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Date: 14 April 2016. Power Used Aboard Seaweed (Part III)


My friend says people prefer to have all the information on one page and in one article. I don't particularly care to click through either. In any event, I've covered a lot of material herein. In bite-sized pieces the articles are:

  1. Batteries Store Power (Part I)

  2. Solar Makes Power (Part II)

  3. Power Used Aboard Seaweed (Part III) ←this one

  4. Inverters Make AC Power (Part IV)

The complete version with all the information
contained in the four articles is on this page:

Solar, Batteries and an Inverter, the complete series.


This is Part III, entitled
Power Used Aboard Seaweed.
I knew my refrigerator used a lot of juice aka power. How much exactly was the question. A Kill-O-Watt meter will tell you how much power your items consume. In 80 degree ambient temperature my reefer/freezer combination (the smallest made, 3.1 cubic feet by Haier) requires 60 amp hours in a 24 hour period.

P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor

I bought this unit to determine exactly how much power my cheap a/c powered refrigerator uses. It provides power and time. From that it was easy to figure out amps I need to supply each day for my life of decadence.

Using solar power I know I need to generate 60 amps per day to run the reefer.

Affiliate link.

This was the least expensive one I could find. It has the fewest features. I don't need complicated.
The meter just needs to work.

Side Note: Online was far less costly than in local stores which had the fancy ones. Electrical gurus might want the information those provide. I did not require more than the basics so opted for simple. J.

I generate 150 amps per day with my solar panels. The refrigerator/freezer uses 60 amp hours during 24 hours. That leaves me a theoretical 90 amps for everything else.


Definition of "everything else"

Item (time and power required per hour) Daily Power Required Item (hours used) Daily Power Required)
Computer (12h @ 15w) 20A DVD player (4h @ 24w) 10A
Microwave (30 min @ 700w) 21A VHF Radio (24h @ 5w) 12A
Anchor Light (10h @ .3A) 3A Depth Sounder (24h @ 2.5w) 6A

As you can see, when I add in the refrigerator/freezer (60A) I'm using about 130A per day for my life. The microwave estimate included a couple of bowls of popcorn plus reheating, tea making, etc.

I need to make that much power daily to support my life of decadence.

Could I use less power? Absolutely. Do I want to? Nope. This is my home. I intend to live forever aboard Seaweed. Having the accoutrements of a comfortable life means that will happen. Those that have to "rough it" long term are often left unhappy.

I am woman, over fifty and appreciate things like ice cubes in my tea. A refreshing cool tangerine (Cuties or Halo brands preferred) right from the reefer is such a treat on a warm afternoon. Having lived without those things makes me appreciate them all the more.

Would I go back? No. Make that HECK NO! Life is great aboard my Seaweed.
Yes I am spoiled. And grateful, blessed, fortunate and so happy to be here.

It's wonderful on the water...

When starting out you do not need to have Everything. What you do need is a plan.

The plan for Seaweed included a wind generator and solar panels. With the current solar panels (445 watts generating 150A per day) I'm set. Life for me is no different at anchor in a remote cove than it would be when tied to a dock with a power cord.

Actually it's better at anchor. The only neighbors are fish, birds and dolphin. There is a simplicity of life at anchor. Days start when I wake up. One day that might be at 0400 and the next it could be nearly noon. This retirement thing is Awesome!

To get where I'm at you're going to have to buy some goodies though. You'll need solar panels, a solar controller (it puts the correct voltage of power into your batteries) and an inverter. An inverter turns DC battery power into the stuff you use in houses: 120 volts of AC.

My second solar controller was a Morningstor30.

About Solar Controllers: They are rated for specific wattages. Originally with my 75 watt panel I had a Morningstar10. It could have handled a 100 watt panel. The Morningstar30 shown above would work fine for up to 300 watts. Later with the addition of the two newest panels I upgraded to a MPPT60. It will support up to 600 watts of solar.

For further information on the differences between the two types of controllers, the Solar Regulators (Standard vs. MPPT) article would be worth a read.

Life is wonderful afloat. To keep up my standard of decadent living, I need to generate just less than 150 amp hours per day. My solar panels deliver that. The power is stored in my battery bank.

Please Note: This is a multi-part series about power for your boat's goodies. It encompasses solar power, batteries and inverters. Part Four, is next: Inverters Make AC Power. The complete version with all the information contained in the four articles is on this page:

Solar, Batteries and an Inverter, the complete series.

Currently (April 2016) my Comments are broken. Fortunately folks have emailed input, so here you go:

From Cap'n Todd:
1. MPPT controllers - These controllers are great IF you have multiple solar panels wired in series. If you only have one panel or have your panel wired in parallel there is very little benefit to an MPPT controller versus the much cheaper PWM or simple on/off controllers.

2. Actually during the summer we have more hours of sunlight up north than you do down south. For example right now you have about 13 hours of sunlight a day while here in Maine we have about 14 hours. In late June we will have almost two hours more sunlight each day than you do. The difference is in the sun angle (ours is lower). That matters for horizontal fixed panels, but in late June/early July we will not be far behind you in power from our solar panels due to our longer days. If you have solar panels that are angled to account for sun angle (doesn't work on the hook), you can do better here than down south during the summer. However, that requires an active sun tracking system which takes power to run and will reduce useable output and will break down now and then. It is an option for the dock queen type boat, but not needed if there is shore power available.

How much power do you use each day aboard your boat?
What sort of charging systems do you use?


2016, 2021

Categories: Gear, Recommendations,

Solar Makes Power ~ Previous Post ...    ... Next Post ~ Inverters Make AC Power


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