Date: 22 October 2021. Solar on Cloudy Days
(#5 in series)
Of course any off-grid
power set-up tends to be tweaked, improved, and upgraded over time.
There are always more projects on a boat. We reach one plateau and
promptly extend the goalposts a bit further with the next Great
Idea. I started with two 100aH batteries, which doubled to four due
to the gift from Mary and Christian. Over the years I have increased
that to seven batteries in the bilge. That is a lot!
Being able to generate power
is only one part of the off-grid solution. Having adequate storage for said
power is critical too. Thus, batteries are a required element. And
the more, the better.
For a synopsis about
batteries aboard Seaweed,
please read the Batteries
Store Power article.
Chasing green water, I
moved the boat south to the St. Petersburg area.
I've been here meandering around for quite some time. It is
beautiful, albeit crowded.
Once I arrived in St.
Petersburg I was gifted two more solar panels from Bucky. This pair made
Thank you again Cap'n Larry and Eva. Your panels put me over the top
in power production.
The two 85 watt panels were installed outbound above my
two Bucky panels increased the total wattage of my solar array to
445 watts. That sounds like a lot, and
indeed it is. The five panels reliably provide 150aHs per day when
sunny. This is sufficient for my decadent lifestyle. Excluding the
air conditioner, there is zero difference between my life at the
dock or while anchored. Those last two panels secured a relaxed
off-grid life. I now really don't consider power at all, unless it is
I currently use approximately 150
amp hours per day.
In total I have seven
batteries, each with the potential to store 100aH. That means
the when batt is fully charged, I have 700 amps. Nigel Calder
Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual
4th Edition tome recommends that
folks like me with Lead Acid batteries not take our batts down
below 50% of full. Thus, though I have 700 amps of power
it is unwise to use more than 350aH of said total.
Lead Acid batteries are the least expensive available. They require
maintenance. Details on how I check my batteries is found in
Battery Check and Cheater Method
I am happiest when my
batteries are above 12.4 though that is not
usually possible until the sun shines on my solar panels in
Normally on a sunny day the
batteries recharge to full via solar panels.
*Charging Via Solar ... even on a cloudy day I can
generally get in 30 amps via my 445 watts of solar panels.
|Day 1, start
||minus 150 =
||plus 30 = 580aH
|Day 2, start
||minus 150 =
||plus 30 = 460aH
to batteries going down I
would now cut back to 100aH daily...
|Day 3, start
||minus 100 =
||plus 30 = 390aH
At this point, Day 4, the refrigerator has
to be shut down. I am in a difficult situation.
I do not want to use my Lead
Acid batteries below the 50% mark. Although occasionally it is okay
and the batts will recover, I prefer to be careful. That is why my
batteries last from five to seven years on average.
I primarily rely on solar to
power my life off-grid.
With the reefer turned off,
I can maintain a minimal lifestyle at anchor. Although I won't
be nuking popcorn I can utilize propane for cooking. I will
still be able to visit
Trawler Forum online via the lovely
tablet I was given. Thank you again Cap'n Gary for that. I
never imagined how cool a tablet could be! And too, my Kindle
beckons on these lazy days of autumn... I indeed blessed.
The thing is, as long as I am
having windy days I can manage to continue life as normal with
the power generated by my Air-Breeze wind generator. It will
supplement the lack of solar on cloudy days. Often times, if
the sun is not shining there is some wind.
I will say that in Gulfport I found the breezes
I had missed since the east coast.
This Tidewater center console boat is heading
across the bay near Gulfport.
The Problem with Gulfport is that my boat is smaller than
most. Gulfport has a great deal of fetch. I explained fetch in
By the Shipyard
article. Basically the danger occurs if there is a long
distance between you and the shoreline combined with winds.
Winds will cause the waves to increase.
For those of
us with smaller vessels, it is wise to anchor in areas with
nearby shorelines. This means I chose to be out of those
winds, thus must rely on my solar system for power. Solar when
combined with a hefty battery bank enables my life to be
incredibly decadent. But there's more to it than that. The next article
will conclude the series.
Thank you for reading. Happy
I am curious as to how large a solar array you have? Or
plan to have...
And, how much battery capacity do you have?
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Categories: Boat Talk,
Adding Renogy and Upgrading Solar Regulator (#4 in series) ~
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