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Blue_skies

Wind and Solar power on a Narrowboat

16 posts in this topic

Can anyone tell me, is it possble to run fridge, TV, small hi-fi, laptop and lighting from a small wind generator and a solar power cells (with, say, three reservoir 12v batteries) without having to power up the engine? I guess I'll be using a small hi-fi, laptop and fridge in the day and lighting, fridge and TV (or laptop) in the evening. This will be depend on weather conditions, but by and large, is this possible or do you generally have to power the engine up?

 

Thanks

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Can anyone tell me, is it possble to run fridge, TV, small hi-fi, laptop and lighting from a small wind generator and a solar power cells (with, say, three reservoir 12v batteries) without having to power up the engine?

 

Hi Blue_skies, and welcome to the forum.

 

It's always worth trying the Search facility before posting, and there's already quite a lot on solar and wind power. These should give you a little light reading to be going on with. In no particular order.

 

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=4742

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=228

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=5599

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=6495

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=6856

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=6904

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=2862

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=2244

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=3317

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=6003

http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=6948

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Great list Moley - the Thread-finder general himself couldn't have done better!

 

My response to your question, Blue_skies, would be much shorter: "no". But do digest all the info in Moley's recommended reading list before deciding whether or not to accept the simple answer.

 

Allan

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Hi Blue_skies, and welcome to the forum.

 

It's always worth trying the Search facility before posting, and there's already quite a lot on solar and wind power. These should give you a little light reading to be going on with. In no particular order.

Thanks for the tip :D Interesting reading. From reading so far I reacon the answer may be 'yes' for my basic needs but I could do with chatting to someone who uses this stuff daily. I'm a very energy efficient / energy conscious type so I tend towards low energy usage anyway. I'm planning on doing a lot of touring with long stays and I don't like the thought of burning fuel if I can get away with using what nature provides.

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I have been using wind and solar power to attempt to become self sufficient for about the last 6 years. For the brighter half of the year I can get all my power from 150w of solar panels, even if I was not moving the boat, including running a small fridge when necessary - these can also be modified with a timer to switch off at night and still remain suitably cold, or a manual switch and I have heard of microprocessor controllers making them much more efficient too.

 

I happen to have a mooring in a completely open place with uninterrupted line to the sun from morning to night, no shade. This helps, obviously.

 

Wind power works too if you can be in a windy spot. Places like around Devizes, around Marsworth and there are other places, needs to be really open to allow a good wind to blow. The best wind turbine I've tried (and I've tried several) is the Aerogen 6, expensive unit but I found a secondhand one. That's on a friends boat now and it does good service. But it does need to be a 'clean' wind.

 

Running the fridge in winter isn't feasible I don't think without either being in a very windy spot, which can actually be unpleasant anyway, or running generator/engine. Summer is a different story, solar panels absolutely do work.

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I have been using wind and solar power to attempt to become self sufficient for about the last 6 years. For the brighter half of the year I can get all my power from 150w of solar panels, even if I was not moving the boat, including running a small fridge when necessary - these can also be modified with a timer to switch off at night and still remain suitably cold, or a manual switch and I have heard of microprocessor controllers making them much more efficient too.

I happen to have a mooring in a completely open place with uninterrupted line to the sun from morning to night, no shade. This helps, obviously.

 

 

In a previous life I used to do a lot of running around with light meters and even designed a searchlight derivative to simulate a sunny summer day. This is another case where your brain plays funny tricks on you, (bit like the size of the moon). The difference between that summer day and a bright winters day is a factor of about a thousand.

 

The output required for that searchlight thingy was 1,000,000,000 (one thousand million) candlepower. So don't expect summer/ winter sunlight power to be even comparable.

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I have been using wind and solar power to attempt to become self sufficient for about the last 6 years. For the brighter half of the year I can get all my power from 150w of solar panels, even if I was not moving the boat, including running a small fridge when necessary - these can also be modified with a timer to switch off at night and still remain suitably cold, or a manual switch and I have heard of microprocessor controllers making them much more efficient too.

 

I happen to have a mooring in a completely open place with uninterrupted line to the sun from morning to night, no shade. This helps, obviously.

 

Wind power works too if you can be in a windy spot. Places like around Devizes, around Marsworth and there are other places, needs to be really open to allow a good wind to blow. The best wind turbine I've tried (and I've tried several) is the Aerogen 6, expensive unit but I found a secondhand one. That's on a friends boat now and it does good service. But it does need to be a 'clean' wind.

 

Running the fridge in winter isn't feasible I don't think without either being in a very windy spot, which can actually be unpleasant anyway, or running generator/engine. Summer is a different story, solar panels absolutely do work.

