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post #21 of 35 Old 03-12-2012
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Re: Electrical system install

Don't over-think this project. For a small boat like that all you need is one cabin light circuit (with one or two light fixtures per "cabin"), a nav light circuit, a circuit for a masthead tricolor nav light (if you have one), a steaming light circuit, a spreader light circuit (if you have them), an electronics circuit, and a circuit with one or two "cigar-lighter" outlets. A total of seven circuits, MAX. You don't really need spreader lights (I've always found them to be kind of a PITA anyway), or a masthead tricolor (they're nice, but not essential), and if you're cleaver you can use cigar-lighter outlets to power some cabin lights (I rigged up a cheap IKEA hanging fixture with an adapter and a 12V LED array and plug it into a cigar-lighter for my boat's main cabin light). If you use a handheld VHF, and a little boombox for music (a very common combination on little boats), you can eliminate the electronics circuit. Your anchor light can be a stand alone LED lantern, or just get one with a long cord that plugs into a cigar-lighter outlet. So, you can probably get away with three or four circuits.

Running boat cable and crimping terminals and connectors is easy. You don't need a bunch of fancy tools, and the crimps don't have to be perfect (no matter what some others on SN will insist); a $20 crimper, some shrink-wrap connectors and terminals, a small panel, a 100 feet or so of boat cable (less, if you only have the minimum number of circuits), two batteries, a master switch, a grounding bus, some battery cables and a weekend will get you a basic system. The parts and tools shouldn't total up to more than $500. Do it all yourself so that when something fails (and something WILL eventually fail, no matter who initially wires the system) you'll have a much better chance of being able to effect a repair yourself.

Never forget them. Do something to prevent it from happening again.
Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino, Olivia Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hochsprung, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli , Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt

Last edited by SlowButSteady; 03-12-2012 at 03:00 AM.
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post #22 of 35 Old 03-12-2012
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Re: Electrical system install

The most affordable, trouble free foredeck light is a headlamp - good on any size boat.

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post #23 of 35 Old 03-12-2012
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Re: Electrical system install

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The LED tape rolls are NOT an economical option for anyone without an unlimited power supply. They all, ALL, use resistors to every LED to drop the voltage and none of them use voltage regulation in any active sense. that means they may be taking 9easily) twice as much power as properly regulated LED lights or fixtures, and that means...right, lots of expensive solar panels or fuel to keep refilling the batteries.

They're cheap--but not economical.
I have three 12" LED strips that light my galley area (above the counter top, under the bridge deck). Fancier LED fixtures MIGHT be a bit more efficient, and they would certainly cost more. But the current setup uses about 1/3 of the power consumed by the old (and oh so dim) incandescent fixture they replaced (about 3W vs 10W), and I have almost too much light there now. Do ya' think I'm really gonna' bother replacing them to save maybe a watt or two?

Never forget them. Do something to prevent it from happening again.
Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino, Olivia Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hochsprung, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli , Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt
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post #24 of 35 Old 03-12-2012
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Re: Electrical system install

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The most affordable, trouble free foredeck light is a headlamp - good on any size boat.
Yep.

Never forget them. Do something to prevent it from happening again.
Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino, Olivia Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hochsprung, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli , Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt
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Re: Electrical system install

"Do ya' think I'm really gonna' bother replacing them to save maybe a watt or two? "
If the actual power savings were that small, compared to your battery size, probably not. But if you, like the OP, wre trying to power everything off one battery with limited recharging (many small outboards have little or no ability to provide DC) then yes, it might make sense to save a watt. or two, or five or ten.
When you're trying to run off flea-power, every additional flea makes a difference. I'd expect that the difference between brute force and a fifty-cent regulator could mean a full 50% difference in power consumption for the lights. Dunno without seeing more numbers than I'd care to run right now.
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post #26 of 35 Old 03-12-2012
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Re: Electrical system install

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"Do ya' think I'm really gonna' bother replacing them to save maybe a watt or two? "
If the actual power savings were that small, compared to your battery size, probably not. But if you, like the OP, wre trying to power everything off one battery with limited recharging (many small outboards have little or no ability to provide DC) then yes, it might make sense to save a watt. or two, or five or ten.
When you're trying to run off flea-power, every additional flea makes a difference. I'd expect that the difference between brute force and a fifty-cent regulator could mean a full 50% difference in power consumption for the lights. Dunno without seeing more numbers than I'd care to run right now.
Your response makes me wonder how we all got along before LED's became cheap and plentiful. I guess must have imagined it.

I think you need to "lighten up" a bit here. He just needs a basic electric system. It doesn't have to be THE most perfectly efficient, snazziest electrical system. Just about any LED will save energy over conventional bulbs.

Never forget them. Do something to prevent it from happening again.
Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel Davino, Olivia Josephine Gay, Ana M. Marquez-Greene, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Hochsprung, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli , Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt
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post #27 of 35 Old 03-17-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Electrical system install

This is the OP. thanks everyone for all the input. I think I will tackle this job on my own, after hearing everyone saying that it's not all that big a deal.
Reason electrical has kept me shying away from it is I got shocked a few times as a kid, guess it turned into a sort of fear of electrical systems.
But hey, I was an explosives person in the army, a very good one actually. Rule there was that there is no danger until you connect the firing system to the actual explosive charge.
With electrical, I guess it must be the same, no danger until you finally hook up to the power source.
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post #28 of 35 Old 03-17-2012
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Re: Electrical system install

If you get stuck with anything or are not sure just ask.

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post #29 of 35 Old 03-17-2012
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Re: Electrical system install

I completely rewired my 28 footer with 14 circuits. I had never done any boat wiring before so I was VERY inefficient (slow and thoughtful) time-wise. I spent probably 12 hours on study, design and ordering parts & materials and another 37 hours actually on the job... I believe an experienced pro handed a firm plan (knowing exactly what is to go where) could probably have done my job in 10 hours. As an aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the project and was well-guided by Casey's "Electrics Simplified" book.

Consider you might want 6 DC circuits with easy wiring runs and a simple AC system and I'd guess you're looking at 5+/- hours from a pro plus materials. Knowing what I know now I bet I could do it in a day, and I'm still no pro. You've already gotten a good run-down on materials. Are you SURE you even want/need AC? If AC is mostly for charging, a 20-30 watt solar panel recharging while the boat is idle might serve better and be cheaper.

I am also one for simple and cheap. Consider a panel using fuses instead of one that uses circuit breakers. Considerably less $$ and performs the exact same function. Just stock some spare fuses in a baggie tho there's no reason a circuit should ever blow if it is wired right and has only the designed load. Use proper boat wire/cable and crimped heat-shrink terminals.

Try it yourself... its kinda fun and if you think you're over your head, then hire a pro.
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post #30 of 35 Old 03-24-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Electrical system install

I appreciate everyone's input. I've started collecting components, read what I can find on the Internet which honestly isn't much for a person pretty ignorant to 12v.
Big question though, what can I ground the battery to? Or do I need to? Its a small fiberglass boat with no inboard so there is no big hunk of metal to ground to.
Keel bolts maybe?

Last edited by benajah; 03-24-2012 at 11:29 PM.
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