Powering all the appliances, tools and laptops can be a bit of a challenge on Clipper. We need to generate and store the power in a very limited amount of space. Also the appliances we use are generally 240 volt Australian. Click here to check out the youtube video where I power a heat gun
Having household appliances and tools at 240 volt is more practical than having 12 volt tools. They are more powerful and more readily available. Although we have the battery operated vacuum cleaner and tools, this is mainly because of portability.
We have overcome the problems of generating enough power for the time being through our 5 panels, with a total generation of 15 amps @ 48 volts on a good day. Also storage with 2 sets of batteries with 200 amp capacity at 48 volts. The batteries can be drained to 20% of capacity. This gives us 160 amps of usable power @ 48 volts.
But we still need to access the power and our 2500 watt 12 volt inverter was not up to the task of accessing the power from the batteries. Apparently although the old inverter is rated to 2.5Kw, there is only so much power a 12 volt system can deliver.So when I plugged in the belt sander or other high watt tool and used it for extended periods, the inverter would shut down.
At times we can have high current draw and this is why we ordered a 48 volt inverter. By doubling the voltage you get double the power (the number of watts) at the same current. So the 48 volt system can deliver more power with the same current.
There are other advantages to increasing the voltage, such as the wiring is a thinner gauge. So it was cheaper to buy new wiring to the 48 volt inverter than it would have been for a 12 volt inverter. The voltage loss is less pronounced over a longer distance. I find this especially true wiring the bow to the 48 volt system. Converting to 240 volt from 48v is more efficient than converting from 12 volt.
The general rule of thumb is that 12-volt systems are suitable for up to 1000 watts, 24-volt solar systems are suitable for up to 2000 watts and anything above 2000 watts should be set up to use 48 volts, although this can vary a lot in different conditions.
There is the overall risk of fire and the 48 volt system easily wins as it is carrying a quarter of the amperage of a 12 volt system.
Going electric is giving greater advantages to a live aboard boat. This is one no one had mentioned to me. The greater efficiencies of the 48 volt system. It is not all about going green, but also the conveniences that come with it.
I am really beginning to like the 48 volt system.