Wind generators - experience and suggestions


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johnenvanessa
johnenvanessa
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We are currently preparing our Dufour Grand Large 380 (2014) for blue water sailing, starting with several months in the Med and a Transatlantic crossing. For her energy management (approx. 400 Ah batteries), we are considering a wind generator, in addition to a second alternator; so far, solar panels are also an option. We are excluding a diesel generator due to several reasons.
I would like to learn from others what your EXPERIENCES and SUGGESTIONS are with regards to WIND GENERATORS?
  • power generation in relation to wind speed in "real cruising conditions"
  • noise below deck - if installed on aft deck
  • installation - physical considerations (e.g. space), materials, cost, tips & tricks etc. 
  • maintenance
  • comparison of brands (e.g. Superwind 350, Air-X from Primus Wind Power, D400 wind generator)
  • benefits vs. risks
  • ...
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Thanks, Vanessa


Dick
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johnenvanessa - 1 Jan 2021
We are currently preparing our Dufour Grand Large 380 (2014) for blue water sailing, starting with several months in the Med and a Transatlantic crossing. For her energy management (approx. 400 Ah batteries), we are considering a wind generator, in addition to a second alternator; so far, solar panels are also an option. We are excluding a diesel generator due to several reasons.
  • power generation in relation to wind speed in "real cruising conditions"
  • noise below deck - if installed on aft deck
  • installation - physical considerations (e.g. space), materials, cost, tips & tricks etc. 
  • maintenance
  • comparison of brands (e.g. Superwind 350, Air-X from Primus Wind Power, D400 wind generator)
  • benefits vs. risks
  • ...
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Thanks, Vanessa


Hi Vanessa,
I do not know much about wind generators, that said:
The most comprehensive and best write up I am aware of reviewing wind generators and their pluses and minuses can be found at Attainable Adventures Cruising web site.
If memory serves, some, perhaps much, was written by OCC member Colin Speedie.
On the site is also a valuable overview on how to think about power generating and an in-depth examination of the various, often confusing, options. The writing is bolstered by a wide array of responders who have been out there and done that.
This site charges a modest fee: far less than a year’s subscription to most magazines and offers far far more. If you are preparing a boat for offshore sailing widely wandering cruising, I believe you will find it worth every penny.
Please let us know what you discover and whether the AAC site was helpful.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy


Richard Hudson
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Hi Vanessa,

I have had a Primus Wind Power Air Breeze aboard my 50' Damien II for about a dozen years, most of them cruising and living aboard full or part-time.

I also have solar panels, and am now on my sixth portable gasoline generator (I don't have a diesel generator).

I like the wind generator. It doesn't put out anything useful in less than about 10 knots of wind. In strong winds, it's quite capable of fully charging all the batteries, and often shuts itself down due to all the batteries getting full.

Sailing to windward, the apparent wind is high, and the wind generator tends to keep up with all electrical usage (which is mostly navigation instruments--I don't have refrigeration). Sailing off the wind, it only puts out in moderate or heavy winds.

How much current it puts out at anchor depends on how well protected the anchorage is. Well-protected anchorages are more comfortable, but tend to be less windy.

I'm cruising Newfoundland now, which is a windy place in winter, and the wind generator puts out a lot, but does not handle all my electrical demands (the solar panels put out little in the short hours of low sun, and the batteries don't work as well in cold temperatures, so the gasoline generator gets used often). 


Installation & Noise:
Mine is mounted on a stainless steel pole (bought from a local welding shop) on the transom. It slightly shades the solar panels, which is bad for their output.   The installation was pretty straightforward.

I can hear the wind generator below decks, and I like that it gives me an audible clue as to the wind strength, even when lying in bed. It is never so loud as to make conversation difficult, so I think of the noise as a benefit.

I have an analog ammeter for the wind generator which is almost useless, so it's hard to give specific performance numbers.  A digital ammeter would tell me a lot more.


Maintenance:
I have replaced the blades a couple of times--first time was because I bought some that were quieter. Second time was because the blades were damaged by hail. The current set of blades are black (does that mean they withstand UV better?), and have been on for about eight years. Despite seeing quite a bit of hail over the last few years, the blades are still in very good condition.

