sailboat solar
live aboard sailors

Sailboat Electricity – Our Complete Off The Grid System

We run a lot of electronics, in fact you might say we’re power hungry compared to many sailors.  Our system allows us to live off the grid while rarely having to run the generator or engines to charge up our system.  In a normal day we power our computers, run our electric cooking devices, keep our cameras and phones topped up and occasionally run our Air Conditioner or our Water Heater.  Considering this is our home, our travel vessel and our office, we think investing in a good power setup is the most important part of our day-to-day sailboat life.

  • Solar Arch & Dinghy Davits – The davit system from the factory left the dinghy susceptible to damage from waves.  Our new davit system not only holds our solar panels but it gets our dinghy up 5 feet higher which makes sailing in seas much safer for us and the dinghy.  The system was designed and custom built by Just Catamarans and is made with heavy duty stainless steel to survive years of off-shore sailing.  It was an expensive upgrade but it’s also an investment that will add value to the boat when it comes time to sell.
  • 1200 Watts of Solar – We’ve been using GoPower! for years and their Customer Service, product quality and warranty is top notch.  They aren’t the cheapest, nor are they the most expensive, but the products are solid.  We have 5 – 160 watt rigid panels on our Solar Arch.  The boat came with 3 panels on the hardtop that we plan to replace with flex panels mid-2017.  Rigid Panels: http://amzn.to/2kHs8uF Flex Panels: http://amzn.to/2jFL8bl
  • 1200ah of ReLIon lithium batteries – Lithium is worth every penny when it powers everything.  Lighter weight, no off-gassing, more compact and way more power.  Yes they’re expensive, but in the long run they are the best bang for the buck: gonewiththewynns.com/product/lithium-batteries
  • Inverter – Currently we have a Mastervolt Combi 4k with the Master Shunt but it never seems to function properly.  It’s expensive and there is no technical support from the company itself, which I find completely unacceptable.  I hope to replace this in 2017.  http://amzn.to/2kHrUDW
  • Charge Controller – We’ve had this same MPPT controller for years.  It’s a workhorse and the company provides amazing technical support during and after install.  I can’t say a bad thing about it.  Outback Flexmax 80 MPPT http://amzn.to/2jjrbsa
  • Generator – Our boat came with this Northern Lights 6kw generator.  It’s quiet, works well and is considered the industry standard for marine.  That said, it’s big!  I am looking into a smaller, lighter and more efficient (for Lithium) system which I hope to have more information about mid-2017.
  • M4 LED Lights throughout  – LED’s are 1000x better than the halogens that came with the boat (no heat, 90% less power, etc).  The brand we use is affordable, great quality and killer customer service.  I prefer the color of the Elite bulbs in “Natural White”: gonewiththewynns.com/product/m4-led-lights

We never recommend anything we don’t personally use and love. If you decide to purchase any of these items, please consider clicking through the links here on our website.  The links are affiliate links which simply means that if you click through and purchase (costs you nothing extra) we get a few pennies too. If you enjoy what we do here, shopping through these links are a great way to help keep us creating and sharing.

Reviews

  1. Congratulations on your excellent site! I like your batteries, LIFEPO4…did you do anything to your alternators to be able to charge the batteries without burning the alternators? Keep up the great website

    • If you’ve got a good alternator it shouldn’t bother it.

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