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Old 10-01-2016, 14:44   #1
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Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

Hi folks, I am new to the forum. I purchased a project boat and am in the final stages of completion. Its a small boat and not a lot of room. I plan on coastal cruising. The issue is the wiring, I don't like it for many reasons such as corrosion, chafe, poorly routed,etc. My background is in aviation maintenance/pilot and I like things to be fail safe and tidy. I was considering removing all electric except the D/C basics such as nav lights, vhf. All A/C wire and accessories outlets would be removed. Just going back to a basic boat (nice and clean) with a solar panel and battery bank to power portable nav/com devices. Any flaws in my idea, or am I missing something? Is shore power for a non-live aboard worth the re-wire hassle?
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Old 10-01-2016, 14:49   #2
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskaflyfish View Post
Hi folks, I am new to the forum. I purchased a project boat and am in the final stages of completion. Its a small boat and not a lot of room. I plan on coastal cruising. The issue is the wiring, I don't like it for many reasons such as corrosion, chafe, poorly routed,etc. My background is in aviation maintenance/pilot and I like things to be fail safe and tidy. I was considering removing all electric except the D/C basics such as nav lights, vhf. All A/C wire and accessories outlets would be removed. Just going back to a basic boat (nice and clean) with a solar panel and battery bank to power portable nav/com devices. Any flaws in my idea, or am I missing something? Is shore power for a non-live aboard worth the re-wire hassle?
How big's the boat?

If the existing wiring is truly ratty and suspect, it's usually worth the time to redo it. Also, depending on your requirements, it's not hard to just put in some very simple but safe AC distribution at the same time.
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Old 10-01-2016, 15:09   #3
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

Redo it rather than devalue your boat. On a simple boat it's not very hard. use tinned wire and it will outlive you. What wire is not just DC basic stuff?
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Old 10-01-2016, 16:14   #4
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

I own a Vega. I rewired every bit of it. For example, I found that the wires in the bow pulpit for the nav. lights were so corroded they wouldn't carry current to light the bulbs.

It's not a ton of work to rewire the whole boat including the wires in the mast.

We also had no AC panel and didn't need shore power when at a dock. Although we did carry a 30 amp. twist lock adapter and an extension cord just in case we needed to run
tools.

We had no AC charger. The only charger was the alternator.

Also, the boat is now in storage and we have a boat with tons of stuff to fix and maintain.
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Old 10-01-2016, 17:15   #5
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

For the original poster's needs, I vote for no shore power.

The proposed solar panel is all that is needed to keep the batteries topped off at the dock and a small inverter will power the occasional A/C device.

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Old 10-01-2016, 17:23   #6
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

The vessel is 27ft. The D/C panel looks like a plate of red spaghetti with vice gripped terminal fittings. There are numerous butt splices on a single run of wire. Some terminals are pulling free. Visible hanging wires thru-out. There are obsolete stereo with speakers and automotive accessory plug in receptacles in numerous places, lamps, extra lights, TV, etc. The shore power panel is just as bad if not worse. The fridge had to go cause it was horrid. I can repair all this. New tinned wire and properly rated circuit breakers etc. So, what this comes down to is this; the vessel was modernized 10 years ago for electronics and furnishings of that era. Equipment seems to be obsolete in two years as well as the wiring to support said equip. How important is it (to you) long term to have 3 a/c outlets spaced thru out the boat as opposed to a single inverter with two built in outlets? My idea was to keep it simple without shore power. Efficiency of portable electronic devices for navigation and entertainment, maintaining electrical potential seems to be a net negative. Or is this backwards thinking?
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Old 10-01-2016, 18:01   #7
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

Assuming you won't use electricity for propulsion, heating, or air conditioning, you should be able to do everything else (even cooking) from batteries and solar panels, especially if you will use LiFePO4 batteries. Cooking (induction) with electricity would require a 230V inverter, but that may not be important as you said it would not be a live-aboard. Personally, I hate the idea of propane on a boat, with its hassles and dangers. (As a pilot, consider the idea of propane cooking in an airliner galley.) Build a 12V DC fridge and use aerogel insulation. My own opinion is that a 27 foot boat does not need AC outlets other than at the inverter.
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Old 10-01-2016, 18:09   #8
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

The only three things I would miss if I ripped out my AC are battery charger, air conditioner, and electric heater. All of which I only use in a marina.

