We are not discussing inverted power options in this section purely in an attempt to keep things simple and to discuss them in a logical order.
Firstly, it is possible and commonplace for a canal boat to operated very comfortably without any AC or conventional mains power. Shock horror, we hear many of you exclaim but it wasn’t many years ago that the majority of boat were constructed for leisure purposes with no consideration towards “household” type lifestyle.
For many, the simplicity of just getting away from daily life and all the modern technology we seem to require is what floats their boat. If you can do with out a washing machine, tumble dryer, microwave or a dishwasher then there is really no need for mains power, inverters or gen-sets.
Portable clothes washers are available to keep on top of the “smalls” and there are some really good resources available which map the location of launderettes around the system.
12VDC hairdryers are avilable but not particularly efficient & here-in lies one of the issues we find with 12VDC systems. Anything with uses an element or a large motor for power will be a tremendous burden on batteries & wiring and therefore really should be avoided. It’s at this point, if you really need home comforts such as the above mentioned microwave, that you need to look at AC power.
And at this point we bring inverters into the equation. See our section below for more detailed information. We can also use DC power to run AC appliances. An electronic gizmo called an inverter is used to convert power from your battery bank to AC mains type power to run all the other things we need.
With DC stored in a battery bank, our systems are limited by the power output of the batteries and the equipment available to use able to run directly on DC. Typical DC appliances commonly found in canal boats include refrigerators, freezers, radios, televisions & lighting.
Laptop computers and mobile phones & dongles can all be charged from DC batteries. 12VDC is used as the ignition source in heating and ovens/hobs and is used to power TV signal boosters.
Remember that what we take out of a battery has to be put back in again so if DC power is all you feel you need there will have to be a bit of adaptation from conventional land based living. In fact, even if you’re lucky enough to have the most technologically advanced marine systems on your canal boat there is still a degree of lifestyle change that should be worked through.