Amped Up – How We Charge Our Boat Batteries

Living off the grid on a sailboat is all about managing resources. And so many of our resources need electricity (like our watermaker). We’ve talked about the importance of investing in good batteries and our choice of battery. Now, we’re sharing the different ways we charge our lithium batteries.

Our power needs are what plenty of sailors would call extreme. But, hey, to each their own. Living off the grid isn’t a competition of who has the least or the most. We all go about it a little differently. That’s the beauty of the sailing lifestyle, it’s customizable. Our wants and needs are just that, ours. What works best for you might be way less or perhaps even more.

Our first experience with a traveling home was an old VW Vanagon. We loved our dusty, 80’s gold camper (even honeymooned in it) but the engine battery was our only source of power. It couldn’t handle much. Leave a cell phone plugged in overnight and we would need a jump by morning. But, roaming around the southern states in that VW is what sparked the idea of full-time travel.

Fast forward eight years, a few roaming homes and multiple power setups later, man have things changed.  Now we have a sailboat that could power a small village. Ok, maybe not, but it is pretty amazing what we can do while floating in the middle of the ocean.

We’ve had a ton of trial and error with our electrical setups. One BIG thing we’ve learned:  options are good, especially when it comes to charging batteries.

Batteries are like the fuel tank in a car. We can only cruise around so long before the tank is empty. At some point, we need to fill it back up. Plus, batteries are the heart of our systems. The battery bank pumps life into all the other electrical bits of our sailboat.

We’re not experts by any stretch of the imagination, but we know what works for us. Perhaps seeing our set up, and each of our charging methods will spark some ideas for you.


We could go cross-eyed analyzing different manufacturer specs and guessing how each device would perform in “real-world” use.  It still blows me away that our 80a alternators would take so long to charge up our batteries…but that said, a lot of sailors rely solely on their engines for charging.  It’s all relative to the battery bank and how much power you need. If you have a small sailboat with a 100ah battery you probably don’t need much. But, if you have a big boat and want to live like you’re on the grid, even when you’re not, you’ll need some beefy upgrades.

Overall, we’re smitten with what our system is capable of and how little we run our generator.  It blows me away how long we could stay out to sea before needing to come to land.  If we were willing to only eat beans, rice, and fish…we might go a year before coming ashore (but let’s not test that theory). Here’s our off-grid system aboard Curiosity.

Lithium Batteries

Our #1 recommended upgrade on any off-grid home is Lithium Batteries. 

Batteries supply our power for everything and are the heart of all of our electrical needs in the kitchen and throughout the vessel.  The absolute best battery option available is lithium.

Why Lithium:

We have four Relion 12V 300AH batteries for a total of 1200AH.  They have been going strong now for almost five years.

Discount! Relion is offering 5% off to all GWTW Fans!  Just click the link and it will be automatically applied at checkout.

Relion Lithium Batteries:



We have 1400 watts of solar.

Solar Arch & Dinghy Davits

We get asked a lot about our solar arch and davit system.  We decided on this setup because it solved a host of issues.

  • The arch sets our panels up for maximum sun exposure and minimal shading from the lines, rigging and sails. Turns out this is far more important than we expected.
  • The davit system from the factory suspended the dinghy to low and left it susceptible to damage from waves.  Our new davit system not only holds our solar panels but it gets our dinghy up 5 feet higher which makes sailing in heavy seas much safer for us and the dinghy.
  • By extending the panels out past the hardtop, we have an extra shade that helps extend the life of our dinghy and our skin.

The system was designed and custom-built by Just Catamarans.  Its made with heavy-duty stainless steel to survive years of off-shore sailing.  It was an expensive upgrade as the custom stainless work alone set us back $12K and a few weeks.  It wasn’t an easy one to fork over the money, but it’s one we are happy we bit the bullet on.  Plus, it’s an investment that adds to the overall value of the boat…or at least that’s what Kent told us to ease the pain.


We’re using a GoPower! 2000 watt pure sine inverter/charger.

It’s affordable and simple to use. We don’t have all the fancy features, or iPhone apps, that you find with a Victron, but sometimes simple can be best and more affordable.  I would have installed the 3000-watt inverter/charger but it wasn’t available yet.

