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Running Vivarium power as a continuous cruiser


Andrew C

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1 minute ago, mrsmelly said:

Excellent. Bin the house and buy boat cash and have a life :D 

Having no debt makes life vastly better. If you dont like or want to change jobs then you simply do it. If no loans to service month in and month out then you are boss, rather than the bank. You can last ages on way less income if there are zero outgoings to Mr Bank.

We adored living aboard for 30 plus years and would still be doing it other than for health reasons. Its way better living aboard and moving around over the years. If you understand the few drawbacks then the significantly better lifestyle will be for you. Must go now, more boring house stuff to do :(

Thanks for the affirmation. Really appreciated too. Exactly the reasons for our move to the canals. I have many debts that have weighed me down for years, and burnout after 18 years of teaching. We will have no debts, cash in reserve, the boat owned outright and no need to stay in cities to work as I'll be retired at 56 without the stresses of work, but also the option of temp work in the future if the need arises. We need an adventure while we are still young enough. The thought of being stuck in a house is not appealing. Plus, we've worked out we can get away with only 24 Watts for daylight hours, then with ambient temperatures maintained by a stove in the winter, and a heating thermostat we may be able to keep our tortoise happy enough and on board 😊👍

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29 minutes ago, Andrew C said:

Thanks for the affirmation. Really appreciated too. Exactly the reasons for our move to the canals. I have many debts that have weighed me down for years, and burnout after 18 years of teaching. We will have no debts, cash in reserve, the boat owned outright and no need to stay in cities to work as I'll be retired at 56 without the stresses of work, but also the option of temp work in the future if the need arises. We need an adventure while we are still young enough. The thought of being stuck in a house is not appealing. Plus, we've worked out we can get away with only 24 Watts for daylight hours, then with ambient temperatures maintained by a stove in the winter, and a heating thermostat we may be able to keep our tortoise happy enough and on board 😊👍

Sounds like you're in a good position 🙂

 

But if you're still going to heat the vivarium up and it puts a significant load on your electrical system to do this, you really *really* should find a way to do this via hot water/heating not electricity.

 

Apart from the wear and noise, running a diesel engine (for hours) to charge the batteries is appallingly inefficient -- by the time you add up engine losses (terrible at low power), alternator efficiency, losses in charging/discharging batteries, and running for hours to keep lead-acids topped up, you'll end up burning something like 10x the amount of fuel compared to burning it in a heating/hot water system, as well as needing to run the engine for hours every single day.

 

Just think of the vivarium as another thing that needs keeping warm (like you and water) and use the same system to do it and you'll be fine.

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2 hours ago, MtB said:

 

A middle course no-one was suggested is don't CC, get a mooring with a mains power bollard in a marina somewhere. Then you can move aboard and plan your power generation strategy without the time pressure.

 

 

 

 

Yes. Very true. That would be a solution, but continuous cruising is the great appeal for us. Cheers

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3 hours ago, doratheexplorer said:

How about having a tiny radiator inside the vivarium and running it off the boiler on the boat.  My gas boiler system runs three radiators and is easily thermostatically controlled.  I can turn off whichever radiators I don't want.  It wouldn't be that hard to add a very small radiator to the system and just have the boiler running to that radiator.

 

Do tiny radiators like that exist?

 

Fin tube radiators?

 

Fin Tube / Bare Elements - Slantfin

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10 minutes ago, Ray T said:

 

Fin tube radiators?

 

Fin Tube / Bare Elements - Slantfin

The be honest you could quite easily run a loop of small bore pipe back and forth under the vivarium, creating underfloor heating for little torty.  Make sure you put a valve in to isolate it from the rest of the heating system when needed and put a thermostat inside the vivarium.  Hey Presto!  A perfect temperature for his wee reptilianness.

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This might be a bit too left field, but I wonder if you could install one of those cheap chinese diesel blow air heaters, and run it from a small tank?

It might be just the thing for the cool Spring mornings when the little mite is at her coolest.

 

There's probably a boat safety issue involved (there always seems to be!), but its at least worth a mention.

I think they use a litre of fuel every couple of hours, so not too greedy either.

 

I'm not sure, but maybe you can set a timed start (e.g. 4am to take the chill out of the saloon on Autumn mornings)?

 

Using diesel for heat also means cheap/easy/convenient access to the fuel, and you can run the heater any time of day or night if needed to revive the little dear.

If you used a genny, you'd have to traipse off to find a petrol station every couple of days (in addition to the general traipsing that CCers have to do anyway).  

 

The other thing to remember is that after running the engine for say an hour to generate some charge, you have a lot of hot water available as a 'free' by-product, so to speak- and as some have said, it should be possible to use that heat in some way. 

 

Clearly some of the upgrade funds are going to have to be spent on systems to provide the heat that is needed. 

