Making the Most of a Minimal Budget. Contact me at: or on Twitter: @skintsailor

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Upgrading Dodgy Electrics

Today's weather has been mild and clear, so this lunchtime it was off to the boat to investigate and solve the problem with the electrics. It was almost like summer. To be honest apart from the recent cold spell, we've had a pretty mild winter this year. You can tell by the number of Geese that are overwintering in the harbour. The numbers are well down on last year, I assume they are haven't had to go this far South this year.

What a gorgeous day. And it's still only February!
Straight away, after checking the battery lead, I could see the problem:

That blue dust was all that was left of the main battery wire

The outer insulation had cracked, allowing damp in and the main battery lead had completely corroded to blue dust. The black sheathed wire on the right is the main battery wire and the white sheathed wire on the left is the charging wire from the engine.

So on with the job: I completely replaced the charging lead from the engine. Well more exactly I replaced the wire all the way back to the rectifier that I refurbished last year. Then I replaced the main battery lead, in the process I fitted my latest budget buy, a £16 solar charging regulator:

I think this controller shows enough operating info...

I ran a pair of chunky wires from the battery to the regulator and then from the regulator to the main battery switch. No voltage drop anywhere from the battery to the fuse/switch panel.

Once I got a decent connection to the fuse panel, I then ran a line from the charging regulator to the solar panel. The panel already has a 12v lighter style plug on it, so once the new cable was run under the bunks and round to the the entrance, I put a 12v socket on it.

Lots of spare wire, but it'll be tidied later.
I didn't have time to tidy up the wiring as by now the tide was dropping. I'd been on the boat almost 3 hours and I needed to leave. I got it all connected temporarily and then packed up.

Unfortunately The solar panel was pointing away from the Sun so there wasn't much charge. I didn't get time to sort the settings on the charge controller much, but on another visit I'll check things out. Eventually I've blog on how well the controller works.

By the time I got off the boat and dragged the dinghy up the beach the sun was almost setting:

It was still clear and warm later in the day when I came off the boat.

It was a pretty full-on day. Jim was on his boat for about an hour but I was so busy trying to get the wiring completed before the water went away. I didn't have time to really chat. I didn't even get to make a coffee on board!

But I'm happy that I've sorted one problem.

A more worrying problem is the bolts for the bow roller have been loosened in the recent storms so it all needs some attention asap. It seems this winter is generating yet more work for me!

Plus I need to get the generator on board with the dremel and cut those bolts off the winch bases so can reseal and reinstate the winches so then I can at least do some sailing. I fancied doing a bit of sailing today, but unfortunately I was stuck down below.

Ah well, it'll all keep me busy in the coming months.


  1. Hi Can I ask where you got your charge controller from?I have seen it on ebay with ridiculous delivery costs.
    Why did you not go for a more powerful solar panel? I have recently bought a boat with 4, yes 4 leisure batteries but no charging system other than the engine. Michael

  2. The controller was from eBay. Its the cheapest I've seen an MPPT controller (£16.61 with free P&P), although as with anything from China, you have to take its ability with a pinch of salt. However I like to see what's going on and the LCD display was what really made me chose this controller. As for the panel, 10W was the best compromise between size and cost at just £20. It's unobtrusive and doesn't take up much space. Any bigger and it probably would get in the way. The controller will let me add another panel at some point, possibly facing the other way so whatever way the boat is pointing, the panels will charge up the battery.