36. Narrowboat Electrics. Installing our 12V & 230V Electrical System, Wiring, Batteries & Inverter

36. Narrowboat Electrics. Installing our 12V & 230V Electrical System, Wiring, Batteries & Inverter


Morning! Good morning! Today we’re gonna be
talking about electrics on Narrowboat Silver Fox. Yay! We’ve got cables everywhere.
(Colin places cable on his tongue)
No! And we’re gonna try and explain the electrical system for you with the
least amount of jargon that we can. We did actually used to be
electricians, but we just don’t do that anymore, don’t do it anymore.
One thing I do need to mention, the electrical system might not be the same
that you’ve got on your boat, particularly if it’s an old boat and if
you are thinking of making any changes get a qualified electrician in to do
that. That is important. It is important. We’re also going to try an answer some
of your questions. We’ve got some questions in about the electrics and we’ll answer
those as we go through the vlog, yeah. The first one we’re going to do straight
away came from Tony Adams and he wanted to know what the differences are between
the electrical system on a boat and the electrics in a house. I think that is a
job for you. I know what’s coming. Off you go! Let’s start at the power station. Burning coal
and gas and oil, biofuels, and some using hydro and solar, they’re creating
electricity on a massive scale. Four hundred thousand volts is taken from
here. It goes down the super grid to the next stage. That four hundred kilovolts –
four hundred thousand volts of electricity travels down the super grid,
down the pylons to local area networks like this. The voltage is dropped using
transformers by about half and then it’s off again towards the towns and villages. The voltage comes into these smaller transformers in towns and villages where
the voltage is dropped again by about half. Almost there…
From these transformers on poles it drops the voltage down to either 415 or
230 volts. It sounds familiar doesn’t it. It goes from these transformers down
these lines into your house. I think Colin’s back! Right…! So, on a narrowboat we don’t have the luxury of incoming mains electricity at 230 volts
unless we’re lucky enough to be at a mooring or a marina that’s got shore hook
up, one of these. (You alright?) So with this we can hook up to the National Grid and we can get our
230 volts which means we can run everything from this. While we’re out cruising we’re really
going to be relying on these, and these are our batteries. Now on narrowboat Silver Fox we’ve got six 12-volt 165 amp-power batteries. These are special marine
batteries made for boats. Whoa! Whoa! What’s an amp-hour?
Right, put simply an amp-hour is a unit
we use to measure the flow of energy. So something that uses a tiny little bit of
electric might be 0.1 amps an hour and that’s a really slow rate, and
something that uses a lot of electricity might use 10 amp-hours, so 10 amps per
hour. So that means it’s using energy faster. Imagine this is a jelly bean
battery. It’s full of jelly beans, 165 jelly beans, and each jelly bean is one
amp-hour. Let’s open the battery up. Don’t open a
battery up to see if it’s got jelly beans in it. Oh for God’s sake, can you imagine. I bet people will actually do that. They will! Yeah, “Oh no I’ve burnt my mouth!” Well why
did you open a battery up? Because Colin said it had jelly beans in it. No!
Honestly, this is a made up jelly bean battery alright. So this is our battery,
it’s got hundred and sixty-five jelly beans. Each jelly bean is one amp-hour.
So if I wasn’t greedy I might eat one jelly bean an hour. And so that means if
I ate one jelly bean an hour, after 165 hours the box would be empty.
If I ate… I don’t know, 10 jelly beans an hour, it would last me
16 and a half hours. If I ate… a hundred jelly beans an hour (Just put the kettle on)
it would last you just over… Eeeuugghh, no! Cinnamon!
You get the point? The lids regenerate any gas that’s produced during the kind of charging and discharge process, and utilises that, so everything kind of goes on for itself.
We don’t have to do anything with it, hence it’s called maintenance-free.
As well as the six Vetus batteries, we’ve got two extra ones. We’ve got two Bosch
batteries. One is for the bow thruster and that helps us move the boat left and
right if we want to use it. The other one is the starter battery and that’s a
Bosch 110Ah battery. Those are charged separately from the
alternator and they don’t really have any part to play in the leisure batteries
inside. Our battery bank is quite big. 990Ah in total available to us. But we want to look after the batteries and to do that we
don’t really want to be using all of that 990 amps. I don’t think we could to be honest. We’ll come on to a power audit in a second and you’ll
see how much power we actually plan to use. To look after them it’s really a
good idea not to use more than about half of its power. We call it discharge.