I also replaced the bearings and the circuit board once.

I had a problem with a broken wire inside the wind generator once which took a long time to figure out. Tech support was helpful.



Benefits vs risks:
Overall, I've been happy with the wind generator and would buy another one. It puts out more power than my solar panels when it is windy (and the solar panels put out more when it is sunny and calm).

I don't think of this wind generator as having many risks--there is a stop switch to short it out, which you use before going near it (and it's mounted well out of the way of hands and heads).


If I had to choose between solar panels and a wind generator (which was not your question), I'd choose solar panels.  Solar panels have less to go wrong with them, and even if the controller fails, you can simply wire them directly to batteries and get power from them.  

Hope this helps.  Best wishes with your adventure.

Richard
Michael & Anne Hartshorn
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Dear Vanessa.
We started in 2008, with a towed generator, sun panels on our Bimini, two alternators and a generator. 
The generator was mainly to power our 240V water maker. 
When we arrived in the Caribbean 2010 we added a D400 and moved the sun panels onto an arch on the stern.
Now (2021) we have new sun panels on a hard Bimini using MPPT controllers. Sold the D400 and towed generator.
Changed the water maker to a 12V and still have a generator.

Our thoughts are, the sun panels are better than a wind generator, although the D400 was great and worked well, when we had good wind to work it.
The towed generator was an old design (rope towing a prop) it worked well but we only used it on long trips.
The new Watt&Sea are worth a look and if we did not have a generator would invest in one. 

Totally agree with Dick, the ACC sight, is well worth the time and cost.

If you would like a chat during this lock down please send me an email. We are in the UK and Nimue is on Vancouver Island BC,
so we have time to spare.

Regards.
Anne & Michael Hartshorn.

Dick
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Michael & Anne Hartshorn - 1 Jan 2021

Dear Vanessa.
We started in 2008, with a towed generator, sun panels on our Bimini, two alternators and a generator. 
The generator was mainly to power our 240V water maker. 
When we arrived in the Caribbean 2010 we added a D400 and moved the sun panels onto an arch on the stern.
Now (2021) we have new sun panels on a hard Bimini using MPPT controllers. Sold the D400 and towed generator.
Changed the water maker to a 12V and still have a generator.

Our thoughts are, the sun panels are better than a wind generator, although the D400 was great and worked well, when we had good wind to work it.
The towed generator was an old design (rope towing a prop) it worked well but we only used it on long trips.
The new Watt&Sea are worth a look and if we did not have a generator would invest in one. 

Totally agree with Dick, the ACC sight, is well worth the time and cost.

If you would like a chat during this lock down please send me an email. We are in the UK and Nimue is on Vancouver Island BC,
so we have time to spare.

Regards.
Anne & Michael Hartshorn.

Hi again Vanessa,
A couple of further thoughts, likely already on your mind.
In the Med a wind generator might not have much use: most of the time to little or no wind and almost never at night. When it blows, it blows hard and many feather their generators (or they feather themselves).
This is far less the case in the Carib where the trades are usually present and of sufficient speed to produce good power.
I believe that generally, and especially (but not exclusively) in those latitudes, cruisers are getting a lot more out of their solar arrays: if you can find the real estate. One area to explore (I hear) are portable solar panels, some light weight and rigid (the best producers) and some flexible (less power generated). This might be an option when anchored and stored underway.
For reasons written about elsewhere in the Forum, I would resist the temptation to put solar panels on your stanchions in any way.
With regards to noise: it is important to consider that you not be bothered on your boat. You might also consider others. I know when I go into an anchorage, and look at potential neighbors, I notice wind generators and choose to anchor far away: too many are quite disturbing (not so much the noise per se, but more the changing levels and tones as a boat swings to the wind and the wind speed varies). This is particularly the case if you are not benefitting from the amps produced. This may have improved in recent years.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Dick
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Dick - 1 Jan 2021
Michael & Anne Hartshorn - 1 Jan 2021

Dear Vanessa.
We started in 2008, with a towed generator, sun panels on our Bimini, two alternators and a generator. 
The generator was mainly to power our 240V water maker. 
When we arrived in the Caribbean 2010 we added a D400 and moved the sun panels onto an arch on the stern.
Now (2021) we have new sun panels on a hard Bimini using MPPT controllers. Sold the D400 and towed generator.
Changed the water maker to a 12V and still have a generator.

