Power Generation on board Great American IV

We have 4 sources for electricity on board:

  • a small diesel engine (used only for charging the big alternator that is on the shaft of the engine)
  • Two hydro-generators
  • A small wind turbine at the stern
  • 4 solar panels

The alternator can generate 250 amps, and is very efficient.

Our two hydro-generators are like outboard motors in reverse. We will lower one hydro-generator at a time, the leeward one, and the water goes past the propeller and spins it. Inside there is a small alternator which then makes AC power, which is then converted into DC for the batteries. These units can generate 30 amps at best, but since the boat usually takes about 15 amps, we can actually charge up the batteries with them.

Our small wind turbine at the stern can generate up to 20 amps in conditions where we are sailing upwind, and therefore putting more wind through the blades.

The 4 solar panels can generate a total of about 10 amps. These are useful on sunny days, but obviously not at night or on cloudy days. The are additive, but we can run the solar panels plus the wind turbine together. For the other charging sources, our protocol is to run them individually, but never with other charging sources.