Wind Generator Selection

Discussion in 'OnBoard Electronics & Controls' started by captainjsw, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. CatBuilder

    CatBuilder Previous Member

    The bold above is the key to success with wind. If you venture outside of the tradewinds, you have to rely on other means of production.

    BTW: Your balanced system (in the 2nd paragraph) sounds great. I'm sure it will provide the energy you need no matter where you roam.
     
  2. captainjsw
    Joined: Sep 2005
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    Location: Perth Western Australia

    captainjsw Junior Member

    New Solar Panels

    I am about to fit 2 new 200w solar panels - 12v ones. The cost of these have dropped massively over the last few years, so much so I estimate I can get 2 new panels and a MPPT controller for around $1000. My other 2 panels are 36v which I bought in error and necessitated the purchase of an expensive solar regulator (most cannot handle 36v panels to 12v batteries). If the new panels produce a better output I intend to remove and sell the 36v panels and purchase 2 more 12v panels - this will give me 800w of solar panels which I hope will produce close to 40 Amps most of the time. The boat while sailing chews up close to 20 Amps - fridge freezer and autopilot been the major users. Coastal sailing this would not be a problem as you anchor and use the motor for this which punches in a heap and the autopilot does not run at night of course. On longer non stop sails we might need a bit more (depending on the sun) Then I think a wind generator would be answer for that little more - or run the motors for an hour every couple of days - you might have to anyway. Air Breeze I think - but they are still close to $1000. Will see what the results of the panels are during this season coming.
     
  3. RayThackeray
    Joined: Apr 2011
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    RayThackeray Senior Member

    Sorry, but wrong again. Even in areas of light or variable winds, I've found that I get a LOT more amp.hours/day using the wind generator (averaged out) than by solar. The problem is that you need a huge surface area of panels to gain any serious wattage. Mind you, a good wind generator isn't cheap, but you get what you pay for.
     
  4. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member

    The reality is that small wind generators simply don't work very well. Given the cost, noise, and the mounting problems while in a specific use they may make sence, generally they are so inefficient as to be counterproductive.

    Take a look at http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/04/small-windmills-test-results.html#more which details real world testing of wind turbines, done by a group that really wanted them to work. Unless you have room for 5meter blades...
     
  5. RayThackeray
    Joined: Apr 2011
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    RayThackeray Senior Member

    Stumble, you're probably right about the smaller wind generators. But I cruised 22,000 miles with a Fourwinds (fairly big propeller) mounted permanently facing forward on the mizzen mast, and when at anchor in most conditions I consistently got a LOT more amp.hours/day from that than any solar panel I've had since. Yes, you're not always in tradewinds (where I usually saw anything between 15 - 25 amps at 12 volts), but even in light airs I often saw 5 to 10 amps for half the day. Even just 60 amp.hours/day in light winds was quite good. In those conditions, you could barely hear the blades spinning, but of course in winds around 20 knots there was a nice swooshing sound that I grew to love.

    Inefficient? I think not! Because I didn't have a regulator, I had to turn lights on all day in breezes, it was easier than stopping the thing.

    But as I mentioned before, a balance of generating off your propshaft underway, wind at anchor and solar most times on nice days, is the best way to go for a cruiser.
     
  6. Man Overboard
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Wisconsin

    Man Overboard Tom Fugate

    Marine Wind Generator Test

    This 2007 article by Practical Sailor showcases 5 marine generators which they put to the test off the coast of Chesapeake Bay. This may help explain the divergent user experiences.

    An Excerpt:
    Source:
    http://www.naviclub.com/Test_comparatif_eoliennes_marine.pdf
     
  7. Man Overboard
    Joined: Oct 2006
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    Location: Wisconsin

    Man Overboard Tom Fugate

    New technology by Honeywell may prove useful in marine applications. This unique turbine takes advantage of low wind velocity as low as 0.5 mph (0.2 m/s), producing at least some energy. It solves two of the complaints against wind generators for marine use. It is fairly quiet, and will produce energy in low wind anchorages, although it is fairly large. If the output at low wind velocity is enough to justify its use, well, that will be determined by the design criteria of the system as a whole.

    An Excerpt:
    Source:
    http://www.windtronics.com/honeywell-wind-turbine

    Power Curve:
    http://assets1.mytrainsite.com/501278/energy_output_curve_7-20-2011.pdf
     
  8. RayThackeray
    Joined: Apr 2011
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    Location: Alameda, CA, USA

    RayThackeray Senior Member

    From the Practical Sailor report: "...none had an average daily output greater than 10 amp hours, which is less than can be expected from one 80-watt solar panel on a moderately sunny day."

    OK, an 80 watt solar panel may produce 6.6 amps at 12 volts maximum, let's estimate 5 hours at that rate assuming there's no mast or boom shadow (unlikely), for maybe an average of 33 amp.hours/day at 12 volts, ignoring losses.

    In the average anchorages I've been in over the last 22,000 nm, I know this this is tantamount to saying that a wind generator can't produce more than 5 amps for 6 hours.

    Poppycock, stuff and nonsense. Yes, there are calm days. But there are just as many breezy days when the wind genny's stuffing 10 to 15 amps into the batteries all day. At 10 amps average, that's 240 amp.hours/day. Some days, I easily doubled that.

    A test over four or five days in a calm bay with almost no wind makes a good comparison test of wind generators, but in my esperience goes nowhere to replicating when wind gennys really do pay for themselves.

