I have an extensive automation system in place at home and the family cabin, and recently started realizing I had done next to nothing on Grace. I use SmartThings for most of the automation, and thought "why haven't I done anything with this technology on the boat?" So I did.
One of the biggest challenges with my old DC power system was apparent when away from the dock. Grace has a Yanmar engine with a factory alternator, which on a good day output 30 amps into the battery bank. Not only was this not enough for the new bank, but the regulator was not programmable and would damage my new Firefly batteries. After a bunch of research, I chose Balmar as a complete system.
If you've done any wiring on your boat, you know how much wire size is emphasized in manufacturer specifications, and there is a very good reason for it. If the batteries are the heart of the system, the wires are the arteries and veins. Having a perfect heart won't matter if your delivery system is compromised - you need adequate sized wire to carry the necessary current. Part of my power system redesign was to replace almost all of the core critical wiring in Grace as I had found the existing wire had damage, and was too small for my expected loads.
Grace came with a very basic power system which had some major problems. Having completely redone the power system on Jammy, and wanting to have all the comforts of home, it was important to make sure the new system was well thought out and reliable. I chose to use MasterVolt as the primary charging, distribution and control system, Balmar for engine power management, and Firefly carbon foam AGM batteries as the heart.
My ongoing solar project at our family cabin in Eastern Washington took a simplification turn this last weekend. Much of what I've learned rewiring boats and working on DC systems has helped me fine-tune this installation, and it will be helpful when working on and installing solar systems on my sailboat. In October 2015, I had tried to adjust my system to be more reliable and add some functionality. Since then, I've made some major changes and compromises.
After installing the final piece to my MasterVolt DC and AC power project (more on that in a huge post coming soon) I began having issues with battery capacity and engine starting. After a lot of investigation, and the decision to re-cable most of the original (old) and hand made (me) cables, I found the real reason that things were awry. I had added a BlueSea Terminal Fuse Block to every battery when I installed my new Firefly batteries a few months ago. I had used these on my previous boat Jammy, and loved how compact and useful they were, while providing excellent fusing right at the battery terminal.