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#17366 - 03/16/16 11:18 AM Boat work begins, First up: Electrical
Happy Camper Offline
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Registered: 12/17/14
Posts: 378
Loc: Holland, MI
Well, the cover is off, the boat is washed up and itís in the garage for the remainder of her refit.
This weekend I worked on the 12V DC electrical. I installed the battery, and ran a bunch of new wires.
I did get to re-use some of the old lighting wires that were already there. I needed to clean them really good before I could solder them.

I found this little trick on the internet:
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-perfectly-clean-wires-in-minutes/

I mixed up the solutions as the article suggested, and it worked pretty well.
My wires were pretty corroded, and the two minute idea just wasnít enough.
I ended up fanning out the wires a bit, scraping them with a knife a little to open a few spots in the oxide and I left them in the solution for about 10 minutes.
It worked really well. I was able to solder all the wires. Pretty cool.
Next I mounted the battery and tied it down with a spare bungee.
Itís ok for now, but I may have to change this to a strap instead of a bungee at some point.



I ran the main battery wire to the main cut off switch that I mounted in the back of the cockpit where the old electrical gauges were located.
Once switched, I ran them up to my breaker panel under the step into the cabin.





I mounted the breaker panel on a Stainless hinge setup so I can remove a couple of screws and get at the ďBusiness EndĒ of the wiring.





I used one of the circuits to connect the combo volt meter, 12 volt outlet and USB charger ports.
I used another circuit to connect the red, green and white running lights. Last summer I converted these to LEDís, very efficient and nice and cool running as well.
My next circuit was for the interior cabin lights. I rewired the ďdome lampĒ, added an on/off switch and converted it to LEDís as well. Looks nice and bright now.







For a little extra convenience, I added LEDís under the forward edge of the quarter births.
These little stick on LEDís were very inexpensive and they sure will help with finding things under those births.





The last part of the 12 volt system was to add a length of wire that goes from the battery directly up into the cabin where I will connect a battery tender Jr. to keep the battery charged.
I have a love/hate relationship with these little chargers; I have had them kill a couple of batteries before I figured out that they will cook off a battery if left on all the time.
The trick seems to be to put them on a timer and only let them stay on for an hour a day or so.
Once I discovered this little trick, my batteries have lasted a very long time.
You have to leave them on longer if you have been using the battery of course.
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#17382 - 03/21/16 11:05 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Happy Camper]
FreeBird
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Very neat and tidy HC I like it:)
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#17383 - 03/21/16 11:21 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: ]
Boulter Offline
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Registered: 04/13/14
Posts: 195
Loc: Central Ontario
Hi:

A few comments...

A real charge controller (for solar panel) is about $120. I never worry about my battery now ... in the summer anyhow. I left it and the solar panel on all winter, so will see if I pooched something. Should be OK as it is temperature compensated. If you want to leave plugged in to line power, about $80 does the job. I have one of those "Genius" chargers on my tractor that charges up to 4A I believe (so not fast), after killing my battery in 3 years (2 times) I figured my infrequent usage of the tractor needed a touch of technology.

I hate those sea dog panels. ~$100 buys a blue sea unit. I have two 6 switch units and have had IIRC 3 switches fail. I had spares from a third unit, but the last failure (always closed) happened after I installed my electrical works, and it is too hard to replace it now, a 2 or 3 hour affair. My bad in not being modular enough.

LED lights on boats are great! LED lights everywhere are great.

Boulter
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#17384 - 03/21/16 11:50 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Boulter]
Happy Camper Offline
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Registered: 12/17/14
Posts: 378
Loc: Holland, MI
Good tip on the unreliable switches!
Now is probably the best time to replace them with something more reliable, at least get a couple of spares!
Thanks Boulter.
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#17386 - 03/21/16 11:56 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Happy Camper]
Boulter Offline
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Registered: 04/13/14
Posts: 195
Loc: Central Ontario
 Originally Posted By: Happy Camper
Good tip on the unreliable switches!
Now is probably the best time to replace them with something more reliable, at least get a couple of spares!
Thanks Boulter.


Plus the lights are incandescent bulbs, about 50mA each IIRC. You may have cause to be concerned about energy consumption there. I installed a diode on each lamp and lead all to a switch so I can turn off the lights. You need a diode to isolate all the circuits.

Boulter
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#17390 - 03/21/16 12:42 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Boulter]
Happy Camper Offline
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Registered: 12/17/14
Posts: 378
Loc: Holland, MI
If I just pull the ground lead off the switch lighting, they all just stay off!
Do I really need the lights?
The more I think about that part, I bet I don't need the indicators at all.
Every circuit has a visible indicator as it is. Two are lighting circuits (the lights they activate are pretty good indicators!)
and the third is the rear power/volt meter combo. The volt meter is a pretty good indicator as well.
I bet the incandescent bulbs in there are pretty good sources of heat also, I wonder if the bulbs heat is shortening the life of the switches! Most plastics don't like excess heat.
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#17392 - 03/21/16 01:01 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Happy Camper]
Boulter Offline
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Registered: 04/13/14
Posts: 195
Loc: Central Ontario
 Originally Posted By: Happy Camper
If I just pull the ground lead off the switch lighting, they all just stay off!
Do I really need the lights?
The more I think about that part, I bet I don't need the indicators at all.