    BTW, I've always found that the people who argue against wind generators the most - are people who have never had one!
     
  9. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Stumble Senior Member

    Ray,

    I don't think anyone, or at least I, would argue that wind generators are useless, just that in the small size range they are just horribly inefficient. On a power/dollar comparison solar wins out in everything but the trade winds, and do so without the noise (for me a big issue). I have never owned one, but I have a few thousand miles sailed onboard a boat with one, and after a few days the noise really got on my nerves. Perhaps for others it wasn't so bad.

    I think part of the issue was raised earlier, which is that when trying to decide what to buy you really need to know what your energy usage is. If youaretrying to run air conditioners, then nothing will do but a diesel generator. If you are just using LED lights then pretty much anything will do. If you are between these extremes then it needs to be addressed as a holistic approach, where there is a balance of power production scaled to demand.
     
  10. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

    My boat a 21 x 40ft sailing cat (without stick & sails at present) has 8 PV panels of 175W nominal each into 24V using a PL60 (Plasmatronics) controller to feed the AGM house battery bank... This looks after nav & 240VAC galley which restricts night passages as the motors are not linked in to the charging system for the house and only charge the individual 12V AGM start batteries... I am considering adding another 5 PV panels and a http://www.christieengineering.com.au/Itemdetail.asp?PC=GX16024V80A Christie Engineering 24 V battery charger using a direct-mounted-honda-petrol-motor for "emergencies" or battery charging at night to keep the chart plotter/autopilot happy if I get into long voyaging... The panels I selected were the "BP brand" as the output per square ft were very similar so I selected on the basis of what was best fit for multiple panel array on the roof of my boat - all very discrete and not "overbearing" - The strengthening ribs for the roof are outside and serve as panel mounts...

    Look carefully at the image, visible are 4 panels 700mm x 1400mm and aft of the mast beam (with radar mounted) is another 4 panels, 4 more can go on the aluminium frame supporting the aerials, wind sender and anchor light, and one midships forward...

    The other image shows 9 panels up and of the 5 forward of the mast the middle one was removed for an overhead hatch... The boat has been in 40knots of wind sheltering behind South Percy, recorded 6ft above the panels and no hassles... Make sure of the wiring (tinned copper cable) and solder the ends too... Remember the run is length of the negative to the batteries AS WELL AS the length of the positive cable, so expect losses there...
     

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  11. RayThackeray
    Joined: Apr 2011
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    RayThackeray Senior Member

    Stumble - This is my point yet again - you say wind generators are "horribly inefficient" - which I think I've demonstrated is total bollocks.

    I really don't have any axe to grind here - I love solar panels, but there are many situations where a wind generator blows panels away in terms of amp.hours/day - and remember, there are many days of less than stellar sunlight too (pun intended). While the very small wind generators may be questionable, your comment seems to paint all boat-sized devices in the same corner, which is pure pompous poppycock.

    You may have experienced a loud wind generator in your time (or perhaps one that was badly situated and transmitted noise to your cabin), and some are indeed loud. But that experience simply isn't enough to justify your generalistic statement that clearly attempts to put people off the entire option, so I call ******** again.
     
  12. RayThackeray
    Joined: Apr 2011
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    RayThackeray Senior Member

    Stumble: "...generally they are so inefficient as to be counterproductive. Take a look at http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/...ults.html#more which details real world testing of wind turbines, done by a group that really wanted them to work. Unless you have room for 5meter blades..."

    More crap. Counterproductive? What do you mean - a wind generator costs more energy than it produces? Rubbish.

    I read the article you cited, which is about trying to produce wind-powered energy for HOUSEHOLDS. That's nothing to do with boats. Trying to assert that a boat needs 5 metre diameter blades is more total nonsense. Your credibility declines the more I read.
     
  13. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

    Like what was suggested earlier in this thread, for a cruising boat, one should be open to all opportunities to generate electricity for the ships electrical needs ... and likely employ ALL options to best cover all situations...

    As yet that does not include the prime propulsive force, except on special cases, where that is specifically in the designed boat, and where expense is no barrier - - beyond consideration of nearly all of the cruising sailors because of fiscal constraints...

    Ask what is needed to achieve reliable supply and pursue what you consider to be the least cost (either up-front or ongoing or in combination), until the need is felt to be adequately met...

    Any answer as to "the best" is constrained by too many variables and unknown parameters...
     
  14. BertKu
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: South Africa Little Brak River

    BertKu Senior Member

    Hi Mas, I understood that a German Solar panel manufacturer is soon manufacturing panels of 18% > per m2 guaranteed. What is your guaranteed percentage at present per square meter?. Nice to see your boat for the first time. Well done.
    Bert
     

  15. BertKu
    Joined: May 2009
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    Location: South Africa Little Brak River

    BertKu Senior Member

    Hi Captainjsw,
    Indeed I would also, like you said, try to sell the exsisting panels. However I would wait for a couple of weeks untill the although more expensive 18% > panels are on the market from Germany. Your panels are most likely 10 - 12 % at the most 13%, if you were lucky. What it means is that you will get with the same area 40 - 50% more current under the same condition.
    If you can't get a decent price for your panels, in that case I would consider some folding up construction for some 18% panels to boost your overall needs, when there is sun. No sun, folded up.

    Like so many others have said, I would also possible consider to buy a wind generator and remove the blades and make from light material a construction like the Helix Wind Turbine. But , you have to be a handyman.
    What I understood from the reports is that the noise was less then conventional blades.
    Bert
     
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