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Jaganda's crew trip

Published on 01 june 2016 at 0h00

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Electricity

First things first, let's start with the electricity. To avoid fantasies and delusions, and without using complicated formulae or abstruse figures, let's go over the basics. Three facts need to be established: an estimation of your consumption, an evaluation of your storage capacity, and your means for recharging. In 'Sailing' mode, consumption is quite easy to estimate. Two items can however significantly alter the total in this mode: the automatic pilot and the frequency of use of the radar, two major consumers which must be monitored. Everything then is a question of your way of life. Do you want to live 'just like at home', or will you seize the opportunity to adopt a more responsible, less consumerist attitude? Although the arrival of LEDs has almost freed us from any constraints in terms of lighting, the multiplication of the number of screens and even worse, air conditioning, have again updated the crucial question of electrical self-sufficiency. Before rushing into the expensive purchase of a generator, a third internal combustion engine aboard, requiring additional fuel and maintenance, let's have a look at alternative sources, or those already aboard.

First of all, there are the on-board engines. Although their standard alternators are not very powerful, they can without doubt be changed for more powerful models, or doubled up. Is the charging time still too long? An electronic box called an alternator booster maintains a high battery charging rate for as long as possible until they are fully charged.

Solar panels, the now essential companions on our nautical voyages, have progressed enormously in terms of efficiency over the past ten years, while their price has halved in the last four years! Rigid or flexible, we can put them everywhere: on the davits, the bimini, the coachroof... On stormy days with little sunshine, they can be supplemented by the faithful wind generator, whose noise pollution in the anchorage is now just (or almost) a bad memory! The development of the blade shape and precision mechanics have helped this aspect.

Solar panels : a solution for autonomy on catamaran

To fill up with energy, nothing is better than solar panels: they are efficient and silent, and you can find all types - flexible, rigid, adjustable or fixed!

Finally, the last trump card for mile-eaters is the hydro-generator. Various models are available, favouring robustness or the low effect on the performance of your proud steed, which will all turn your multihull into a power station, once you have reached speeds of 7-8 knots. Ideal on an ocean voyage or one of at least a certain distance, but of course completely inoperative in an anchorage!

But once you have produced all this electricity, you must be able to store it. The revolution in this field, as in many others (such as motor cars, aeronautics or telephony), is called Lithium-Ion technology. A slow development, as the cost is significant, but one which should accelerate, as prices have dropped by 20% in two ...

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