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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 do not particularly care to click through either. In any event, I have 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 meter I could find. It has the fewest features. I do not 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 at least 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 is 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 am 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. [Affiliate links in blue]

Actually it is 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 am at you are going to have to buy some goodies though. You will 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 used in houses: 120 volts of AC.

My second solar controller was a MorningStar ProStar-30 amp.


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.

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

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