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All About Boat-Electrics

Module 102 - Boat Wiring and Boat-Electrics Systems

At the completion of this subject module you will understand the application of Wiring Rules and Recommendations(ABYC, ISO, Lloyds); Basic electrical theory and the use of test instruments; How to plan electrical systems, perform load calculations, select cables, calculate voltage drop; select the required protection systems (fuses and circuit breakers). You will understand wiring installation practices, panels and switchboards, metering and grounding, and how to perform basic maintenance and troubleshooting on all boat-electrics systems.

CAREFUL PLANNING PAYS OFF

Whether used-boat or new-boat when it comes to electrical systems, good planning revolves around attention to detail and there is a logical sequence for determining the various parameters. Whether you are buying a used-boat, or a new boat, you need to plan carefully before changing or upgrading boat-electrics. A concise and realistic load analysis must be carried out to determine the battery requirements, and this must consider normal operational loads as well as intermittent ones. When this is completed a suitable battery type must be selected, and whether flooded cell, Gel or AGM it will have to be compatible with the calculated discharge rates. Learn about boat-electrics here.

While capacity uses AmpHour (Ah) capacity and discharge rates over nominal 20 hrs rates, the charging is based on the charge acceptance rates, therefore a suitable alternator rating and smart charging regulator must be selected.

Questions of failure modes and the provision of redundancy within the circuit design are also essential. This may entail the installation of dual alternator charging systems, the separation of starting and charging systems, and provision of backup supplies and splitting loads into dual circuits. Every boat-electrics system should have a "Plan B" built into the design. Learn about boat-electrics here.

DESIGN IT SIMPLE

Introducing needless complexity into electrical systems is unfortunately common and unnecessary. When you buy a used-boat or a new boat, you have to start with what is installed, and in most cases you inherit something you don’t like. It is common to see boat-electrics installations that are in effect test beds for a yacht owner’s own application of ideas and theories, and a voyaging yacht is the last place to be experimenting. The most reliable yachts have simple systems designs that exclude complicated switching, systems interlocks and unnecessary automation. Accepted design principles are available from ABYC, Lloyds and others that consider reliability and failure as basic parts of the rule and recommendations philosophy. Which Wiring Rules What are the various wiring rules in use around the world, and which do you use. Learn about boat-electrics here.

INSTALL QUALITY EQUIPMENT

Reliability depends on sound design and planning, and is worthless if the proposed equipment is not up to a good standard. The old adage of "the poor man always pays twice" is very true when it comes to yachts. Cheap lights, switches, circuit breakers, and other "bargains" often end up failing after short operational lives. When you buy a used-boat you often end up with another person’s problems. Learn about boat-electrics here.

The overall percentage costs of electrical equipment as a portion of the entire boat costs are relatively small. It is important to purchase and install the very best equipment that you can find or afford. Select equipment that is marked with the various approvals for marine use and those rated for the maximum environmental protection ratings. Always select tinned copper cable, the initial extra cost is worth the savings in long term reliability. Most used-boats and many new boats now have tinned copper. Learn about boat-electrics here.

USE GOOD INSTALLATION PRACTICES

Wiring and equipment must be properly installed if they are to stay operational. The layout of equipment must consider environmental factors such as exposure to spray and water. This installation layout should also consider cable routes with respect to these factors, along with minimizing exposure to mechanical damage. Where possible the cable runs should be made as short as possible, not just for limiting voltage drop but to reduce interference either into other cables or from other cables.

Good boat-electrics practices consider the segregation of high and low power equipment cables from data and signal cables. Given that some 85% of failures are directly attributable to failures in connections, performing as few as possible, and ensuring they are properly done is an investment in reliability. Those connections exposed to water such as bilge pumps should be properly made and sealed. Where connections must be made they should be in a quality junction box to protect against water. Where cables pass through decks or bulkheads they should transit through cable glands. Learn about boat-electrics here.

Wiring Boat Trailers

Wiring your boat is one thing, but making sure you wire your trailerboat trailer wiring is another. They are both 12 volt but they are very different. Go to the various trailerboat boat wiring pages for correct information

Basic Boat Trailer Wiring Part 1How to connect up your Australian boat trailer electrical wiring. Basic Boat Trailer Wiring Part 2 How to connect up your United States boat trailer electrical wiring. Basic Boat Trailer Wiring Part 3 How to connect up your European and British boat trailer electrical wiring

SUMMARY

Electrical systems can be summarized in one concise statement, "Do it right, and do it once!" Whether it is a used-boat or a new boat, carefully assess the systems installed and make changes based on the results. Get boat-electrics right!

Useful Links and Resources

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Hawaii Sunset Cruise - Observe Hawaiian Humpback whales while sailing the waters of the famous North Shore, the least crowded whale watching spot on Oahu. Our Small groups give you a personal and up-close experience

Oregon Salmon Fishing - Providing quality fishing trips on inland and coastal streams and bays in Northwest Oregon.

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