About 32 volt battery electrics on boats. As I said earlier when talking about 12 volt systems on boats, back in 2002 I wrote several magazine articles about the various boat voltages. Give the changes going on now and the evolution of battery technology and changing boat power demands I will do a review, not only of 12 volts, but 24 volts, 32 volts, 42 volts and now 48 volts. Is it confusing? It most certainly is! Having worked on a few different boats even I get challenged sometimes. You will see 36 volt battery systems mentioned but these are primarily used for trolling motors.
Occasionally an older vessel is found using 32 volt battery system. Usually found on older Hatteras boats, and some vessels from the 1940’s and 1950’s and even into the 1960’s. Golf carts and electric bikes are also still using 32 volt battery systems. The 32 volt battery voltage has been around for a long time, and was also used extensively in remote homestead power systems. It is derived from 4 x 8 volt batteries to get 32 volts when connected in series. It may surprise you that 8 volt batteries are still available and used within golf cart systems. For that reason you can still buy new batteries including Lithium Iron types and also battery chargers to suit. Thank goodness people love golf if you have a 32 volt boat battery system.
These are still available as are alternators, starters and other equipment but becoming increasingly scarce now. Many battery charger manufacturers also make 32 volt battery bank rated units. Charging is typically 36-38 volts. There are also battery combiners available that allow you to charge from a 12 volt alternator. The 3 x 12 volt batteries are in connected in series for 36 volts, and the combiner places them in parallel for 12 volts for charging, mostly used in some trolling motor set ups.
The initial reasons behind the 32 volt battery system were the same as that for 24 volt systems. This was to obtain the advantage of a reduction in cable sizes and reduced voltage drop. The big disadvantages of 32 volt battery systems are the complete lack of equipment suitable for use although battery chargers are available, as well as some equipment have power supplies that can input this but not much. Many who do have these systems have managed to keep them operational. In most cases a DC – DC converter is required for anything such as 12 volt equipment and that includes electronics. So look after your 32 volt battery systems and boat electrics are around.