Electrical

All the electrical choices on Hello World we made was with these goals in mind:

  • We could spend 5 continuous days at anchor.
  • We would never need to run the engine to charge the batteries.
  • We would never need to buy/listen to/smell a generator.
  • We would never have to sacrifice comfort save amps.

That led to the following list of electrical equipment.

Electrical System

The following diagram dates back to 2009 (I lost my Visio license so I can’t seem to update this). It gives you an idea of how the electrical system is laid out. However, there are a few components on here that have since been replaced:

  • alternator has been replaced with the OEM 55A alternator
  • inverter has been replaced with new Victron 750W inverter
  • windlass breaker has been replaced with a larger breaker to handle the Maxwell VW1500 windlass
  • the windlass has been wired to the house bank instead of the starter battery
  • the original solar panel controller has been replaced with a BlueSky SB2512I-MPPT controller

Batteries

Hello World has 6 Trojan T-105 6 volt 225 amp hour batteries mounted aft of the engine underneath the cockpit sole. The batteries are wired in parallel in two 6V banks which are then wired in series. The total 12 volt capacity of the bank is 675 amp hours. We’ve found that we very rarely exceed 10% of the capacity of this bank before either the alternator or solar panels charges the batteries back to full.

Solar

One of my favorite activities at anchor in a quiet bay in Mexico was to sit in the cockpit sipping coffee while our solar panels pumped 15 amps of power back into our batteries. Down south, we were typically charged up from the evening prior before noon. Our solar panel setup looks like so:

We saw a large power increase when we installed the MPPT controller. I’m not sure what witchcraft is captured inside that magical box but we saw at least 20% more output when we installed it.

Shore Power & Distribution

We know of a few boats that have started on fire due to their shore power connections. Wind gusts move the boat enough to work connectors in the typical shore power connectors loose enough to heat up the connection and poof – fire. We installed a SmartPlug shore power connector. It provides a much more secure physical connection. It also senses temperature within the connection and will open the circuit if gets too hot.

Down below at the nav desk, we have a single panel that handles 12V DC and 120V AC breakers. When we bought the boat, several DC breakers were doubled up so we installed a second 12V DC sub-panel at the nav desk as well as a selector switch for AC source.

Charging & Inverting

The boat came with a monstrous 2kW inverter, presumably so the giant AC fridge compressor could be run off shore power. We have since replaced the monster fridge compressor with a significantly more efficient system. The original invertor eventually started to show signs of failure so we replaced it with two separate pieces of equipment. We bought a 12 volt / 30 amp Victron charger to charge the batteries. We then bought a much more reasonable Victron pure-sine 750w inverter. Our AC usage out cruising exists mostly of charging laptops and watching TV. This inverter will run any of our electronics and our power tools that we wanted to use while away from the dock.

Monitoring

The Link10 meter is an unassuming little piece of equipment but I used that one little screen more than anything else at the nav desk. It will tell you current voltage, current amp draw, total amp hours removed from the battery bank and number of hours left at the current discharge rate. Using the Link10, I could tell you the amp draw of anything electrical on the boat and I could usually look at that and see what we had turned on.

We also installed LED lights in the following places to further reduce amp draw:

  • cockpit light
  • foredeck light
  • galley overhead
  • salon overhead
  • stateroom reading light
  • anchor light
  • tri-color
  • deck level running lights
  • foredeck light