So about fifty percent is really the maximum before you want to be topping
them up again. So for us that’s just under 500Ah, and again
we won’t be using anywhere near that really on an average day, but it does
mean that with the solar and the alternator charging them up that we
should be able to keep them charged and look after them. To work out how much
power you need from your batteries to run everything on your narrowboat, the
best thing to do is a power audit. Let’s do that now. It’s a great idea to do a power audit if
you’re building a new narrow boat and want to know how much power to have available
in the batteries, or if you’re struggling for power on an older boat. Now because
we’re still fitting out Silver Fox we don’t have the exact consumption figures
yet, but as soon as we do we’re going to do a vlog with loads of details for you.
Right so let’s get started. Get a sheet of paper and write down the following
headings at the top. Appliances. Volts. Watts. Amps. Daily Use, and Total Amp Hours,
then we can start working out the consumption So we’re going to start with the TV. We know it’s 230 volts and the label on
the back says it uses an average 38 Watts an hour, so to work out the amps we
divide the Watts by the volts so 38 divided by 230, that gives us 0.16
amps. Now we’ll have the TV switched on for about 4 hours a day, so we multiply
the 0.16A by 4 hours and that gives us 0.64 amp-hours
each day for the TV. Now the process is the same for 230 volt and 12-volt
appliances, but let’s show you the same method for working out the 12 volt fridge. We know it’s 12 volts and it uses 34
watts (it says in the specifications), so again we divide the Watts by the volts.
So 34 divided by 12 gives us 2.83A. Now even though the fridge will be
on 24 hours a day, the kind of cooling bits and the fan, they’ll only be running
between like 14 and 18 hours, but let’s be conservative and we’ll say that it’s
going to run for 18 hours a day. So we multiply the 18 hours by the 2.83A and that gives us 51 amp-hours a day to run the fridge. So after that you’ll do
the pumps and the lights and everything else on your boat that draws power.
You’ll be surprised how it all adds up, and when you
finished add up the total amp-hours and ideally it should come to less the 40%
of your total battery bank power. Now some boaters and electricians might have
slightly different advice and views when it comes to these power audits, so don’t
just take my word for it. I’m not an expert by any means. This is just the way
we’re doing it. Ask an electrician or there’s plenty of advice and information online. Next question then comes from Phil Jenkins. He wants to know what are the differences between the 12-volt system and the 230 volt system on the
boat. To answer that we need to go to the inverter. The batteries on narrowboat Silver Fox are 12 volt DC. Now DC means direct
current. It goes in one straight line, one direction. (Screaming fans) And on the boat things that
use 12 volt are like the lighting, the pumps, the fridge, and we’ve got
sockets like you get in your car. So it’s like a car adaptor that we can
charge batteries and cameras and things like that from. But we also have some
230 volt appliances. Things like the TV, the washing machine, and our computers.
And they use AC current. Now AC is different to 12 volt DC. AC instead of
going in a straight line it means alternating current. A bit like a
cha-cha-cha two steps forward two steps back three
steps forward two steps back things like that. So we can’t use the
12-volt batteries to power 230 volt equipment. So that’s why we have this.
This is an inverter. This takes power from the 12-volt batteries and it
changes it into a 230 volt AC current. That means it goes through separate
circuits then which go out into the boat like a ring main in your house. Like a
socket circuit, and it means we can plug the TV and our computers, and we can have our washing machine working. If you’re having an inverter fitted, make sure that the power is enough to supply the 230 volt appliances in your boat, okay. We’ve got
3000 watt (3kW) inverter, that’s well within the scope of what we need.
Some older boats might have a lesser one like 1600 Watts, so it’s a good idea to
refer back to that power audit, look at the amount of Watts that you would pull
at any one time and make sure that your inverter is capable of powering that.
The only downside really to the inverter is it does use a bit more power.
It pulls in power from the 12 volt DC batteries and it does use a bit of that
power really just to run and convert it to 230, so by leaving it switched on all
the time, even if you’ve got nothing running, it will use a little bit of power. Mike Bates wants to know does narrowboat Silver Fox have a fuse board? The power is coming in from the batteries. It’s coming through the inverter, and then it comes to this which is our distribution board.
