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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 12-25-2012
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Electrical upgrade

Before I start, I read the Pearson thread below and took in some GREAT info from it... That said I wanted to post my situation here to see if anyone had any case specific items to add... No need to repost stuff from that pearson thread.

Anyhow Im a long time anonymous reader and first time registered poster here... I recently bought a '74 Ericson 32. All in all, she's a beauty (and was a good buy IMO) but the first order of business for her is an updated/upgraded electrical system. I welcome any and all suggestions. My sailing will be generally local day sails with the occasional weekend trip. Primarily, I'm living aboard 2-3 days a week and using her as a crash-pad (place to stay where I am based - though I actually live in the Philly area, I am domiciled in Tampa). Livaboard creature comforts are my primary concern and i'd like to be able to power a small fridge, a small microwave, a small air conditioner, a small TV and IPod dock and not much more.*

Current state of affairs: she's got a newer yanmar diesel, but the previous owner basically said he didn't use on board AC power and ran shore power to an extension cord attached to a pep-boys style Battery charger (with clamps on the primary bank!) and had some Walmart style desk lights plugged in. Other that, the DC stuff (running lights,tricolor, spreader lights, cabin lights, bilge, depth sounder, knot meter, autopilot, VHFcom) all work off the bat just fine.

There's an old ass inverter in the battery bay, but I don't think it works and there's no power to the permanent AC outlets and I have no clue if the shore power receptacle works or what it's actually hooked up to. *There's a wind generator and I was told it was hooked up, but really don't know for sure. One things certain, i can hear it kick in in strong winds and it sounds like a freight train below deck when the (clutch?) kicks in. There is also a little red light in the wind gen itself that illuminates when it gets going to a certain RPM (freight train mode).

There are 3 batteries (2 banks) 2 smaller ones in series on the house bus, and a 3rd large deep cycle bat on the (start) bus. (previous owners terminology).

There Is a inoperative "frost free" refrigerator that I'd like to pull out (has a massive compressor in the engine access bay.

There are two massive (AC I assume) breakers under the sink in the galley set to trip, and I can only assume these belong to the inop fridge, but idk.

My goal is - safety, a hardwired marine 2 bank charger, a working inverter and AC system capable of handling my requirements, real shore power (not this rigged extension cord nightmare), and a labeled neat electrical panel that I understand.

My background is: handy, good at following directions with a decent mechanical aptitude, experience on cars and planes, not afraid to ask for help and not too cheap to pay a pro. I have little to no experience working on boats.

I don't want to spend a fortune, but 1000-1500 seems reasonable to me. I'd like to learn more about this as in the future, I'd like to be able to troubleshoot and have an in depth understanding of my boat's guts and systems. I'd love to try my hand at doing some things myself, but at the same time I don't want to get hurt or raze my boat to the waterline!

Any equipment recommendations, technician recommendations, cost guidance, personal experiences, or advice will be well received!


Thanks in advance..
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Old 12-27-2012
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Re: Electrical upgrade

Hi, and welcome to posting.

Here are some starters for you. These links have been posted any number of times here.

Basic Battery Wiring Diagrams This is a very good basic primer for boat system wiring: Basic Battery Wiring Diagrams

This is another very good basic primer for boat system wiring: The 1-2-B Switch by Maine Sail (brings together a lot of what this subject is all about)
1/BOTH/2/OFF Switches Thoughts & Musings - SailboatOwners.com

They come from this "Electrical 101" Topic --- Electrical Systems 101

As you get into the specifics, we can help you some more.
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Old 12-27-2012
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Re: Electrical upgrade

Welcome! You are dealing with two SEPARATE systems - 12 volt and 110 volt. Sounds like you need to tackle 1 at a time. Possible exception is getting a 12/110 volt fridge.
1. Buy Nigel Calder's book on electrical and boat maintenance. Its the Bible.
2.Get a good digital voltmeter!

110 volts is dangerous if you don't know what you are doing - especially in water. There should be a Hubbell type 110 connector to shore power running to a breaker panel. From there, you need breakers for outlets and anything wired directly to the panel such as the A/C and fridge. Good luck!
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Old 12-27-2012
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Re: Electrical upgrade

Thanks gents. I'll advise is I progress. Went sailing today (first time single handing anything bigger than a 24 and it was a gas. Very pleased with my purchase (electrical nightmare and all!). What a sweet ride.
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