A few specs:

  • 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter with built-in 100 amp charger and dual 50 amp transfer switch, plus digital display remote and temperature sensor
  • The easiest installation on the market, and our first inverter charger with dual 50 amp pass-through
  • Power share to add an extra 2000 watts of power to your generator
  • UL458 and UL1741 certified
  • 3-year warranty

Battery Monitor Kit

We decided to go with this very affordable Xantrex link pro:

  • Link lite Battery monitor
  • Displays time remaining
  • Communication/expansion port
  • Stores a wide range of history events in internal memory
  • Advanced programmable alarm Relay


Our catamaran has the factory upgraded Yanmar 39hp engines with the standard 80a alternator.  We’d love to upgrade the alternators in the future.  We couldn’t spring for it when we were in Florida and it wasn’t a service priority.


Our sailboat came with a Northern Lights 6kw generator in the port lazarette.  It’s relatively quiet, works well, and is considered the industry standard for most cruisers.  That said, it’s big, heavy and expensive!  We’re looking into smaller, lighter and more efficient options for the future.


Other Extras


Feeling Tipsy?

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Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (60)

  • SJ

    Ethanol fuel cell (, but ethanol is flammable and bulky.

    Or another type of fuel cell that uses malic acid, Hydromax Marine Fuel cell (, where the solutions are not flammable (I think, please check) and replacement is available in powder form (less bulky).

    Charge rate is slow though, but these provide alternatives.

  • Don J

    Lightning protection addendum….

    The third SV Otto have a lightning strike was SV Sailing Into Freedom. He happened to have the presence of mind to have filmed a good part of the event.
    He seems to have taken as many as three strikes on his mono hull. Frying everything including his alternator rectifier. Additionally, this came into play awhile he was addressing a possible lightning related hull breach as his makeshift pumps were pulling down his only partially charged battery system. Plenty of lessons in this video… How many have a high volume manual bilge pump, or could rework plumbing pumps to pump bilge water for increased water evacuation?

    Luckily, although he was alone, mentally he was “in the moment”. And knew his vessel very well.
    It’s better, to be more lucky than Good, But Being Good sure helps…

  • Don J

    While we’re on Electrical… How about Lightning Suppression?

    Recently there have been 2 possibly three YT vessels struck by lightning. I think all had their everything fried, navionics and alternators.
    I guess only the EPERBs and hand radios survived. I think it was SV Parley Rescue, and SV Onboard Lifefestyle. (Could be sketch on the correct SV)

    Two were direct mast strikes. In one episode of a boat reviews channel they commented there was a grounding strap or wire dangling in the water while dock side.

    From my amateur radio operator experiences, we place antenna coax plugs in glass jars when the lightning starts. Especially if your yard looks like a half way house for NORAD operations. But, that won’t answer the grounding issue. Essentially it would seem only a proper grounding strap, several feet in the water, would be required dock side, even if plugged in and grounded. Or, if anchored, grounding your standing rigging to the anchor chain / mooring ball would be my approach, if you could Isolate the windlass. Additional protection might be realized if you could electrically isolate all your onboard systems while in lightning conditions in an effort to limit electrical paths.

    I’m sure there is a Marine Engineer out there with better answers, I’m mostly about the questions as yet.

    Unfortunately, this issue is not well discussed in the sailing community. But when/if you do take a hit the costs are pretty devastating. Imagine all your tech fried. And, you have to do significant rewiring. Possibly even some fire suppression / recovery.

    Seems like a proactive approach might be worth a look considering the consequences… Grounding hardware would be cheap by comparison.

    Thanks for all the excellent content.

  • Todd Neville

    Do you have any opinions on the Integrel system (high capacity alternator):
    (Is this the one you looked into and did not pull the trigger on as a generator replacement?). Any further thoughts on generator replacement options?

  • Scott

    I thought of an easier way to test to verify my previous post about engine alternator charging current. Set up the first scenario in the video, engine alternator as the only source of charging current. Add some 12V device load of around 15 to 20 amps. Put your DC clamp on ammeter around the single conductor the feeds the battery bank. It can be either the red (+) or the black (-) (yellow if you are ultra modern). The ammeter reading should be very close to the battery monitor charge current reading. If it is then this verifies that the battery charge current is always whatever the battery monitor says it is. I am not referring to the battery monitor as the Xantrex any longer because I think you are now using a different battery monitor.

  • Scott

    By the way, still impressed with your analytical skills and knowledge. We all go astray with the analysis once in awhile except there is no excuse for me when I do it.

