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Boat Electrical

  • We replaced our reading and cockpit lights with LED lights from Bebi Electronics ( They make great basic LEDs that can be configured to mount in almost any existing fitting (half the fun). We replaced our 25 watt halogens for some that use 0.06 amps. They have upgraded the LEDs to brighter and warmer versions this year so we HAD to get 3 more (for a total of 10). 

  • 12 volt lights replace with 5 watt halogen bulbs. Simple puck type DC lights work great and distribute the light over a greater area because you can use two 5 watt instead of one 10 watt.

  • 12 volt AA-AAA Battery charger for charging re-chargeable AA and AAA batteries - Just a note: Re-chargeable batteries die quickly - almost without warning, usually when you are on the foredeck in the middle of a pitch black night. Use alkaline for flashlights or longer lasting lithium batteries for cameras and such.

  • Two sets of running lights (must be rigged independently to be legal) - Use mast head lights for open ocean and deck level for harbors.  If hooked up to two circuit breakers then use a diode on each leg to connect to a compass light or rig one circuit breaker with a second switch to select which set of lights is on.

  • Simple Bilge Pump Alarm (add Radio Shack Piezo Alarm to Bilge Pump light circuit) -  If you are using the alarm for more than one switch then you need diodes to prevent current flowing to other Bilge pump(s).

  • Use hour meters to monitor water maker usage for maintenance. We also use one on the fridge to see how much it is running based on External Temp & if it needs to be defrosted.  It would be nice to have one with a resettable counter (less math).

  • Double check all boat wiring and make sure you have one, easily accessible, main on-off switch that controls EVERYTHING (except Bilge pumps). Make sure all wires all then fused or on a circuit breaker.

  • Red/White Lights in the berths, head, galley, at the chart table, and anywhere you might be at night on a passage

  • Auto on Anchor Light - Get to anchor and turn it on until you leave port (no forgetting invloved)

  • We use a Technautics Cool Blue refrigerator which draws about 7 amps and runs a 25% duty cycle drawing roughly 50 amps during the night time hours (in the tropics in fridge mode). I added a small extra fan (wired to the existing fan) to pull the hot air out of the compressor area and hard wired a small computer fan in the fridge to circulate the air, both seem to help.

  • We added a Engel 12 volt chest fridge/freezer that we use as a freezer. It runs maybe 40-50% of the time but only draws 2.5 amps. We use it to store extra fish and nothing beats a nice cold drink with ice cubes. It's nice because we can unplug it in the event that we are running low on power and it would cover the critical things in the event we lost our primary refrigeration.

  • We use a 12 volt Little Water Wonder 250 water maker, the 12 volts is a little bit miss-named because you can really only run it effectively when the batteries are fully charged (12.8+ Volts). One boat I know (Ascension) converted his to an engine driven system (electro-mechanical AC clutch) because he needed to first charge his batteries and then run the water maker. Sometimes we get 30 amps out of our panels so this more than covers the 16-18 amps the water maker draws (we are even still charging our batteries some days).


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