Boat electrics can include many different things. The complexity of an installation also varies by boat type and boat size. In the end principles are much the same regardless of which makers boat you buy. Problems always arise when boat electrics systems are not cared for, badly maintained, or have undocumented changes done by the boat owner before you. Most boats have a 12 volt system. And over a period of many years we have had 24 volt systems, 32 volt systems, and then nearly 42 volts systems and it is looking likely we will soon progress to 48 volt systems and this will impact 48 volt system designs and installing 48 volt alternators.
The average fishing boat or motor boat and sailing boat is now very high technology. The electronics and computer technology age has taken over with many boats now having boat electrics systems that include smart battery chargers, smart alternator regulators and smart battery switches. Then we have touchpad electronic switch panels and microprocessor controlled inverters along with LED lighting, smart instrument networks, multi-function terminals. Of course they need to have a boat electrics system and a reliable boat wiring system to support it all.
Whether you have a new boat or are buying a used boat, adding a boat accessory to your fishing boat or sailing yacht, the basic boat electrics rules remain the same. The electrical power system required to supply equipment is also a misunderstood subject, and it is the foundation for reliable equipment operations and is covered elsewhere.
I want to change the dangerous illusion that boat electrics and vehicle systems are similar. As we all know, there are no 24 hour road services offshore, and safety is the prime factor, and this depends on good systems design and installation. Whether it is in France, England, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or the United States, the same boat electrics problems are found, and the forums show that clearly.
Small boat electrics systems should be installed as far as practicable to comply with one of the principal standards or recommendations in use, and most standards are similar. These include American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC). Standards and Recommended Practices for Small Craft. The United States Coast Guard. The European Recreational Craft Directive (UK and Europe). I am sure there a few others as well, and the trend by some to treat small boat electrics as auto systems finished long ago. Great information on the up to date Boat Wiring Regulations.
Boat electrics systems include the following primary elements. First there is the actual boat wiring loom, and then the boat switch panels incorporating all the circuit breakers, fuses and control switches. Then we have boat lighting and boat navigation lights which have a range of requirements and consideration. While these are all DC boat electrics systems, we also have the issue of shore power, along with other AC power systems that include boat inverters.
This boat electrics forum is for boat owners to post boat electrics problems that they can’t solve. Where possible I will try and answer them, or someone else might do that once posted. So visit the boat electrics forum, post your problem or look at previous posts as you may find the answer. More on boat electrics.