Do you want to master

Marine Electrical Systems

like a PRO?

Join our Advanced Marine Electrics program!

Is your AC system safe?

Is your hardware bonded for corrosion prevention?

What about lightning protection?

Modern marine electrical systems can be overwhelmingly complex.  
And even minor installation mistakes can cost you your boat.
Or even worse, affect the safety of you and your crew...

You may have heard the horror stories about sail drives corroding away in a matter of days due to stray current corrosion.

Or about the issue of electric shock drowning. Every year a number of swimmers get killed in US marinas due to badly installed AC systems on boats!

And then there is the risk of lightning strikes and the devastating damage that they can cause on an unprotected boat. A number of boats sunk as a result of a direct hit by lightning.

Contrary to buildings on land, most boats leave the boatyard without any means of lightning protection!

It is the responsibility of the boat owner or skipper to protect boat and crew from these dangers.

But even beyond these critical safety issues, there are many things to consider and decisions to make when owning a modern cruising boat:

  • Should you install a generator? Or is a high-output alternator the better option?
  • Under what conditions are lithium-ion batteries a safe and reliable alternative to lead-acid? And what does a standards compliant installation look like?
  • How can networked electronics and digital switching systems be troubleshooted? And how can they be bypassed in case of an emergency?
  • Are electric and hybrid propulsion systems really the future of boating? And what are the pros and cons of series and parallel hybrid propulsion systems?

All these questions require careful consideration and profound background knowledge.

To help you deal with these questions, we created our brand new online program:

Advanced Marine Electrics

Master Your Boat's Systems!

After the great success of our Boat Electrics 101 course, it is now time to dig deeper:

In the 13 modules of our Advanced Marine Electrics online course, we cover everything you need to know about your boat's electrical systems.  The topics in this advanced course go well beyond the simple DC systems we covered in Boat Electrics 101.

You will learn how to make sure your boat's systems are safe and compliant to ABYC and ISO standards, how to protect your boat from corrosion and lightning strikes, and how to troubleshoot common issues. We also discuss recent technological trends and cover topics such as lithium-ion batteries, digital switching systems and electric propulsion.

Enroll now and get the early bird discount!


Meet your teachers:
Nigel Calder

Nigel is a full-time sailing writer, with a focus on marine technical systems. He is often referred to as the guru when it comes to mechanical and electrical systems on boats.


His books are widely acclaimed by both boaters and professionals in the field. His most famous book, the Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual has sold 300,000 copies and a staggering 4,8 out of 5 stars based on 962 ratings on Amazon.


Besides writing books, Nigel is a long-time member of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) electrical Project Technical Committee (PTC) which writes the standards for recreational boat systems in the USA, and has also been involved in European standards development.


Nigel is responsible for creating the lecture notes of the modules of Advanced Marine Electrics and double checks every single word we say in our video lessons.

What You’ll Get When You Sign Up

Our Advanced Marine Electrics program offers you access to all our advanced modules that go beyond the basics of simple DC systems. The 13 modules of this program are each covering independent topics and you can access the modules in any order you like.

Instant Access to 52 Lessons

After signing up to Advanced Marine Electrics program, you will get instant access to all 13 modules of the course. See below for a detailed description of the course contents.

Lecture Notes & Video Lessons

For each of the modules, there is a set of detailed lecture notes with illustration that cover the module's content. You will get immediate access to all lecture notes. We have video lessons the first five modules (about 5h total) and will be continuously releasing additional videos over the coming months.

Updates & Bonus Content

We regularly update our content to reflect changes in standards. Over time we will also be adding exclusive bonus content, such as talks by Nigel.

Classroom Exchange & Discussions

There is a comment section for each lesson where you can discuss the course content with other students. And if you have questions about the lesson, your teachers are there to help you as well.

Meet your teachers:
Dr. Jan Athenstädt

Jan holds a PhD in computer science and will guide you through the video lessons. During his studies of computer science in Germany and the US, he has worked as crew on various tall ships before moving aboard his own boat.

