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Old 12-01-2012, 08:45   #1
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How Hard is it to Install Marine Electronics ?

Hello all;

After reading the options list of the Lagoon that I plan to purchase, it's obvious that they rip off from extras, especially electronics. I'm more than capable with electronics with history with engineering. Now my questions is, would it be a nightmare to install the following myself, hence saving a real fortune and learning the guts of the boat even better with gaining experience for future problems that might occur :

. Solar panels
. Wind generator
. All navigational electronics (GPS, charplotter, repeaters, VHF, radios etc.)
. All leisure electronics (TV's, CD/DVD players etc.)
. Maybe some extra electrical outlets
. Aircon?
. Inverter & regulator
. Generator


I don't want to say "how hard can they be?" and jinx it, however, I never asked for any labor for setting up huge computer systems, maintaining them, fixing their guts off or etc. on land, what should I expect to be different? And wouldn't it be better since I wouldn't skimp on materials at hidden corners like the manufacturer may do?

Thank you very much in advance for all your answers. I'd appreciate if you could share your experiences as well in this area, if you have any.


Best Regards;
Mehmet
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Old 12-01-2012, 08:56   #2
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

If you have experience with 12v and 110 I don't think it will be that bad. Use the right tools and the right cables and it's not such a bad job. Running the cables is a pain in the ass. I learned basic 12v in the Navy and have figured out 110 just by doing it.

Almost everything you buy will have a wiring diagram that goes with it.

The biggest mistakes I see people make is doing cheap / shotty installations because they don't have the right equipment (breakers, proper wires, etc), they don't know what they're doing (so they use wire nuts, etc), or they get lazy and install panels all over the boat to branch off of existing circuits rather than adding new ones.

Hope that helps.
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Old 12-01-2012, 08:58   #3
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

I would not call it hard. It is more time consuming than anything else. If you are a mechanically and electrically inclined person, like you are, then I would say go for it.

You do though want to buy a few books on marine electrical systems. You may also want to have an expert available who can take a look at the project to make sure it is being done the best way possible. There is a bit of a learning curve to installing these systems.

Along the same lines as what Rebel is saying, 12 volt and 120 volt systems on land have quite a number of differences than a boat, all for good reason. Home Depot is not going to be the place to be purchasing the majority your electrical system components.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:11   #4
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MehmetCan View Post
I don't want to say "how hard can they be?" and jinx it, however, I never asked for any labor for setting up huge computer systems, maintaining them, fixing their guts off or etc. on land, what should I expect to be different? And wouldn't it be better since I wouldn't skimp on materials at hidden corners like the manufacturer may do?
What you do on land has very little bearing on what you'd need to do on a boat. The logic you're using here may be setting you up for a great deal of frustration.

There are some installations that will be better done by the factory. First among these is the wiring for the windlass and any electric winches. Follow this by ducting for any heating/cooling system.

Boat systems are way different than land systems. If you're asking the question of "how hard can it be?" in terms of installing something like a generator, you may want to leave such tasks to the experts who already know that it's damned hard to do.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:23   #5
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
There are some installations that will be better done by the factory. First among these is the wiring for the windlass
This doesn't seem so bad. If the engine's on the amperage doesn't seem so relevant, and as long as you have a run of big ass cable the rest is pretty straight up.

I'm installing my first electric windlass in a couple of months so I've been doing my research. For my windlass it's a 70 amp breaker and some 0 gauge for the ~40' run at 50 amps ( ~3% loss).






Maybe I should just T off of the running lights.


Kidding, kidding.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:27   #6
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

Sorry for hijacking your thread bro.

Looked at the wiring and can't find much 0 gauge but the 1/0 is *expensive*. Looks like $600 bills just for the damn wires.

Marine Wire / Battery Cable
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:31   #7
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

First and foremost, thanks a lot for the torrent of answers. I need to make a few things clear at this point :

1. I'm planning to buy the best and preferably oversize equipment for wiring, connections, fuses etc.
2. Reading the books and doing the research is one of the most important parts of fun for this project for me.
3. Fun is another keyword here, I don't have any rush and I'm planning to spread these tasks over the summer or maybe even more during the preperations for the circumnavigation I plan to do.

Last but certainly not least, I know the approach of "skilled labor", which I believe can be bested by measuring and researching thrice and cutting once....
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:34   #8
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

Properly installing electronics,solar,wind chargers, should not be a large problem for you Im sure. But when it comes to heat and airconditioning,gensets, I personaly would leave to the factory, for very easy to see reasons"having to remove and rework pre-installed paneling and routeing ducting through bulkheads, insulation,ect,ect would be a real PITA, installation of a genny, not to bad unless your trying to muscle it where it needs to go in a Brand new boat!! Ive installed a few over the years and you ALWAYS Nick something!! I would let the factory install it if I had a choice!! now I admit as Ive gotten older my wanting to install Large Items has gotten less and less But to me on a brand new vessel I would have no problem doing electronics but other things I would leave to the factory if only for the factory warrenty just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:34   #9
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
What you do on land has very little bearing on what you'd need to do on a boat. The logic you're using here may be setting you up for a great deal of frustration.

