Spiritus is a sailboat that sips sunlight?
This sailboat sips sunlight, wakens, and comes alive as the sun rises on the morning of each new day. She has two solar wings that when spread take the sun’s rays and make them into electricity. This electricity then powers all the modern technology that keeps us safe, in touch with the world and lights the dark nights, while powering her navigational heart and brain.
This energy is stored in batteries that drain slowly throughout the night and on cloudy days to feed our energy needs.
How the batteries are used and how well the solar panels recharge them is largely determined by her daily energy diet. There are many posts on the sailing community websites about how to figure your energy budget. I used those to figure how many and what size panels I needed.
In plain narrative language, usage looks like this on a day at the docks or on the hook (anchored).
Water pump for the kitchen sink is a pressure tank filled by an electric motor. Uses 8 amps for time it is on. It is on a few seconds at a time as you use the water.
Hot water heater for kitchen and head. Uses 10 amps for nearly 20 minutes to head 3 gallons of water. Keeps the water warm for hours after heated so you can turn it off after you have as much hot water as you need. But, it uses 110 v AC so the inverter must first convert 12 v DC to 110 volt and that costs electricity too.
If we are trying to save precious amps of solar power, we can hang the solar shower and let the sun heat the water directly and then use it to wash (including dishes).
Refrigeration unit for chest style”‘ice box.” Compressor, fans, and pressurized storage tank. Nearly 10 amps. Runs once cool, 5 minutes on and 5 minutes off, for the whole day so a big user of battery amps. It is turned off, entirely, at night to save amps.
LCD flat screen TV with DVD player. A couple of amps for the two hours or so we might watch a movie.
Laptops for boat. Little one we use for email, less than an amp an hour. Larger more powerful laptop uses about three amps per hour and may be used for several hours. Both are battery-powered but eventually–even if you use the batteries–you have to charge them up and plug them into the wall sockets which are 110 watt and powered by the boats inverter.
Anchor lights. The white lights that are very bright for visibility on top of the main mast=10 amps an hour. No, we have not replaced them with LEDs yet. On at night for about 10 hours (or nearly 100 amp hours) every night at anchor.
Then add radios for monitoring for safety and information. On a lot, so an amp or two when listening. Much more when transmitting.
When the boat is not at anchor and away from a dock sailing, the usage is entirely different and I will discuss that later.
All in all, the usage is drawn from the two batteries which between them have about 400 am hours storage. You can only realistically expect to be able to use 50% of that or 200 amps before your batteries need recharging.