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Old 06-02-2015, 08:17   #1
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Anchor windlass wiring

I intend to install an anchor windlass in a 1976 C&C 33' sailboat. (Deck has been professionally reinforced.)

The house battery bank is about 25' from the bow, in a direct line. Since I don't plan to run the wire in the bilge or through the middle of the cabin, I estimate an additional 8' will be necessary to follow the contour of the side. I have a decision to make of whether to add a battery under the V birth to shorten the run of heavy (expensive) wire to the windlass, or to just use heavy (expensive) wire from the existing house battery bank. If I do install a battery forward, do I get to use appreciably smaller wire to run back to the house battery terminal to recharge this battery?

Since I should run my engine so the alternator will take some of the load while using the windlass to avoid under-powering the windlass under load, would I have to use pretty heavy wire anyway?

I don't expect to anchor more than occasionally, and the windlass is a free-fall design and will probably anchor in less than 50' of water.

I plan to consult with a marine electrician, but I would appreciate some advice to arm myself with, when talking with the electrician. For some reason, the terms used in electrical design are completely indecipherable to me. Probably not unique in this. I get AWG sizes, but amps, resistance etc. remain a mystery. Thanks.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:56   #2
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

It comes down to amps drawn per foot of cable (round trip from the battery to the windlass and back) Find out how much draw your windlass has, and the acceptable voltage drop it will withstand, then look up the cable size in the ABYC manual. Compare that to the cost of installing a battery up front. Remember to include the cost of the cable from the alternator to the new battery location, its also a large cable. I think the cost will be about the same either way.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:13   #3
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

Keep in mind that the motor needs lots of current to run efficiently. If it is working too hard, due to a stuck anchor, an enormous amount of chain out, or struggling in heavy weather, these can make the motor heat up. Sustained heat is not good for electric motors - it burns them up, either from friction or from the wire insulation in the windings being destroyed. It's like heart disease, once it begins, it doesn't get better, and one day it stops working. So, give it all the help it can get. Use BIG conductors, large battery banks, run the engine while pulling the rode, and give it a rest when things are tough. Also, if the unit hasn't been serviced, you can remove the motor and take it to an electric motor shop and have the folks inspect it, service it or repair it before it dies. Take care of the windlass and it will take care of you.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:17   #4
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

... in which case, KISS says go for no extra battery.... which I suspect is how this will shake out. Thank you.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:23   #5
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

It's a toss up. Which is less expensive is not necessarily which is best. Determine the run and how much the current the winch draws under a load. This will determine the gauge of the wire and therefore the cost.

Then determine the size of the battery that you want. You can pick any sized wire for recharging the battery (within reason, you don't want 18 AWG for this). The larger the gauge, the quicker the battery will recharge.

I agree with running the engine whenever you are operating the anchor windlass. It will keep the voltage up which means it will draw less current. The less current it draws, the cooler the electric motor will run, meaning you can run the windlass for longer before it gets too hot.

I lean towards keeping it simple. If you have a battery failure forward, you still have use of the windlass. Yes, large diameter cable is very expensive.

Either method will work.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:40   #6
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

I find that with batteries up from you still get 50% current from house bank. So cable still needs to be a decent size otherwise it's hard to fuse right.

More an issue for bow thrusters then windlass though.
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:40   #7
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

I'd probably go with the cable to the house bank to be honest, if possible to get the voltage drop to close to 0, even if it's pricier.

Just less weight forward, and one less thing to worry about charging etc...
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Old 06-02-2015, 09:55   #8
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

I have installed an old Nielsson work horse windlass from the scratch, with the help of my boatbuilder buddy. 1st, we reinforced the deck with 2'X2'X1/2" G10 including the cleats, etc (the deck at that point was all fiberglass about an inch or more thick). 2nd, after pondering the best way for electricity to be delivered to the windlass we decided on installing the battery deep in the v, in the waterproof box with a vent going to a "t" in the anchor locker's drain hose. 3rd, we wired the windlass battery (through a controller) to dedicated solar panel and (through a switch) to the charger for those rainy days. Since battery to windlass run was under 6ft I was able to scrounge a short leftover 00 (may be even larger, I don't recall now but it's as thick as a finger) cable from WM for about $10-12 and use regular 10gauge to solar. We were thinking about a solenoid or a beefy breaker between the battery and the windlass but after consulting with another marine pro (and a 25 year liveaboard 2X circumnavigator) who pointed out that 6ft of 00 cable should not require a breaker as the possibility of overheating is next to nonexisting, used a regular Perko battery switch installed discretely (not discretely enough according to my g/f, but I have a teak cover to be installed in the Spring) on the side over the shelf in the v-cabin. 4th, we installed a regular foot switch on deck, and this was my least favorable solution but it was the one which required the least work so I went with it. My old Nielsson is up only so only one switch was needed. But I was told by both of these pros that it's actually better that way as there is less to break and the chain coming down manually is actually somewhat faster than electrically. Who would have thought?
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:08   #9
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

KISS, and if you get the wire from genuinedealz you will probably save the price of a battery.
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:27   #10
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Re: Anchor windlass wiring

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhwins View Post
I intend to install an anchor windlass in a 1976 C&C 33' sailboat. (Deck has been professionally reinforced.)

The house battery bank is about 25' from the bow, in a direct line. Since I don't plan to run the wire in the bilge or through the middle of the cabin, I estimate an additional 8' will be necessary to follow the contour of the side. I have a decision to make of whether to add a battery under the V birth to shorten the run of heavy (expensive) wire to the windlass, or to just use heavy (expensive) wire from the existing house battery bank. If I do install a battery forward, do I get to use appreciably smaller wire to run back to the house battery terminal to recharge this battery?

Since I should run my engine so the alternator will take some of the load while using the windlass to avoid under-powering the windlass under load, would I have to use pretty heavy wire anyway?

I don't expect to anchor more than occasionally, and the windlass is a free-fall design and will probably anchor in less than 50' of water.

I plan to consult with a marine electrician, but I would appreciate some advice to arm myself with, when talking with the electrician. For some reason, the terms used in electrical design are completely indecipherable to me. Probably not unique in this. I get AWG sizes, but amps, resistance etc. remain a mystery. Thanks.

You might care to look at Windlass Reinstallation
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