Energy Generation Sources
Here is a good instructional video showing you what shading of solar panels do, and why we've chosen to have 5 individual controllers for our solar set-up. We have 590 (5 x 118) watt Solbian panels on Horizon , and 5 x Victron MPPT 75/15 Smartsolar controllers.
We picked a Silentwind 400 as our wind generator. Our main buying rational for this model was low noise and that it start to generate energy at low wind speeds. It's not the highest power on the market, but give more a low speeds. Most people testify that their wind generators always give less that they hoped for. We can certainly agree to that, even though it has contributed enough to be worth while.
We've opted for a 300W Watt&Sea hydro generator that we mount on our Hydrovane mount. This prevented us from drilling more holes into the boat. We can also detach the generator and all mounting hardware and store it when we're not on passage. This also prevents theft.
I've built a board for all controllers , shunts and energy meters (see below). The board is attached on the outside of the battery box (also see below). I built the board to be able to pre-wire and test everything with the board horizontal, and then just feed it down and connect it with 4 screws at the top. This made it easily maintainable, and minimize the damage (number of holes) in the battery box. All the extra holes you see on the board is for tie-wraps for the cables.
Conclusions after sailing 3+ years:
Experience show that 590W solar, 420W wind (Silentwind), and 300W of Watt&Sea hydro generator are taking care of our energy needs. We've opted to not have a gen-set, and that decision has worked great for us. We've never wished we had one.
After we've now been cruising for years, we can say that the installation give us no problem with energy.
While sailing in sunny weather, solar give more than the consumption even when all instruments are on.
If we're making water at the same time, the hydro generator make sure we're positive on charging.
We make all our water ourselves, we charge our dinghy engine batteries, we use an electrical water kettle for all coffee and tea and we have a toaster that's used several times a day. And we also use an induction cooktop one-burner stove for cooking. Even with this, we never need to run the engine to top up the batteries. The charge we get whilst dropping and hoisting anchor is also a welcome additional charge if we've cooked a lot.
Sailing at night, the Watt&Sea almost support the consumption of all instrumentation and radar.
The batteries get to 100% one or two times per week. That is good, but not necessary with Lithium or Firefly batteries.
Average energy from the sources:
Hydro gives the most. But only when moving. If we had to force rank our sources we would buy Solar first, then Hydro. Wind is a nice to have, but we could live without it.
Hydro generate around 3KWh (240Ahr) per day.
Solar generate around 2KWh (160Ahr) per day.
Wind generates around 625Wh (50Ahr) per day
What you see in the picture is:
5 controllers (only 4 in the picture). Victron SmartSolar Charge Controller with Built-In Bluetooth - MPPT 75/15 - 75 Volts, 15 Amps
3 Blue Sea Systems 10 Gang Common 150A Busbar with Cover for connection from controllers and the battery bank.
3 Voltage Power Energy Battery Monitor Amperage Meter Gauge which will constantly show status from solar, wind and hydro generators. You see the three shunts in the picture as well.
Controller board installed on the side of the battery box. The energy meters are faced upwards for easy reading.
Comment: This picture is while we still had the Firefly batteries.
In late December 2018 after 6 month in use of the solar and wind, they've given:
Solar = 91 kWh
Wind = 26 kWh
The Watt&Sea is only used on passages. But has given us:
Translating this into the more popular (but incorrect) AmpHour, we've got 125.8 kWh = 10,480 AHrs (assuming 12 volt) from our renewable sources.
If we assume active use onboard being 100 days, we've got more than 100 AHrs per day from our sources.
Controllers for Wind and Hydro
These are mounted in the garage. The black one with green top is the Watt&Sea controller and the black/blue one is the wind generator controller.
At the bottom of the picture you can see one of the dinghy engine batteries.