This last winter and spring was filled with great projects. I am staying focused on improving charging and storage systems on motor yachts.  In addition to many smaller projects I was able to complete three projects in my main areas of interest that seem to offer cruisers the most benefit.  

I improved the overall performance of a traditional lead acid storage system by eliminating battery isolators, improving the wiring of the alternators to the battery bank, and charging all the other batteries on the boat with Victron DC to DC chargers. 

Also, working with the customer to build a system that he envisioned, I completed the installation of a lithium battery bank.  In this case the BMS’s were internal, and we managed to make very few changes to the boats existing electrical system, including keeping the Magnum inverter and the Balmar regulated alternators.

And finally this spring I installed a 600 Watt solar charging system on a motor yacht.  Mounting the panels is always challenging and I was pleased that I got it done within budget.  The customers spend most of the summer away from docks, so eliminating generator run time was the goal.  I am happy to report that the panels are performing well beyond what we expected and the customer is thrilled!  I keep up with the latest in solar technology with great support from NAZ Solar Electric formerly Northern Arizona Wind & Sun.

This coming winter I am looking forward to offering Victron’s GlobalLink 520.  I think this is a great product!  With no monthly monitoring fee the GlobalLink can keep you informed all winter, giving you peace of mind, knowing that your boat is safe.  It can monitor a ton of data from your boat and make it available to you anywhere in the world.  I know for me personally having just three basic pieces of information at my fingertips would help me sleep better at night: battery voltage, shore power status, and the temperature/ humidity onboard.  And another one I am going to look into adding is the monitoring of bilge pump cycles.

Adding Fuses to make it right.

New fuses added to improve battery bank wiring.

When I come onto a boat to update the batteries and charging system I often find wiring that has been done previously that is unfused.  Many projects like adding ACR’s (automatic charging relays) have been done without putting a fuse on each wire that leaves a battery and connects to the ACR.

The same is surprisingly true of battery charger wires, wires to battery isolators, and alternators that are no logher wired to the starter motor.

Every time a wire is connected to a DC source, either at a buss bar or battery post, that wire needs its own fuse that is sized for that wire.

Often what I charge for completing a project can be 60-70% made up of the cost of adding, and wiring in the appropriate style fuses that were missing from systems that might look pretty good at first glance.

Buss bars are another upgrade that is often needed to make a DC system safe.  Too many wires on a single battery post (more than 3) are non-compliant with safety standards and prone to coming loose.  

Finally the layout of the buss bars and new fuses are going to need space to be mounted in a way that they are serviceable. When I make any changes to a system, like rewiring batteries, or adding a solar charger, I must upgrade the wiring to a point that I at least know each wire is protected with a fuse or breaker.  

That often turns what seemed like a simple project into a little more extensive rewire.  But it is always worth the effort. When finished the boats DC system will be safe and reliable, not requiring any owner attention for many years.