Course How To

Solar power energy, houseboats, and hurricanes

by Roger
(Somewhere, FL)

Typical battery banks for solar power energy storage.

Typical battery banks for solar power energy storage.

Solar power energy is so far the best source of electricity for houseboats, or a non dockside house, but there can be problems. In this post I will explain what I've encountered.

For a long time the topic of hurricane plans have been talked about and I had what I thought to be was a well thought out plan. With a hurricane forecast to hit our area, I was anchored in, and I put my hurricane plans into motion.

First the selection of a good location had been made years ago and I had a nearby bay that was about 300ft long & 100ft wide, well protected with small scrub trees and a few large cypress that had been pruned of large limbs from previous hurricane.

I ran lines from 3 cypress on starboard and 2 on port, 1 bow anchor, 1 stern anchor, all lines were given enough slack for storm surge plus enough to sit on bottom.

I had probed the bottom for debris and found it to be clear of anything that might have harmed the bottom most of the bottom was 2ft of muck.

I had enough fuel to run engines to charge batteries in case of long periods of no sunshine. I felt I was ready for a storm up to 140, after that I didn't know.

I was blessed that the storm went to east of me leaving me on the right hand side which is calmer, but it also has the effect of sucking water out.

I was left sitting on the bottom for long period and no sun to charge batteries. The plan was to run main engine to charge batteries but sitting in muck I couldn't because I need water to cool engine (bad plan).

When I did get enough water to run engine at 60 amps your talking a long time. I have three banks of batteries, but I have too many batteries in a bank, what I now believe is 4 to 6 batteries in a bank is all you want.

rewiring and dividing the battery banks so that I'll have 6 banks in all. It's much easier to recharge when they are discharged. Although I swore I would never have a generator on the boat because of cost, noise, and exhaust issues.

Well now after giving in, I now have a generator because when you're in a situation where your well being depends on things like refrigeration, storm information, pumps, lights and also watching my Nascar races, it's important.

Thanks, Roger, Somewhere FL

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Reply - Answer
Well Roger, glad to hear that you made it through the hurricane safe and sound, but I'm sorry you missed the Nascar races :(

You're post is one of truth and experience, that fully explains the planning involved in solar power & hurricane preparation.

I guess the moral of the real life story is to have a Plan A and Plan B when it comes to installing solar power energy system, and riding out major storm forecasts. I guess that a wind generator could have been a good alternative energy source.

For readers who are interested or contemplating wind generators or solar power panels as an energy source will enjoy reading our Wind and Solar Powered Houseboats page.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their houseboat solar power installations and experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found at the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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