Some Solar Stats


After a lot of procrastination I finally wired in the solar panel we fixed in place last summer.

The final solar panel in place

It takes our panel capacity from 640Watts to 1kW. I’m pleased to see the difference it makes, so have some figures to share.

Solar panels supplied by photonic universe


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.

Power sources

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/

Can I also take this opportunity to apologise that our contact and comments options are still disabled.

Looking back over 2017 part 4

For those of you who like statistics here are some from our first years cruising.

Cruising Stats 1/6/2017 – 31/12/2017

Miles – 536
Locks – 331
Swing Bridges – 5
Aqueducts – 109
Tunnels – 20

Propulsion Stats 1/6/2017 – 31/12/2017

Miles travelled – 536
Cruising time (approx.) – 265 hrs
MPH (including locking) – 2mph (average)
AMPs used for propulsion – 33A (average)
KWs used for propulsion – 1.7kW (average)
HP used for propulsion – 2.28hp (average)

Living Stats 1/1/2017 – 31/12/2017

Diesel used – 1,363 ltrs
Cost of diesel used – £971
Generator run time – 298 Hrs
Battery cycles – under 50
Shore power use –  11 full charge

Alternative energy

Miles walked – 1,467.24
Steps taken – 3,298,280
Daily average steps – 9,036
Pints drunk – too many to count

Notes

Cruising stats are for the 6 months after our boat was completed when we could finally leave the boat yard.  Since we lived on the boat from January the living statistics are for the full year.

It is interesting to see how little power we use to propel the boat – just 2.28hp.  If we did not use electricity for lighting, cooking etc. we could cruise for 32 hours on a single battery charge.

We use diesel for all our heating, hot water, and charging the batteries other than when charge from shore power.  It is noticeable how much more we use now the weather is cold.

Unlike a diesel propulsion engine our motor only runs when needed to propel the boat so it is only used for perhaps 10 seconds at low power in a lock and not at all while waiting for a lock.  So flights of locks use negligible battery power.

One full battery charge last us about a week, but in reality we prefer to run the generator several times a week for shorter periods.