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fernand
fernand

Posted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:58pm

Post Subject: electrics

Hi, my partner and I have been and are looking at the ins and outs of owning a narrowboat.We are constantly told we will be faceing a totally differant electricity setup.We get that, so when we are not cruising what is the best system for powering up any electrical goods .

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 8:37am

Post Subject: electrics

The mistake so many new boaters make is to think any boat is somehow connected to the National Grid allowing them to use all sorts of mains powered equipment. Unless the boat is designed to supply heavy mains loads or is heavily modified they then find out they have ongoing battery problems. In my view the first thing you need to do is to have a long talk about just how many mains electrical equipment you can do without and how much of it can be directly powered by 12V dc. I power my computer and mobile phone charger from the 12V supply and then have a small cheap (150W) inverter to charge a dry cell battery charger, hand held hoover and the odd mobile phone that uses a different connector. The lights, radio, fridge, cooker ignition and SMALL TV are all 12v. We are also changing most of the lighting to LEDs. All this means that with 3 x 110Ah domestic batteries, a 60 amp alternator and 3 to four hours engine running a day keeps our batteries well charged. If you are unwilling to alter your lifestyle to minimise electrical use or just have to use a range of mains equipment you will have to start thinking about large battery banks, large (pure sine) inverter, and/or some form of mains generator. Batteries should be considered consumables and you will be doing well if your setup keeps them working for much more then 3 years but some people destroy their batteries in under a year. If a battery bank is left partially discharged for longish periods internal chemical changes gradually reduce their capacity. However to FULLY charge the bank from the engine alternator will take many, many hours and may well run foul of BWs rule about not running engine or generators between 8pm and 8am. This will also be expensive on fuel. However you will get the batteries to 80% of fully charged within two to four hours given a tolerably well matched battery bank & charging system. Most holiday boats (as opposed to continuous cruisers) try to provide long term, low current battery charging when their boats are not in use. This can be by shoreline & multi-stage battery charger, wind turbine or solar panel (say 40 watts +) & controller . Wind turbines tend to be noisy and need a windy mooring. Any of these will provide a few amps charge for the very long periods needed to get the batteries as fully charged as possible. You would do well to go onto my website (www.tb-training.co.uk) and work through the power audit, battery bank size and charging calculations that are in both sets of course notes. Just remember a 3.5Kw inverter at full output will draw about 350 amps from the battery bank. Most banks will only supply that load for minutes. This question does not have much detail so come back if you want anything clarified. Tony Brooks

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