Our thoughts are, the sun panels are better than a wind generator, although the D400 was great and worked well, when we had good wind to work it.
The towed generator was an old design (rope towing a prop) it worked well but we only used it on long trips.
The new Watt&Sea are worth a look and if we did not have a generator would invest in one. 

Totally agree with Dick, the ACC sight, is well worth the time and cost.

If you would like a chat during this lock down please send me an email. We are in the UK and Nimue is on Vancouver Island BC,
so we have time to spare.

Regards.
Anne & Michael Hartshorn.

Hi again Vanessa,
A couple of further thoughts, likely already on your mind.
In the Med a wind generator might not have much use: most of the time to little or no wind and almost never at night. When it blows, it blows hard and many feather their generators (or they feather themselves).
This is far less the case in the Carib where the trades are usually present and of sufficient speed to produce good power.
I believe that generally, and especially (but not exclusively) in those latitudes, cruisers are getting a lot more out of their solar arrays: if you can find the real estate. One area to explore (I hear) are portable solar panels, some light weight and rigid (the best producers) and some flexible (less power generated). This might be an option when anchored and stored underway.
For reasons written about elsewhere in the Forum, I would resist the temptation to put solar panels on your stanchions in any way.
With regards to noise: it is important to consider that you not be bothered on your boat. You might also consider others. I know when I go into an anchorage, and look at potential neighbors, I notice wind generators and choose to anchor far away: too many are quite disturbing (not so much the noise per se, but more the changing levels and tones as a boat swings to the wind and the wind speed varies). This is particularly the case if you are not benefitting from the amps produced. This may have improved in recent years.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

Hi Anne & Michael,
Where are you in Newfoundland? We have cruised there the last couple of seasons till covid kept us from returning to Alchemy in Lewisporte this season.
My best, Dick

Michael & Anne Hartshorn
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johnenvanessa - 1 Jan 2021
We are currently preparing our Dufour Grand Large 380 (2014) for blue water sailing, starting with several months in the Med and a Transatlantic crossing. For her energy management (approx. 400 Ah batteries), we are considering a wind generator, in addition to a second alternator; so far, solar panels are also an option. We are excluding a diesel generator due to several reasons.
  • power generation in relation to wind speed in "real cruising conditions"
  • noise below deck - if installed on aft deck
  • installation - physical considerations (e.g. space), materials, cost, tips & tricks etc. 
  • maintenance
  • comparison of brands (e.g. Superwind 350, Air-X from Primus Wind Power, D400 wind generator)
  • benefits vs. risks
  • ...
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Thanks, Vanessa


Dear Dick,
We are on Vancouver Island, near Sydney. The boat yard is Canoe Cove, which we have used since 2016 after sailing up the coast from Panama.
During 2019 we went up to Alaska and intended to go back in 2020.
We did get back in March but only for three weeks, before we decided being back in the UK
was better during this pandemic.
Regards
Anne & Michael
Dick
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Michael & Anne Hartshorn - 1 Jan 2021
johnenvanessa - 1 Jan 2021
We are currently preparing our Dufour Grand Large 380 (2014) for blue water sailing, starting with several months in the Med and a Transatlantic crossing. For her energy management (approx. 400 Ah batteries), we are considering a wind generator, in addition to a second alternator; so far, solar panels are also an option. We are excluding a diesel generator due to several reasons.
  • power generation in relation to wind speed in "real cruising conditions"
  • noise below deck - if installed on aft deck
  • installation - physical considerations (e.g. space), materials, cost, tips & tricks etc. 
  • maintenance
  • comparison of brands (e.g. Superwind 350, Air-X from Primus Wind Power, D400 wind generator)
  • benefits vs. risks
  • ...
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Thanks, Vanessa


Dear Dick,
We are on Vancouver Island, near Sydney. The boat yard is Canoe Cove, which we have used since 2016 after sailing up the coast from Panama.
During 2019 we went up to Alaska and intended to go back in 2020.
We did get back in March but only for three weeks, before we decided being back in the UK
was better during this pandemic.
Regards
Anne & Michael

I am sorry: Senior Moment. I meant the previous post for Richard. Dick
Richard Hudson
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Hi Dick, 

I'm in Little Bay, near Marystown (Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland) at the moment.  My boat, Issuma, has been ashore in Twillingate for a few years.  I launched at the end of August, sailed down the East Coast and then started West along the South Coast. 

