Date: 14 April 2016. Power Used
Aboard Seaweed (Part III)
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
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.
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"
and power required per hour)
(4h @ 24w)
min @ 700w)
(24h @ 5w)
(10h @ .3A)
(24h @ 2.5w)
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,
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
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
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
(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.
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?
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Solar Makes Power ~
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