Sunday, 25 November 2007

“Power reflections” from METS from a multihull perspective

Being out of the office for almost two weeks due to extensive travelling, we are now catching up with all the todo’s. One of the reasons being on the road was visiting METS in Amsterdam, the biggest marine equipment trade show in Europe. As always there is a lot to see and discuss. During the past years the electronics portion of the fair has increased considerably, now also seeing some gain into switches and the wiring itself. Not to mention LED:s in all shapes and colours. Finally we get some useful warm white LED:s as opposed to the older not so cosy cold white ones. Now you can even get “champagne” white….

Power on a multihull is obviously a major issue, considering the battery weight (and of course cabling) as part of our continuous weight chasing mission. Even though our sailors are battery power conscious, the increased use (need…!) of electronics spells some careful planning of the installation and consumption. Except for the Radio/CD/MP3 player (what would one do without it in speeds over 15 knots!!), VHF and instruments, the GPS plotter, AIS transponder and auto pilot seems to become more standard than exception. Not to mention the need of charging all the crews mobile phones, cameras and even PC.

Our LED navigation lights from Lopolight

Except for the navigation (LED standard) and interior lights (LED option), solar cell installations (cabin top solar cell option, however regulator and socket for a second not fixed cell) we need to work even harder on the power equation, especially since most of us really prefer sailing as opposed to motoring (and charging with the alternator) in almost all conditions.

One of the solutions, however due to price still limited as an option, could obviously be the use of fuel cells where 13 kg (8 kg for aggregate and 5 kg for 5 litres of Methanol) could give as much as 400 Amps. More efficient and lighter solar cells obviously will also improve the power equation. We hope to see more “within reach” at next years METS.

Considering the need for careful power consumption I guess that multihull sailors are climate smart in more than one aspect.