Nothing’s worse than burning up fuel on power. Here are some key ways to cut down on amp usage while on board, and how you can become more efficient when it comes to refrigeration, climate control, radar, and more.
Most modern marine equipment has evolved to require much less power. When you’re in the boatyard this spring, do more with less and cut down on amp usage.
Arguably, you use radar under way when your engines are running, so who really cares how much power it’s using? On the other hand, if your electronics suite is due for an upgrade, consider a more efficient unit. In standby mode, radar doesn’t draw much, but when it’s transmitting, the power needs are quite high. Consider one of the new units like the Simrad Halo that comes with either open or closed array antennas. This solid-state, pulse compression radar delivers a mix of close-in and long-range detection and excellent target definition with low clutter.
It has five modes to help process a variety of targets and a range from 48 to 72 nautical miles. The Halo is available for both 24- and 12-volt applications and an added bonus is its ultra-low electromagnetic and radiation emissions. That means you can put one on the flybridge with you and not worry too much about scrambling your brain when the radar is running.
Air conditioners create the greatest energy loads aboard, and chances are the older your system, the more power it takes. New units from companies like Dometic are smaller, self-contained and quieter with vibration-isolation mounts. Their high-efficiency rotary and scroll blowers use fewer amps and notably reduce fatiguing sound. Italian company Termodinamica (TMD) offers 24-volt DC units that don’t even need a genset. Made with titanium heat exchangers, the TMD units touts a power consumption rate that’s 50 percent lower than other comparably sized units on the market. Many air conditioners today also have an ECO mode where they ramp down if they are running off of batteries, via an inverter, and the battery voltage starts to fall. Adding window shades and tinted glass will also relieve the pressure on air conditioners and may even help refresh your interior design.
The fridge also is a major power hog. Refrigerator efficiency has to do with the type of unit (air, water or keel-cooled) and the quality of insulation around the box. Frigoboat has highly efficient fridges in both 12- and 24-volt applications with refrigerator, freezer or combo solutions. Their unique keel-cooled system is reliable, efficient and quiet with no pump or fan to create noise, and it doesn’t need winterizing. Check the age and condition of your insulation, too, or just tear out the old stuff and install some stainless steel drawers that will also upgrade the boat’s aesthetics.
Isotherm offers plug-and-play solutions with their cabinet refrigerators powered by 12/24-volt Danfoss compressors. These units feature extra thick, but still compact, insulation so the boxes stay cold with less power. They even have stand-alone, plug-in coolers for use on deck so you can keep your beverages nearby and not have to open the galley refrigerator as much.
These Travel Boxes also have ECO modes to slow the compressor once the food and drinks are already chilled.