Putting Power Management Compromise in Your Favor

Posted by kunal on December 4th, 2019

For the average person, producing illumination is usually as simple as plugging in a lamp. With the convenience of readily available 120 AC power, a homeowners biggest concerns are usually HyPower centered around using the smallest wattage bulbs that produce an adequate amount of light and turning them off when not in use. While the trend nowadays is towards increased efficiency, for the average homeowner, the incandescent bulb remains the most practical lighting option. The situation boat owners face, however, is significantly different.

In general, the average boat is moderately sized and an excellent example of compromise. Design, intended use, frequency of use and affordability all play prominent roles in determining how practical boat ownership is for a particular individual. While many boat owners resign themselves to accepting that owning a boat means added expense with only enjoyment for a measurable return on their investment, boat owners are also finding that this added expense can be significantly reduced by utilizing some of the latest in modern lighting technology.

At the top of the list of expenditures for the boat owner are fuel and power generation. Unlike the homeowner who is always connected to the local electrical grid, boat owners must produce and manage their own power supplies. This usually takes the form of multiple batteries, specialized power distribution systems and additional generators. Although greatly simplified and fairly easy to manage and operate, onboard power systems are notoriously limited in their capabilities. Thus, most boats are a blend of compromises that juggle the needs of the user with the costs of fuel and operation. For most boaters, maintaining adequate electrical power usually means prioritizing and rationing the use of equipment and accessories that require electrical power. Longer trips farther from shore generally mean more fuel use not only to power engines but maintain electrical power reserves as well. Even while at anchor, radios, pumps, radar and lighting can quickly deplete energy reserves and force skippers to periodically run the engines or a generator in order to replenish them.

Of the many electrical systems that are most often rationed, lighting is the most common. Below decks it is not uncommon to find boaters making do with portable lanterns and dim incandescent lamps in an effort to reduce the drain lighting places on power reserves. Even on smaller craft, navigational lighting alone can pull up to 10 AMP hours of power. Cabin lighting, spreader lights, spotlights and work lights can bump that consumption to over 50 amps easily, and if you add in refrigerators, ac units, televisions and the like, 100+ amps is not at all unheard of. With a craft that has a battery capacity of only 350 amp hours, it is easy to understand why most skippers are reluctant to operate any electrical equipment unless it is absolutely necessary. The more electrical power you use, the more fuel you will burn replacing it. Clearly there is room for improvement.


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Joined: July 7th, 2017
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