More on 12v circuits

Last night I realized that the electrical system is going to need some upgrades on Satori. First off, I know that the only thing capable of recharging the batteries is the engine. Too many articles I’ve read seems to conclude that the engine is merely for propulsion and not to keep the batteries charged unless under dire circumstances. This is for a couple of reasons. First off, the engine requires diesel fuel which not only needs to be carried around but is also limited in quantity. Second, the amount of running hours should be limited to the sole purpose of motoring when sailing is hazardous or impossible. I’ve been looking at how to conserve on electricity and yet still have some luxury aboard without too much compromise. Solar and wind are the only renewable options and both come at a very high expense so just simply adding renewable energy sources isn’t enough. I will also need to come up with a plan for drawing the least amount of power per day that works well with what I consume from my charger(s). Therefore I plan to install LED lights throughout the boat to replace all existing inefficient lights and keep the oil lamps as practical cabin lighting. Research suggests that interior lights draw only .5 watts per outlet which is far less than the existing. I’m also considering some luxury entertainment like a bluetooth car stereo with surround sound for rocking out to tunes while underway. Perhaps even a couple of cockpit and forward birth speakers that I can control the output so I can choose from one to all three outputs.

I’m fairly new at 12v systems. When I was a teenager I wired a few complete stereo systems and learned how to completely fry a car stereo so I think at this point it’s good to start learning how to work with an entire 12v electrical system, including renewable energy sources and monitoring systems. I’ve employed the help of two recommended books from Amazon. First is ‘The 12 volt bible for boats‘ which will help with how to run new wires, splice, fuse and monitor. The second is a little more generic but covers much more than electrical. It’s called ‘Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual‘ which not only covers electrical but plumbing and other mechanics like steering vanes, stoves, engines, etc. I don’t plan on becoming a diesel mechanic for my own boat but in the event of failure I would like to be able to dig in and make repairs when absolutely necessary. I’m not opposed to engine work but from experience I know that when parts fail, the only solution is a new part which requires a source that can mail-order with minimal time and shipping costs. Minor repairs of hoses or corroded parts isn’t a big deal but taking apart a fuel injector screams disaster while underway. I’ll focus on plumbing, electrical and navigation solutions and do all of the work myself but will outsource engine work.

For now I’m just thinking about lights and navigation. I would like to get AIS + VHF upgraded first, then find a nice GPS + Chartplotter that will accept AIS from VHF so I am set for navigating the Puget Sound waterways. Later I can focus on renewable energy and the entertainment system and then finally offshore focused upgrades like a watermaker, radar and SSB radio.


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