Can anybody recommend a good introduction/overview of electric systems on a boat for somebody that knows nothing about it? How it all works? How you know how much generating/battery capacity you need?
Two that I carry on board are here:
Donnie, this is a really important question and what this website claims to be all about. We have a category devoted to "resources" and a page for "technical resources" but it is lacking in good information at the moment, I have to admit. It is near the top of my to do list to add some good resources here and really make Electric Seas a central source for general information about electric systems on boats. Please check back here in the next few weeks and you might find what you're looking for here on this website. There is a lot of good information out there but it seems to be scattered and I want to do a better job of collecting it all here. In the meantime, a lot of our members have collected some good information and have good reading lists, like Capt Mike has posted here.
A basic primer I used in building my all electric dory was "Electric Boats: The Handbook of Clean, Quiet Boating". It's an older book but goes into a lot of detail on how to calculate power needs and battery size. It mostly discusses small electric boats but the information is easy to transfer to larger boats like I did with my 26' dory.
It doesn't, however, go into any details on how to integrate it into larger mechanical systems such as diesel engines etc. It also doesn't discuss how to integrate it with AC systems in larger boats, nor does it discuss the newer Lithium Iron phosphate batteries that could be used. The lithium technology looks exciting but it is still about 3 times as expensive and the standard lead-acid. I keep hoping the prices come down so I can put into my electric pick-up truck. I will keep the lead acids in the boat however because they provide my ballast as well.
You can find used copies on Amazon at a reasonable price. I believe it is out of print so new copies are expensive.
Another good source of information on batteries in general, but only batteries, is the "battery university" web site (www.batteryuniversity.com )by the president of a company called Cadex. You could print off their information pages and compile them into a notebook.