I stopped here for a few weeks to improve the insulation and add that washdown pump we discussed on another thread.  My intention is to continue slowly (a lot of waiting for weather is required this time of year) cruising the South Coast over the winter.

Richard
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Richard Hudson - 2 Jan 2021
Hi Dick, 

I'm in Little Bay, near Marystown (Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland) at the moment.  My boat, Issuma, has been ashore in Twillingate for a few years.  I launched at the end of August, sailed down the East Coast and then started West along the South Coast. 

I stopped here for a few weeks to improve the insulation and add that washdown pump we discussed on another thread.  My intention is to continue slowly (a lot of waiting for weather is required this time of year) cruising the South Coast over the winter.

Richard

Forgive me if we have discussed this: do you have my harbor notes for the area? Below I will copy & paste my Burin notes. Contact me off line if you wish notes on other harbors in the area. Dick
Burin, Ship’s Cove (2018 and 2019): Easy entrance from either outside direction. We expected to anchor in the N cove (Little Burin Harbor) as we were anticipating a gale from the NE, but we went into Ship Cove for a look-see and were waved onto a fishing boat and helped to moor. This was a lucky happening as Burin is a terrific place to visit. The outer wharf is where fish boats offload, but might be a good place to tie up and get sorted. In 2019 we rafted off the same vessel.
With the new breakwater there is good protection inside the harbor from all directions and we weathered the gale comfortably. The friendly and helpful harbormaster, Marguerite, is there in the mornings. A washer and drier, toilet and shower are located in the building on the hill side of the harbor–just go up the outside stairs to the second floor to the red door (always open) and walk to the far end. No cellular on our phones, but the blue house just on the left before leaving the harbor has a small cellular antenna in it that can be used on their porch if no one is inside to let you in. The Harbor internet was usable depending on mooring location. Please note: in the far corner of the harbor is a constantly running hose with spring water which many locals come to fill their jugs with.
There is a nice museum about 15-minute walk (out driveway and to the right) which also has a Heritage house that is well set up to visit. Ask for a tour to get the details about the 1929 tsunami, Al Capone, and the planned marijuana greenhouse in the old fish plant. Next door to the museum is a café with good food. Both grocery stores have closed. Look up to find a bright blue VW bug perched high on the rock with a turnkey on its stern and moose antlers up front (also a ship model).
If you can wangle a car or truck (there is an Enterprise dealer somewhere close-ish at hand, I believe) the driving in most every direction is marvelous, the more remote choice of roads the better. There is a tidal wave memorial a few miles away.
Hiking: We hiked up to Cook’s Lookout (CL) which is marked by the large pole on the hill to the N of the marina. We took a shortcut up the backside (no trail) from the cemetery past the church near the wharf. Took 30 minutes and had gorgeous views all the way to the top. We came down by the trail which was one of the loveliest in NF we have found. If going up via the trail, leave Ship’s Cove and take a right on the road heading to the museum/café, and then a left at the intersection just before the museum. Walk ~~½ mile to an exhibition hall (former school), take a left and go straight up the hill till you see a sign for the trail to CL. The trail is well marked and quite easy-going, probably 45-60 minutes to top. In 2019 they were adding stairs and boardwalks.
Just off the road from the harbor to the left (look for sign on side of road) is a hike up and over Man O’War hill to the next bay where the United Church is located that is so prominent upon entrance to the harbor.
Up farther on the road to the left from the harbor is Jerry Cheeseman’s lookout, another really terrific view.
Also, the RC Cemetery on your way to the museum is newly refurbished and worth a wander around. Historical placards are planned. Also, just beyond the church across the street, in the woods, are numerous very old graves interspaced in the trees, many only marked by re-bar crosses, unique in my experience and really worth a visit.
Burin is one of the more lovely and special places we have visited, just gorgeous.

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