Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Electrical action part the enth

Actually, part the nth, but it seems you can't do superscripts in a blogspot title! Part the first was 25th November last year. I expected part the second to follow quickly, but delays in the work and other issues meant it never materialised quite as intended. Other posts since have occasionally included something about the electrics, so part the nth it is for this one.

It's always been a frustration that we couldn't moor Erin Mae up for long without worrying about the batteries. It's no way to treat your engine, running it just to charge them. I'd be thinking about them overnight, and then checking them first thing in the morning. As often as not they'd be down to half-charge, and I'd have to start the engine. That would strike us as a waste of diesel, and we'd feel the pressure to cruise for a few hours. So, in addition to the battery worries, we'd be moving when we hadn't really wanted to. So much for this relaxing life-style!

Part of the problem was that I couldn't rationalise the drain on the batteries. Measurements with meters gave only half-helpful figures. I suspected that the main problem was the fridge, which needed the inverter on 24/7 to provide it with 230 volts. In the end I tested it by turning the inverter off overnight, hoping the milk wouldn't be sour in the morning. The drop in consumption was dramatic. Significantly, just turning off the fridge while leaving the inverter on achieved little – the inverter itself needed to be off.

So this got me thinking about eliminating dependence on the inverter, so it could just stay off most of the time. The washing machine and the Dyson vacuum cleaner seemed reasonable exceptions, since they would be used just occasionally and (especially the washing machine) only when cruising. But my computer, the mobile broadband wifi router and my best beloved's phone and iPad can all be run from 12 volt outlets. I also found a suitable AA / AAA battery charger for my rechargeables. So we've installed two 12 volt outlets in what will hopefully turn out to be a sensible place, at one end of the kitchen area.

The one on the left will be permanently in use for the mobile broadband / wifi. The other is easy to reach for charging various devices. I've put an Ikea spice rack just above, to carry splitters and cables and the chargers for computer and rechargeable batteries. It was an obvious choice, since I've just fitted a couple at the other end of the kitchen for their proper purpose.

Ronseal satin "natural oak"woodstain matched them up nicely with the interior panelling. Meanwhile the new 12 volt fridge has fitted in a treat. It may have been expensive, but it's much better than the old Daewoo.

Most of the smaller devices actually run on USB voltage (5v, I think), and so appropriate cigar-lighter type plugs have a USB socket as their output, and an internal circuit to drop the voltage. That means they're on when in place, even when nothing is plugged into them. The draw will be minimal but it will be good practice to remember to remove the whole plug when not in use, not just the USB cable.

Tomorrow, part n+1th, but how I'm going to put that in the title is as yet not certain!

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