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Old 05-04-2017, 20:39   #1
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Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

Hey all,

Hope everyone is happily cruising! I hope to be soon, with just a few adjustments to my electrical system. I was hoping to find some suggestions.

I'm in-between going solar, wind, and inverter​ or just going classic generator. Was hoping you guys could point me in the right direction after telling you my specs and needs.

I really don't need much actually, but my vessel is solely on alternator charge and that definitely needs a revamp. It's only a 10 meter boat, so storage of a generator and gas is a concern.

I'm looking to run a TV, multiple chargers, water heater, and stereo. All not at one time of course. I don't have all the watts and aH worked out yet, but it'll all be somewhat minimal? Sorry for the lack of info =X

I have 2 27 deep cycles for the house batteries that I was planning to run off.

Mainly I'm curious with an inverter, and a few 180amp solar panels, would I be able to run these things on AC for a night?

I'm really just not sure if it's realistic to go solar if I'm going to have that much AC. Should I just get a generator and some trickle solar with a regulator to keep the batteries up? And then just the gene for the big things?

Also let me know what you need from me to answer these questions if all of my info is too. I know already I'll need to provide more, so sorry in advance.
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Old 05-04-2017, 21:20   #2
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

Go native DC as much as possible, a little research will show you need a smaller inverter than you think or best none at all.

Get away from automotive form factor batteries, read Maine Sail's excellent rant on true deep cycle, vow to get them up to 100% full most days etc and they'll last you a very long time.

Best way to do that is - if you don't have room for lots of solar which is likely but load up as much as can fit - you run fossil fuel to get the bank to 75-85% full in the morning, and solar finishes the last 15-25%, which will take 3-5x as long.

More solar/sunny weather shorter runtimes.

A big amp alt with the right belt setup and pulley ratio plus a good external regulator may mean you can pump enough amps into that bulk stage at high-idle, that you don't need a separate gennie. Heating up the water tank can add healthy load to the diesel, and use up free solar in the afternoon once the bank is at the tail end of absorption then on float.

But if a little Honda eu2000i is enough (maybe a 100A charger?) that may be cheaper than wear & tear on the engine, your call there.
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Old 05-04-2017, 22:02   #3
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

no on the hot water heater. that is huge power.

that would kill your two 27's in about 30 mins.

don't run a gas gen on a boat deck. just don't.
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Old 05-04-2017, 23:01   #4
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

+1 on what john61 said. A couple 180W panels and a big alternator will only get you so far paired with two 27s. Your demands are a pretty big ask for a small boat, even if you had double or triple the storage capacity you have now.

Where are you planning to cruise? A solar shower bag coupled with a propane stove can give you hot showers in the cockpit..pouring a kettle full of hot water into the bag with a funnel can give you a nice warm shower even if the sun isn't shining.

Consider ditching the TV and using an ipad or small computer for everything. You could even mount it to a bulkhead.

The stereo is pretty minimal as long as you aren't blasting music for long periods.

Try to charge all your other stuff after the sun has been out and the batteries have already been more or less topped off.

If you don't have one already, a little analog ammeter wired between your batteries and the main buss will be really handy for monitoring amp usage. Also a little voltmeter wired to the batts to monitor state of charge.
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Old 05-04-2017, 23:22   #5
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

Thank you for the input. I'll probably ditch the water heater, but was kind of keen on the TV. No matter, no really needed would have just been luxury.

I'm moving further away, from the generator, due to lack of space and the complications it entails.

I'll most definitely get those meters you speak of, thank you so much for those recommendations.

I really just need to figure out where I would mount the panels now, and setting up all the wiring, and regulator.

Are there any specific brands you'd recommend? Also is welding a good option off the stem rails, or that'd probably get lack of light.. Don't necessarily want to bolt into the glass on the top deck.

Thanks again!

Any suggestions to this and my previous post will still be most appreciated!
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Old 06-04-2017, 00:12   #6
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

Sure thing.

