Sunday, August 3, 2014

Aurora 41LN17 on Generating Electricity

Aurora 41LN17  in Prickly Bay, Grenada (June '14)
Electric generation is an ongoing learning process. When we left Texas, we had the 4Winds II and a 120 amp alternator, driven off the propulsion engine. This charged a single bank of 660AH, made up of Trojan T105's in series-parallel. The 4Winds generally kept up with the fridge, in a steady 10 kt of breeze, but we still had to run the engine regularly. At sea, coming from Bermuda to St. Thomas the 4Winds kept up, generally, with the fridge and the autopilot. When we got into the Lesser Antilles, we were running the engine more and more, around 4 hours/day strictly for charging. We bought a Honda EU2000 "suitcase" generator in Antigua and started using it, instead of the propulsion engine. It is quieter and puts much less heat into the living area. Maintenance is also lower. It still takes about 4 hours/day, but that is a function of 110V charger capacity. We should have purchased a bigger charger. We didn't mind so much leaving the boat with the Honda running. The constant need to be tied to the boat for a number of hours each day can be a pain. The 4Winds helped but we never thought it would do the job alone, day in and day out. Other owners of wind generators seem to get better results, but so often you turn out to be comparing apples and oranges.

The solar panels are 2 – 245watt Kyoceras. They were the largest capacity/physical size that would fit the space available. As I recall the calcs, they should be more than enough to run the fridge, autopilot and everything else, with no additional help. Right now, the fridge is kaput and I've been using ice for the past 18 months. I am beginning to get back into tuning the panel charging, etc. and getting Aurora back into cruising trim. The whole scheme of things went sideways February a year ago, when my wife, Marita, passed away. Settling up the estate and all the hassles with the event have played havoc with boat projects. Inertia has me firmly in its grip and it is hard to get motivated when every day is partly cloudy, temp 83, wind from the east at 15, 20% chance of rain.

I have struck the 4Winds down onto the deck. I had some deferred maintenance issues and may have something out of balance. There may also be some issue with the rigidity of my arch. In any case, there is an unacceptable vibration when the 4Winds gets up to speed and it needs to be resolved. When I get the fridge back on line, I will get a better feel for the PV array output and know if I also need the wind machine.

Over the years that we have owned Aurora, there are few areas I have not had apart. I have learned a few things about how the boats were built. I also have questions about some of the things I haven't gotten into, yet. I am sure this group has a lot of knowledge.

Lying Prickly Bay, Grenada, West Indies
(473) 456-7418 (Grenada)
(512) 970-5884 (USA)

[The above was from an email dated 2 August 2014 - ed.]

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