Ask SAIL: Digital or Analog Voltmeter

Author:
Publish date:

DIGITAL OR ANALOG VOLTMETER?

voltmeter

Q: I am redoing my nav station voltage distribution panel, and I was wondering if I should go with a needle type analog voltmeter for DC or a digital meter. Your thoughts?

R. Davenport, Coral Gables, FL

GORDON WEST REPLIES

While a digital DC voltmeter will give you resting volt readings down to 1/10 of a volt accuracy, it may not give you the sign of a weak battery during engine starting. A needle-type expanded-scale DC voltmeter on the other hand (available from pretty much any RV or marine electronics dealer) will faithfully wiggle on engine starting, at which point all is well as long as it stays above 10 volts on cranking most engines and battery systems. Less than 10 and you likely have a weak battery, or there has either been a loss of battery fluid or you have a dirty battery terminal. Because a digital DC voltmeter usually goes in a blur during engine cranking, you don’t get a “feel” for how well your battery system is holding up, so go with analog!

Got a question for our experts? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

June 2017

Related

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com A Helping Hand  This is a real-world solution, and I expect correction by my betters. However, anyone whose seacocks are modern ball valves rather than the grand old tapered cone variety may care to ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more

shutterstock_698968441

Cruising: The Bahamas

“The ‘Explorer’ chartbooks. All three.” “An unlocked phone. But good luck with BTC.” “Spam. It’s ‘spensive there!” These were just a few suggestions we received from fellow sailors who had cruised the Bahamas when we asked how to best prepare for the trip. In fact, several ...read more

windsensor

Gear: B&G Wind Sensors

Sense the Wind B&G has launched a new line of wind sensors, including the WS320, a wireless system that is suitable for masts up to 80ft. Wireless wind sensor technology has been hit-and-miss, with some users reporting intermittent signal failure on tall rigs, but B&G, citing ...read more