We have almost exactly the same system from Atlantic and e-Marine that Mark describes. The only differences are that I fabricated my own panel mounts, and we skipped the dinghy davits. We have been really, really happy with it. I'd happily recommend both companies for their responsiveness and knowledge of their products.
I chose the Atlantic Tower arch because it was aluminum and MUCH lighter in weight than the stainless alternatives. I tend to fuss a lot about weight--especially at the ends of the boat. If you go with that arch, be sure you understand the importance of "pre-loading" the arch when you install it. If it is not under the proper tension, it will not be as solid and stable as it should.
One advantage we have noted when we added the arch that I have never heard mentioned in any forum is that the boat sails around a LOT less while at anchor. The center of wind resistance moves back a lot, and the boat tends to point into the wind a lot better. Of course the total wind resistance is higher too. There is no free lunch!
Our experience with 630 watts of solar panels is that we usually use the genset for 60 to 90 minutes in the AM, and that's it. Since we headed north, in June and we have 16 hours of sun for charging, we have found no need for the generator--if the days stay sunny. Under those conditions we run the genset when we need 25 amps to make water, and that's about it. For normal tropical 12 to 13 hour charging days, we still need the genset most days.
I'd install the same system again in a New York minute.
And I'll second Mark's comment about installing as much solar wattage as you can make possibly room for. I have never heard anybody complain that they had too much solar generating capacity. I doubt I'd find 400 watt capacity systems to be worth the cost of installation. It wouldn't really cut my generator time enough to make me happy.
I had a combined wind/water generator on my old boat that was just fantastic as a water generator when underway, but really did not pay its way in the wind at anchor. If somebody gave me a wind generator, I'd be happy to use it, but I'd rather spend money on something else.
, wrote :
We added an arch and solar to Cream Puff this past summer. The arch was prefabricated by AtlanticTowers.com We did the installation ourselves. It took five days (mostly because it was too darn hot to work on it in FL in the summer). It wasn’t hard to do. We chose this arch since others on this forum had the same and the results look really good. We purchased the stronger more expensive option offered. We also added dinghy davits in addition to the solar kit. We do not sail blue water with the dinghy on the davits. It is on the aft cabin coach top. But, the davits make it easy to lift and lock the dink at night when at anchor.
You can view some pics on our website http://www.creampuff.us/2016/08/free-solar-energy/
I forget how much the arch cost but you can get a quote from the company.
The solar panels we installed ourselves with the guidance of eMarine in Ft. Lauderdale (also in the link above). We added two 315W panels to the arch: https://www.emarineinc.com/store/Search.aspx?SearchTerms=LG%20315W%20Solar%20Panel%20Fixed%20Frame The folks at eMarine are very helpful and knowledgeable. They sent me a kit with everything I needed.
We also have a 24v Air Breeze wind turbine for the cloudy and windy days. I have mixed feeling about this.
With all of this, we still need to run the Genset at night for about 1.5 hours per day. We are power hogs and run TV/DVD in the evening and 3 ref/frzrs 24/7. We run the genset prior to going to bed and also run the AC to cool the boat for the night. If we top up at night and the wind is blowing 15 knots, we do not need to run the genset until the following evening. We have a relatively small battery bank compared to other Amels. We have 300 amp hours that we never take below 70% discharge or 25v.
In my opinion, a cruising sailor can never have enough solar wattage. The more the better. The challenge is where to put the panels.
Hope this helps.
With best regards,
Sailing Vessel - Cream Puff - SM2K - #275
Currently cruising - Grenada
To all Amel SM owners:
I'd like to know where one would look to obtain a solar panel arch / gantry for an Amel Super Maramu, and how much this might end up costing. I am also curious to know what would be the recommended wattage recommended if 4 people are living aboard the vessel and spending the majority of time away from a dock / plug-in.
I appreciate any feedback.