There are some installations that will be better done by the factory. First among these is the wiring for the windlass and any electric winches. Follow this by ducting for any heating/cooling system.

Boat systems are way different than land systems. If you're asking the question of "how hard can it be?" in terms of installing something like a generator, you may want to leave such tasks to the experts who already know that it's damned hard to do.
I want to clarify what I said and completely agree with Bash that you do not want to purchase a boat with no electrical system. This would be a huge mistake. The only person who should consider building an electrical system from scratch is one with many years of experience doing just this. If though you want to do things like install your own radar, or radio or other such things, then go for it.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:37   #10
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

1/0 is "0" gauge (one zero, as opposed to 2/0=00, etc). Yes, it is expensive. Try genuinedealz.com.

Personally, I don't think a windlass needs to be kept to 3% drop, particularly since you will almost always be running the engine when using it, so you may have some wiggle room. Is the 40' run 20' each way (correct way to measure it), or are the batteries really at the far opposite end of the boat?

Mark
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:56   #11
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

It sounds like you are buying a new boat and looking at the manufacturer's option list and prices. First those list prices are just that- list and can be negotiated just like the base boat purchase price. I would expect to get 20% off of list.

Second, any of the stuff that you mentioned can be installed by a local marine electrical/electronics shop or engine shop in the case of the generator. If you go this way it will be just about as cheap and you will get to pick exactly what you want. Manufacturer's gensets are generally the cheapest, not necessarily the best. Same is true of electronics.

For the reasons mentioned by the other posters, I would install the windlass and air conditioning at the factory. Also have them install the thruhull for the genset.

David
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:19   #12
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

Everything takes at least 2 times what you would think time wise. But yes, you should do it and for the reasons you state. Take your time and think things through though, just sitting on the settee and thinking can be a good thing before you start. I hate it when I finish a project at lightening speed only to realize... "crap... if I'd done it that way it would be a lot better!"
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:27   #13
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics ?

I've heard (and am now convinced) that a good rule of thumb is to expect installation to cost as much or more than the device you're installing, even if you're doing it yourself.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:51   #14
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Re: How hard is it to install marine electronics and electric equipments?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
1/0 is "0" gauge (one zero, as opposed to 2/0=00, etc). Yes, it is expensive. Try genuinedealz.com.

Personally, I don't think a windlass needs to be kept to 3% drop, particularly since you will almost always be running the engine when using it, so you may have some wiggle room. Is the 40' run 20' each way (correct way to measure it), or are the batteries really at the far opposite end of the boat?

Mark
Batteries are in the quarter berth, way in the back. 40' is a straight shot too and not counting a lot of countours. Boat is 36' long so it might end up being ~40+. I'll definitely be using a string to measure that out and figure out placement prior to making the order.

Thanks for the link; I'll check them out.
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Old 12-01-2012, 14:44   #15
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Re: How Hard is it to Install Marine Electronics ?

Rating difficulty on a scale of 1(easy) to 10(hard)

. Solar panels
Just installing mine now. I'm going with 40W as the thought of trying to bolt on some 25Kg monster while being blown off the bimini is not attractive. The real cost/difficulty here is in the mounts and integrating them in with existing stainless/canvass work. Running cable through everything is not easy, nor is crimp terminals and neat connections.
Degree of difficulty 6

. Wind generator
Decided to go with solar only as I'd probably forget and get my head sliced. Again cabling and mounting post would be the issues.
Degree of difficulty 5

. All navigational electronics (GPS, charplotter, repeaters, VHF, radios etc.)
Not hard, but time consuming. Much easier if the electrical panel is already set up.
Degree of difficulty 4

. All leisure electronics (TV's, CD/DVD players etc.)
I did not experience any major problems, save mounting the TV in in the wrong place.
Degree of difficulty 4

. Maybe some extra electrical outlets
No worries.
Degree of difficulty 2

. Aircon?
Never done

. Inverter & regulator
Used a 300W inverter and Echo charge.
Degree of difficulty Inverter 0, Echo Charge 4

. Generator
Used a Honda
Degree of difficulty 1

.Main switchboard
Not on your list but essential. Very hard to keep neat, need first class components and an honours degree in electrical engineering.
Degree of difficulty 10

It comes down to a cost benefit analysis. Certainly, if it goes on the mast (Radar, VHF antenna, steaming light protector, spreader lights etc.) I'd strongly suggest getting the factory to do it.

The other question is how neatly can you work. I'm pretty messy, but Boracay is amateur built. On an expensive new boat is it worth it?

Much of what you want requires custom stainless (don't forget davits and custom anchor brackets). Do you have a good person lined up? Most would be easier and better done by the factory.

Don't forget this is all really time consuming. We're talking months, if not years. All the time your new boat is sitting at the dock not being used and depreciating. In the time it takes you to fit even the basic stuff your loss of interest and depreciation could be greater than getting the factory to do it.

If it were me, and money was not an issue, I'd get the factory to do the lot, and pay the world's fussiest surveyor to make sure it was right.

Basically, why put DIY on a new boat? If money is an issue the I'd look for good second hand and knock myself out doing it. But a new boat, where's the fun in that?
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