An critical component on most boats, the bilge pump is a commonly used mechanical method for pumping out the water that invariably gathers in the bilge of most watercraft.
These inexpensive but often powerful pumps are expected to perform in often varying (and occasionally severe) conditions. Not only are they required to function while a boat is cutting through heavy waves, but also in the middle of the night after a rain storm when the boat is docked and the owner is gone.
The pumps come in a variety of pumping capacities, stated in gallon per hour (GPH), and are usually powered by 12V DC. The methods of wiring them for switching on can be for manual or automatic operation, and most often is for both. Manual switching typically uses a switch on the dashboard. Automatic operation involves the use of a float switch that senses the water level in the bilge. Once a level is reached that can be pumped out, the switch turns the pump on.
Bilge pumps are manufactured by several well know companies, including Attwood Marine. The Attwood Tsunami Series features innovative engineering and compact design, that delivers high output from a small package. Attwood bilge pumps are famous for using the most advanced material available, including the best quality bearings and state-of-the-art brushes, alloys and magnets.
They offer three high-efficiency pumps that move water at output capacities of 500 gph, 800 gph and 1200 gph.
Battery management is the efficient monitor and control the outflow of power from your boat’s batteries.
The “prime directive” of marine electrical battery management to to avoid the overuse of this finite power supply, which may eventually compromise an important function, like starting your engine.
Marine electrical battery management can be as simple as monitoring a voltmeter to determine battery voltage; to the use of switches to turn on certain batteries, while isolating others from use ; to having sophisticated voltage sensitive relays that will do the job of monitoring levels and switching batteries on and off automatically – often called a Smart Battery Switch.
Any boater that will be spending time at anchor running electrical accessories, like stereos, will need to maintain some awareness of the condition and level of their battery supply and life. The inability to restart an engine (which is a key source of recharge for the batteries), or to lose the use of a boat’s navigation lighting, boat horns or bilge pumps because of dead batteries is a situation to be avoided. Thus the importance of battery management.
Battery cables are one of the most crucial parts of any boat wiring system.
The foundation of the entire 12 volt marine electrical system is the batteries – both for energy and grounding, which are equally important. For each, the battery cable is a pivotal link.
Because of the nature of DC power and the easy potential for current loss over distance, battery cables are constructed of thick heavy duty copper and highly insulated. This makes them not only bulky, but expensive.
Good marine electrical design will use the optimal thickness (gauge) of the cables to provide the most current, while attempting to limit the distance they run, as longer runs necessitate increasing the gauge. Typically the cables will be terminated with either battery lugs (for the battery connection) or ring terminals, or most commonly a combination of the two.
Battery cables are available from many sources, although several websites now offer completely custom battery cables. The flexibility of these configurations allows boaters to get precisely the length, color, gauge and end-fittings that their boat wiring project requires.
Battery boxes are used to secure the batteries on a boat against the extreme movement of the craft on water – a marine industry standard and a Coast Guard rule.
While batteries may sometimes be mounted on trays, they are more often stored and held in marine electrical battery boxes, which, besides keeping the battery in place, also protects it from exposure to outside elements like moisture while also containing the corrosive acids of the battery.
Battery boxes also make moving and transporting the battery safe and easy. Battery boxes normally include a box with molded handles, a lid, a strap to hold down the lid and mounting hardware.
Battery boxes are available from several marine manufacturers, although the most well-known are built by Attwood Marine.