  • Scott

    Just checked some Xantrex literature. Assuming your system is wired correctly, my previous posts are correct. Did you already know this? It just occurred to me that the video is a little dated.

  • Scott

    After thinking further I am certain that I am correct. If I am not correct then I don’t think there is any way that the Xantrex can accurately measure the state of charge of the battery. I will be happy to investigate further if you send me the Xantrex model number.

  • Scott

    I am the electrical engineer from the post about lithium ion batteries. I have designed many power electronic conversion circuits and own my own large boat and live off the grid on the weekends. I have also done lots of design work with electrical power systems. I think you have a misunderstanding of what is happening in the first scenario in the video when you are charging from the engine alternators. You are monitoring charge current on the Xantrex battery monitor. This should be charge current going to the batteries as you said, however I don’t believe it is always equal to the alternator output current. In the scenario you used with nothing consuming 12V power and the solar panels turned off, then the alternator output current and the battery charge current would be equal as you showed. You went on to say that if you did have loads consuming 12V power then the charge current to the batteries is equal to the difference between the load currents to devices and the current reading on the Xantrex monitor. I don’t think that it true. I think that the charge current to the batteries is always whatever the Xantrex monitor says it is. This means that the alternator output current is equal to the charge current reading on the Xantrex plus the 12V load current going to devices. I can’t be sure without seeing wiring schematics etc. or I could look at the Xantrex literature to see how they say it should be wired. I would be happy to take a look if you send me the model number of the Xantrex. I think you now have a clamp on DC ammeter. The other way for you to verify this is to set up the same scenario except this time turn on some 12V load devices to draw a total of about 20 amps. Put the current clamp on the alternator out wire and measure the current. It should be higher than the Xantrex current reading. There may be a more convenient place to measure the alternator output but again with wiring diagrams of your boat I can’t say where. I am not trying to be critical here. If I am correct then this is good news because it means you are getting way more battery charge current from the engine alternator when underway than you think you are.

  • Mark

    Great video, thanks for sharing! Just curious to see if you considered a dc to dc battery charger like the 30 or 60 amp version from Sterling Power BB1230/60? Renogy just released one also. I’m planning on adding one this summer to our RV with Lifepo so it will charge at 14.4 volts. It’s not 500 amps of alternator but would double what you’re getting today for the engine for only a few hundred dollars. They also look pretty simple to install.

  • Larry

    Jason and Nikki, first off I’m 5 years off from living aboard in the Caribbean for retirement and your videos basically show the realities of how to do it, Thank You so much. I want to live on a boat, not camp on one. That said, through you guys, I now realize the compromises. Those 200+ amp alternators you want, are the way to go but they are big and you have to make sure they can be fitted properly and cooled and Bucco expensive too. It’s the “BIG” part that matters. “Big” meaning big fans and lots of copper inside that dissipates heat faster, and they are heavy. You can definitely get at least 70 amps out of each of your “small frame” alternators now with a Balmar MC-614 External regulator on each one provided you can bypass the internal regulators inside them. But as Nick from Ruby Rose would say, “Here’s the thing” , the biggest issue is heat. Flooded batteries have acceptance charge which drastically limits power taken in from the charge sources, a good thing for small alternators, and keeps them from burning up. And you already know that your Relions basically take everything you throw at them up to about 400 amps until they are fully charged. I’ve burned up about a dozen or so small frame alternators like yours over the years trying to find a limit to how much amperage they can produce “Continuously”. I found that an 80 amp small frame can produce about 40-45 amps continuously and not leave you stranded somewhere in the pacific. I found that small frame alternators like yours can dissipate heat at a rate of about 600-700 watts continuously regardless of what their max amperage output is in a hot engine room 125-135degrees. 700 watts divided by 14.6 volts= 48amps. So it’s all about keeping an alternator cool enough to survive. In an engine room at minus 10 degrees F that same alternator could put out 80amps all day long. Still 40-45 amps is 2x what you are getting now and that’s huge. That may be all you need. The Balmar MC-614 or other top of the line external regulators also have an alternator temperature sensor that gets bolted to the frame to monitor how hot the frame is and automatically reduce power by 50% to allow a cool down. Balmar doesn’t recommend using this feature as a sole source of protection. But I found this to be a good way to increase the amperage in small increments and still protect the alternator in case perhaps your engine rooms are cooler and maybe allows tweaking out 50amps per alternator before hitting a Hi temp situation. Though I’d love to have a Large case alternator on my boat. My current small case Delco 80amp 10SI alternator which is similar in size to your 80 amp units has been alive and well for over 6 years and is satisfying my needs. Hope this helps somewhat, Larry