No this does not work. Close a switch, power goes through bulb to other side, then into another bulb and partly powers the other circuit(s). Thus the diodes. You need to separate all the bulb ground leads from each other. Maybe this is easy to do, I don't remember.

But certainly, no need for illuminated switches. I mean, how far away from the panel can you get in a Sandpiper anyhow?

Boulter
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#17394 - 03/21/16 03:16 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Boulter]
Happy Camper Offline
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Registered: 12/17/14
Posts: 378
Loc: Holland, MI
Hey Boulter,
You mentioned "You need to separate all the bulb ground leads from each other."
That appears to be a very easy thing to do. The "bus Bar" that connects the grounds just unplugs from the switches.
The bar is one piece with the female spade terminals formed right into it. Should just pop right off. I will try it and report back!
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#17395 - 03/22/16 05:20 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Boulter]
Sandpaper Offline
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Registered: 02/20/16
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 Originally Posted By: Boulter

But certainly, no need for illuminated switches. I mean, how far away from the panel can you get in a Sandpiper anyhow?



That was my chuckle for the day. Observational comedy. Thanks, Boulter.

Happy, the electrical installation looks phenomenal. Good work.

I have a question about the switch panel. Are they circuit breakers or fuses? I see the word FUSE on the red block next to each switch. If those are fuses, how do you eject them to change? I'm just not familiar with this hardware. Sapphire has screw-in fuse holders.
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#17396 - 03/22/16 07:48 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Sandpaper]
Happy Camper Offline
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Registered: 12/17/14
Posts: 378
Loc: Holland, MI
The're fuses Sandpaper,
And they don't come out very nicely either!
You have to insert a little straight blade screwdriver, or small knife tip in between the red cap and the black fuse holder and pry loose a snap.
The "bump" part of the snap is on the red part and the catch part in molded into the black fuse holder.
Once the red cap comes out, a spring pushed the fuse out.
Now that I think about it, I should check these fuses to be sure of their amperage!
I just flipped the switch and it all worked. \:\)
The only one I am concerned about is the Aux circuit; it has the 12V power outlet on it. I may use this for a spot light, or small inverter. Will need about 10 amps for that.
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#17412 - 03/28/16 11:19 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Happy Camper]
Happy Camper Offline
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Registered: 12/17/14
Posts: 378
Loc: Holland, MI
Well, disconnecting the ground wire and removing the ground bus bar for the switch lighting did the trick perfectly!

It turns out the ground connection for the switch back-lighting is made using a stamping with formed on spade terminals. Removing the whole bus bar turned off all the switch lighting with no "ill effects"
Good tip Boulter!



Just for fun, I flipped the switches on for a bit when the back-lights were on and left them running for about 5 minutes and when I checked, they were getting pretty warm!
Not good. I'm sure the little bulbs were doing a really nice job of heating up the cheap plastic switch parts.
Maybe disconnecting the back-lighting will help improve reliability a bit!
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#17434 - 04/01/16 07:11 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Happy Camper]
kenn Offline
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Registered: 03/08/08
Posts: 1110
Loc: Toronto ON
Nice wiring job, HC.

One suggestion - some sort of current limiting/protection right at the battery. If you ever get a short somewhere before the fused circuits, that battery can dump hundreds of amps into it causing dangerous arcing at the short (eg molten copper flying around) and/or burn the wire.

Many 'big' boats have honking fuses of 100 to 400A rating on their house bank, depending on the wire used. On our boat, I used an automotive thermal breaker of about 40 A to offer a bit of idiot-proofing.

ABYC specifies the max allowable current in a wire of a given gauge, which should be the rating of your fuse or breaker.

Most of our boat lighting is now LED and it's a big current saving.

For the last couple of years, we've been using a Canadian Tire solar panel about 14" square to keep the charge topped up. The panel just sits loose on the cockpit seat, then gets put away when it's time to sail. No charge controller, but I do have a voltmeter so I can tell when the battery is close to full (eg over 14v when the solar panel is strong)
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#17435 - 04/01/16 08:50 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: kenn]
Boulter Offline
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Registered: 04/13/14
Posts: 195
Loc: Central Ontario
 Originally Posted By: kenn
Many 'big' boats have honking fuses of 100 to 400A rating on their house bank, depending on the wire used. On our boat, I used an automotive thermal breaker of about 40 A to offer a bit of idiot-proofing.


I did not look at the photographs closely enough to note the fusing, so nice catch Ken.