Diesel CH would be great, but mine is pretty noisy, and if my stern is within 20 yards of another boat, I hesitate to use the CH on some cool Autumn mornings (say if I'm not sleeping well, and I get up at say 6am). 

That said, if some idiot moors within three feet of me, when there's three hundred yards of armco available either side, I will make a point of using the CH late at night and early in the morning 😈

 

 

 

Edited by Tony1
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13 minutes ago, Tony1 said:

 

 

Diesel CH would be great, but mine is pretty noisy, and if my stern is within 20 yards of another boat, I hesitate to use the CH on some cool Autumn mornings (say if I'm not sleeping well, and I get up at say 6am). 

 

 

 

 

Hence my earlier suggestion of a gas boiler, with a dedicated loop of pipe supplying the viviarium.  More controllable than a Diesel planar heater,  quieter than an Ebersplutter/Webasto.  Uses next to no electric.  It's what I would do if I was the OP.

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6 hours ago, PCSB said:

Which species of tortoise is it Andrew? Most indoor enclosures I've seen have been massive (8ft x 4ft and above) - they do need a bit of room. I'm not an expert on torts but did keep a variety of other reptiles.

 

 

Would you say that the temperature fluctuations typical of narrowboat interiors are suitable for keeping reptiles? I'd intuitively have thought not. It just seems a bit impractical to keep any animal which needs to be kept within stable temperatures on board a boat.

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6 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

Would you say that the temperature fluctuations typical of narrowboat interiors are suitable for keeping reptiles? I'd intuitively have thought not. It just seems a bit impractical to keep any animal which needs to be kept within stable temperatures on board a boat.

The biggest problem would be in summer on those rare days when we get lots of sunshine. They can easily overheat. The fluctuations aren't an overly big deal iom, as long as they aren't rapid ones. Draughts don't do them any favours either.

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2 hours ago, blackrose said:

 

Would you say that the temperature fluctuations typical of narrowboat interiors are suitable for keeping reptiles? I'd intuitively have thought not. It just seems a bit impractical to keep any animal which needs to be kept within stable temperatures on board a boat.

Yes, though we do have a thermostat that we tend not to use in the house, but that would maintain an appropriate hotspot, and tortoises then move away or closer according to their needs so their temperatures do fluctuate but according to their preferences at any one time. 

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Not sure if this is too daft or not. But it's another energy source, that was used by a guy on his narrowboat I met in the springtime: a spiral wind generator that was demountable when cruising. His was about 700mm (?) high and started generating at about windspeed 2mph. It seems there's reinforced fibreglass models out there. No idea what they cost. 

 

Something like this, used in conjunction with a beefy battery bank and solar in summer?:

 

http://www.engelecenergy.com/spiral-blades-vertical-axis-small-wind-turbine-generator-en-600w-xl-vawt.html

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25 minutes ago, Jim Batty said:

Not sure if this is too daft or not. But it's another energy source, that was used by a guy on his narrowboat I met in the springtime: a spiral wind generator that was demountable when cruising. His was about 700mm (?) high and started generating at about windspeed 2mph. It seems there's reinforced fibreglass models out there. No idea what they cost. 

 

Something like this, used in conjunction with a beefy battery bank and solar in summer?:

 

http://www.engelecenergy.com/spiral-blades-vertical-axis-small-wind-turbine-generator-en-600w-xl-vawt.html

Thanks. Worth a try. 

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12 hours ago, Jim Batty said:

Not sure if this is too daft or not. But it's another energy source, that was used by a guy on his narrowboat I met in the springtime: a spiral wind generator that was demountable when cruising. His was about 700mm (?) high and started generating at about windspeed 2mph. It seems there's reinforced fibreglass models out there. No idea what they cost. 

 

Something like this, used in conjunction with a beefy battery bank and solar in summer?:

http://www.engelecenergy.com/spiral-blades-vertical-axis-small-wind-turbine-generator-en-600w-xl-vawt.html

 

Take some time investigating this. Compare the data on the vendor's site, which will be almost certainly optimistic, with this site:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort_scale

Then think about where your location's average wind speed will be. It is not the wind speed that it starts generating that is important, the important bit is the speed at which it is producing sufficient output for your needs.

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The Engelec turbine looks really intriguing and could well be a highly welcome contributor to solving our power dilemma. Much like solar, the presence of sufficient wind is never totally reliable, but in winter, when the additional power is needed in the absence of solar power, the wind tends to be more prevelent, so certainly raises optimism. Much thanks

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1 hour ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

Take some time investigating this. Compare the data on the vendor's site, which will be almost certainly optimistic, with this site:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort_scale

Then think about where your location's average wind speed will be. It is not the wind speed that it starts generating that is important, the important bit is the speed at which it is producing sufficient output for your needs.

