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Electricity and Water do not mix! Ha!
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Thursday,20 March, 2014
1:20 pm
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Electricity and water do not mix!

At least not according to most of the perceived wisdom. But, I beg to differ and so do a few adventurous souls. Who, when I get my own laptop back and can find their web pages, will get a mention.

Confused? Don’t be…at least not yet!

You see, I want a boat with a solar powered electric motor for propulsion.

Now when I first raised this issue on a couple of canal forums it caused a bit of a storm from those whose instant reaction was “It can’t be done!” and those who were or had actually done it! In point of fact it was generally accepted (even by me) that unless I had a hybred (diesel genny to charge batteries to run a motor) then it was not practical and far too costly.

Yet to me a hybred defeated the object of the excercise. Which is, in part, to be self sufficient. Minimal energy bills, especially diesel as the cost is skyrocketing.

So I left it for bit but kept finding myself returning to the idea and dug deeper and it IS practical. Perhaps not for others but for me, how I live, plan to live, use the boat, etc I think I can do it. I will explain the workings of it in another post, But this is the genesis of my idea so…”Let there be (solar powered) light!”

In fact my idea is to get my outgoings down to the barest minimum so when I reach retirement age I can afford to do so and still live on my boat.

Now Solar panels have a life span of 25 years (and at the current rate of disintegration so do I) while batteries (assuming the right type and properly looked after) have approx 10 years.

The cost of both have come down in recent years as their efficiency has gone up. Especially solar panels whose low light capacity has increased amazingly even from just a 2-3 years ago.

The point is to have sufficient panels of the right sort that even if the UK sun does not shine there is sufficient power to charge a large enough bank of the “right” batteries (not all batteries are created equal) to hold a decent amount of power. Again I will explore this in greater detail in later posts but you get the gist.

As I intend to live aboard I will not be cruising for days at a time but merely as required to be a continuous cruiser over (if it all goes to plan)  between the Lee Valley Navigation and Aylsbury on the Grand Union. So meandering along every few days rather than 14 days here then move and 14 there, etc. With longer trips as and when perhaps up the Thames Valley and definately at some point the K & A.

A lot depends on my working pattern. I am a Consultant Solicitor working for Law firms and In-House teams on a contract basis.

My oldest son will be with me for the first year until he goes to Uni. He has a job in Chesham (I have role in Ware) hence the spread of travel depending on who wants to travel to work the furthest and if I feel generous! LOL!

Next time I will talk a bit more about my ideas for the boat I just need to order the last two years research in my brain first!

 

 

 

“Never give up, never leave anyone behind!”

“Life is NOT a dress rehearsal !”

” I am NOT a 'civilian'…I am ex-military!”

“Once I was , young, handsome and immortal ! These days… I think immortality is overrated!”

 

Sunday,23 March, 2014
9:12 pm
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I’ve been down the same road, on and off, for a year or so. Free cruising with no engine noise is a hugely attractive proposition – what’s not to like? My plans are for summer continuous cruising, moving say every other day on average, 2 or 3 hours when we do, no rush, this is the canals. My back of an envelope calculations showed that a bank of about 8 solar panels should suffice, and still leave enough charge for overnight demand (especially if you stop cruising at a civilised 4pm or so). There’s just enough space on the roof of a 58 foot semi trad while leaving enough space to move through if you need to. My main concern is making the battery bank last more than about 3 years, as my experience of boating batteries so far suggest that’s all you can expect. Of course you can go for the forklift batteries but that’s a huge investment when they need replacing –  similar maybe to the cost of a conventional new engine? The one question I haven’t found a good answer to though is – how do you get a tank of hot water without a separate solar water heater? And I’ve never seen one of those on a boat! Let me know if you solve that one, and I’m in!

Monday,24 March, 2014
1:30 am
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They are available. I have boaty friend who is a live abord and is putting one in himself. I intend to watch over his shoulder and see how it goes.

Otherwise, It will be off my stove. I am building my own “Rocket Stove” cooking Range. Watch a future post for info on this.

Oh, and yes traction batteries are the way to go. With proper care they should last 10 years. Also discovered a 12volt immersion. Need to look further at that.

“Never give up, never leave anyone behind!”

“Life is NOT a dress rehearsal !”

” I am NOT a 'civilian'…I am ex-military!”

“Once I was , young, handsome and immortal ! These days… I think immortality is overrated!”

 

Tuesday,25 March, 2014
12:48 pm
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Hi all.

Just my two penny worth. Lived of grid for 10 years.

Solar water heating does really need direct sunlight.

There is a system to use low power, around 1Kw/h to heat water using ambient air temperature to warm up your water, a sort of reverse air conditioning unit. Overall it saves power but I don’t think I am convinced it works.

I have seen a few boats with solar water heaters, very ungainly looking.