If you are feeding the whole boat with over #10 wire or 30A to a panel, the safest system is a fuse block that mounts directly on the battery terminal, Blue Sea part 5191. Holder and fuse are not cheap $40 to $50, but anything else leaves at least a half foot of unprotected wire before you hit the fuse. I note here also that most boat fires are caused by electrical failures and not gasoline or propane issues, so maybe $50 will work for you.

Most of you are just trying to run a few lights and maybe the VHF, so probably a water resistant in line fuse of 15A with #14 wire will do a good job for you at under $10. I use these for the wires that run to the solar panel and bilge pump circuits directly from the battery. Everything else is sub-fused at a panel, sized according to the particular branch wire size. The wire to the panel is sized to the battery fuse right at the battery.

Boulter
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#17452 - 04/04/16 07:48 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Boulter]
Happy Camper Offline
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Registered: 12/17/14
Posts: 378
Loc: Holland, MI
One part I have not installed yet is a main fuse at the battery. I was looking at a nice underhood bolt-on from Autozone.
They are available in various sizes and can be made to fit right under the wing-nut on the battery top. This will fuse the main lines coming from the battery to the rest of the system.
In my system, here is one + wire going from the battery to the main disconnect switch and from that switch forward to the fuse panel.
There is another + wire going straight to the charger, however, that one is fused about 3 feet from the battery with the inline fuse from the battery charger.
A bolt-on at the battery will eliminate all those concerns.
You have convinced me, it's a good thing to do.
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#19452 - 01/12/18 07:44 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Happy Camper]
Sandpaper Offline
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Registered: 02/20/16
Posts: 451
Retiring A Trusty Battery Charger

Look in the scrap metal bin. An old friend has been retired. This charger has kept vehicles and boats powered for more than a couple of decades. But it has died, and it took a battery with it.




Here is the heart of this gizmo. It is a reed switch half-wave rectifier. This little electro-mechanical device flipped ON/OFF 60 times per second, until it welded itself closed. Then, instead of a very bumpy DC voltage, it started to deliver an AC voltage to an unsuspecting battery. If the battery was weak before, it would be dead after being connected to this failed device. No warning. Just painful agonizing death.



Battery Charger Photos by Sandpaper, on Flickr


What are you using? What would you recommend?
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#19453 - 01/12/18 10:42 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Sandpaper]
Bob Offline
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Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 660
http://www.batterychargers.com/sc-1200a-ca/

I have had good luck with this one. Light weight but very good at getting a full charge.


Edited by Bob (01/12/18 10:43 PM)

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#19454 - 01/13/18 07:39 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Bob]
Sandpaper Offline
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Registered: 02/20/16
Posts: 451
Bob, that is a mighty fine charger. I read some of the reviews on your link. Most seem really impressed.

In an era when things are getting smaller, that is a BIG charger! I guess it matches your BIG Johnson.

Are you counting the days to launch?
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#19455 - 01/14/18 12:13 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Sandpaper]
Bob Offline
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Registered: 03/24/08
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Dennis , It really is not that big. And it is very light. I have been able to restore some batteries that were on their last leg. It is very good for getting the most out of a deep cycle battery.

Yes, I am counting the days. We came back from Arizona on Dec 30th to -2 degrees and 10 inches of snow on the car.


Edited by Bob (01/14/18 12:13 PM)

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#19457 - 01/15/18 08:12 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Bob]
Sandpaper Offline
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Registered: 02/20/16
Posts: 451
 Originally Posted By: Bob

We came back from Arizona on Dec 30th to -2 degrees and 10 inches of snow on the car.



Bob, what a change in environments! That must have been rude!




94026806CA_L__74322.1425560366.1280.1280 (couldn't share it, so had to steal it) by Sandpaper, on Flickr



Your smart charger has a 12 Amp rating. The doorbell buzzer I just retired had a 6 Amp rating and I never saw the needle go higher than about 2 Amp. Have you seen your charger output 12 Amps? Did the battery emit coffeemaker noises?
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#19459 - 01/15/18 07:05 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Sandpaper]
Bob Offline
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Registered: 03/24/08
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The display never shows amperage, just percentage of charge and voltage. No coffee maker sounds, however if the battery is in bad shape the charger may go into desulfation mode and you may hear the acid boiling. I love this charger.
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#19460 - 01/16/18 07:18 AM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Bob]
Sandpaper Offline
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Registered: 02/20/16
Posts: 451
Desulfation!? That's a big word to go with my morning coffee. I'll have to ask Prof. Google all about that.

It sounds like a good feature for a battery charger.
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#19461 - 01/16/18 10:25 PM Re: Boat work begins, First up: Electrical [Re: Happy Camper]
Pipe Dream Offline
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Registered: 03/10/08
Posts: 134
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI USA
Happy - Do yourself a favor and get a battery box for your battery. Shouldn't cost more than $20. It should come with a strap that you can secure to the "shelf" in the lazarette. The strap will hold the lid on and keep the battery in place. The box will prevent some rouge metal object from finding a home across your battery terminals.
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