  • Gene


    I do not own a boat but I am a techie interested in doing so one day. With regard to upgrading your alternators it really isn’t as simple as unbolting the old one and slapping on the new one. For safety sake you should consider the effect that action has on all the components in your electrical system. For example, several wires should be upgraded to handle the additional current. I have run across several interesting videos and articles from Pacific Yacht Systems. They specialize in marine electrical systems. Take a look at their 2018 presentation at the Vancouver Boat Show

  • Michael T

    Love your site!

    I am interested in how you came up with your solar-to-battery ratio. At 1400 W of solar and 1200 Ah for your battery bank (80% usable, per your great video), this is about a 1:1.5 ratio. In the campervan world, I typically see 3X or more solar watts relative to usable amp hours.

    Obviously this works for you… so I am very curious how you arrived at this setup. Thanks in advance.

    • Curious Minion

      Hopefully Jason will chime in here, but I’m pretty sure that in both cases, they maxed out what they had the space for. They don’t have any more flat roof space that’s suitable for panels, and I don’t think they can stuff any more batteries in without some major modifications. I think they’d like more solar because they’ve always got shaded panels (from the mast and boom. Post about shading here: but just can’t squeeze more on. And yes, you can stick flexible panels onto curved shapes, etc. and can theoretically walk on them, but walking on them extensively can still damage them plus they are slick when wet so it’s also a safety issue on the boat.
      Curious Minion

  • Jay

    Hey guys! We have a Leopard Catamaran as well and are redoing our solar. We will have 1800 watts of solar after the install and currently have a 900 ah lithium bank. Like you, we are heavy energy users and are slowly converting everything over to electric. In your opinion, with having more solar to replace our depleting 900ah bank should we be ok with our current bank size? Or would you still add another 300 ah lithium battery to give us 1200 ah total? Our initial thought is the excess solar will top our current bank off much faster so we may not need another battery. We’ve done all the numbers calculating, but is much different than actually living it out in real life where weather plays a role in what you get realistically for solar. As well versed off the grid nomads, your input means more than the “numbers.” Thanks!

  • Adrian Pringle

    Hi .
    My Name is Adrian , I lived on a 53ft sailboat for 12 years and encountered all of the issues you have.
    Alternators , YES , put as big as possible on . While you are running your motors it is wise to get out as much energy as possible .
    Your 80 amps Alts will probably be fine , just just need smart regulators , you can fit them yourself .
    STERLING , ADVERC , BALMAR are just a few . You may have to do a bit of work on the alternator like disconnect the internal regulator or bypass it . Sterling have a web site which show how to do it . I did it , no pro-Lemire .
    On my sailboat my main motor was 150 hp . The builder. Fitted a 100 amp alt . But no smart reg . Same problem you have . I did later double the size to 200 amps , with a smart reg , then regular saw it put out 180 amps . It will put this out for about 15 mins , then gradually drop down as the batteries charge .
    But remember if you do increase the power output of the alt , you have to increase the cables as well , to carry this amperage .
    HORSE POWER , alternator draw horse power from the motor , but mostly you could go up to about 5 Hp , 150 amp Alternator will take 3 1/2 HP max , then only for a short while . You could go up to 5 HP , but might have difficulty fitting a larger Alternator on . E mail me if you have any Qs

  • mark hayes

    please could you tell/show how the solar panels are wired,thanks

  • Greg Wood

    Have you investigated fuel cell generators ? They are available these days as a spin-off of the space industry.

  • Timo Gronroos

    Hi, at least as a concept, check this out. Cool stuff 🙂

  • Gerry White

    Hey Jason and Nikki. We have been following your youtube channel for a while (two thumbs up). I’m doing a solar project for a friend on his fly bridge fiberglass hard cover. Do you have any problems with temperature on your flexible panels directly attached to the roof (roof or panel)? How are they attached?

