Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wind Generator Install

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(Written by the First Mate.  Dictated by The Captain.  Knowledge is his.  Mistakes are mine.)

While doing our wind generator research, we came upon a few forum comments by Behan from s/v Totem, which led us to a blog they wrote about their SilentWind (  Happy with what we saw in the specs (, we ordered one.  

Of course, here comes some cruiser fun.  A phone call to a dealer while we were in Culebra, Puerto Rico advised waiting until we could ship it to St. Thomas.  Two weeks later, we attempt to place an order on their website.  The shipping appears to be $82 until you go to check out, then it's $400!  Uggghhhh.  Now The Captain has to pick up the phone.  "No, that's not correct.  I can take your order over the phone...When it's in stock, we'll ship it."  Huh?  You said they were in stock?  "No, we're out of stock but it should be here in another week then a week to ship."  OK, we've got nothing better to do.  Oh, and they can't ship the mounting pole.  Luckily, we can buy a mounting pole kit from Budget Marine in St. Thomas.  They were very helpful over the phone, had it in stock within a week, and advised to anchor at Christmas Cove (Pizza Pii!) or to take the local Safari bus over and hitchhike back.  Huh?  (Weather wasn't conducive so The Captain took the Safari over and a cab back).

Here is the wind generator install (at a leisurely cruiser pace):

Step mount

Day 1:  Install wind generator mount, 2 hours:  1). Adjust brackets for angled step surface (because it's a "heavy box section with no balsa core"), 2). toe rail using shock mounts from hardware kit, and 3). railing with 1" jaw clamp.

Step mount, slightly modified

Toe rail, forgive the blurry finger

Toe rail to main mount

Jaw clamp to existing boat railing

Second pic to above, boat railing to main mount

The mount is UP

Day 2:  Preliminary wiring 2 hours:  Drilled hole at step (sealed with cable clam), into aft locker, up through second locker, out through old generator conduit to engine well back up to a/c panel in pantry/aft berth.

Wiring run back to our a/c panel

It's here!  I'm in charge of installing the app

Day 3:  Take down mount and run more wiring.  Pick up wind generator at @ 1:30.  Running by sunset.

We saw over 10 amps the first day.  Since, we've seen 28!

Bluetooth capable with iPad app.  Very cool

(Insert video). It was "almost silent" right off the bat.  It seemed to be noisiest through 15 kts then quiet again.  Tinkering with blade spacing made it "silent"!

All done!

Summary after the first week:  Good news?  It's works great!  Bad news?  Light winds most nights in our anchorage.  Apparently, our batteries are toast.  Now part of our day is spent huddled by the charger watching the wind gust vs amps!

Run generator 30 min instead of 60.
12.3 when wake up (we were hoping to keep batts charged overnight)
Average 13.5 by 3:00 pm (combined with solar.  We haven't had a full overcast day yet)
Max 14.0 on the day a cold front passed over!

Our Electrical setup:
Cruiser conversations often come around to electricity.  We need it.  Can't have enough of it.  We live without air conditioning and big screen tv's but most of us must feed an electricity-hungry fridge in 80F heat.  Here's our current set up:

Solar: 4 Renogy solar panels at 100, in series MPPT controller
Battery bank: Trojan T105 660 AH batteries (6 batts x 220 AH) should last 5 years
(Currently 12.7 after gen, 12.3 in AM.  Only 200 AH capacity)

Amp draw:
120 Estimated Amp requirement
75 solar
20 wind
25 deficit/battery bank/generator

Mistakes we've made:  
1). When we first moved on the boat, thinking we had more electricity than we needed, we left the inverter on all day.  We quickly learned that was not necessary or a good idea (uses electricity even when nothing is plugged in).  
2). Not calculating in the shortest day of the year in December.  We should have used the generator sooner as the days got shorter.

We're generally hearing from other cruisers that batteries don't necessarily last 5 years with all the cycles we put them through.  Food for thought.  Still learning.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the shoutout guys - glad our post was helpful for you. Big fans of Silentwind here!