Small Wire Connections: Part II

Connecting two standard-size wires is pretty straightforward: Grab a ratchet crimper, adjust it to fit the crimp connector, strip the two wires to fit into the butt connector, slide the wires into the connector, and squeeze the crimper. The required materials are readily available: butt connectors for inline splices, ring connectors for terminal blocks, and a dab of anti-corrosive grease for the bolts and rings. Done right, these connections can survive some extremely tough conditions. In a recent test of anti-corrosion greases and connections, we demonstrated how these connections can last up to five years in the worst bilge conditions.

Monitoring Your Marine Battery Bank

Two recent tests graphically demonstrated the importance of monitoring state of charge in a boats batteries. hese tests demonstrated that a sealed batterys capacity will be reduced over time, if its never brought back up to a full state of charge. But just how accurate are the monitors we use to gauge our batteries states of charge?

Testing Marine Battery Monitors

Our test gear comprised a ProMariner ProNautic 12-40P battery charger; West Marine-branded, flooded-cell, deep-cycle battery with a 75-amp hour rating; and two 120-volt, 70-watt incandescent light bulbs powered through a Heart 140-watt DC to AC inverter. This setup created a 12-amp DC load on the battery. We confirmed voltage and current draw using a Fluke Model 867B graphical meter and a Blue Sea Systems Model 8110-amp clamp/multimeter.

A Smart, Easy Way to Rewire

Running the wires for new electronics requires your best cursing vocabulary, lots of sweat, twisting body contortions, luck, and the occasional bandage. For tips on how to make this job easier, we turned to PS contributor Bill Bishop. A professional marine-electronics installer, Bishop has many ingenious ways to thread a wire from point A to point B.

AGM Batteries Test Update

In our recent test of absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries, we cycled five different batteries through 30 deep cycles to 11.7 volts but only partially recharged them for one hour after each discharge cycle at a charge rate of 46 percent of battery amp-hour capacity. (See PS May 2015 online.) The object of the exercise was to demonstrate just how quickly sulfation, which is caused by keeping a battery in a partial state charge (PSOC), can reduce the capacity and eventually permanently ruin a good battery.

Watering Batteries

Our May 2015 report on absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries got us thinking about wet cell-batteries. While it is easy to find distilled water suitable for topping off the battery electrolyte in the U.S., what happens when we are not near a reliable supply? Are there any substitutes? What should we avoid?

Whats the Voltage for Charging Gel Cells?

I just received the latest Waypoints e-letter about gel batteries, where you state they must be charged at no more than about 14.1 volts. We do not use gel batteries in our boat, but do in our camper van. As I understand, Trojan deep-cycle gels can be charged up to 14.4 volts and East Penn marine gel batteries up to 14.6 volts, so why are you recommending the lower voltage?

Heart Replacement

Sixteen years ago, contributing writers Joe and Lee Minick equipped their Mason 43, Southern Cross, with a Heart Interface Freedom 20 charger/inverter and a Link 2000R from Cruising Equipment, both made by companies based in Valley Forge, Penn. When both of these units were ruined during a knockdown (see PS, April 2013 online), they were forced to look for a replacement.

Electrical Panel Upgrade

Editors note: Designing, installing, and wiring a new main circuit panel on a full-fledged cruising boat is an extremely challenging refit project. The writer is a professional engineer who made sure that his installation met or exceeded American Boat and Yacht Council Standard E-11. Failure to adhere to the standard could result in fire, injury, or death. We offer the following article, which outlines the steps involved in constructing a custom panel, as a rough guide. In our opinion, such a project should not be carried out without the consultation of an ABYC-certified electrician.

Imtra, Hella Dome Lights Shine

In our previous cabin light reviews (PS, May 2010 and January 2009), the transition from incandescent lighting to fluorescent and finally to LED was favorably noted. Since then, the evolution has turned into a solid-state revolution, and LEDs bolstered by dimmers, touch switches, and watertight seals now own the show. And a clean-sweep conversion to LED cabin lighting can knock out the grotto-like ambiance that haunts many sailboat interiors. Often, its not a problem of having too few lights; its an energy shortfall revolving around too few amperes to spare. An LED makeover is also an opportunity to illuminate the lockers, engine room, and other cave-like confines that cause you to reach for a flashlight and wish for an extra hand to hold it. Not only is the timing right to tap into a new genre of energy-efficient lights, but the product range and pricing offer a gameplan for every budget.