There have been times I go to a marina just for the power to run one of the above.
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Old 10-01-2016, 18:37   #9
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

I think for a 27' foot non-live aboard boat, your plan is fine. I've always gone by the philosophy of "what works for me." I don't care if I lose a bit of money on the resale - I'm the one who owns the boat now.

Unless you know you're selling within a year, do what you want to make the boat the way YOU want it to be.
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Old 10-01-2016, 18:57   #10
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskaflyfish View Post
I like things to be fail safe and tidy. I was considering removing all electric except the D/C basics such as nav lights, vhf. All A/C wire and accessories outlets would be removed
Simple!

One simple word: Simple.

How can I make it simpler? Do I need more than simple? No? Then go for simplicity.

Simple.


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Old 11-01-2016, 05:56   #11
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Tim.
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Old 11-01-2016, 09:28   #12
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

I have a 26 foot Nonsuch. I don't live onboard, but I do like to be able to make a cup of fresh coffee and sometimes warming up some food. Also on an old boat it is nice to have readily access to shore power when doing heavy duty drilling, etc. Also, unless you can be sure your batteries are fully charged on a regular schedule, you will need a charger to prevent permanent capacity loss.

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Old 11-01-2016, 09:38   #13
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

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Originally Posted by alaskaflyfish View Post
I was considering removing all electric except the D/C basics such as nav lights, vhf. All A/C wire and accessories outlets would be removed.
I have sailed probably 10,000 miles on boats with similar simplicity and I find it totally satisfying. Two two trips across the Pacific, I had a very minimal electrical system and it served me well (although with a pretty low standard of living; I would upgrade now that better gear is available.) I don't see a need for AC unless you want to use appliances, and if you have to, you can run most of them from a medium sized inverter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alaskaflyfish View Post
Just going back to a basic boat (nice and clean) with a solar panel and battery bank to power portable nav/com devices.
Not so sure about portable devices. I think you want to have a small, quality fixed mount radio with a masthead antenna, and possibly a small GPS/fishfinder. So much easier that juggling with portable devices, and very efficient in power consumption. I am not entirely sure how to advise on the battery bank. It's just good seamanship to have a reliable backup battery in case you make a mistake or Murphy shows up, and your house bank is depleted. I guess that backup could be a handheld VHF radio, but I've been in situations singlehanded with my sole battery at 9V, and it's a sinking feeling. Nothing like steering all night, hoping that the following day is going t be sunny!

You may want to have a smallish sealed 12V battery that is in reserve, fully charged, in case your house battery is dead for whatever reason.

I presume you'll have a small autopilot, and they are amazingly efficient, especially if the boat is balanced. And LED lights throughout. And a stereo that uses a Class D amplifier for efficiency.

Even though you want to keep it simple, I'd recommend some sort of system meter, like the new OLED meters from Blue Sea Systems. Lovely things that draw very little current, and tell you what's going on at all times.

Chuck Hawley
Now on a more complicated boat, but still simpler than most...
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Old 11-01-2016, 09:43   #14
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

I feel it's always nice to have AC power available on the boat for uses like vacuums, pumps, chargers, real drills, etc etc. I think that for the most part boats electrical systems are kind of "simple" and people confuse "simple" and "less useful".

But it sounds more like that the OP has an older boat where the electrical has just become a mess and needs to be rewired correctly and cleaned up.
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Old 11-01-2016, 09:50   #15
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Re: Going from complicated to simple, any regrets?

That's how mine is setup.

I have 100 Watts of solar charging two 12 volt batteries in parallel.

They power the a/c inverter, lights, GPS units, depth, VHF Radio, autopilot, computer, fans, drill, wet/dry vac, etc

The engine for the boat is pull start outboard.

This has worked well for the pass 5 years.......
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