Many things have happened since we decided to go down the electric engine route.
It involved many meetings, discussions (online and offline) and got us to a
point where we decided that it is too complex and there is too little experience
out there to build a system that we are happy with in a time frame we want to
allocate for it. I've done lots of research and finally decided that the only
way for us to get to a boat we can cruise the world with based on the boat we have
is to compromise for now. Over the coming months and years I'll try different
components and build up towards a hybrid solution with an electric engine
additional to our conventional one till we hit a point where we can decide based
on our own experience what works and what still needs more testing.
The reason this turned out to be too complex is that an Amel is a highly
electric boat to start with. It has big current draws for bow thruster, electric
winches, electric furler and so on. To pull that off in the 90s when our boat
was built Amel has made some pretty awesome systems and converting them to work
in a Lithium setup is a big enough project in itself. Combining that with
adding an electric engine with everyone only focussed on their part of the big
picture (engine needs engine bank, boat needs house bank, can't be the same for
liability reasons) made us walk away and do it ourselves in stages.
The first stage is getting our boat onto a basis where I fully understand all the
electric systems not from reading the circuit diagrams but because I know where
the wires are and have at least touched each system once. To start that off I
re-wired the supply circuit into our battery bank and started to separate it
out from the consumption side of the system. This is important for the next
step where we replace the Gel batteries with Lithium once the current bank hits
A few months back when we got our boat re-rigged we had the masts pulled down
and used that to install a wind generator onto the mizzen mast just above the
radar dome. We had that stump of a generator sitting there for a wile now and a
few days ago I climbed the mast, put the blades on and finished the wiring.
Since yesterday we have wind power flowing into our batteries. Quite timely the
wind freshed up a bit with 20-30 knots and the solar regulator is idling
because of all the power our wind gen in pushing into the bank.
When deciding which generator we should go with I did all the usual research
(weeks of reading, watching youtube videos and more reading) and after much
comparison chose the Superwind generator. They are a
company in Germany that build super robust generators that can survive in very
high winds without the need to stop them at the blade. This was important to us
as we wanted to mount it as high as possible so it gets good wind flow and is
out of reach and harms way when it spins up. It is also super silent, we can't
hear it at all so far. I'll report back after a while how it does in day-to-day
life and how well it contributes to the overall power generation on board.
With the charging circuit side properly wired, fused and cleaned up I will now
look at the various charger/inverter that have accumulated on board over
the years and upgrade them to get to a point where every component in the
electric system can talk to each other. This means lots of CAN bus analysing
and tinkering around with the newest Victron gear. Also looking into CAN bus
controlled alternator regulators and a high-output alternator for the diesel so
that when it runs at least it charges as efficiently as possible while pushing us
through the water.
It has been an interesting journey the past few weeks and the next few weeks
look even more interesting. I try to capture all the stages as we go along.