In Part 1 of our series on Integrel, we dug into how it works, why it’s innovative, my worries about reliability, and why it is neither fault tolerant or easily repairable in the field.
We concluded that it was too expensive and complicated to be of use to cruisers who have reasonably modest daily power needs.
But what about those of us who want all the comforts of home and therefore use a lot of power in the run of a day, or even those with one foot in each camp?
Nigel Calder’s newest machine, that claims to revolutionize electrical systems on boats, has generated a huge amount of excitement. So is this thing a good product that we should buy? Let’s dig in and find out.
In the last two chapters we took a deep and considered dive into analyzing the electrical loads on our boats and thinking about ways to reduce said loads through smart systems thinking. Now we get to the payoff: How to calculate optimal battery bank size or, alternatively, how to live with the battery bank size we already have. I have built a spreadsheet to make the whole process easier. And I have updated my thinking on lithium batteries too.
In the last chapter we looked at some big loads that take electricity from our battery. In this chapter John covers watermakers and diesel furnaces and shows how system thinking can save us from having to install a silly-sized battery bank.
Two core decisions we must make when designing a cruising boat electrical system for living aboard full time and making offshore voyages, are the size of the battery bank and which charging sources we will need: generator, solar, main engine, wind, etc.
But the first thing we need to do, before getting into all that fun stuff, is think about electrical consumption and how to keep it reasonable.
The single biggest bitch we hear about battery monitors is that they are always wrong. John shares how to fix that and make your batteries last a lot longer too.
Being able to accurately monitor our batteries is a vital function for all cruisers, but which of the multitude of systems offered should we buy and install? John defines the functions we actually need, and then recommends a monitor.
It’s tempting, when selecting a complex piece of gear like a battery monitor, to dive straight into the details and features, but that’s a near-sure route to a bad decision. First let’s take a giant step back and look at the two main types of monitors and decide which is right for each of us.
These days, most boats with AC generators have significant DC (12- or 24-volt) battery banks that need to be charged regularly by the generator. But often that process is horribly inefficient. The good news is that the fix is easy, simple, and relatively inexpensive.
John takes an in-depth look at the benefits and drawbacks of carbon foam, liquid filled, and AGM lead acid batteries, and then reveals his thinking if faced with battery replacement today.
John recently replaced the house battery bank on Morgan’s Cloud. But before starting the project he had a big decision to make: which battery type. Here’s a look at the options he considered, starting with lithium.
Are you considering a hydro generator? Here’s everything you need to know, warts and all, from an experienced user.
After our miserable experience with Lopolight, we are looking for an alternative. Please help.
Let’s face it, cruising boats are horribly unreliable, and gear failures are the most common cruise-ruiner. But we can reduce the problems a lot by thinking about fault tolerance. Here are three real world examples you can use right now to make your boat better.
The claims made for battery pulse desulphators seem to make them ideal for voyaging boats. A cheap, easy to install gadget that will dramatically extend your expensive batteries’ lives. What’s not to like? But do they really work? John takes a look.