Archive for the ‘Electrical’ Category

I decided it’s finally time to add an autopilot this year.  I had been holding off while trying to figure out how to install a below deck unit without spending thousands of dollars, and concluded that it probably wouldn’t ever happen.  So I decided to go with a tiller pilot, and after much research on the pros and cons of the Simrad and the Raymarine units, I eventually concluded that Read the rest of this entry »

This is part 3 of my fuel system related posts, the previous post being about the part selection and through hull work.

Now that all the fittings were installed and ready to go it was time to install the actual tank, pump(s), filter, hoses, and do the electrical work to hook everything up. I fit the tank in through the less than roomy opening to the lazarette that was about to become my prison and personal hell for the next two days.  The tank fit through the opening with hardly any room to spare, just as I had designed it to, and slid down into the lazarette behind the rudder post without much trouble at all.  I climbed down into the lazarette for the first of far too many trips climbing in and out of there during the installation process. Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing makes a long passage go quicker than favorable winds, except for favorable winds and music.   Along with all the other electrical upgrades I did this year, I also added a stereo to the boat.  I opted for the West Marine WM3000RF in part because it was about 40% off at the Grand Opening of one of the new West Marine stores this year, but mostly because it was the only unit that I found that had every one of the features I wanted; RF remote, 3.5mm aux input, USB input, AM/FM/CD, and of course it had to be marinized (EDP-coated, rust-resistant chassis, conformal-coated circuit boards in this case).  As an additional bonus, this unit also has SD card support, rear RCA inputs, and a IR remote. The 40% off sale just sped up my purchasing decision.

Stereo Installation Location

Stereo Installation Location

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The reasons for adding cabin fans are self evident.  I got the Hella Marine Jet Single Speed fans, they don’t move a ton of air, but it’s enough to create a pleasant feeling draft and they don’t use much power so they can be left on all day without any concern about the power drain.  Installation was fairly simple, although running the wires was a little tricky. I also added an additional 5A breaker to the panel for the fans.

I didn’t like the way the power cord was routed on the fans, so I drilled an extra hole in the mounting base to allow the power to go through the base and the hole be concealed by the base as well.

After a number of overnight trips this season, this simple upgrade was well apprecieated!

A couple years ago I replaced my cabin lights with LED bulbs and I have been very happy with the results, but even with the new brighter cabin lights there just was not a lot of light reaching into the v-berth. This became most apparent when my Dad came out and we went out on the boat for a 4 day trip last summer.  Read the rest of this entry »

Hunter offered the 27 with the option of either an inboard engine with all the standard options one would expect, or a outboard engine with just the basics. Since I have the outboard option I had the very limited electrical system that only included the lights (cabin, nav, anchor, steaming), and a single “accessory” circuit for everything else.  Read the rest of this entry »

Not having any shore power connection, and a small outboard engine for on demand charging has forced me to be electrically conservative on my boat since I can not just plug in and charge the batteries up whenever I want.  The result is that I have upgraded all the lighting to LED lighting, and installed a small but capable solar charging system. This has worked out rather well and I am able to sustain my electrical needs for even week long live aboard trips.  The only downside to this is when I need to run small power tools or plug in a 110v device or charger, I have to dig out an extension cord with a shore power adapter and run it. That can often take longer than the project I need the 110v power for.

I decided to install an inverter at the same time I was upgrading the electrical panel. Read the rest of this entry »

This part 2 of my Solar Panel related posts, the previous post being about the Solar Charge Controller

I drilled a hole and installed a 1/4″ cable outlet similar to this one over the starboard lazerette where the charge controller is located in order to run the power cable from the solar panel into the lazerette, thru-bolting with nylon locking nuts and sealing everything with 3M 4200  UV to keep from letting any water in.  I then installed the solar panel on the stern rail using the Sunsei solar panel mount.

Original Solar Panel Mount

Original Solar Panel Mount

 

Ganz 12w Solar Panel

Ganz 12w Solar Panel

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Even after I upgraded all the cabin lighting on the boat to LED lights last year I was still finding that on longer trips the batteries were running down and that the outboard engine did not recharge them fast enough to replenish what was being used. I realized that I needed a solar panel to keep the batteries charged up. I didn’t need anything too large, my battery bank is only about 145AH, and the boat does usually spend the whole week sitting at the dock with almost no load on the batteries. I really don’t mind if it takes the whole week to recharge from a weekend of usage, as long as there is enough battery capacity to get me back out and back the next weekend.

Having already determined that the largest panel I wanted to fit on the boat was going to be a low wattage panel, and without doing much more research on the matter I picked up a 5W Sunforce solar panel and 7A solar charge controller, as well as a Sunsei solar panel mount at the West Marine Spring Sale, and installed the charge controller this spring before launching the boat.

 

Sunforce 7A Charge Controller Installed

Sunforce 7A Charge Controller Installed

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My Tohatsu 8hp outboard has an 80w charging system, which I discovered did not have a voltage regulator after the installation of my solar charging system. After some research I found this was standard on most small 2 stroke outboards.  It seems that the outboard manufacturers assumed that anyone using a small outboard for charging would probably never have fully charged batteries, so the batteries would always accept the charge, and voltage regulation wasn’t important. Probably a fairly reasonable assumption unless you have some other chargeing system onboard like I now do.

I discovered the lack of voltage regulation when trying to top off the charge of my secondary battery with the engine before combineing the batteries as the primary was already topped off from the solar panel, and I didn’t want to charge one by discharging the other. After about 10 minutes of running the engine at crusing RPMs I checked the battery voltage at the terminals with a multimeter, and found it was over 16v!

The charging system works off of a dedicated charging coil under the flywheel, that based on engine speed produces a AC current up to 40v at full throttle, and a rectifier converts the AC current into DC current at (roughly) half the AC voltage. That means at full throttle the engine will be putting out roughly 20 volts, way too much voltage if you don’t have a half charged battery hungry to absorb the power. Read the rest of this entry »

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