Gentle start to Friday #9

A quiet and gentle start today after a busy week.

First job has been to fit our 2nd Radiant wall panel heater. This is 320 Watts and is in the main cabin (no printed image at the moment). Again using a radio thermostat and timer that controls the 13 amp socket that the heater is plugged into.

Of course when not posing for pictures the thermostat isn’t tight next to the the heater.

We won’t know for quite a while whether we can generate enough electricity to use this when afloat. However, even if we are only able to use it when in the boatyard it is still a cost effective way to heat the boat.

Of course the real benefit is when the electricity comes from renewable energy. We have no control over the boatyard electricity supplier, which is why running it from our own system would be preferred.

I’m working on long term plans to automate the maximum use of our renewable energy when the boat is unoccupied. Even in winter our full solar panels (when installed) will be far more than is needed to keep the batteries fully charged. So normally a lot of the solar power will be thrown away.

Our Victron solar panel controllers (MPPT) have an open interface and tools so that a computer can talk to them. So does our Victron battery monitor.

How can we use that? Well I’ve started playing with Raspberry Pi zero w computers. I’ve used bigger Raspberry Pi’s before, but these are tiny. I can connect temperature (and humidity) sensors. I can control mains sockets and I can get information from the Victron systems.

So eventually I should be able to have a Raspberry Pi in each cabin measuring the temperature and knowing roughly how much energy can be generated each day. It can then control the heaters to use exactly that much energy so that the boat is as warm as possible while still fully recharging the batteries each day.

I’m also going to be able to use Raspberry Pi’s to run our navigation systems (using something called OpenPlotter), act as a media player, general purpose computer for Internet browsing, wordprocessing etc. All with a far lower power need than a PC or laptop and no moving parts. Plus very much cheaper and more reliable.

[UPDATE] The heater is keeping the main cabin at 19 degrees C, even with the hatch open (the cover for the wheelhouse is nearly fully closed). And we can see snow on the mountains 😍