48 Volt Battery Boat Electrical Systems

The 48 volt battery voltage revolution is now upon us and that is the 48 volt battery revolution.  Many automotive vehicles cars will soon have 48 volt electrical systems. They with provide power to the stop and start motors, also the hybrid motors, along with electric turbochargers. They will also power up either mechanical or hydraulic power for everything from power steering, power braking, the water pump, radiator cooling fans and of course air conditioning. The system will be hybrid in that 12 volts will power lighting, electronics and so on. Unlike previous voltages there are boat friendly equipment available. Some are asking are we following the same route as the foundering 42 volt system change. There is a practical limit as to why they stay under 60 volts, after that insulation value changes on wires are required and also electric shock levels increase.

48 Volt Battery Boat Electrical Systems

Why a 48 volt battery system? Well this is rather old hat really for many industries such as telecommunications have been using 48 volt battery systems for a long time. Data centers for computing have been using it as well and even battery powered hand tools are using 48 volts and more that include Dewalt and Milwaukee to name a few. The trend is for electric vehicles to start standardizing on 48 volts. It should be noted that even on shore based solar power installations they are using 48 volts as primary power voltage. They have inverters and charge regulators and so on that offer a more efficient system. Bosch claim that by 2025 about 20% of all new vehicles will have a 48 Volt battery installed. Some ask the question “Why Stop at 48 volts?”  The classification known as Safety or Separated Extra Low Voltage (SELV) comes into play. The IEC has defined this system as an electrical system win which the voltage cannot exceed ELV under normal conditions, and also under single fault conditions. SELV also means that the voltage is at a level that if a person were to touch the live circuit either in normal operation or during a single fault condition you would not get an electric shock. Electrically separated means that the extra low voltage circuit is electrically segregated from circuits carrying higher voltages. So that means that voltages that are under 60 VDC are classified as Safety (Separated) - Extra Low Voltage (SELV).  There is an IEC international standard on this and that’s why 48 volts falls under this threshold for practical purposes.

48 Volt Battery Boat Electrical Systems

It has been stated that one of the disadvantages of 48 volt battery systems are that you do not have a standard charging system and alternators are not available so some more innovative charging arrangement is required.  News Flash! that isn’t true anymore as Balmar in an innovative first have a 48 volt alternator and I have to say that is a for boats.

48 Volt Battery Boat Electrical Systems

Unlike previous voltage developments there are a number of 48 volt thruster systems now on the market such as the Vetus Bow Pro units.  Maxwell have come to the game with 48 volt windlasses. Maxwell P&S range (RC8 through RC12).  A big driver is the emergence of many boat manufacturers with 48 volt battery based electric propulsion systems.  In the auto world major companies that include Valeo, Bosch and Delphi are developing 48 volt systems.

48 Volt Battery Boat Electrical Systems

The big advantages of 48 volt battery systems are in the case of thrusters or even hydraulic power pack motors are the significant reductions in cable sizes.  The other major advantage is the reduction in size and weight of the electrical motors, and also consequential reductions in voltage drop issues, which really impact in high load applications.  This is also coupled with advances with electric motors now all brushless and using permanent magnet technology.  The 48 volt battery system is here to be part of the boat electrics picture.