I would suggest googling small boat solar panel installs and look around for ideas that make sense for your boat. There's limited real estate, but still tons of ways to get creative. Personally, I've got 7 36W panels..4 that can track the sun on my radar pole and 3 sewn onto my dodger. Went with the more expensive but lightweight semi-flexible panels backed with thin sheets of G10. A 420Ah house bank. All said, it's enough to power a small watermaker, a computer, AIS, VHF, occasional radar, stereo, and a few other small electronics in the tropics. Occasionally still have to run the engine if the sun doesn't shine for more than a day or two. I usually find myself running the engine for at least an hour or two every couple days anyway, so not a huge deal.

Also don't want to dissuade you from the gear you want aboard. If you're gonna be plugging into shore power regularly, then some power hungry luxury items might begin to make more sense. Everyone does it differently.
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Old 06-04-2017, 02:10   #7
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

Your electrical system "design" should be driven by how you sail and how you live on/use the boat.

You will have to balance your charging device outputs to your expected loads with some margin of error.

You should have large ... with margin of era... deep cycle marine type batteries. This is the foundation of your system.

Begin by a daily use load calculation... how many amps will you need. Do this for calc for different situations.

Replace your batts with the largest ones you can fit. Do clean proper sized wiring and connectors.

Change your alternator to a high output multi stage smart regulated one.

Add a decent electrical monitor to show draws and charging.... and battery voltage.

Next add alt charging sources... solar, wind and or a gen set in this order. All need proper smart regulators. GenSet needs fuel which is an expense and requiires storage... Wind is often noisy. Solar is quiet but takes real estate.

If you operate your diesel regularly it can add a lot of amps with a high output alternator... and make hot water as well... kills two birds with one stone.

Be conservative in your electric usage. Use LED lighting....
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Old 06-04-2017, 02:53   #8
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

We are a similar size and use fridge, tv, lights and laptops etc, or whilst at sea vhf, chart plotter and nav lights. The 22" tv runs through a mains to 12v inverter and takes about 2 amps. The house bank is 2 x 110 Ah batteries.

We managed well with 170w in strong sunlight during the summer and failed miserably if it rained for more than a couple days. We are now upgrading to 240w of solar.

So if you can fit 2 x 180w of solar and some form of battery monitoring to see what is going on then that is a great step forward. You could increase the battery capacity either by adding another or replacing with bigger when they start to fail. This will help to see you through peaks and cloudy wet weather.

A smart charger on the existing alternator will help but battery charging to 100% from an alternator is dreadfully slow, think in terms of hours and hours and not great for the engine as its running cool and under no load, unless you are moving.

Fit the solar and battery monitor first and see how you go, you can add the res later if required.

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Old 06-04-2017, 11:35   #9
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

While your need to heat hot water is doubtful, your various power needs are not. Storage is one aspect, and generation is another. The traditional route is one battery dedicated to starting the engine(s), with one or more additional batteries for your "house" requirements. As far as generation of power, there is rarely (never?) a reason not to have an engine powered generator or alternator unless you are sailing without an engine. Supplemental sources are varied and can include separate generator (e.g. a small Honda), wind, and solar. There are other options but they become somewhat esoteric. Your 10 meters is adequate for some solar and some wind. They are compatible, and not mutually exclusive. An inverter is dependent upon what you are powering and if you have a choice. Equipment that you need and even just want, including the AC is available in 12 volt, although you probably would need more battery storage for AC. One way to quickly become unpopular at an anchorage is to run either you boat's engine or a generator and disturb others, and chances are someone will be disturbed for some reason no matter what time it is. If you carefully add up your power needs and potential needs, allowing a margin, including the fact that you do not want to drain your batteries below a certain point, you will get an idea of what you can and cannot reasonably accomplish. Me, I'd love AC and hot water in some places, but they are not high enough on the list to make the other sacrifices that would need to be made. Still, each of us can decide for ourselves. At least for right now about such things. Some individual decisions have already been taken away, by our nannies/governments, but not all.
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Old 06-04-2017, 12:10   #10
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

If it were me, I'd look at three factors:
- Do you need air conditioning?
- Do you need hot water when not running the engine for days?
- Do you have room (on the boat or in the budget) for a generator?

