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.

Alternators- back to basics

Always check the alternator

What is going on in this picture?

The alternator has been connected to the house bank with a heavy cable. -Okay (Hopefully it is fused on the battery side.)

Original wire from alternator to starter and start battery not removed. (House and start battery are now permanently connected with a small unfused wire.)

Internal regulation is still in place after connecting the alternator to a large house battery bank. (The alternator is  likely to be damaged by overheating the next time the house bank is deeply discharged.)

November 2022

It’s been a good year making electrical repairs and upgrading yacht electrical systems.  With all the excitement over new lithium battery technology, and new more powerful solar charging, it is important to make sure your current system is working optimally before deciding to make big changes. 

Just this year I have tested and repaired four boats that were suffering from failing alternators.  The original call was for me to come and give an estimate to add solar to the boat, and give advice on possibly upgrading to lithium batteries..  When evaluating a boat I look at the whole system of charging and storage, not just at solar or batteries as a stand alone project.  In many cases the batteries were good, but the alternator had failed some time ago, but not completely, so the failure was not obvious.  The owner had a general feeling that their battery system was no longer keeping up with demands the way they would like and knew something needed to be done. 

In all but one case the alternator needed to be upgraded to external regulation as part of the repair to prevent future overheating, and damage from changing a large battery bank. The lesson is: It’s still important to check the basics before moving forward with new solutions.  

One year anniversary for the new work van