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Old 24-02-2010, 14:26   #1
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CAPI2 Distributed Power System?

Has anyone any experience with installing/setting up one of these systems? It seems that the esteemed Nigel Calder has opted for this system on his new boat, and it looks really promising. Does anyone out there have any experiences they'd like to share?

Capi2 is a smart, easily accessible bus-based power supply system.
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Old 24-02-2010, 14:43   #2
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Bells + Whistles. What's the advantage?
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Old 24-02-2010, 18:29   #3
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Bells + Whistles. What's the advantage?
There are a few low hanging fruit:

- If done right, it's all ABYC compliant.
- ~60% less wire required for the system. (Less wire == less weight)
- Conceptually simpler wiring translates to easier troubleshooting.
- Trivial to add new devices to existing switches, while maintaining electrical standards (since they're not directly connected anymore.)
- The possibility of computer control / monitoring via rs-232. (As a software developer, this + an ARM-based Linux SBC and an iPad is a very interesting situation.)

Instead of every wire in the boat having to route back to a central panel, the system is organized into a backbone and ribs. The backbone is two ~6awg conductors and a 14awg data wire that run the length of the boat, and the power nodes hook into this to power devices. The breaker/switches in the power nodes are software configurable in steps between 2 and 13 amps, which can be combined for higher power devices, or can be made to manage a contactor for very high loads. Switches and devices are programmable. Each switch/dimmer has an identifier and the devices it controls are given the same identifier. It's possible to change or reconfigure what devices a switch/dimmer controls without having to do any rewiring. Adding new devices is pretty much hooking them into an unused breaker on a nearby existing node, or adding in a new node and adjusting the configuration. There are nodes to control the AC system as well.
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Old 25-02-2010, 20:10   #4
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I read in this boats blog that they had pretty major issues with their CAPI system: 2009 (only partially in English, I'm afraid) - I don't know if this is the same CAPI2 system mentioned above, and whether it was vendor issues or installation issues. Since Nigel Calder knows his stuff, I suspect that it's not a general issue with the system, but it gives me some concern about such a centralized bus system.
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Old 25-02-2010, 20:53   #5
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We installed a Capi2 system on our new build 55ft cat in 2008 due to the considerable potential wire and weight saving in a boat this size. We experienced a fair amount of teething problems with the initial setup, possibly as a result of a supplier unfamiliar with the product being in the middle of communications with the Capi2 people and some mis-match of nodes and loads. Once our electrical engineer was in direct contact things went well and the system has operated well since then with, to memory, only one node failure. We are in process of upgrading the Direct Power Nodes (these are the manually switchable nodes for essential services) supplied FOC by Capi2. The lastest Capi2 system has been upgraded considerably from the original, perhaps even from the version that Nigel Calder has described - I understand that Fastcat use, or have used, these systems.
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Old 26-02-2010, 19:15   #6
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We installed a Capi2 system on our new build 55ft cat in 2008 due to the considerable potential wire and weight saving in a boat this size. We experienced a fair amount of teething problems with the initial setup, possibly as a result of a supplier unfamiliar with the product being in the middle of communications with the Capi2 people and some mis-match of nodes and loads.
Wow. Sorry to hear that.

Quote:
Once our electrical engineer was in direct contact things went well and the system has operated well since then with, to memory, only one node failure. We are in process of upgrading the Direct Power Nodes (these are the manually switchable nodes for essential services) supplied FOC by Capi2. The lastest Capi2 system has been upgraded considerably from the original, perhaps even from the version that Nigel Calder has described - I understand that Fastcat use, or have used, these systems.
Would you mind posting some pictures of your particular system? Do you have any of the layout diagrams you could post? (Their marketing literature is one thing, but real-world use is another!)
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Old 26-02-2010, 19:33   #7
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Aside from having a digital line, sensors etc. (all of which can break) how is this different from having subpanels around the boat? Trunk and branch wiring topologies are common in commercial and industrial electrical installations on land. IMO, it'd have to either be a pretty big boat or a pretty big need to save the last ounce to justify it over the hub and spoke commonly used.

Just my 2c.

Edit: for a production builder trying to save the last $, it may also make sense.
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Old 26-02-2010, 19:41   #8
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The installation is pretty much like what Capi2 depict in their marketing stuff, the nodes attach to the bus cables easily wherever is convenient to the load item etc and the push button panels can go anywhere (though they don't look as "nautical" as the conventional breaker panels). The current system is somewhat different from the original (ours) but I will get some pics and post them - I am away from the boat for the next week so will do on my return. You need to be a little computer savvy, or quickly learn to be, in order to program the system and make any later changes, adding nodes etc though the Capi2 people are quite helpful, even if they are located in The Netherlands only. The system saves a lot of wire but is an added complication (or improvement, depending on your outlook)!!
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Old 26-02-2010, 19:46   #9
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S&S, our responses crossed but your comment is quite valid.
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Old 26-02-2010, 20:00   #10
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Aside from having a digital line, sensors etc. (all of which can break) how is this different from having subpanels around the boat? Trunk and branch wiring topologies are common in commercial and industrial electrical installations on land. IMO, it'd have to either be a pretty big boat or a pretty big need to save the last ounce to justify it over the hub and spoke commonly used.
Wiring-wise, it wouldn't be all that different, as you say. In my boat, the problem would be where to put the sub-panels. As it was designed many moons ago, the designers didn't contemplate and so didn't leave places where sub-panels could be fitted in such a way that they are both accessible and unobtrusive. With CAPI2, I was thinking that I might be able to have my cake and eat it too -- I can have the benefit of the distributed wiring system, and also the ability to centrally control it.
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Old 26-02-2010, 20:07   #11
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You need to be a little computer savvy, or quickly learn to be, in order to program the system and make any later changes, adding nodes etc though the Capi2 people are quite helpful, even if they are located in The Netherlands only. The system saves a lot of wire but is an added complication (or improvement, depending on your outlook)!!
I'm a Software Engineer by trade... one of the things that really interests me is the ability to control and monitor every switch, breaker and sensor across the system. (It may be nerdy, but I'd be interesting to see what devices are being used and for how long over the course of a year or so.)

In their new system, it's possible to bypass each node with a blade-fuse in the event of a failure. My plan was to secure a small vacuum-sealed bag containing the appropriately-sized fuses for each node inside it's cover, for emergencies.
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Old 26-02-2010, 23:37   #12
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We have been installing the Capi2 system since 2006 and after the initial teething problems all works fine now , the new upgraded Quad programmable nodes are a pleasure to work with, settable to 3, 10 and 16 amps and dimming or not dimming , shutoff preference for low voltages.
I am very happy that we have gone for this system the weight savings are substantial, around 60 kilo on our 44 ft cat and in excess of 100 on the 61 ft.
The system also saves time in installing .

The staff at Capi2 has been very helpful and even exchanged a system of almost 3 years old for the last version at no cost. very service minded
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