 

Great! Thanks for that. I've an electronics background (electronics degree and over ten years in the electronics design sector) so the challenge of making myself electrically self-sufficient appeals :D I can imagine my boat roof being plastered with these (if they work) ... http://www.selectsolar.co.uk/pics/rollupkit.php and having a couple of turbines on a pole. Does anyone have any experience of using these roll up solar cell mats?

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I don't know what the flexible ones are like just noted that they are 4 times as expensive as traditional monocrystalline panels however if money isn't a big issue then they could indeed be the way to go. Wind turbines are noisy if mounted direct to the boat, and they can be pretty disappointing unless your in a windy area. this sounds obvious but is a VERY BIG DEAL and often overlooked. I suppose in theory if you completely covered the whole roof with the flexible mats spending thousands you might get enough power in the winter anyway, I know someone who has about 6 or 7 of 75w modules and he CLAIMS to get all his power in the winter too but I can't help noticing his twin diesel generators...

 

Regarding winter sunshine intensity. If a 75w PV (max around 5A output in summer sunshine) is aimed directly at the sun on a sunny (not 'bright' but sunny) day midwinter the output can easily be 3 to 4 amps, the sunshine is very intense if there isn't too much haziness. Brightness is a different story. a summer day with cloud is very bright, painful to look at the skies even with thick cloud, but a winters day with cloud is not bright at all. There is a difference between sunlight and brightness and this does affect solar panels a lot.

 

A quick bit of maths on the flexible mats, they seem to be about 35w per square metre whereas monocrystalline are about 117 watts per square metre.

 

Have I got that right?

 

Output, width, length, area, no units/sq.metre, watts per square metre.

20w 300 1858 557400 1.794043775 35.88087549

 

75w 530 1200 636000 1.572327044 117.9245283

 

 

That seems bad to me specially with the limited space on a canal boat roof

 

75w pv dimensions reference 'phaesun' pv third item down on this page:

http://www.brightlightsolar.com/acatalog/Clearance.html

Edited by magnetman
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Great! Thanks for that. I've an electronics background (electronics degree and over ten years in the electronics design sector) so the challenge of making myself electrically self-sufficient appeals :D I can imagine my boat roof being plastered with these (if they work) ... http://www.selectsolar.co.uk/pics/rollupkit.php and having a couple of turbines on a pole. Does anyone have any experience of using these roll up solar cell mats?

 

If you want to be self sufficient, have a background in electronics and want to look in some new areas, have a look at some of the links in this thread http://www.canalworld.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=7201

 

Roger

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A quick bit of maths on the flexible mats, they seem to be about 35w per square metre whereas monocrystalline are about 117 watts per square metre.

 

Have I got that right?

New technology is usually more expensive than existing stuff, it has to be to pay for the R&D and market creation. With this stuff they seem to be justifying the extra cost with it's physical flexibility, lightness and robustness. I think you make some good points and it's likely I'll go for a cheaper standard solution, particularly if the W/m2 are lower on the new stuff compared with existing. At the end of the day power per unit area is the prime consideration.

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Can anyone tell me, is it possble to run fridge, TV, small hi-fi, laptop and lighting from a small wind generator and a solar power cells (with, say, three reservoir 12v batteries) without having to power up the engine? I guess I'll be using a small hi-fi, laptop and fridge in the day and lighting, fridge and TV (or laptop) in the evening. This will be depend on weather conditions, but by and large, is this possible or do you generally have to power the engine up?

 

Thanks

 

No chance.

 

Well....

 

you're talking over 1,000W which is getting a bit impractical on a narrow boat although forum member Justme does have such a land based array.

 

You will however with a medium array of around 250W take care of most of it in the summer.

 

The fridge is a killer and the laptop if you use it all day.

 

Definitely you can run electrical appliances with small solar power generator.

Sunpowerport Solar Generator

 

 

Pullease...

 

This is not going to do anything useful north of the sahara.

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The wind is very unreliable so you cant rely on that at all.

 

200w and up of solar will see you fine n dandy in the summer but you dont stand a 'snowball's in hell' chance in the winter :lol:

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I fear that the OP has found out that he could not power his Laptop with sun or wind power, seeing as he has not been back since 23 April 2007

 

 

:lol: :lol: :lol:

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The wind is very unreliable so you cant rely on that at all.

 

200w and up of solar will see you fine n dandy in the summer but you dont stand a 'snowball's in hell' chance in the winter :lol:

 

I tend to agree, I have a 500watt PV array which runs my boat complete with 12v fridge and 12v freezer. Fine in the summer but do need to top up by other means (engine/genny/shorepower) during the winter. Oh my battery bank is 7 X 110a/h plus starter battery of 110a/h. I run input to bank via a battery to battery charger which really does help.

 

Phil

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