Installing Silentwind: power projects aboard

Silentwind install instructions

This could be the shortest post ever, because installing the Silentwind wind generator was a non-event.

Silentwind install

Silentwind install
The instructions were easy to follow.

It took three hours, including decommissioning our old turbine and installing Silentwind.

It worked immediately.


Ease of installation (and instant gratification!) matter to us because of the sharp contrast with our prior wind turbine installation experience. In 2009, it took more than six months for the AirBreeze we purchased from Southwest Windpower to function. The details are on a post Jamie made to Cruiser’s Forum; suffice to say it was a drawn out, frustrating experience hampered by abysmal customer support. In the end, it worked, but it was an exercise in frustration.

This a was the counterpoint to that experience at every level.

After hearing us rave about our new Silentwind, another boat in the anchorage ordered the same model, and Jamie helped with the install. This was the first wind generator on SV Quasar, but didn’t take much additional time. With installing a pole (previously designed and fabricated) and running new wiring, they were finished in about four hours.

There are great details, like the 50 amp fuse included to use when you first connect the controller to the battery bank to ensure proper circuit protection. Then, there’s the fact that the three AC conductors (wires) leading from the turbine connect in any order to the three charge controller terminals. The controller determines each wires function, and directs it accordingly. Basically, you can’t screw up the wiring! And, the controller itself is included in the package, not a separate purchase. This is a nice touch, with a very cool bonus factor. It turns out you can use this same charge controller to manage up to 550 watts of solar- as much as many cruising boats manage.

Of note: per the instructions, it’s important when doing the AC wiring to prevent turbine blades from spinning. If they spin, they’ll generate AC electricity. We used a lanyard, loosely tied between one blade and the mounting pole.

Easy breezy readers know we get a charge when you read this on the Sailfeed website.

10 Responses to Installing Silentwind: power projects aboard

  1. Susan May 28, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    Though we have an 8kw genset on board, we are presently considering what type of wind/solar array we might need should the engine, and then the genset, go South. Great blog.

  2. Jonathan May 28, 2014 at 4:26 am #

    Excellent, congratulations! Nice to hear about an easy peasy boat project. Will you have a way to monitor output from the turbine alone? I’m sure we’d all be interested to hear how the actual output compares to the rated output. A follow up post, say, six months to a year from now. Thanks.

    • Behan Gifford May 28, 2014 at 6:55 am #

      Jonathan- easy is good! The charge controller does let you monitor wind turbine output alone; you can also see solar input alone, or wind plus solar together, by scrolling through the display. So far, our observations show that actual output generally resembles the power curve on the Silentwind website. The only time it’s been different is when there’s wind shear (sheer?), so while we may be observing a certain windspeed at the top of the mast, it’s not representative of what’s happening closer to the water. I’ll definitely do a follow up after we get some months of experience in!

  3. May 28, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    Bookmarking this post so it will be ready at hand when we start looking at passive energy production on our boat.

  4. Catherine VK4GH May 30, 2014 at 5:16 am #

    Here in Australia, Silent Wind cost a considerable amount more than the AirBreeze (50% more maybe). Did you look at some other brands? What about the cost differences and justifying buying that brand. Sometimes though, it is worth buying the best, as you know you will not have any problems, and it will last a long time.

    • Behan Gifford June 1, 2014 at 7:24 am #

      I think the price difference may even bigger in the US, actually. But think of it this way: Silentwind has *double* the power output of AirBreeze. If you want to think about it in terms of cost/amp, 50% more is a good deal. I also think that the quality construction of Silentwind warrants the extra cost. In our observation, the Silentwind production quality is excellent; the AirBreeze is inconsistent at best… ours wasn’t the only one we heard of with troubles.

  5. Jay Campbell October 12, 2014 at 6:24 pm #

    Our next (well, maybe third or fourth in line) project! Cool. We have 1700AH battery storage, and 6 250 watt solar panels, but a wind turbine will be nice for cloudy days. Jay and Karen on MV Largo.

    • Behan October 12, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      Wow Jay, that is a *lot* of power on both sides of the equation! But yeah, the wind turbine is for cloudy days… and a whole lot more, like all those hours in the range of 24 when the sun isn’t up or high enough!

      • Jay Campbell October 12, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

        Hi Behan: We have been testing inexpensive air conditioners, looking to strip out our water cooled marine air models (all 5), and find we can run an 8 amp Home Depot LG “portable” self evaporating AC ($275) for 10 hours in the Florida summer and only use 35% total battery capacity. On a bright day, we can replenish that with solar, but wind would fill in. At 5-10% of the cost of a marine air, and without the danger of salt water pumping, these units are pretty cool. Almost disposable. 🙂 And they run without risking a “spike” that would damage our inverter. We exhaust them through portlights or vents, depending.

        • Behan October 13, 2014 at 8:40 am #

          Those portable AC units sound very cool (sorry, couldn’t resist!) – like a much better alternative to the marine models! And, perfect that you can mostly run them off solar. We started solar-only, and added a wind turbine when we realized how much we were missing for power generation. I think I’d like a second Silent Wind on our arch, to be honest! It’s been great!

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