The first one is easy. If you need A/C, you need an installed genset unless you're staying in marinas with shore power all the time.

The hot water is not a huge issue for most people. If you're not running the engine often enough (daily) to make enough hot water, there are solar showers or just do without for a while. If that's not an option, then again, you need a genset.

If space or budget is a constraint, and you need/want a genset, I consider a Honda eu2000 a very viable option for a boat that size. For about one-fifth the cost of an installed genset, it's very reliable, compact and quiet. If you're only running it for an hour or two a day, while you're awake and monitoring it, there's really very little that can go wrong. If you already store gas for a dinghy motor, it's not even any more of an inconvenience to keep fuel on hand. I would not advocate using it to run an air conditioner while you sleep.
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Old 06-04-2017, 12:30   #11
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

Quote:
Originally Posted by DewTheDewDude View Post
It's only a 10 meter boat

Mainly I'm curious with an inverter, and a few 180amp solar panels, would I be able to run these things on AC for a night?
"A few" 180watt panels will take up one helluva lot of geography on a 30' boat.
What kind of boat is it ?
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Old 06-04-2017, 15:05   #12
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

Quote:
Originally Posted by DewTheDewDude View Post
I'm in-between going solar, wind, and inverter​ or just going classic generator. Was hoping you guys could point me in the right direction after telling you my specs and needs.

...

I'm looking to run a TV, multiple chargers, water heater, and stereo. All not at one time of course. I don't have all the watts and aH worked out yet, but it'll all be somewhat minimal?

...

I'm really just not sure if it's realistic to go solar if I'm going to have that much AC. Should I just get a generator and some trickle solar with a regulator to keep the batteries up? And then just the gene for the big things?
The water heater and the TV are big power hogs (esp. the water heater). Throw in the normal stuff (I assume you'll have lights, nav gear, comms) and you might have trouble finding space for the required solar on a 10m boat.

Only way to know for sure though is to crunch the numbers.
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Old 06-04-2017, 15:13   #13
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

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The water heater and the TV are big power hogs (esp. the water heater). Throw in the normal stuff (I assume you'll have lights, nav gear, comms) and you might have trouble finding space for the required solar on a 10m boat.

Only way to know for sure though is to crunch the numbers.
Buy a 12V tv. The water in the heater should stay hot for a day or more after running you engine if properly insulated. Ours has much additional insulation and we have hot water for two days after a 1 or 2 hr. run.

You will never run a water heater by anything other than a generator or engine heat on a vessel of your size. Unless you give up a couple berths for batteries and that will only last til' you have to recharge them.
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Old 10-04-2017, 20:10   #14
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

I keep hearing TV's use a lot of power. I have a 24" that uses less than 40 watts. Do you consider this a lot of power? Maybe 3 amps? Are you guys still using tube TV's? Spend some time ashore and you will find that most CRT type TVs are resting peacefully in local land fills.
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Old 10-04-2017, 23:22   #15
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Re: Looking for suggestions​ for new electrical system

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Originally Posted by hsi88 View Post
I keep hearing TV's use a lot of power. I have a 24" that uses less than 40 watts. Do you consider this a lot of power? Maybe 3 amps? Are you guys still using tube TV's? Spend some time ashore and you will find that most CRT type TVs are resting peacefully in local land fills.


Haha. You win the Internet.

This thread is good tho. I like looking at other people's ideas as I'm implementing my own in my current refit. I am running 2 separate AC systems basically that's an obnoxiously large but for a 32' boat. But I was planning on using air bnb (until my marina decided to shut down while I'm 1/2 done the electric)

My one 30A in runs all my outlets, enough for 2tvs (not at the same time) lights and my battery chargers for my tools and battery chargers.

The 2nd 30A in will be for my hot water heater, and my Air Conditioning. (These might get split up once I run amp tests on all things in running) my house boat ran 3x this stuff off 2 30a in so I think I should be fine.

My DC will only run a few of the outlets and my nav equipment in the cockpit and my 12v lights.
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