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Old 09-22-2010
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Sixpoint, a boat's system IS very much like a car's.

There are some small but important differences, i.e.:
1-We expect to run things off the battery in a boat, at 11.6-12.6 volts. In a car we expect 14.3-14.4 from the alternator almost all the time.
2-In a car, the systems are disconnected from the alternator/starter when the car is started. In a boat they are not--so they can be spike damaged.
3-Tinned wiring is a must on a boat, to prevent corrosion.
4-Charging is different. A car's regulator is designed to "not overcharge" the battery during extended use. That won't charge the deep cycles on a boat properly, they need more power longer. And, the battery type will be different as well.
5-A $5.99/500 pieces crimping set might work on a car, but your boat deserves a $50 crimping tool and crimps that cost 50c each.

Still, there's an awful lot they have in common. And a lot of posts online, here and elsewhere, to cover most of it. Solar and wind add more layers or intricacy, partly because each needs a different regulation type (ideally MPPT versus dump, and both versus the engine's regulator) but the key trick is "Divide and Conquer". Break the problem down, look at each individual piece, then come back to see how they can or can't integrate.
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