Self-sufficient life | #3 Wind energy

Wind energy on board


In addition to the solar panels, we also generate energy with the wind. Before we leave, we had to look for the most suitable windmills for our project and we had to decide where we wanted to place it. A Trintella IV has two masts, with the choice falling on the posterior small mast; the zaansmast. This mast can accommodate two windmills in two different places. One in front and one all the way up in the mast. We have therefore also opted for two different types of windmills: a VAWT (vertical axis wind turbine) and a normal wind generator.

VAWT in the bezaansmast

We have mounted the VAWT windmill in front of the zaansmast. This windmill was of the type LE-v50, made for at sea. It’s a kind of tube that spins around and should be silent. Before we leave, we put it on the mast, with the aim that in lighter weather this windmill would still generate energy. Unfortunately, the windmill in England has already broken down. The bearings got stuck, which probably had to do with the forces that come up in the mast as soon as the ship sails with a proper sea corridor. We couldn’t fix this windmill anymore and disassembled it from the mast. Maybe it was a bad luck, but we didn’t have much fun about it.

Fortunately, we had also placed a windmill on top of the mast, a Silentwind 400+ 48V. During the connection we encountered some problems, because the charging controller had to be connected directly to the lithium batteries. We didn’t fully trust the charging controller at first, because lithium has a different charging cycle than lead batteries. After we were well informed about this by the company (based in Spain) and knew it could, we connected everything. The result in Groningen was sad. Rarely did the seawell exceed the 50W. At first we thought the controller was broken until we came by boat at our permanent yard Aquatel in Workum. During a strong southwest storm, the windmill got along a lot. The windmill has a power of 400+, with that plus of course very vague. During the hard gusts, the windmill raised above 800W. He did it!

The windmill has been on it for almost three years now, in which we have not yet had to do any maintenance. Next month the boat goes on the side for major maintenance and then I will inspect the wicks. In recent years, the windmill has generated the amount of energy from what we expected. Even while sailing, it’s constantly on. An additional advantage of a windmill is that it also generates energy in the night hours.

We can easily turn off the windmill by hand, but also turns off when the lithium batteries are full. In the case of really strong winds, we turn off the windmill by hand in advance, so as not to demolish things.

Furthermore, this windmill is very quiet we find. Especially compared to other windmills on boats around us. Another windmill I hear a lot of positive stories about is the Eclectic Energy D400.

Could we make this journey with wind, water and sun without windmill? No. We often get enough in places where it is cloudy for a long time and then we really need our windmill.

Next week we’ll tell you all about the electric engine in the boat.

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