A correctly installed solar panel is an essential component of a cruising boat’s energy supply system
When I moved my new Nicholson 32 sloop, Alibi of Bridham, from a marina to a mooring this summer I also had to rethink my power requirements, since the change meant severing my umbilical to the grid. Although I had a powerful (read: noisy) wind generator as an alternative power source, along with a small photovoltaic (PV) solar array to keep the engine’s cranking battery topped up when the wind dies, I’ve since decided to lose the noisy windmill and go wholly solar.
An important part of this process has been doing my best to save energy to help
balance the budget. With this in mind, I’ve installed LED bulbs both belowdecks and in my nav lighting. The resulting 90-percent reduction in lighting consumption has allowed me to remove one of the four 110Ah batteries from my domestic bank, leaving less to charge and shedding excess weight.
I also ditched my 2kW inverter (and associated AC appliances) for a 500W model, fitted a water-cooled refrigerator condenser with a holding plate, and installed a low-power digital radar. As a result, I trimmed my total consumption by about 40 percent. In fact, if things turn out okay, I might even someday remove another battery.