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We've been living aboard for the last year and a half and we're frequently coming up with upgrades to create a nice environment to sail and live. I'm curious what upgrade (if something in particular) has increased your quality of life the most?

For us, it's our upgraded solar panel array. We put two 170 watt flexible Sunpower panels on our bimini and installed a Victron MPPT 100 | 30 Charge Controller. The bluetooth app that we use on our phones for monitoring the solar action in real time is pretty cool.

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By far and away our watermaker has made the biggest difference to improving our lives since GPS became affordable to us normal folks.
 
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By far and away our watermaker has made the biggest difference to improving our lives since GPS became affordable to us normal folks.
💧👍 What water maker did you install? Is it one that you recommend? High quality, reliable, etc?💧
 

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bell ringer
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I am going to agree that it is the solar. Pretty much any of the electrical things on the boat would be a PITA were it not for the solar.
 

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💧👍 What water maker did you install? Is it one that you recommend? High quality, reliable, etc?💧
We assembled it ourselves. It is a 110 vac unit, 40ish gph. Since the high pressure pump is the most costly item, I waited until I found a really good deal on a virtually new (1 hour on it) one and then got all the other parts to suit the pump.
Unless you have a lot of battery power, I'd stay away from a 12 volt unit, but I'm sure you'll get plenty of advice both ways on that one. There are tons of directions and schematics online should you wish to assemble your own. Altogether it cost about us$2200.00 to do it that way. The system has worked flawlessly for over 7 years.
 
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We assembled it ourselves. It is a 110 vac unit, 40ish gph. Since the high pressure pump is the most costly item, I waited until I found a really good deal on a virtually new (1 hour on it) one and then got all the other parts to suit the pump.
Unless you have a lot of battery power, I'd stay away from a 12 volt unit, but I'm sure you'll get plenty of advice both ways on that one. There are tons of directions and schematics online should you wish to assemble your own. Altogether it cost about us$2200.00 to do it that way. The system has worked flawlessly for over 7 years.
Wow, I'm impressed. With 40 ish GPH it sounds like it's a pretty dang strong pump. If you have a photo handy, I'm interested to see what it looks like. If not, totally understand! Thanks for sharing. A waker maker is on 'the list' so your thoughts are appreciated :)
 

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I am going to agree that it is the solar. Pretty much any of the electrical things on the boat would be a PITA were it not for the solar.
Amazing the benefits of solar while on board. Do you have hard or flexible panels? We may add additional hard panels off of our davits.
 

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The biggest upgrade I did to my boat was buy a bigger one. The biggest upgrade to my truck is the same SmartSolar setup you got just the smaller model 100/20. I have it in a portable box I carry to and from the boat or truck.
 

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There are a few things we added that compete for top spot. In no particular order: lithium batteries, 30gph watermaker, 1300W of solar, redesign/rebuild of our uncomfortable settee, lots of shading for cockpit and cabin.

Mark
 

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We assembled it ourselves. It is a 110 vac unit, 40ish gph.

Unless you have a lot of battery power, I'd stay away from a 12 volt unit,
Being ac do you run it only off of the generator?
 

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There are a few things we added that compete for top spot. In no particular order: lithium batteries, 30gph watermaker, 1300W of solar, redesign/rebuild of our uncomfortable settee, lots of shading for cockpit and cabin.

Mark
You've done some serious upgrades! We currently have AGM batteries and replaced them all a year an a half ago. Lithium has clear advantages, which brand did you go with? How has lithium changed life on the boat for you?
 

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I built the bank and system myself out of individual CALB cells.

We no longer pay attention to battery maintenance or charging care, run our water heater and AC watermaker off the inverter rather than a generator, and on those hot, still, rainy or buggy nights when open hatches aren't helpful, we can even run the 5kbtu A/C feeding our sleeping cabin off the inverter.

The lithium upgrade might be the the top one because it enables a lot of other stuff, and changed life on board more than we ever thought it would. But it goes hand in glove with the solar upgrade, so there really isn't any separation of those two.

Mark
 

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Amazing the benefits of solar while on board. Do you have hard or flexible panels? We may add additional hard panels off of our davits.
I have hard panels. Have 640W, but cruised 2.5 years with 290W.
 
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I built the bank and system myself out of individual CALB cells.

We no longer pay attention to battery maintenance or charging care, run our water heater and AC watermaker off the inverter rather than a generator, and on those hot, still, rainy or buggy nights when open hatches aren't helpful, we can even run the 5kbtu A/C feeding our sleeping cabin off the inverter.

The lithium upgrade might be the the top one because it enables a lot of other stuff, and changed life on board more than we ever thought it would. But it goes hand in glove with the solar upgrade, so there really isn't any separation of those two.

Mark
Very inspiring. I've researched a bit regarding running A/C off to the inverter with lithium. Appreciate those details. We have a 12k BTU A/C on board, so probably not very feasible with lithium (unless we install a massive bank I imagine).
 

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Very inspiring. I've researched a bit regarding running A/C off to the inverter with lithium. Appreciate those details. We have a 12k BTU A/C on board, so probably not very feasible with lithium (unless we install a massive bank I imagine).
People are running systems that large, but it does take a large bank and the ability to replace the power. Our main system is a 16kbtu, but we have small 5kbtu's running in the staterooms. These smaller ones only draw 4.5A AC, which puts them at ~50A DC through the inverter, which is easy for the batteries to handle. The only time we would do so is when trying to sleep on hot, humid, no wind, rain, buggy nights. Otherwise, a breeze and no bugs makes for fine sleeping.

You might consider a 3.5kbtu unit dedicated to your main stateroom. They are pretty small and compact. That would only draw ~30A and be easy to run with a smaller bank.

Mark
 

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we can even run the 5kbtu A/C feeding our sleeping cabin off the inverter.
Impressive system.

How much AH of Lithium do you have?

What kind of inverter?

Do you still have a generator? How often and why does it get run?
 

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600Ah of lithium battery.

Victron Multiplus 3000 inverter, but any 1200W or above inverter would work. Technically, a 1000W inverter should run it, even with startup load.

Yes, the boat came with a generator. We don't use it unless we want to run the entire boat 3 A/C systems or are having a week of heavy non-stop rain and the solar is down. Its main purpose now, I suppose, is to operate the dive tank compressor - a system we have never used (yet), don't know how to operate (yet), don't even know if it works, and unsure how much we will use it in the future. Removing the generator will require breaking it apart into small pieces and carrying them out of a horribly unaccessible space. It was put in the boat during layup, and the bulkheads and furniture were built around it, and the deck put on after. There are no hatches to lift it through.

Dumping the generator would take off 600lbs and free up a huge storage space (plus the 120lb compressor and its space). It might be in our future, but right now it is at the bottom of an endless to-do list. On the other hand, 25% of that list has to do with the care and feeding of the generator - hmmm.....

Mark
 

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Sugar scoops and swim platforms (transom extensions) on my cat. Performance was enhanced, but the important thing to my wife and parents was MUCH easier and safer boarding from the dinghy.
 
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