  • Hey Wynns! You’re awesome!!!
    I’m launching head first into living nomadic… Trying to wrap my head around solar setups is a bit overwhelming. In your gadgets and gear list above the outback charge controller you had in your RV isn’t listed, also I think I noticed you’ve switched from the Magnum inverter and BMK in the RV to a GoPower inverter with a Xantrex BMK on the sea. Hoping you can share some thoughts on the changes. Looks like the RV Geeks are using a Xantrex inverter and they rave about it but other online reviews seem fairly sketchy. Please help me plan some amazing solar!

    • Hello Jake! Congrats on hitting the new lifestyle head on.
      Remember these are just my opinions:
      Xantrex – My opinion of Xantrex was they are the basic brand, not a ton of bells and whistles, not particularly desirable. BUT, over the past few years they’ve really upped their game, and I know the Geeks love their setup, and I trust those guys 100%.
      GoPower! – We like the efficiency, the long warranty and the customer service that these guys provide. Seriously, if I have an issue I can call up their HQ and get someone on the phone to help…and that is HUGE! Same goes for building a solar setup, call them up and tell them your situation.
      MPPT – The Outback was a workhorse, totally a great piece of gear. Many MPPT controllers are now going with “linkable or stackable” technology. Basically you can purchase smaller controllers that communicate with each other. The idea is less panels on one controller means less power loss due to shading. Our new GoPower! MPPT controllers are 40a and we have two of them and so far they are performing extremely well.
      Magnum – Still like Magnum and Victron, they are solid products. Basically the GoPower! stuff is on par with our needs: affordable, solid features and great support. There’s no doubt Victron is in a class of their own, but when it boils down to it simple is sometimes better for my needs.
      Hope this helps get the ball rolling. If you have any specific questions I’ll do my best to help…whenever we get internet again 🙂

      If you can find this info helpful (and you can remember when you purchase) and you click through our site to purchase, that would be awesome. Any Amazon purchase or affiliate link helps keep our content flowing and we’re so grateful for it.

  • Hi guys,

    Another great video. Love your work.

    My wife and I weekend sail in the cold /wet and windy Irish Sea out of Dublin (so if you ever get close please get in contact)
    Both myself and my folks (ex liveaboards in Greece) use a smart charging system. Effectively a smart regulator bypass charging system bypasses the inbuilt alternator regulator (which limits the alternators output) so you get the max output of the alternator.
    I am not associated with any products but I have a sterling power product installed for the last 8 years and it maximises the existing alternator output, exactly what you are frustrated with about your exiting engine alternators.
    Not sure if your batteries or system would be able to work with a smart regulator bypass charging system but would love to think that for a few hundred $$$ you may be able to achieve what you are aiming for out of your exiting alternators.
    Also would love to know that I may have helped your journey in some way.
    I am sure there are lots of different companies but this is the one I have

  • Dave Hanus

    What I know about living afloat might fill a single sheet tri-fold brochure. Fortunately for me your videos arrive every Sunday and I’m learning more and trying to figure out how to figure out how to improve my 24′ land yatch with better equipment more suited to full time marine adventuring. Thanks for the guidance. Question – on your 80A engine alternator upgrade desires. I’m assuming these are 80A DC. Have you considered adding a belt driven 10Kw or 20Kw AC alternator to produce line voltages? Your 40HP engines would power it and you could surplus your dedicated line voltage genny. Or, is there something about a marine environment that makes this a really bad idea?

    • Not really sure to be honest, I’d have to research. Basically the idea is to run everything off the battery bank, so having an AC alternator would perhaps defeat that purpose? It would be great when the engines are on.

  • Richard

    Hi guys,
    Love your videos as all ways.

    I was just wondering what sort of power you think you would get from upgrading your alternators? I suppose how efficient they would be along with how they would affect your fuel consumption?

    Keep up the good work looking forward to the next video already!

    • We’ve met up with fellow sailors that have these upgrades and they swear by them. Minimal increase in fuel consumption and maximum output of power. Sounds too good to be true, but from talking with Just Catamarans and fellow cruisers it seems to be legit.

  • Ted Owens

    I have the same generator as you. From the video, it appears that it is missing a anti-siphon vented loop in your sea water cooling hose. My hose comes out of the enclosure, loops, and then back in using the two holes in the starboard aft corner of the enclosure top. The perpose is to stop water from siphoning into your boat if a hose were to fail.

    • Hmmmm, I’ll double check when I service it. Thanks for the tip.

    • Per Northern Lights, the anti-syphon loop is only required on genders installed below the water line. On our Leopard cat we don’t have the loop either.