You might consider perhaps mounting your heating pipes on the upper hull sides, both sides, and using the reflected light from the water as well.

The main problem is where to store your hot water and how much will you need each day after sundown, we had a 200 litre tank on the roof of the house but on a boat? 

The newer HIT type of solar panels (electrical) work even without direct sunlight i.e. cloud, but obviously with reduced out, but better than previous models,  but they will not produce much power in the shade of buildings etc.

Traction batteries as in fork lift type are usually expected to last about 5 years, I managed 7 years before the individual cells started to fail, performance had fallen over time but by my understanding of my figures I was still seeing them as about 80% of the original condition.

I then switched to semi traction which are expected to last 15 years. Having had them for less than 2 years before returning to the UK I cannot tell you any thing about their life time use.

I can say that my batteries withstood high loads less well than the traction types so I suspect that running a big motor of around 10Kw will not do them any good in the long term.

Which ever batteries you use the general rule to apply is that the less % you take out each day the longer they will last. 

 

You should give it a try. After all in the worst case scenario it is always possible to buy a small portable generator.

Feel free to pm me if I can help with any advice.

 

Tuesday,25 March, 2014
3:09 pm
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Where the mood takes me, from the south coast to the canals of England/Wales
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Hi Stylon,

 

Perhaps it might help for some input from someone who has used an electric 60 foot narrow boat.

 

First I note that the Thames will be part of your intermittent cruising range, that means having the ability to cruise against the rivers currents. From experience the electric motor will need to be about 14 KWs, 5mph current + cruise of say 5mph.

 

I have not checked recently, but to be classified as a pure solar boat you will need to have 1.2 KWs of solar panels.

 

Some basics from experience.

 

Using 48 volts to cruise at 4mph on the canals the motor will use about 80 Amps. So 5 hours cruising will use 400 Amp/Hours. Assuming 1000 Amp/hour of batteries that is 80% of the usable, leaving 100 Amp/hours for the domestic side of the boat overnight. All of which has to be put back into the batteries before you can use the again for cruising.

 

Solar panels perform at their best when set at an angle of about 50 degrees to the horizontal and facing the sun. So 1.2 KWs @ 48 Volts on a perfect day will give about 25 amps. So if you have a perfect 10 hour day and the panels are always orientated directly at the sun you might get 250Amp/hours, or just over 3 hours cruising at 4 mph. Practically on a boat that is cruising the panels will be laid flat and you will probably get something of the order of 125 Amp/hour on that perfect day.

 

Whichever way I have looked at it an electric boat needs to have a generator in the UK, there is just not enough sun.

 

I think my suggestion would be to go for an all electric boat, cooking, induction hob, as well as propulsion. Fit as many solar cells as possible, and the biggest battery bank of good batteries as can be afforded. To that add a 5KW diesel generator, diesel because you can buy the diesel at heating rates and not pay the extra duty for propulsion diesel. Plus a good 100 Amp charger. If you estimate 1 litre of diesel per KWH being drawn then it will take something of the order of 7 to 10 litres to fully recharge the batteries ignoring anything the solar panels have put into the batteries.

 

That in a nutshell is the basics for my dream Aluminium boat, when I win the lottery.

 

Hope that helps, your welcome to PM me and we could if you wish chat on the phone.

 

GM

 

 

Monday,7 April, 2014
1:02 pm
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Martincowin, GM

 

Thank you VERY much for some really good advice and the offer of your experience.

I will certainly be taking you up on it.

Sorry for the delay in this reply but have been otherwise engaged brushing up my carpentry and plumbing skills for a friend. Amazing how much you forget if you do not use the skills.  Still, I kept ALL my fingers and most of my toes! (Memo to self: You are NO spring chicken! Get help moving panels around!!)Embarassed

“Never give up, never leave anyone behind!”

“Life is NOT a dress rehearsal !”

” I am NOT a 'civilian'…I am ex-military!”

“Once I was , young, handsome and immortal ! These days… I think immortality is overrated!”

 

Monday,7 April, 2014
2:16 pm
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lol Ah age catching up. I tried to move an 8×4 17mm chipboard yesterday and it reminded me I am past 72. :-)
The bones etc

Always happy to help when I can. Paul is welcome to give you my email.

G

Tuesday,6 May, 2014
9:16 am
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@GM

can you say anything about the power usage at lower speed level?

(the factor speed go’s with v^3 into the equatio,n if i recollect it right…)

Tuesday,6 May, 2014
11:14 pm
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72!!  At my current rate of deterioration I wont LIVE that long!!  LOL! Seriously you remind me of my Uncle Rick, from whom I learned most of my electrical, plumbing, chippying skills. He is 70 and still putting in a full days work, dreaming dreams and schemes and building projects around the world! Tires me out watching him!

