Dear Ellen: We have 4 sources for electricity for the electronics on board. First, we have a small diesel engine, which is used for maneuvering in and out of harbors, but cannot be used during the race, except for charging with the big alternator that is on the shaft of the engine. This alternator can generate 250 amps, and is very efficient. Next we have our two hydrogenerators. These are like outboard motors in reverse. I will lower one hydrogenerator 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. Next we have a small wind turbine at the stern. This can generate up to 20 amps in conditions where we are sailing upwind normally, and therefore putting more wind through the blades. Plus we have 4 solar panel s which 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.
Question submitted by Ellen