Energy Management

Side solar panels aboard S.V. Cambria
In our very plugged-in world, managing energy aboard and prioritizing systems can be especially challenging. How do we satisfy the seemingly boundless demand for electricity? What amenities do you choose to limit or do without? What power sources work best where?

Check out this variety of posts on solar, wind, and how to manage energy demands. One common theme is the desire to be self-sufficient, off the grid, and environmentally responsible. But being independent types, we each plot our own course to get there.

Topic Coordinator: Suzanne (Orbis Non Sufficit)

True confessions: your topic coordinator, aboard s/v Ambrosia, was reduced to tears when the batteries weren't charging after Sandy blew by.

Carolyn Shearlock from The Boat Galley said that a big solar array made a big difference in their lifestyle. (She noted that costs have come down and efficiency has risen since she wrote this post in 2005, but the basic analysis still holds.)

S.V. Cambria shares three years of solar panel output data and an interesting installation to minimize panels being in the shade. It pays to be green--they recouped their costs in less than three years.

Sun and wind can't always do everything. Get techie as s/v Ceilydh discusses the various engine options for cruising catamarans, diagnosing a faulty panel, (check out the photos of the very cool arch the panels are mounted on), and a discussion of their power generation and consumption aboard. 

Check out some very informative charts and graphs in this discussion of solar and wind power aboard s/v Field Trip

Phil aboard s/v High Life upgraded his battery bank for far less than the West Marine price and upgraded his solar in anticipation of his upcoming cruise to the Bahamas.

Whether or not you think you understand electricity, current, amps, volts, and watts, freshen up your electrical knowledge with this (very humorous and honest) primer from Ean from more JOY everywhere!

Enjoying self-sufficiency and watching the amps pour in on Life Afloat Archives. But remember: don't turn on the lights when it's sunny out!

Ten-year-old Nicky on Namani knows more about power management and priorities than a lot of folks four or five times his age.

S/V Octopussy has a lot to consider in upgrading their electrical system, but they are planning ahead about what system will serve best in their planned cruising locations.

It really helps to stay in places that are nice and sunny, so s/v Perry is working on that. But when the sun doesn't cooperate, it helps to know how to troubleshoot a generator.

Read the first installment of a tutorial series on solar power from Emily at Roads Less Traveled. There are also lots of details, and information about the effects of partial shade, in another post in the blog.

Sea Raven's repowering project means there's a big screen TV, freezer, and plenty of cold drinks aboard.

The frugal, innovative, and resourceful crew aboard SV Serenity show us some serious DIY planning, installation, and perseverance. It doesn't have to look fancy, it just has to work.

S/V Tango considers both the practical and philosophical issue that "energy is nothing to be wasted." 

Tom and Sabrina remind us to "measure twice, cut once" as they show us their solar array installation. 

Get some panel envy over flexible panels zipped into the bimini on Windtraveler. And get the follow-up on performance, and photos of the install (very cool), here.

The two Laurens in Towards the Pacific provided a series of posts in the comments that they describe as "geeky and techie" about how they upgraded solar, batteries, and charging systems aboard their boat.

Jo and Matt have installed solar power on s/v Elise, and now they are off to find perfect weather as they are chasing 70 degrees.

Where there's smoke, Suzanne (Orbis Non Sufficit) had a scary experience with the "dark side" of energy onboard.  (No pun intended ... or was it?)

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  1. Hey, nice blog! our's is a little stale at the moment,but I do have a handful of posts relating to the upgrading of the solar, batteries and charging systems on our boat...


  2. Great list! I have a link that I think might have been overlooked on the first go-round... it shows the solar power setup that kept us going with 2 busy laptops and DC refrigeration without plugging in to shore power from September, 2011 to August 2013, and it gives some stats from observations we made about the effects of partial shade on the panels... http://roadslesstraveled.us/sailboat-solar/ thanks!!!

  3. We're installing solar panels as well as a water maker by Cruise RO. http://sophiasailing.com/2015/09/27/crazy-water/