 x Kyocera 130W 12V panels with a 15amp Steca PR1515 controller. More info here
Wind. Arguably the Rutland 913 wind turbine is the most popular and most highly regarded available, but you have to be careful with given specifications. Each one is 'capable' of producing 250w. That's 6Kwh per day, seemingly ample power if you only need 2Kwh per day, but look closer, and you will likely conclude that you will only get 0.5Kwh per day on average, and you may go days with none. The 'capable' output ratio from solar panels is much the same; you get a lot less than you first think. The Rutland, most of the time, seems to not get more than 2 amps out of it on average. Two amps over 24 hours = 576w, so you would need two of them to get 1Kwh in a day. Many owners have also found that 'wind' is not very prevalent along sheltered inland rivers and canals. Very much worth considering if moored up on tidal / estuary rivers, which tend to be much less 'sheltered'. Some advise that wind generators secured to steel boats can be noisy inside. So care needs to be made when selecting a location (not above a bed!).
Controller. With either a solar or wind system you will need a controller (around £100 for a 15amp system). This will protect the batteries from overcharging etc. and will also provide data on incoming power, amps etc. (photo right)
Pay back time. With an average of 1000wh per day you will be saving 10p per day (if connected to shore power at 10p per Kwh). So pay back will probably take around 50 years. But if using diesel to generate power then payback will be a lot quicker, and a lot quieter!.
Do you save electric when hooked up to shore power?. Yes (we do). The solar controller seems to take priority over our charger. If using 100 watts on board and the solar panels are producing 100 watts we use no shore power electric (assuming batteries are full).
Hot Water. You will not be able to heat up a hot water tank (calorifier) with just 1Kwh of incoming electric per day. You will need around 2Kwh of power per day just to heat up hot water..
Created 12 April 2009 - Last updated 20 December 2009