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Factory Visit - Power Systems

I just got back from a very quick visit to England to see the new boat. Exciting!!! Its just over a month now until the boat will be moved to the Excel Centre in London in preparation for the London Boat Show. Here’s a picture of the inside - still lots to do!


One of the most interesting engineering features of this model of Southerly is that she uses the leading edge “distributed power systems”. This means instead of a big main breaker panel there will be nodes throughout the boat that control the electrical system closer to the item being controlled.

Distributed power has two main advantages. 1) It allows much more control and monitoring of the use of electrical power. And 2) It reduces wiring by and the massive bundles that used to make their way aft to the panel.

1) Any circuit can be controlled from any switch in the boat. For example, the deck light can be turned on from a lighting panel but also from a second switch that also turns on the cockpit lighting. Or anywhere else you wanted. Each switch is programmed with what it will do. And you can change that later - no rewiring, just connect your laptop and tell the switch to do something else. Or add a switch anywhere and tell it what it will do! Power can also be monitored and logged. Example would be tracking and logging how much power refrigeration uses. Or how many times the bilge pump came on. The monitoring of the system is the aspect I am most interested in!

2) Reducing wiring and the complexity of the main electrical panel. This has been building for years as boats have got more and more equipment. Proper wiring protocol means all these must come back to the main electrical panel. So on a modern 40-something sail/cruiser you could have a bundle of wires as big around as your arm. With a distributed power system you just wire the devices up to the nearest “node”. Below are two nodes (each with 10 circuits available on them) in behind the saloon seating. (they aren’t all wired up yet so there will be more wires). If I ever wanted to add something I could just look for a spare connection on the nearest node. I could also add another node if they were all crowded.

Saloon Seating “Nodes”picture-3

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