  • Henry Crawford

    Hi , I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this before as I can currently only load the last 4 comments.
    No mention in your video of what type of alternator regulator you are using? If its the one that came with the engines its probably set up for a lead acid battery- you should be able to fit an external regulator with a Li charging profile, which will increase the amps fed into the batteries. I don’t think an 80 amp alternator should even reach the maximum acceptance current for a Li battery of that size.
    Whilst it may be a bit off the wall, have you looked at small fuel cells- a couple of companies make ethanol fuel cells suitable for boats. Fuel is costly though.
    Also, Watt & Sea have a new mount available which may fit your boat.

  • Yvan Dion

    Thanks very much for sharing your insights and knowledge. Very much appreciated. Merci !

    • Ken Kaz

      Nikki/Jason……latest video log good stuff….In my opinion, better stuff. I believe that the experiences of you two are much more interesting (and quite frankly endearing). My wife and I are catamaran owners/sailors and we really love to watch your vlogs but we really enjoy the routines and experiences of what yiu two do….. Your other guests are clearly great people and interesting (and I’m quite sure there’s a real equation regarding passengers) But you two are the root square. Anyway just a comment which I meant positive.

      We would love to meet you and take you out on a Bay excursion if you ever you travel to the Chesapeake. We’re completely docile and considered good company. My wife Sandy enjoys sailing and looks to offshore excursions because of you two.

      So……cheers to you both. Incidentally our boats name is Catatude and our dingy is “Litter Box” ?


      • Haha, great boat name and even better dinghy name!!! Too funny. I you see we’re in the NE drop us a line, otherwise we’ll see you out here one day 🙂

  • Margaret Stewart

    Flux Capacitor? 🙂 LOL

  • Michael Magill

    Good Morning Jason and Nikki , just a short note to say how enjoyable and how much we learn from any of your technical videos, You make them so that any one can follow along and gain a lot of knowledge that might help them in a similar situation. I have been a fan for over a year and look forward to each and every new video you make. Its a new year and I wish you both calm and gentle seas as you travel and not to much technical breakdowns along the way. Please be safe and enjoy each moment , because in real terms we are hear for a very short period of time, might as well enjoy it to the max. Good luck to you both, can’t wait till your next video arrives..

  • Cat's Meow

    Have you guys considered the Balmar Ceterfielder? We installed one on Cat’s Meow last spring and are very happy with it so far. Of course it is only useful when both engines are running. Footnotes: We have the newer Valeo 120A alternators and a 900Ah LiFePo4 house bank. The alternators had to be retrofitted to be externally regulated and we had to buy the external regulators (Balmar MC-614).

  • fred ancora

    hello guys… Jason you mention in a recent past video that you had a unique way of hooking up your solar panel on your boat. can you explain a little?
    thanks, fred

  • Eugene

    You guys have been doing this for a long time now and I was wondering. What are you doing on the other end of the shocking electric? What energy efficiency products do you have that would slow the (brain drain) ,sorry battery drain? Lights, stove, water pump ,nav equipment and other appliances. Could these be more efficient? Running diesel is not efficient at all. Only in a pinch.

  • Darrin

    Thank you! Inspiring video. Cheers

  • Jim S.

    Solar is also my “only” off-grid RVing power source. Who wants to be enjoying nature and hear the racket of a engine running. As far as I know a solar set-up is 100% noise-free, pollution-free. Only have a single 100 watt suitcase unit, but looking into the new 200 watt suitcase unit soon.

  • Look at efoy hydrogen generator

  • Dave Hanus

    Once again a great video. I wish RV low voltage systems were set up more like marine applications. Question. You talk of increasing the capacity of your engine driven alternator. Are the two alternators outputting nominal 12volts or are they 125VAC? If current engine alternators are are 12 volt couldn’t you just install a belt driven 125VAC alternator to fed the shore power side of your system and charge your batteries from line voltage?

  • Love this one, y’all! Because I’m a nerd and like to geek out on the educational videos.

    And it’s so coincidental that you zero in on the amp clamp! I was literally just on the phone with a water maker tech here incFL and we got sidetracked talking about my wind generator and he was telling me all about amp clamps and how I must must must buy one before we shove off. Seems like it was meant to be, so thank you for endorsing his comment, it’s decided we won’t untie the lines without one. Wish I could bring one to y’all too but might take a while for us to get there 😉

    Hugs from your old stomping grounds in Fort Laud!

