Solar and Wind For Sailboats – What is Best?

What is the best way to approach making your own electricity when you are planning on living aboard a sailboat? This is the decision that my wife and I are getting ready to make in the very near future assuming a few things line up. But, one of the main questions we have is with regard to output and of course what types of things we can expect considering the places we plan to sail.

One of the used sailboats we are very highly considering to purchase, has both wind and solar.  There are a total of 3 solar panels on the boat, two smaller ones and one larger one which add up to a total of 250 watts.  AND, we have been told by some other sailors that this should be just about enough to allow us to run the small refrigerator and some night-time lights and a few other common things.

Charging the Engine Batteries with Solar

Believe it or now, I for sure overlooked one of the biggest objectives that I should have considered all along with my solar power interest….being able to charge the starter battery.  That’s right, the sailboat’s diesel engine is of absolutely no use if there isn’t any juice left in the batteries to get it started when its needed.  So, after talking with the current owners and consulting the manuals, it definitely appears that the current PV solar panels will supply more than enough electricity to make sure we have enough to crank over the inboard engine when the time calls.

Here is an article about figuring out what is best for your sailboat when considering solar and wind:

What about a Wind Generator on Sailboats?

This particular sailboat, and Island Packet, also has wind on its transom.  And, depending on the time of year, we have heard that the wind turbine will quite possibly supply more power than the solar panels.  This was actually some great news.  When it’s windy and we need electricity, we can turn the brake off the turbine and let it rip.  When we are topped off, we can simply turn the brake on and not have to listen to it whipping around all the time.

There are some concerns we have as potential sailors, and if we move forward with all this, we’ll have to see if what everyone is saying is true about the system’s capabilities.  But, with our fingers crossed, it looks like we might be getting in some off-the-grid living afterall, just not on land.

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