The value of so­lar power

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin - NOR­MAN KING, via email

QI have a share in a self-run boat and at our AGM the ques­tion came up about so­lar pan­els. Our boat is out about 48 weeks of the year and, when not on the move, we are con­nected to a shore-line. Would so­lar pan­els be an ad­van­tage?

ATONY REPLIES... That de­pends on how the var­i­ous own­ers use the boat and whether you have an elec­tric fridge or not. With a gas fridge, the de­mand for elec­tric­ity is likely to be low so the bat­tery bank might cope with a couple of days of not mov­ing. Also, con­sider any cen­tral heat­ing elec­tri­cal loads.

If the own­ers are all six-plus hours cruis­ing a day types then I sus­pect, as long as you nor­mally get more than three years’ life from the do­mes­tic bat­ter­ies, the cost of fit­ting so­lar power would not be worth it.

If, how­ever, some own­ers tend to stick in one place for sev­eral days and have to run the en­gine for bat­tery charg­ing, then fit­ting pan­els of suit­able ca­pac­ity could en­sure the en­gine hardly ever has to be run sim­ply to charge the bat­ter­ies. Over the years this may well re­sult in less fre­quent en­gine main­te­nance, over­hauls and re­place­ment.

In short, it all de­pends upon how the boat is used and this ap­plies to both sin­gle-owner and shared boats.

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