Cochise’s solar array is saving us substantial quantities of diesel on this passage.
We were aware this would occur of course, but doing the math and actually seeing the solar array work are two very different things.
The photo of one of our Maretron N2K view screens tells it all. The graph on the right is solar output by the hour. The left two items on the screen are the port and starboard alternator output. The data begins in the morning, and ends just after local noon.
It is easy to see the alternator output dropping as the solar array output builds.
We are averaging 11-13 kWh daily from the solar array on this trip. During the four hours midday when output is highest, this power is used first to run the vessel’s systems, with anything left over going to charge batteries. We estimate this saves about 1.75 gallons/6.7 liters per day. That doesn’t sound like much, but between Fiji and Panama this represents about 50 gallons/195 liters of fuel saved.
The solar array also gives us a backup system for powering the boat in case other gear is offline.
And there is enormous satisfaction in witnessing the process.