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Old 22-05-2020, 10:52   #1
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Running a windlass off of inverter

I currently do not have a windlass, just undresized ground tackle and oversized forearms. This setup is temporary and when researching options, I am torn between an electric and manual windlass option. One of my big hangups is the wiring required to install an electric windlass. Based on my estimates, I'm looking at around 35' (70' round trip) from my battery bank to the bow. This will require 4/0 battery cable for a cost of around $800. This is just the power cables and does not include the myriad peripherals and pain in the ass work associated with electrical installs. I've researched the dedicated windlass battery in the bow and am almost certain that I am not going with that option. Is there another way?

I have a 12v system with a Victron Multiplus 3000 inverter connected to my 300ah BattleBorn lithium house bank, 640watts solar, and plan to install a 100amp alternator. I wonder if I could either:

A - power a 120v ac windlass from the inverter(even though I can't seem to find any on the market, why is that?)

B - install a 12v-24v step up converter to power a 24v windlass

It seems like there has got to be a better way of powering the windlass than running these huge expensive wires due entirely to the low voltage. I figure the higher voltage is better all around for this situation. Can anyone enlighten me on this?
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Old 22-05-2020, 11:24   #2
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

DC motors are high torque and easy to reverse. Same can be said for three-phase AC motors. But single-phase AC, not so much. I suspect it would be very hard to find a 1-2HP single-phase AC motor that would begin to match up to the specs of a DC windlass motor. Then you have the inverter inefficiencies, those probably balance the voltage drop inefficiencies of your long cable run.

You've covered the options, none of them are cheap. Big cables. Increase to 24V helps. If you have more than one 12V battery in your house bank you can use the Yandina Trollbridge or something similar to put them in series for the higher voltage windlass. I've seen several boats that do that and don't seem to have any issues.
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Old 22-05-2020, 11:26   #3
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

What size Windlass are you running? My VWC 2500 does just fine on 2GA wire over similar distances.
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Old 22-05-2020, 11:32   #4
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

50 amp load at 10% voltage drop for 2 min and a 70’ run calculates out to 4 Ga wire.
The thing about a windlass is that they should never really be under much load for more than a few seconds and some would argue not even then, the boat should do all the work, the windlass just raises the anchor after it’s broken loose.
Personally I do use mine to bring the boat up to the anchor and then to break the anchor loose. I do so by taking all the slack out of the chain, boat moves forward, take up slack, repeat, boat moves past anchor and that almost always levers the anchor out. So the most load is pulling up an anchor with a load of mud.
I never have or will understand why it is that a winch isn’t allowed to be put under a load, just not an excessive one.
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Old 22-05-2020, 11:42   #5
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

Wow, 10% voltage drop?! I'm still in the design phase and using the ABYC maximum allowable voltage drop of 3%. I would favor the install of 2AWG wire, but would be nervous about it ever after.
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Old 22-05-2020, 11:59   #6
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

I am surprised that you need a 35' run to the windlass. in a 37' boat.

Our battery cables already are led to the nav station where the battery switch is. That run is 15' and already existed when we added the windlass. The cable is 2/0.

The run to the windlass is about 15' (from the nav station) and the windlass is not all the way to the bow. The windlass circuit breaker (forward, next to the windlass, but inside the bow hatch) is 85amps. That cable is also 2/0.

We purchased and used railroad cables we bought at a surplus store for about $50. (we also used these for the main battery cables). These have been excellent for the last 34 years.

We only power the windlass when the engine is running.
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Old 22-05-2020, 12:01   #7
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

ABYC only requires 3% for "essential" items, 10% for non-essential. They even publish tables for wire sizing at each of those percentages. And they leave it up to you to determine what is "essential". Personally I don't like 10% for anything, but 3% is a bit too tight for things like a windlass.
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Old 22-05-2020, 12:26   #8
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

My cable run would come directly from my battery box, which is above the engine, in the companionway. Due to the curves and turns that it would need to take, I'm estimating a distance of 35'. For instance, the inverter is just to starboard of the companionway, on the bulkhead of the nav desk, on the other side of the door to the head. I can almost touch the inverter and the battery box at the same time, yet the turns needed to conceal the 4/0 AWG required about 15' of cable. The windlass would likely follow a similar path and then continue forward to the bow.

