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Installing a Wind Generator on a Sailboat

Power to the People!

KISS wind generator

KISS wind generator

While we were at St. Augustine, Florida we had an opportunity to buy a used KISS wind generator. Since we have been motoring a lot down the ICW I hadn’t really needed much auxillary power, but once at anchor we really noticed how much power we used.

We have an Alder Barbour fridge system that works real well and once you get it nice and cold. We adjust the thermostat to between 3-4 and it keeps the ice cubes frozen (you gotta have priorities). The fridge cycles on and off by the thermostat. When it kicks on it draws about 5 Amps for about 15 minutes and then draws between 1-2 Amps the rest of the time. Ambient temperature has a lot to do with how often it kicks on to keep the temps steady.

Our other major appliance it a diesel heater. It’s the Toyoset NS 2800. It is a forced air heater with an element to ignite the diesel. It draws 10 Amps for the first two minutes then drops to between 2 and 5 Amps depending on the fan speed.

Final Installation

Final Installation

Otherwise we have some lights and chargeable gadgets (phone, DVD player, computer) in addition to the normal stuff (bilge pump, instruments, nav lights, etc..)

Lately it has been REAL chilly at anchor. We’ve been running the heater at night set to 68 degrees F and it pretty much runs most of the night. With an anchor light and the fridge on we run about 60-80 Amps hours per day.

If I use the 60 Amp alternator on the engine, we have a 3 stage charge controller and it takes about 2-3 hours to step down to zero or create a positive float charge and that runs us about 2 gallons of diesel and adds wear and tear to the diesel not running under a load.

We have two solar panels that produce up to 120 watts of power (or a max of 10 Amps/ hour). But the Solar panels never function at 100% and they really only get about 6 solid hours of direct sunlight. You cna get solar boosters and mechanical arms to be able to direct the panels into the sun during the day, but we don’t have any of that. So we really get a nominal amount of electricity from our panels. The panels work really great at keeping the batteries topped off though.

support brackets

support brackets

So I picked up a used KISS wind generator from Sailors Exchange here in St. Augustine. I had to actually bid on it on Ebay and it ended up costing me about $100 more than I wanted to spend, but I didn’t have any shipping and I could walk down and pick it up the next day. They are great guys too and I picked up all the mounting hardware there at a fantastic price.

After I got the generator I found out there were parts missing. I had to order a control box, and a few other things from Hotwire, the North American distributor of the KISS wind generator, who is luckily located in Tarpon Springs, Florida.

mounting bracket

mounting bracket

After about 4 days of measuring, parts list, scrummaging, and lots of walking- I cut the 1.5″ ID aluminum pole and the angle for the brackets. It took me about 4 hours to get the wind generator up
and wired. A few more phone calls to the folks at Hotwire and a few modifications to the mount and shortening the pole, I installed the wind generator for good the next day.

The wind generator output is run through my Link 20 battery monitor and I roughly gauge the output based on the Amps measurement. We’ve had gale force gusts the last two days up to 35 knots and the pole and wind generator have done a fine job. It makes me a little nervous to see those blades spinning around so fast but FREE POWER! I seen it crank out over 26 amps when it was really blowing.

The KISS wind generator is suprisingly quiet. Another boat nearby has the Air-X wind generator and we’ll be sitting in the salon with the hatch closed and we can hear THEIR AIR-X and not our KISS wind generator. The only real way I can tell the big fan is spinning is by the minimal humm of the vibration through the hull. I mounted it on rubber mounts, but they could be thicker. I can stand the humm and it also serves as a way for me to sense how fast the blades are spinning in case I need to turn the fan off to prevent it overloading.

Obviously you need some wind to generate power and the KISS wind generator only really starts cranking Amps after about 10kn of wind. That’s OK with me, we’ll just have to stick with the tradewinds:)

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2 comments to Installing a Wind Generator on a Sailboat

  • Vern

    Couldn’t get one from Catto?

  • big cheese

    Ha- Vern is referring to a Catto Prop for an Expiremental Airplane I used to own. I owned a Vans Aircraft RV7 and replaced the prop with a 3 blade composite prop that is handmade by Craig Catto from Catto Props.