12 volt hot water system for boats – Sailing A B Sea (Ep.072)


Well I’ve just got back from marina and I
have one of these a 55ml socket that the tech services guy kindly lent to me.
So as soon as I have taken this one out put the new one in and everything’s
tight I’ll get this straight back to him because I’m a firm believer if you
borrow something don’t stand around finishing your job, get the tool back to
the buy you borrowed it from immediately We are in beautiful Samos one of the Greek islands
at the moment and the reason that we had to get here by a particular date was to
meet Christopher from Green-Yachting.online Christopher made a post in Med
Sailing’s Facebook group a while back Basically he was looking for five boats
that could help him promote his product called Solar Green and in a nutshell it
is a 12-volt hot water heating element that replaces your 220 volt heating
element and then uses excess electricity produced from your solar panels.
Christopher is over at the quayside on his yacht and we’re just about to get in
our dinghy and go over there and meet him, pick up the product and also go to
the hardware store because although Christopher is graciously supplying the
element and the controller there are a few little things that we need to buy.
I’m really excited about this, it’ll be great to have hot water to wash my dishes, wash
my hair, have a shower. Hot water will be a luxury won’t it!
All right let’s go see Christopher Good morning, good morning, good morning This is the 12 volt 300 watt water heating element which replaces existing 220 volt
unit that you will have in your water tank. It’s exactly the same
dimensions and the same thread. The only drawback to that is that it
will take longer to heat the water but it will always work even if you’re
connected to shore power which is a very common question, because shore power means
that you by definition have got enough voltage to drive this anyway. So this
means you get hot water if you’re on shore power or hot water if you’re not on shore power. Okay great!
Excellent, thank you very much. This is the controller unit – right – and what that does is it detects the battery
level. If the battery level is greater than 80 percent of full charge it will
interrogate the temperature probe and if water temperature is less than 43
but not over 50 it will switch on the water heater. Beginning this installation
process involves running the electrical cables. We’re quite fortunate on A B Sea in
the fact that both the batteries and the hot water system are on the port side of
the boat. Here are our house batteries we do have a negative bus bar there and I’m
going to take some photographs of that and show them to Christopher and see if
we can actually use that instead of buying an extra one. Then it’s a question
of running the cables and following those conduits all the way aft to the
hot water system. What you doing today Baz? You just love this little locker don’t you? Yeah I’m thinking of moving in permanently. Here we are looking at our hot water tank and what we’ve got to do is
get into this part here where the current of 220 volt heating element
lives, extract that and put the new Solar Green 12 volt one in there. Me thinks there is gonna be some water spillage into the bilge at some point during this
job. We’ve already run a mousing line from the batteries and bus bar area
through to the area where the hot water heater sits. I’m having a big problem
trying to get something that’s gonna fit onto the actual hexagonal shape of the
element, the 220 volt element, that’s in there to be able to unscrew it and then
obviously screw in the 12-volt heating element. Unfortunately when I try and
get my mole grips in around the hex and they will open wide enough for the hex
screw, they can’t get in and get enough grip because of the shape of this banging up against this collar so what I’m actually gonna do today is undo
these two big screws here which are just holding down the tank so I can bring the
tank into an upright position and maybe get a better angle on it and certainly
get a better look at it. Well I’ve got those bands that were
holding the heater in position unscrewed and removed and I thought that I might
be able to drag the whole heating unit to here where I’m standing and
stand it upright to be able to access the heating element and also get the
added bonus of not having to disconnect any hoses and thereby losing water and
putting a lot of water into the bilges But and as always there’s always a but –
the hoses that go from the heating unit to the engine where the engine heats the
water when the engine’s running they are a certain length and they won’t allow me
to move them any further so I’m definitely going to have to undo the
hose clamps. I have at the electrical panel at the nav station turned off the
water pressure pump and also closed the valves to both of our freshwater tanks
so the only water loss really should be what’s in the heater unit itself.
There’s our engine hoses down there minimal water loss because this is a
closed-loop cooling circuit for fresh water for the engine. Here is the upright
heating system still full of fresh water which is great because we didn’t have to
disconnect either of these two hoses. Now you can see the dilemma I’ve got here
trying to get something that’s going to go around that hex but also manage to
fit inside this lip. So now I’ve got it in this position I’ve got more torque that
I can put on it and it’s certainly a lot easier for me to work on so I’ll get my
trusty tools out and see what we can come up with. Well I’ve just got back from the marina and
I have one of these, a 55ml socket that the teck services guy kindly lent
to me. So where are we at now? Well let’s see if the right tool gets
the job done. Okay well that’s not a perfectly snug fit but That’ll be right.
So you need 4 hands don’t you. Well getting the
element unscrewed was really hard work Lots of twisting and banging with a
mallet but Baz has finally got that done and now he’s just removing it. Wow look
at that, it’s only a year old. Less than a year old. Now that’s something that
is a bit of a challenge Coz there ain’t no gasket on that one.