So this is where all our micro switches, Our MCB’s, and what they do is they
protects the circuits. Each circuit goes out and if there’s a fault for example
on the lighting circuit one of the light switches will trip, and that gives us an
indication that there’s a problem on that circuit. So that’s kind of the first
line of defence. We’ve got a separate MCB which controls the whole board we can
switch the whole electrics off through this. If there’s any fault on any of the
circuits, that will automatically trip, so if Shaun accidentally cuts through
something it will trip that and protect us. We’ve got different Isolators also
protecting the inverter, and we can also just isolate the whole system and the
batteries if we need to work on it. From the distribution board the circuits come all the way down the boat, so we’ve got lighting circuits, 12 volt circuits for
the lights. We have 12 volt sockets circuits. We can plug adaptors in and
charge things like cameras and batteries with those, and they come out here like this. So here we’ve got a socket circuit and we’ve got the lighting circuit. We’ve also got the cables for the HDMI, the Ethernet for the internet, and things like that, and of course sockets and light switches too. Graham Cooke has asked us what type of
wiring we use on narrowboat Silver Fox? I’ve brought some of it to show you. This is
what we use for the lighting circuits it’s one and a half mm thick and the
thickness really relates to how much power, how much current is running
through it, so for the lighting circuit it’s nearly all LED lights so we don’t
need a lot of current running through it, hence it’s only one and a half mm thick
inside. This one next to it is a bit thicker. This is twin on earth, which means it’s
got a live, a neutral and an earth and it’s got this blue sheath around it. We
use this for the sockets, and the sockets use quite a bit more power than the
lighting circuit because we’ve got things like the washing machine, TV, and
the microwave running through, so we use this for the sockets. This runs around
the boat and we use this for the lighting. We do also have a 12-volt
system and that runs alongside the other electrical system, so we’ve got 12-volt
sockets as well as 230 volt sockets. Up along the centre of the roof of the boat
you can see all these wiring bundles included in there we’ve got the inputs
from the solar, and we’re actually going to do separate vlogs on the solar and the
Wi-Fi once we’ve got that up and running so we can show you the controllers and
everything else, all the equipment that goes with that. That’s the electrics done then!
Don’t you miss being an electrician? No, not at all.
No? I kind of do in a way but I don’t know… If you remember on the news, there was like a spate of house fires a few years ago… Nothing to do with me!
Shaun’s electrics! (Laughter) The fits out continues then, and we’ll show you more of the fit-out of Narrowboat Silver Fox next time. We hope you’re enjoying the vlogs because we’re loving making them, and if you do, and you’re not subscribed, please subscribe. Hit the notifications button if you want to be notified every time we release a new vlog. If you liked it, do that for us, and ask questions, leave comments. We answer every one.
We do try and answer every single comment. and we’ll see you next time.
See you later! Ooooh, he’s ever so clever! Aaaah, I got it wrong again! It might not be the same as they are on yours but
(Shaun laughing)
What…?!?!? My mind’s gone blank! Errrr… Just always, errrr… Just make sure that you’re not distracted by drills in the background. (Shaun laughing). Today on… slap… (Blows raspberry). Let’s start at the (laughing) power
station where they’re creating… (Slips and starts laughing) Let’s start at the power stations (Laughing) (forgot lines) Aaaaggghhh! From the left… So, that 400… so. Wait…! (Laughter). I think Colin’s back… No, too late. I was too late. I think Colin’s back… (out of breath, can’t speak) I think Colin’s back… Too long a gap! I think Colin’s back… Ha haa! (struggling for breath) I need to get to the gym a little bit more! So on a boat we don’t have the… errr… Aaaagghhh! On a mooring, where we’ve got (hits hand) Aaaagghhhh! We’re connected to a shoreline hookup which we could be at a (can’t pronounce words)… Unless we’re lucky enough to be at a, errr… a… errrr….
(Shaun laughing) Is…(Shaun laughing)
You can’t say that!
(more laughing). Graham Cooke asked us what sort of cables we use for the ewec – ewectr – ewectwical wirewing (Shaun laughing) What do you think of our lighting circuit then? It’s like Blackpool Illuminations Just hit the subscribe (pauses) button. (sighs). Cheers Michael! (Shaun laughing). But we do (mixes word up) That’s the electrics done… (pauses).
Bye! (Shaun laughing) (Shaun choking on a jelly bean). (Colin can’t stop laughing)

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