May is the first full month since we increased our
Solar Panel capacity from 640W to 1kW.
May has not been a good month for Solar power but we
still got more than twice the power we used for propulsion from the sun. It is noticeable how much less we need to run
the generator to keep our batteries charged.
It is now quite practical for us to cruise and live on our boat for a whole week without running the generator. Since we cook with an electric oven, electric hob and use an electric kettle, that is impressive.
Don’t tell Cheryl but I now have a cunning plan to add
two more panels bringing our capacity up to 1.5kW so that a greater proportion
of our total electricity usage comes from the sun and we can run out generator
35:41 hours cruising
56 miles covered
13 days cruising, 18 days moored
Genset use 19hrs
Rain – too much ! !
Propulsion 40kWhrs (17%)
Domestic 197kWhrs (83%)
Solar Panels 89kWhrs (38%) (over twice what we used for propulsion)
Genset 148kWhrs (62%)
Power required for propulsion
1,138 watts per hour cruised
725 watts per mile cruised
Note: Cruising time is based on time from unmooring to starting to moor up. It excludes stops for water and fuel, but includes waiting for locks and sitting in locks waiting for them to fill or empty.
After a lot of procrastination I finally wired in the solar panel we fixed in place last summer.
It takes our panel capacity from 640Watts to 1kW. I’m pleased to see the difference it makes, so have some figures to share.
With the easing of lockdown and the better weather, we are now cruising in a more normal pattern for us, which admittedly is slowly. I’ve been very encouraged by the results we have seen. So far the panels are providing a lot more power than we use for propulsion and over all 51% of all the electricity we have used in the past two weeks, and when you consider we cook electric I think that is pretty impressive. These are the figures for the past 2 weeks, mid April, weather predominantly sunny with some light cloud. Cruising stats • 13:47 hours cruising • 21.9 miles covered • 6 days cruising, 8 days moored. Electricity usage over past 2 week • Total 92 kW hrs • Propulsion 12kW hrs (14%) • Domestic 79 kW hrs (86%) Sources of electricity over past 2 weeks • Solar 47 kWhrs (51%) • Gen set 38 kWhrs (42%) • Battery 7 kWhrs (7%) (note – the 7kWhrs of power that came from the batteries means the batteries had less charge in them at the end of the two weeks then they did at the start by 7kWhrs, which is 13% of our battery capacity.) Power required for propulsion • Per hour cruised – 945 watts • Per mile of cruising – 594 watts • While passing moored boats about 600 watts • At average canal cruising speed (2.5-3mph) 1.7-1.8 kW
Only once in the past 14 days did we use more power for propulsion than we generated that particular day from the solar panels. That was the day we cruised for 4.5 hours downstream on the River Soar and then upstream on the River Trent. Although the boat travels faster and is more efficient on rivers, it still requires more power than on a canal. But even so, we still generated 89% of the propulsion power through the solar panels, so only 11% came from our batteries.
Based on the past 4.5 years records, we only cruise on average once every 2.4 days. So taking into consideration our non-cruising days alongside our cruising days, the solar panels will provide far more power than we need for propulsion. In the past two weeks it has been 3.5 times as much, or 363% which means that even if we doubled the amount of cruising we do, the solar panels will still provide more power than we need for propulsion.
It is also interesting to see how much the power gained is increasing week by week. Two weeks ago the peak power was just 11.5 Amps now, at the end of April, it is over 15 Amps. I expect those figures to continue improving throughout May and June.
For other boaters reading this, you might be horrified at how much electricity we use for domestic purposes. To be fair, we are a gasless boat. We cook electric, use a 240v fridge, an electric kettle and toaster, and the washing machine heats from a cold fill. We run a diesel boiler for heating and hot water. Not to mention the other gadgets that keep us connected to the wider world.
Previous post about our solar set up https://nb-firecrest.co.uk/taking-advantage-of-the-sunshine/
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