  • Bill Lampkin

    Industry standard current clamp: works with your existing Multimeter:
    Or, for 1/5 of the price, I just bought this:
    Very small, rugged, and dead accurate. $42 !!

    Had a Fluke 77 and i410 current clamp for years, until my tool bucket was stolen.

    Good video. What became of your failed ReLion battery? Cause of failure?
    The guy who commented about thermal derating of your inverter was spot on! Good advice.

    Fair winds…….

  • Ken Kaz

    Hi Jason. You amperage into the battery bank from anbsourcd has to do with “charge acceptance” i dont know about lithium but fllooded cells for instance will not accept much over 25 amps unless the batteries are in demand. For instance, drop that battery bank down to 25 -35 percent left and then kick on a charge source. You should see a huge charge acceptance until about 15-20% full, then it will reduce itself once out of bulk charge mode. But bear in mind also that the charge controller on both the solar and through the charger limit excess amps as well. Most batteries are designed to only take so many charging amps. The rated amp output on any charge source has to do with what it would given the rated demand at any point. Clear as mud right…..? You gus are doing great…… just go sailing.?

  • Roger B

    Great video. Because I’ve learned so much from your RV solar videos, I now have solar panels on my travel toy hauler trailer. On a bright sunny day, with most electrical items operating, the input from solar and output from draw is almost balanced, plus I now have a Goal Zero Yeti 1400 generator with 200 watts of solar briefcase panels for portability power. Thank you so much for sharing all your experience with everything.

  • simon hantler

    Hi guys. How many amp hours do you use per day on average. I’m new to this electrical guff, so is it amp hours I ask about. Daily usage? Kiwi

    • aj

      I wonder this exact same thing. Did you receive an answer? I didn’t see anything.

  • Kent

    Kerosene lamps and alcohol stove us the way to go

      • Kent

        Happy birthday old girl;)

  • Sid

    I was an electrical tech for a Nuclear Power and I wanted to tell you your alternators are charging at the maximum for the Motor RPMs and for what the current demand required. I copied a section that explains why possibly you’re only seeing 25-27 amps out of each.
    “When you hear that an alternator is “rated at 100A,” it can mean a handful of different things depending on where you received the information from. The only time that this is actually a meaningful figure is when an alternator manufacturer or rebuilder uses the term “rating” in its intended capacity, which is defined by international standards documents like ISO 8854 and SAE J 56.
    In both ISO 8854 and SAE J 56, alternator testing and labeling standards indicate that the “rated output” of an alternator is the amount of current that it is capable of producing at 6,000 RPM. Each standard also indicates a range of other speeds that an alternator needs to be tested at and defines “idle output” and “maximum” output in addition to “rated output.”
    Although alternator manufacturers, rebuilders, and suppliers typically refer to the rated output in promotional materials, both the ISO and the SAE require a format of “IL / IRA VTV,” where IL is the low, or idle, amperage output, IR is the rated amperage output, and VT is the test voltage.
    This results in ratings that look like “50/120A 13.5V,” which are typically printed or stamped on the housing of the alternator.
    Let’s take the example from the previous section and examine it:
    50/120A 13.5V
    Since we know that both ISO and SAE standards call for a format of “IL / IRA VTV” actually pretty easy to interpret this rating.
    First, we’ll look at IL, which, in this case, is 50. That means this alternator is capable of putting out 50A at the “low” test speed, which is either 1,500 RPM or “the idle speed of the engine,” depending on which standard you’re dealing with.
    The next number is 120, which is “IR” or the amperage output at the “rated” test speed. In this case, this alternator is capable of putting out 120A @ 6,000 RPM.”

  • Pedro Luiz Maineri

    Hi Jason and Nikki, good tech video! Check the fuel cell. Several boats and RV are replacing solar and diesel, or gas generator, by this quiet fuel cell generator. It is about the size of your computer !

  • Jamie Dillon

    Great job guys! Even a dummy like me could follow and understand it. Are the upgraded alternators available for RV’s as well. Sound like a good add on when solar is out of service and a benefit for the battery banks while on the road travelling? Greetings from Canada and hoping your New Year is going well so far! Keep up the great work- BTW the overhead drone picture is awesome. REGARDS Jamie

    • Yes! Definitely an option for an RV as that was when we first learned about it, researching for alternative options for the RV.


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