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My electrical system is well beyond what most people would put in a simple microcruiser. One of the main reasons I overdid the batteries was to add ballast. Ballast is crucial in the Paradox. Since lead was over $1/lbs and batteries were $3/lbs I figured why not more batteries. The batteries I chose are deep cycle AGM wheelchair batteries, they just fit on their side under the floor, they are rated at 35 amp hours and weigh 22 lbs each, I have 6. That should give me about 100 amp hours at 50% discharge.

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You can see that I have them bolted to the bulkhead with 3/8 inch threaded rod. Which seems to have worked well, they never moved even after being knocked down near Kauai.

Below is a photo of my splash proof control panel.

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It’s an old waterproof plastic box that I recycled. The charge controller is supposedly waterproof but I hope never to test it. I made my own buss bars out of copper scrap and the breaker switches are off the shelf marine components.

You may also notice I like to use extension cords as connectors. It’s not marine grade but it works for me and the price is right. The white female end you see is where I plug my brown solar panel leads into the controller. Modular and easy to trouble-shoot. Some connections I solder but many are underground rated wire nuts, also easy to check, change or trouble-shoot. The little voltage meter has one bar the doesn’t light already, but what can you expect for $4. It’s also very bright and I will get red next time.

As far as solar panels go, I thought I had plenty (50 watts worth), but with my fast cruising style, long night passages, and the sail shading the panels I wasn’t keeping up on a daily basis. But with my oversized battery bank I didn’t get into trouble. If I was daysailing and taking longer stops I would have been fine and perhaps that’s what I should have been doing. For the next trip I will be adding another 50 watts just forward of the mast.

For most microcruisers it’s severe overkill to have this big of a system. I’m lazy when I cruise, I use the tiller pilot 95% of the time, I run the ipad chart plotter/anchor watch nearly constantly, full running lights at night, anchor light about half the time, shortwave receiver for entertainment, 24/7 ventilation fans, plus keeping a phone and other items charged. Probably too many gadgets but it works for me.

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