But then work is fascinating! I can watch it for hours! LOL!Wink

 

GM said
lol Ah age catching up. I tried to move an 8×4 17mm chipboard yesterday and it reminded me I am past 72. :-)
The bones etc

Always happy to help when I can. Paul is welcome to give you my email.

G

“Never give up, never leave anyone behind!”

“Life is NOT a dress rehearsal !”

” I am NOT a 'civilian'…I am ex-military!”

“Once I was , young, handsome and immortal ! These days… I think immortality is overrated!”

 

Wednesday,7 May, 2014
6:26 am
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stlyon said

72!!  At my current rate of deterioration I wont LIVE that long!!  LOL! Seriously you remind me of my Uncle Rick, from whom I learned most of my electrical, plumbing, chippying skills. He is 70 and still putting in a full days work, dreaming dreams and schemes and building projects around the world! Tires me out watching him!

Alan Cazaly, who I have mentioned in the newsletters from time to time, gave up working two years ago. He didn’t like retirement so he started a cratch cover repair business at the beginning of this year. The business is doing very well. Alan is seventy nine.

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Wednesday,7 May, 2014
8:48 am
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Paul Smith said

stlyon said

72!!  At my current rate of deterioration I wont LIVE that long!!  LOL! Seriously you remind me of my Uncle Rick, from whom I learned most of my electrical, plumbing, chippying skills. He is 70 and still putting in a full days work, dreaming dreams and schemes and building projects around the world! Tires me out watching him!

Alan Cazaly, who I have mentioned in the newsletters from time to time, gave up working two years ago. He didn’t like retirement so he started a cratch cover repair business at the beginning of this year. The business is doing very well. Alan is seventy nine.

 

Something tells me that Alan is not registered disabled with mobility problems. Oh how I wish I was not. :)

Monday,12 May, 2014
9:23 am
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GM, from all I read from you, your brain hasn’t become immobile! Lots of good thinking, ideas and advice still in your head, for sure!

Cheers, Marilyn

Monday,12 May, 2014
10:59 am
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cherswud said
GM, from all I read from you, your brain hasn’t become immobile! Lots of good thinking, ideas and advice still in your head, for sure!

Cheers, Marilyn

:) Many thanks Marilyn. I’ll keep trying :)

Thursday,3 July, 2014
5:42 pm
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stlyon said
Electricity and water do not mix!

At least not according to most of the perceived wisdom. But, I beg to differ and so do a few adventurous souls. Who, when I get my own laptop back and can find their web pages, will get a mention.

Confused? Don’t be…at least not yet!

You see, I want a boat with a solar powered electric motor for propulsion.

Now when I first raised this issue on a couple of canal forums it caused a bit of a storm from those whose instant reaction was “It can’t be done!” and those who were or had actually done it! In point of fact it was generally accepted (even by me) that unless I had a hybred (diesel genny to charge batteries to run a motor) then it was not practical and far too costly.

Yet to me a hybred defeated the object of the excercise. Which is, in part, to be self sufficient. Minimal energy bills, especially diesel as the cost is skyrocketing.

So I left it for bit but kept finding myself returning to the idea and dug deeper and it IS practical. Perhaps not for others but for me, how I live, plan to live, use the boat, etc I think I can do it. I will explain the workings of it in another post, But this is the genesis of my idea so…”Let there be (solar powered) light!”

In fact my idea is to get my outgoings down to the barest minimum so when I reach retirement age I can afford to do so and still live on my boat.

Now peimar solar have a life span of 25 years (and at the current rate of disintegration so do I) while batteries (assuming the right type and properly looked after) have approx 10 years.

The cost of both have come down in recent years as their efficiency has gone up. Especially solar panels whose low light capacity has increased amazingly even from just a 2-3 years ago.

The point is to have sufficient panels of the right sort that even if the UK sun does not shine there is sufficient power to charge a large enough bank of the “right” batteries (not all batteries are created equal) to hold a decent amount of power. Again I will explore this in greater detail in later posts but you get the gist.

As I intend to live aboard I will not be cruising for days at a time but merely as required to be a continuous cruiser over (if it all goes to plan)  between the Lee Valley Navigation and Aylsbury on the Grand Union. So meandering along every few days rather than 14 days here then move and 14 there, etc. With longer trips as and when perhaps up the Thames Valley and definately at some point the K & A.

A lot depends on my working pattern. I am a Consultant Solicitor working for Law firms and In-House teams on a contract basis.

My oldest son will be with me for the first year until he goes to Uni. He has a job in Chesham (I have role in Ware) hence the spread of travel depending on who wants to travel to work the furthest and if I feel generous! LOL!

Next time I will talk a bit more about my ideas for the boat I just need to order the last two years research in my brain first!

 

  I think you have solved my problem.. Even I and my family members are touring a lot so our power demand is limited.. Now I will follow your eay and save some money..

 

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