Dsanduril, thanks for the clarification on the voltage drops. Using a voltage drop calculator, it looks like I will be able to run 35' of 2AWG with drop of 5.29% allowing the windlass to use 11.37. This would be significantly easier to run and way way less expensive. This is starting to look more possible.
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Old 23-05-2020, 04:38   #9
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

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Originally Posted by Marrigoround View Post
My cable run would come directly from my battery box, which is above the engine, in the companionway. Due to the curves and turns that it would need to take, I'm estimating a distance of 35'.

It's not uncommon for thruster installations to have the batteries closely located to the thruster.

Could you do something like that for a DC electric windlass? Bag using the original battery bank, use a forward-mounted battery (and a very short cable run) instead?

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Old 23-05-2020, 05:19   #10
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

Just go with a good manual windlass and be done with it.
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Old 23-05-2020, 05:32   #11
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Just go with a good manual windlass and be done with it.
Yes, this. Or just use your hands, haul and brace with the motion of the boat. I have a manual windlass but rarely use it as it is slower.
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Old 23-05-2020, 06:13   #12
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

I definitely wouldn't do off the inverter. Mine was running a 90v dc motor off the inverter for a custom windlass setup. Was definitely a terrifying Hodge podge setup.

I went with a Maxwell vw10-10 which has a 1200w 12v motor(135amp breaker). I ran 2/0 cable which gave me 8% voltage drop @135amp. Would I prefer 3% yes, would I prefer the cost of cable? No!

I am completely comfortable with this because I know that it is sized for max load and as such we should never see that 135amp breaker trip and if we did, it's not going to fry the wire. I wouldn't feel comfortable with 0awg wire size running 85ft round trip(on my boat) even though it shows that would work for 10%.

Personally if it was me and i didn't want to pay the price of wires I'd go with manual.
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Old 23-05-2020, 06:38   #13
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marrigoround View Post
I currently do not have a windlass, just undresized ground tackle and oversized forearms. This setup is temporary and when researching options, I am torn between an electric and manual windlass option. One of my big hangups is the wiring required to install an electric windlass. Based on my estimates, I'm looking at around 35' (70' round trip) from my battery bank to the bow. This will require 4/0 battery cable for a cost of around $800. This is just the power cables and does not include the myriad peripherals and pain in the ass work associated with electrical installs. I've researched the dedicated windlass battery in the bow and am almost certain that I am not going with that option. Is there another way?

I have a 12v system with a Victron Multiplus 3000 inverter connected to my 300ah BattleBorn lithium house bank, 640watts solar, and plan to install a 100amp alternator. I wonder if I could either:

A - power a 120v ac windlass from the inverter(even though I can't seem to find any on the market, why is that?)

B - install a 12v-24v step up converter to power a 24v windlass

It seems like there has got to be a better way of powering the windlass than running these huge expensive wires due entirely to the low voltage. I figure the higher voltage is better all around for this situation. Can anyone enlighten me on this?
I would look for a brushless DC windlass (basically a multiphase AC motor and some closed loop control to generate the phase differences). Usually better power/torque at similar form factor. You should be able to find some at various DC inputs b/c the internals do the voltage and phase conversation anyway. However, I would not recommend anything higher than 24V.
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Old 23-05-2020, 06:47   #14
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

I ran 2ga for my Maxwell HRC10-8, about a 50 foot round trip. It's a 1000W motor, 135A breaker. Maxwell suggests that 2ga is fine up to a 52 foot round trip, so I'm just within their spec.

At 85 amps (rated working load), I've got 5.5% voltage drop (assuming we start with 12 volts as a worst case). At 135A when the breaker should trip, I've got 8.1% voltage drop. Even applying a de-rate for some of the wire run being in the engine room, 2ga 105* C insulation is good for 178.5 amps before anything bad happens according to Ancor. And there's no way the windlass would run for more than 5 or 6 minutes continuously anyway, plus it would be basically impossible to sustain full breaker trip current for that whole time, so wire heating concerns are reduced further.

Considering the weight of my ground tackle with a good load of mud on it (even dropped in infinitely deep water) is nowhere near what the windlass is rated to pull, I figure that amount of voltage drop should be perfectly fine and it wasn't worth chasing a small improvement.
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Old 23-05-2020, 06:55   #15
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Re: Running a windlass off of inverter

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Yes, this. Or just use your hands, haul and brace with the motion of the boat. I have a manual windlass but rarely use it as it is slower.
Yup. You're definitely stronger than me (as I think we found in this other thread as well )

I sometimes haul the initial rode when I'm bored, or really want to go fast, but my old back* doesn't like it. I always use the windlass to lift the anchor and final height or rode. It's slower than electrics, but not that much slower if I really give 'er.

* I also broke my back many years ago.
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