Date: 18 July 2018. Storing the Power
is the final installment in the three-part series about
off-the-grid decadence. It covers what you need to know to
have it all, including refrigeration, while anchored in remote
coves. Today's article is Part Three in the series. It focuses
on batteries and is entitled
Storing the Power (battery charts).
Clicking through is not a favorite
of mine. I want all the information on one page. Thus I put the
three decadence afloat articles together. They detail how to have
refrigeration off-the-grid. The
complete version with all the information contained in the three
Powering the Refrigerator
#3) The power provided by wind, solar
and your alternator is stored in batteries.
please note that I am specifically speaking about the lower cost
lead acid batteries sold at places such as Walmart. That is what I
have aboard Seaweed. Decades ago we had Lead Acid on our 40'er too.
Details on her can be found in
The Fishing Boat
my dreams I have those spiffy new Lithium batteries, that won't
happen for many years. For those with the funds and knowledge to
install lithium batts, gosh, you're fortunate. I'll be following in
your wake eventually. My research (see
Calder's 4th Edition)
says the charging system is quite finicky. You've got to get it
Life is wonderful just as as it is though...
Photo of a rainbow off Manjack Cay ↑
in the Bahamas taken by my friend Irene.
would say you need four times the charging capacity as a minimum for
batteries. Because I have 445 watts of solar, the panels generate
approximately 150 Amp hours per day. Therefore, at a bare minimum, I
should have 600 Amps of battery storage available.
SWITCH, ELECTRONIC FUEL PUMP,
At the top of the picture and bottom, you can see batteries tucked
outbound of the engine along the stringers.
The more power
I have stored in batteries, the better. The goal is to have power to
spare in case of overcast skies. Having lots of batteries gives me
wiggle room (aka time). That means I can wait a few days for the sun
to reappear and recharge my batts.
There is a
level of confidence in knowing that even if I the batteries do get
low, eventually they will recharge without any intervention from me.
The wind will blow. The sun will shine. With either or both of those
things I'll soon enough have plenty of power.
My batteries are fully charged
↓ in absorption mode at 14.2
Length x Width x Height
10.25" x 6.75" x 9"
12" x 7" x 8.75"
13" x 6.75" x 9.5"
13" x 6.75" x 9.5"
20.75" x 8.75" x 10"
20.75" x 11" x 10.25"
In the United States most boats have 12-volt
systems. European boats often use 24-volts as their standard. Some
boats have a mixture. It gets real "interesting" when it is that
complicated. I am grateful my Seaweed runs on 12-volts at present.
Many chose golf cart aka 6-volt batts. With 6-volt
batteries you must wire them in series.
When batteries are wired in series the amperage stays the same and
the voltage increases. (connect + to -) Details
can be found in the
Diagnosing a Bad Battery
6-volt Battery Chart
10.5" x 7" x 11"
11.75" x 7" x 16.75"
I have Group 27 batteries aboard Seaweed. Each weighs
65 pounds. Although I have ten, only nine are in my House Banks.
The Start Battery is sitting under the step in my pilothouse,
starboard side. Having such a sizable house bank allows me the freedom
others might not have.
Aboard Seaweed I don't much worry about having
sufficient power. That's because I have a lot of batteries.
Living on my Seaweed is wonderful. I am truly
The views change however the sunsets remain wondrous.
Because Seaweed is relatively
light weight, the 650 pounds of batteries in bottom center of my boat
have helped with her *pitching. She rides better now with the
additional weight. The downside is I've lost about 1 mph of speed.
That's a lot to lose in a small boat.
*Pitching is when your boat rocks fore and aft. Imagine
a porpoise leaping through the waves. Another way to think about
pitching is to picture yourself on a teeter-totter. That's pitching.
Rolling is when you rock side to side. That motion is likely to
There's a porpoise just forward of the out-rigger pole. Photo taken
when I was on DoodleBug, a 40' Viking.
Life aboard Seaweed is lots more relaxed now than it
was in the past. Years ago I could only dream about having the setup I
now have. The 445 watts of solar translates to 150 Amps of power on a
sunny day. By noontime my batts are full.
Afternoons I watch a DVD movie and have a bowl of
popcorn. Details about nuking popcorn can be found in the
Popcorn for One (and Stone-wave Update)
Life off the grid is so tough. Somehow I manage...
(wink) (wink) Popcorn anyone?
Side Note: Though I have a lot of
batteries I didn't buy them all at one time. They were accumulated
over time. The Experts will say buy all at the same time, with
identical dates on the batteries. That is the Ideal. I do not live in
an ideal world.
Because my batteries were purchased over time, I split them into two
banks. Bank One has the batteries that are between 5-8 years old. The
second bank has batteries that are all two or three years old. This is
not perfect. It is Good Enough.
One thing I am meticulous about is
checking my batteries on the first of each month. Because my batts are
easy to get to, this is not a problem. When you shop for your Last
Boat, having easy access to the mechanical bits will make a world of
This is Paul ↑ from
Sunrize Marine. He finished the work of getting the Kubota up and
running. Thank you Paul!
You met Paul in the
Getting Betsy Ready-to-Go
article. Every time I start the engine I'm grateful.
But I digress... Seaweed runs and that's because of
friends met out here.
As for this life of decadence,
it is because of three things.
Patience: No boat
has it all right from the get-go. Every vessel requires additional
tweaks, improvements and upgrades. The home I have now is far superior
to the one I bought over ten years ago. She is my comfortable oasis.
Each year I save for another improvement.
Ability to make power without fuel:
The wind generator provides some power, especially at night. Primarily
however it is the solar panels that keep Seaweed in juice aka power.
When I had 275 watts, that was not enough. At 445 watts, I never run
out of power.
Storage is Critical:
Having plenty of batteries means that when the sun doesn't shine for a
few days it's okay. I can still keep my life running smoothly. After I
install that last battery I'll have over 1kw of battery power. How
cool is that?!?
Having "regular" storage for life's fun
things is important too. It's not just mechanics that makes a boat a
great choice. Contentment includes having the things that please you
aboard too. I've got both and know I'm very VERY fortunate.
Decadence works for me. I enjoy a
comfortable life aboard Seaweed.
information on power, please also read the
Solar, Batteries and an Inverter
Thanks for reading.
How many batteries do you have in the bilges?
And, what type of batteries do you have? (lead acid, AGM, golf cart,
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