Marine Wind Generators
Part II

The differences between wind turbines

1. Marine wind generators differ in their output, which determines their purpose.

On the market, we see low, medium and high output sets.

The low output sets (10 to 80 Watt) are meant to trickle charge your batteries. So, they only keep your batteries topped up. This happens when your boat lies on a mooring, is on the hard or lies in its marina berth.

The medium and high output sets are there to provide the electricity to run all your equipment while you're sailing or when you're living on board. Fridges, freezers, navigation equipment, lights, pumps, invertors,... all take a lot of amps out of your batteries.

So, you need them to put some serious load into your batteries.

High output models deliver 300 watt and more, medium sets are between 100 and 300 watt.

2. Horizontal versus Vertical

Most marine wind generators have a horizontal axis. So these look like the ordinary windmills we see everywhere.

With this setup, the head of the wind turbine needs to be able to spin arouns so that the blades are always accross the wind. The tail fin will make sure that the generator looks straight into the wind.

The wind generators are used for both purposes, so for trickle charging as for supplying the electrical load of your boat.

Others are from the vertical axis type. These look like cylinders with gaps in, so that they can catch the wind.

These wind turbines can accept winds from every direction and don't need to orientate themselves.

They spin slower, which makes them safer. Because they are slower, they are only good to trickle charge.

Where to place them

You can install your wind turbine in several places on board.

1. On a mounting pole.

The pole can be based on the deck or on the wing-structure at the end of your boat. 

In both cases, you need to place the marine wind generator high enough that nobody will be hit by the turning blades.

Seriously, the blades are very sharp and are potentialy very dangerous...

marine wind generator on mounting pole
sailboat wind generators

2. On the mizzenmast.

Lots of ketches put the wind turbine on the mizzenmast.

sailboat wind generators
wind turbine mizzenmast

3. On top of the mast. 

Sailors who have done this, claim that their output of electricity is 2 and a half times higher than the output at deck level...

4. Go mobile. 

Some sailboats have an arrangement that they can put the wind turbine on the bow when they are at anchor. This way, you're less disturbed by it.

Which one to buy?

There are lots of good marine wind generators on the market.

Before all, you need to know what your needs are. Are you just looking to keep your batteries topped up or do you need a wind turbine too supply the electrical load when you're on passage or living aboard.

For trickle-charging, a low output set is enough and you can choose between a horizontal or a vertical axis wind turbine.

Otherwise, you need to choose a medium or high output set, which always has a horizontal axis.

The output, the wattage, depends on your need for power. What is your need for electricity per day and do you have other energy sources like solar panels, a hydro-generator, a diesel generator,...

Prices varies from 800 euros to 3600 euros for the wind turbine itself, mostly you will also need to buy a regulator seperately and a mounting kit.

Famous brands are Ampair, Rutland, Aerogen, ATMB, Eclectic Energy, Plastimo, Leading Edge, Forgen, Air Breeze,...

Good winds to you!

Go back to Marine Wind Generators part I!

Return from Marine Wind Generators to Boat Equipment

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