Advantages of Distributed Power Systems

‘Smart’ Circuit BreakersThe remotely operated switches in a distributed power system use electronic circuit breakers (ECBs). Current practice is to cluster several electronic circuit breakers in what I will call a Power Distribution Module, or PDM. The PDM is connected to the boat’s main two-wire bus, and then the individual circuits in one area of the boat (such as the lighting circuits
Author:
Updated:
Original:

‘Smart’ Circuit Breakers

The remotely operated switches in a distributed power system use electronic circuit breakers (ECBs). Current practice is to cluster several electronic circuit breakers in what I will call a Power Distribution Module, or PDM. The PDM is connected to the boat’s main two-wire bus, and then the individual circuits in one area of the boat (such as the lighting circuits in a cabin) are fed from the electronic circuit breakers in the PDM. A data cable connects the PDM to the boat’s control panels, and is used to trigger the electronic circuit breakers.

Whereas a traditional switch or circuit breaker has a given current (amperage) rating, an electronic circuit breaker is programmable. A boat builder can install a series of identical PDM units throughout the boat (so only one model has to be stocked by the boat builder, and kept as a spare by the boat owner), wire all the circuits, and then hook up a laptop when the job is finished and program the individual electronic circuit breakers to whatever trip characteristics are desired. This greatly simplifies the installation. If the equipment at the end of any circuit is subsequently modified, the electronic circuit breaker can be re-programmed. Electronic circuit breakers used on lighting circuits can also function as dimmers.

How a power distribution module works

Electrical circuit breakers control individual appliances, such as light or instruments, and are clustered together in a Power Distribution Module (PDM). Microprocessors in the PDM allow a great deal of control over each appliance.

1. The blue and brown terminals are the positive and negative feeds to six individual circuits; check the thumb for a size reference

2. The heavy black and red cables (see the image below) are the positive and negative connections to the boat’s main power junctions

3. The white buttons are the manual override controls for the electronic circuit breakers

4. The black squares in the middle are the electronic circuit breakers

5. This microprocessor runs the PDM and relays data

6. The entire unit is “potted” in resin to keep moisture out. With the cover removed, here's how the unit looks —

Related

02-'17-Trans-Atlantic_Downwind-Schralpin

At The Helm: Man Overboard!

Imagine this simple scenario: the boat’s powered up, sailing close-hauled in a building breeze under full sail. I come on deck as the skipper during the watch change to make sure the new crew is comfortable and the boat is properly set up for both the current conditions and ...read more

Promo-01-LEAD-MGR00321

Contrasting X-Yachts & Moody Cruisers

One of the most fascinating things about sailboats is the different ways that sailors, naval architects and builders will approach a single design problem. The result has been a bewildering array of rigs and hull forms over the years, and in the case of the two boats we’ll be ...read more

04-Yacht-anchored-in-front-of-one-of-Lastovo's-gunboat-tunnels-(3)

Cruising Charter to Croatia

As is the case with so much of the Mediterranean, to sail in Croatia is to take a journey through time. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Greeks traded amphoras of oil, wine and grain across these waters. During the first millennium, the Romans built lavish palaces and ...read more

m123728_13_01_171012_PMA_02901_9999

Alicante Announced as an Ocean Race Europe Stop

The Ocean Race Europe, a new event in offshore sailing, will include Alicante as one of four stopover cities. This European offshoot of the former Volvo Ocean Race will include the biggest change to the racing rules under the new title—fully crewed IMOCA 60s will join the ...read more

01-LEAD-doublehanded2

Preparing for a Doublehanded Race

A few months ago we took a look at the development and attraction of doublehanded racing (Two to Tango, June/July 2020). Hopefully, that served to whet your appetite. If so, the question becomes: “How do I get started? The good news, as we explained in Part 1, is that if you are ...read more

01-LEAD-Day-three---dolphins.-300-dpi

A Key Approach to Passagemaking

How you approach offshore sailing is key to the success of each passage. In addition, some of the most valuable, even crucial attitudes and skills may not be either learned or valued in everyday life on shore and may even fly in the face of talents that are greatly admired and ...read more

OceanVoyagesInstitute-2048

Point of SAIL: Mary Crowley of the Ocean Voyages Institute

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of the Ocean Voyages Institute, a not-for-profit based in California that has been both educating sailors and working to preserve the health of the world’s ocean ...read more

01-Ocean-Voyages-Institute_PHOTO-READY_1_pg

Tracking and Catching Plastic Waste

Plastic waste—in the form of everything from plastic soda bottles to abandoned fishing nets—constitutes a major threat to the health of the world’s oceans. Giving the immense size of an ocean, though, actually finding all the plastic floating around out there in a time-efficient ...read more