Yes, definitely research this if interested. There seem to be a variety of this type of generator online - some on eBay, Alibaba, etc.

I've always thought of wind power as only supplemental. And the hassle of erecting a mast type between cruising, with its singing guy wires and vibrations, has put me off. What's attractive about these is it seems to be mountable without guys, so would be quieter, and it generates SOME power when the mast types are standing still. It certainly stands out on the roof of a boat, though. Maybe you could paint traditional diamonds on it. 

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Noise can be an issue, but I presume at night it can be locked. Obviously low bridges may be an issue, but if mounted on a collapsible pole it could be a highly useful and eco friendly power source (cost dependent). Definitely something to persue. Getting my pre purchase hull survey at the end of November so have good time to research. Thanks for the input, it's greatly recieved. 

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I'm not totally convinced by wind power on a narrow boat, but this company gives some idea of costs etc LE-v150 vertical axis wind turbine providing off-grid remote power (leadingedgepower.com) Note that the linked turbine produces a max of 200w (not 600 as per the Chinese one above). ALso note that it cuts in at 11mph which if I've understood correctly is when it starts to generate 'leccy. It also only gens 24w at 17.8mph so to get to 200w it probably has to be blowing a hooley.

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Yeah. There're always drawbacks to seemingly perfect solutions, otherwise everyone would be using them I guess, but this puts a ballpark figure to the costs involved and at worst reduces the battery demands of our vivarium to the point of making it that bit more feasible to run for a not insurmountable cost. Thanks friend. 

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6 minutes ago, PCSB said:

I'm not totally convinced by wind power on a narrow boat, but this company gives some idea of costs etc LE-v150 vertical axis wind turbine providing off-grid remote power (leadingedgepower.com) Note that the linked turbine produces a max of 200w (not 600 as per the Chinese one above). ALso note that it cuts in at 11mph which if I've understood correctly is when it starts to generate 'leccy. It also only gens 24w at 17.8mph so to get to 200w it probably has to be blowing a hooley.

 

Once you get to around 20mph that is quite a 'noticable wind' with (on open water) waves, white horses and spray. I'd say that because of the secluded nature of the majority of canals (in valleys, under trees, protected by housing etc) the wind would rarely get anywhere near that strength.

 

 

Beaufort scale values and descriptions | Download Table

 

 

 

Given a choice we would not venture out onto the sea, in the motor cruiser, in those sorts of wind speeds, far too lumpy and wet.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

 

Take some time investigating this. Compare the data on the vendor's site, which will be almost certainly optimistic, with this site:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort_scale

Then think about where your location's average wind speed will be. It is not the wind speed that it starts generating that is important, the important bit is the speed at which it is producing sufficient output for your needs.

Looks much better than these which need about a 60mph wind FORAVER 100W DC 12V Wind Turbine Generator Kit 5 Blades Vertical Wind Power Turbine  Generator Red Lantern with Charge Controller for Power Supplementation  (100W 12V) : Amazon.co.uk: Garden & Outdoors

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I used to have a vertical wind turbine on the yot. Yot was moored out on the Essex coast, the turbine  just about kept up with battery self discharge 😠

You would need something very large to get any appreciable current into the batteries.

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1 hour ago, Loddon said:

I used to have a vertical wind turbine on the yot. Yot was moored out on the Essex coast, the turbine  just about kept up with battery self discharge 😠

You would need something very large to get any appreciable current into the batteries.

Small wind turbines like you can mount on a boat are pretty much useless, they generate far less power than claimed and are noisy -- might be OK for keeping low power devices alive like a router/alarm (a few tens of watts at most?), but no good at all for anything needing more than this, like heating a vivarium.

 

Solar is a much better bet -- but of course, not much good in the winter. Still probably better than wind though...

 

(big wind turbines are a different matter, but mounting one on anything smaller than the Ever Given might be tricky)

Edited by IanD
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The percentage of boats I've seen with wind turbine things is very low, which makes me pretty sceptical.

But that said, the percentage of boats with lithium batteries is also pretty low, and I think lithium batteries are the dog's cojones. So you know.....  😀

 

There might be a practical issue to give some thought to, which is storage.  You'll be CCing, so will need to cruise at least one day per week, plus trips to elsan and water points etc.

And if your roof is already full of solar panels, where will you stow the wind turbines when you dismount them to cruise?

They're going to want to be mounted high (ie on quite long poles) in order to catch maximum wind, and I'm guessing the blades wont be small, so if you get two of them, somewhere needs to be found for them- either lashed to a solar panel, or maybe stored lengthwise in the cabin-  when you are preparing to move. 

You dont want them blocking the passageway(s), so it could be a tight fit depending on the boat length.

   

 

Edited by Tony1
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