Online Book: Electrical Systems For Cruising Boats

One of the biggest snow jobs in boat gear sales is the myth of the smart three-stage alternator regulator. In fact, the alternator regulators that have been available to us cruisers for about the last 15 years are not that bright…OK, they’re downright stupid. But, finally, we now have a truly smart regulator. John takes a look and comes away impressed.

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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.

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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.

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