Oh no and that one’s broken and that one is cactus. Well I do have gasket stuff let’s get the gasket stuff out and make a gasket. Right Oh there we go Here we are on day three of our
installation of the Solar Green 12-volt hot water heating system. The main delay
was sourcing the right 55 millimetre socket to remove the old 220 volt
heating element and to be able to install and tighten up the 12-volt
heating element. So I’m lying here not just for the fun of it, I’m lying here to
show you guys what I’ve just installed So if you step this way here is the main
controller for the 12-volt water heating element. I’ve already connected two
cables because it was just easier to do because I’ll be working upside down, the
third one is a lot easier to get on because of the way it’s shaped and on the
back of the unit I also put two strips of double-sided sticky tape just to hold
it into place even more securely. These two short red cables attach to the
positive connectors on the heating element which are the two spare ones you
can see here. There is one more red cable to be attached here which is your
positive feed coming into the controller unit. This gray cable that comes out of
the control unit has two connections on the end, well one’s not really a
connector this is actually a temperature sensor which goes in the hole in the
centre of the heating element. This is the negative feed for the controller and
that connects to the heating element where the negative feed comes from the
busbar for the batteries, which is right here. The gray cable is now run to here
and the negative feed back to the smart controller is attached to the negative
bar on the heating element. The heat sensor is now inside the hole and
because there’s no way of firmly attaching that in there and it hasn’t
got gravity on its side what I’ve actually done is I put Sikaflex in there
to seal it in so we’ll let that cure before we start messing around with this
any further. One of the jobs we can complete while we’re waiting for the
Sikaflex to go off is to run the positive and negative cables back to
the battery compartment using this mousing wire that we ran on day one. As
you can see we now have both the positive and negative cables run under
this flooring and through that bulkhead and into the aft cabin where the batteries are where I will connect the positive, and
the negative bus bar where I will collect the negative. But first I got a
couple of more connections to make here The positive cable that we’ve just run
under the floor through the bulkhead into the battery compartment it’s not
connected at the moment obviously the connections are the last thing you want
to do when you’re buggering around with electricity but this end goes into the
middle socket – the in socket of the smart controller. The final electrical
connection here are the two positive red wires which come out of the smart
controller and go to the opposite side of the double heating elements that are
in this unit. Here in the port aft berth are where our batteries are stored and
there’s also quite handily a negative bus bar. And now that we have our two
main cables moused back from the compartment that houses the hot water
system we can begin the process of connecting things up here. The first
thing we’re going to connect here in the aft berth is this circuit breaker. Now
Solar Green recommends a 40 amp but unfortunately all they had in the
chandlers was a 35 amp so I made inquiries to Christopher at Solar Green
and he’s done the calculations and he says yes you should be fine with a
thirty five amp fuse, circuit breaker or switch whatever you want to call it. One
thing to remember when connecting a circuit breaker is to have a look on the
outside and you’ll see embossed somewhere near these connections “load”
which is this side and “line” which is this side. This cable that we ran from
the hot water compartment gets attached to the load side of things and this
short cable gets attached to the line and then finally it
gets attached to the positive terminal on one of our batteries I’ve now turned off the batteries at the battery switches and we’re going to attach this
negative to this negative bus bar right here. That negative wire attached to the
bus bar attaches to the negative side of the two heating elements inside the
water heater and from our circuit breaker / switch we have a positive
red wire running all the way back to this house battery the positive terminal
connection And now the moment of truth I’m going to get Aannsha to switch the
batteries back on Well so far there’s no pops bang scratches sparks or sounds of
sirens so that’s a good thing now we’re going to flick the switch and then go
and take a look at the smart controller at the hot water system That’s a good
sign to the 35 amp circuit breaker has stayed in the open position and we have
a red light which means that the water in the tank is now being heated from our
photovoltaic solar array. If that light was green it would mean the system is on
standby and that means one of two things either your water has reached the
designated temperature or the batteries are not fully charged and in that case
priority is given from our solar to charge up with the batteries first And I think that’s job well done of course the proof of the pudding will
be in the eating when we have a look at how hot the water comes out of the tap
when the sun goes down this evening. A couple of things left to do obviously
the first thing is to rescure the hot water system, tidy up all the cables and
make sure that they’re all tied off with cable ties so there’s no movement which
could cause any chafing of the wires How is it going in there?
Oh it’s great I’m having a hot shower! Can we have a look?
No!! So at this point I’d just like to say thank you very much to Christopher and
everyone else who works at Green-yachting.online thank you very much
for choosing A B Sea as one of the winners of your complimentary Solar Green 12
volt hot water heating systems it really will make a difference to our life here
on board and we’ll give you regular updates on how
things are going. Just as a little bit of a bonus also I want to show you the
complete mess that this boat is in at the moment just for this installation
To be completely transparent we were not paid to promote the solar green product
we did receive the 12-volt heating element and smart controller for free
with the agreement that we would make a video about our installation process. We
also do not receive any commissions from sales of the Solar Green product
however with the product now installed we can say that we are more than happy
with the finished result and the availability of constant hot water is a
welcome bonus Somebody’s got a lot of tidying up to do

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