Wind Generator & Solar Panel Installations ~ In-Process

As purchased Rua Fiola had a 400 Watt Air-X Wind Generator and 4 x 75 Watt Solar panels. As all these units were attched to parts of the boat that were scheduled for replacement / refit, thus they were able to be examined and tested in-situ and then off the boat.

The Wind Generator was functional. It is a permanent magnet design with a wound stator and built-in regulator, connected to a STOP switch for very high wind conditions that short circuits the output to prevent blade rotation and electrical output. When dismantled on the bench is was seen that the front body housing was cracked and the double ball shaft bearing were breaking down with high lateral side play. The decision was made to replace it with a like Sunforce 400 Watt unit.

The solar panels were all Siemens 75 Watt ouput units. Two were mounted on the cockpit canvas / framing, which meant that the canvas could never be removed, the other two were tied vertically to the rear safety rails to take advantage of early morning and setting sun. All of them produced output when laid down on the driveway at home, but the cells showed severe degredation and it is doubtfull that anything over 40 to 50 watts would be achievable from them. It has been decided that replacements for at least 2 of them will be purchased.

A major part of the replacement of 20 year old units is to look at the charging connections to the batteries, how well the charge output is regulated and to review what today's technology offers in these respects. The Trace regulator for the solar panels was full of rust,so even though it is still availble it was condemmed. Most solar panels for RV's ... rely on Pulse Width Modulation to regulate the voltage and hence the current going to the batteries. It is cost effective technology and technically OK, so we purchased a 30A GoPower30 unit. The NC25 regulator for the wind generator tested good, and because it has a built in diversion capability to send output elswhere it has been retained. The unit is still in production and as far as gan be seen, its design is unchanged.

The next partof the puzzle is how best to connect the wind generator ans solar panel outputs to the batteries. It was rolled into the decsions being made on the Blue Seas Systems / 3 Battery Bank Charging scheme. Logic has indicated that after feeding the charge outputs through their respective GoPower30 and NC25 regulators that the circuits should be fused for safety and then made common and tied to the House Bank +ve. This has been done but is not yet tested. Also as part of the wiring we decided that shunts should be fitted so that we could look at wins or solar power output as well as see what the votages are. This wiring is prior to the Fuse Hub that the wind generator and solar panel are hooked to, thus by removing fuses OC testing / troubleshooting can be done. We have not thought through reverse current flows that might occur when either the Wind Generator regulated voltage is higher / lower than the solar panel regulated voltage. I might be that the reliance is on the wind generator internal regulator and then both outputs go through a single PWM regulator. We will ask other people for input on this.

One final piece yet to be undertaken is to connect the diverted output from the NC25 when batteries are full charged and send it to the water heater elements. We have yet to calculate the load condition seen by the NC25 in this mode and have yet to think through the AC ~ DC interconnect that occurs when this diversion is allowed, under shore power or pure DC power while at anchorage.

The Sunforce wind generator is being mounted on the new Mizzen Mast and it is probable that 2 x 100 Watt solar panels will be fixed onto the new solid cockpit roof.