Basic Parts List
This installation was completed in April of 2023. The owners of this houseboat contacted me in late January. They purchased the boat with an existing Victron system, but were not happy with the performance, nor the overall installation. They asked if I could come and take a look at the system and its programming. We made an appointment for me to come out to the boat that worked with both our schedules.
When I arrived at the boat, I examined the overall system installation. The current owners did not have much information about the system, but knew they wanted better performance from it. I saw some obvious issues with the battery wiring and a few other items and made some recommendations. I also checked the programming of all the Victron components. I made some needed updates and changes to the system programming while I was there. We then discussed what the owners wanted to accomplish. I took all this information and came up with a plan to rework the existing installation and add some new components.
I submitted my plan and a detailed estimate to the owners and they accepted it. We set an installation appointment and I began the work when the time came. It was a bit cumbersome getting all my equipment and the new components out to the boat, as it was near the end of a very long dock, but once I had everything at the boat the installation went pretty smoothly. It took three days of work. I relocated the existing batteries to a better location closer to the inverter. This allowed the owners of the boat to remove the large OEM battery box and gain a lot of usable space on the rear deck of the boat. I added a Lynx distributor to clean up the DC wire runs. I built all new DC cables for the batteries, inverter and solar controllers. I added 1460 watts of additional solar to the existing solar array, along with a second MPPT solar controller. I removed the existing Color Control GX (which was not mounted) and replaced it with a Cerbo GX and GX Touch 70 display. I also replaced the existing BMV-712 with a new Smartshunt (primarily because the BMV display was stuck in the OEM battery box wall and could not be removed).
The original solar panels were run in a 2S2P configuration with two positives and a common ground wire coming down from the upper deck canopy (where the solar panels were mounted). These wires ran to the compartment where the solar controller was located and terminated in a combiner box with circuit breakers. In order to take advantage of this existing wiring and not have to run new wire (due to inaccessibility), I rewired the existing panels into a 4S1P configuration. I connected them to one of the positive wires and the ground. Luckily the existing solar controller was an MPPT 250/100 and could handle the high voltage created with the 4S1P configuration. I then added the four new panels (also in a 4S1P configuration) and connected these to the other positive cable and ground. Each positive lead was connected to an MNEPV DC circuit breaker in a new Midnite Solar Baby Box near the solar controllers and the ground wire was split back into two separate wires next to the baby box to allow for connections to two separate solar controllers (the original MPPT 250/100 and a new MPPT 250/85).
After the system installation was completed, I spent some time with the owners going over all the components and apps associated with them. I also connected the system to VRM and invited the owners to the system on line. I gave them a quick tutorial on how to remotely monitor the system over the internet. We also discussed leveraging the VRM portal to monitor other items on the boat, specifically the refrigerator temperatures and LPG tank levels. Based on this discussion, I also installed Ruuvi temperature sensors in the two onboard refrigerators and one in the inverter compartment. I then added Mopeka Pro Check LPG tank sensors to the boats two 40 pound propane tank bottles. I connected all of these sensors to the Cerbo GX via Bluetooth and set them up for monitoring. The only thing that didn’t get installed that the owners requested was generator integration. There was an on board generator and the owners wanted to have the Victron system control it. I set up the interface on the Cerbo GX, and had an interface module to add to the generator control wires, but ran out of time to get it installed. We made plans to have the interface installed at a later date.