DC Power, or Direct Current Power, is used to power many of the many pieces of gear aboard, including marine electronics, interior and exterior lighting, winches, windlasses, pumps, washers & dryers, and many more. DC power is typically available in 12-volts or 24-volts, or, on larger vessels, 32-volts. It can be stored in batteries, and converted to AC power when desired using an inverter.
Following up Technical Editor Nigel Calder's 2-part series, marine expert and PassageMaker contributor Steve D'Antonio takes a stab at why he believes the marine world is not yet ready for Hybrid technology.
Marine batteries, their design, use, and charge/discharge abilities, have been a subject of intense interest within the recreational marine industry for decades. I clearly recall a meeting many years ago, when I worked as a boatyard electrician. I sat in the yard managers office with the manager and one of our long-time customers, a fastidious naval architect who had recently completed a roundtrip passage from New England to Bermuda aboard his 40-foot sloop as part of an organized race. In his hand he had a sheaf of papers which contained neatly written columns recording battery voltages, amperes being used, and the time that each reading was taken, which was roughly hourly, as well as an indication of when and how long the engine was used for charging purposes. He was less than content with the ability of his house battery bank to provide for the modest electrical needs of the vessel. It was equipped, of course, with cabin and navigation lights, communication equipment and radar (the latter only being used occasionally at night), as well as a few other small accessories. Even by the standards of the time, the late 80s, it was an electrically simple boat, yet, the batteries could keep up with its needs.
It's a phenomenon I've encountered on a number of occasions in my marine industry career. The causes are simple and easily understood, while the solutions can be maddeningly elusive. The side effects can be everything from static or distortion on an otherwise high-quality television screen to humming or buzzing on a VHF radio, and in some cases, malfunctions in autopilot control systems, some of which may be dramatic. I've troubleshot more client complaints that start with the observation, "when I key the microphone the boat makes a hard turn to port/starboard," than I can recall.