Why I over-design electrical systems

"Why", I'm sometimes asked, "do you specify electrical stuff that's bigger and more powerful than I had expected?"

It's a justifiable question. Batteries are expensive, heavy and bulky; why would you want any more of them than necessary? And what's with the multiple shutoff switches, subpanels, and other non-typical features of my electrical designs?

Simple systems: It's about design, not quantity

What do we mean when we say a boat's systems are "simple"?

There's a temptation, at times, to say that simplicity is about cutting back. About leaving out whole systems to save on installation and maintenance dollars. I don't think that's really what it's about.

What we're really looking for when we say "simple" is, more often than not, elegance. Maintainability. Reliability. The least complex, least costly way to fill a stated specification. The ability for the captain to understand, and repair, every system on the boat.

Boat manuals need to include electrical schematics and software details

Good drawings take time to make. Time costs money. Therefore, good drawings are not cheap.

Some boat builders seem to think that this logic leads to a fourth point: "Therefore, we will not include drawings."

Er, guys? Not cool. Seriously, not cool. Just see what happens the very first time the owner has to have something fixed, and the technician spends most of a day rooting around in the bilges trying to figure out where the hell all the wires are going.


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