05 June, 2012

More Power to Malua - D400 Wind Generator

While Malua relies on wind to sail to her destinations there is not always sufficient to make the trip either pleasant or safe so we turn to the iron spinnaker – the Yanmar 50 HP engine.  To start it one need power in the form of a starter battery which I always keep well charged.  On the other hand the house batteries are being depleted every hour we are sailing.  I found while sailing in the Pacific where the trips are much longer that on the second day just when the crew was getting tired the power in the main battery bank was down to about 60% - the level they should be charged so the Master engineer switched on the engine to charge the battery and everybody's sleep is disrupted not a good situation.

After returning from cruising in the Pacific I installed an additional 400ah of batteries and separated the electronics from the motor units from the place they dray their power. Motors make a noise on the radio and disturbed the electronic such as chart plotters so separation was the order of the day.  Malua now has two (three with starter battery) banks totalling 1000 amp hours.  Clearly sufficient to drive all the electrics and electronic goodies on the vessel.
Over time the energy does however get used and the batteries have to be recharged.  I have in the past relied on a purpose build 13 HP Kupota diesel engine with a 150 amp Leese Nenille DC alternator.  Now that can charge the batteries through an smart regulator in a few hours.  Because it is independent of the main engine it can fulfill other functions like make water and heat the shower water while not putting extra hours on the main engine.

In addition I have two sets of 75 watt Siemens solar panels generating energy when the sun is shining but as any one knows in the Tropics the sun doesn't always shine and at night the batteries get no charge.  The answer to this problem my friends is a wind generator.  After reading numerous blogs and books the bottom line comment on this source of energy is great, free but very very noisey.  I must say having been in a anchorage down wind of some wind generators I agree.

HOWEVER the technology has advanced and the design of the wind blades has also come a long way.  In the early days to keep the cost down they had two, then three and even four blades.  The one I have chosen has five blades.
The D400 from Eclectic Energy.  I actually purchased it from Electricsonboard a hands-on supplier because they supply a rather sophisticated dual output smart regulator and dump resistor.  They are going to deliver the unit to Malua in France at the start of July.  After years of research both via the web and standing down wind of any types of generator I found to my pleasure the D400 made very little if any noise in moderate and high wind situations.  This freedom from noise comes at a cost (doesn't everything good) That of Pounds and weight.  The later being 17kg which puts it at the top of the tree on both counts.

The challenge now is to design a tower or pole for Malua and have it made in France.  I have emailed three stainless steel manufactures in French asking if they can make my design.  So far no response.  So my next move is to arrive with a fist full of euros (getting bigger every day) and get them to do the job in three weeks.  The design is below but that is only the physically visible side.  The major work is in the wiring and set-up to integrate into my current charging and selection system.  I enjoy that challenge and have created a fail safe regime for all four charging sources able to manually charge the three battery banks.  I don't like electronic switches which have the ability to fail when least wanted and burn some component out.  With this system if I switch the wrong switch I will immediately see the puff of smoke when the second line of defence fails.  Hopefully never.

Now I only need Malua, water and some wind.

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