He started teaching people how to install and maintain technical systems on their boat through his German online magazine KlabauterKiste. He later started an online shop for boat electric supplies which he runs from his boat while sailing the Med.

Jan also takes care of the technical side of BoatHowTo and he has created most of the illustrations and animations in the lessons.

What you'll learn in our

Advanced Marine Electrics Course

In 13 individual modules we cover all imaginable topics in marine electrics that go beyond DC systems

Section 1 - Installation & Safety

1

Grounding Systems

In the lessons of this brief overview module, we separate out the different components of a grounding system and investigate its core installation requirements. A proper grounding system is vital for the safety of AC and DC systems, corrosion prevention, and lightning protection.

Lessons in this module:

Introduction

A short introduction to the various grounding circuits we will cover in this overview module.

Common Ground Point & DC Systems

In this lesson, we take a look at the common ground point, which we call a grounding bus to distinguish it from what we have called the DC circuit ground. We also learn about the core differences between grounded and isolated ground DC systems.

Purpose & Installation

We learn about the purpose of all grounding systems plus installation requirements for grounding and bonding systems depending on this purpose.

2

Shorepower Only AC Systems

In the lessons of this module, we explore fundamental safety risks with respect to AC systems on boats. And how to prevent life threatening accidents. This module includes crucially important differences with AC systems onshore.

Lessons in this module:

AC vs. DC

After discussing the safety risks of AC systems, we will explore the fundamental differences between AC and DC systems.

AC Grounding

We learn about the importance of the normally non-current-carrying grounding conductor for the safety of AC systems. In the second half of the lesson we will also get to understand a phenomenon called Electric Shock Drowning and how such incidents can be prevented.

AC System Considerations

We delve into the ABYC and ISO installation requirements for shorepower-based AC systems on boats and how you can make sure your system is safe and standards compliant.

3

AC Systems With Onboard Power Sources

In this module we cover onboard sources of AC power, including DC-to-AC inverters, onboard generators, and polarization and isolation transformers. We also talk about preventing corrosion caused by the shorepower grounding conductor and how to deal with varying shoreside voltages.

Lessons in this module:

Introduction

In this short intro lesson, we discuss how to safely switch between various power sources.

Sources of Power

We get to know the various onboard power sources and how we can integrate them into a boat's AC system.

Preventing Corrosion

We learn about mechanisms to prevent corrosion issues that can be caused by the grounding conductor of a shorepower connection.

Varying Voltages

If you are venturing to foreign countries (or if your local marina is badly wired) you will have to deal with varying shoreside voltages and frequencies. In this lesson, we present a simple way to prepare a boat for such circumstances without the need for any expensive specialized equipment.

Bonus: Inverter Selection Criteria

In this bonus article, Nigel dives a bit deeper into criteria for selecting an inverter for onboard use.

4

Corrosion (Galvanic and Stray Current)

In this module, we explore the electrochemical processes that result in galvanic and stray current corrosion. And of course we learn about passive and active measures to control and prevent it.

Lessons in this module:

Galvanic Corrosion

We learn about the electrochemical processes that cause galvanic corrosion when two different types of metal are electrically connected and immersed in an electrolyte.

Passive Measures Against Galvanic Corrosion

We discuss how to minimize the risk for corrosion by choosing the right materials, surface coatings, and construction methods.

Bonding & Cathodic Protection

We explore how to use a bonding system and sacrificial anodes to keep corrosion at bay. We also briefly look at impressed current systems.

Stray Current Corrosion

Stray-current corrosion can be much worse than galvanic corrosion. We examine various examples of stray-current corrosion and how you can minimize the risk on your boat.

5

Lightning Protection

There is no such thing as a "lightning proof boat". But we can do a fair amount to protect the crew and the boat in case it gets hit by lightning. We discuss various approaches to lightning protection in this module.

Lessons in this module:

Lightning Introduction

In this introductory lesson on lightning protection, we will explore how lightning storms develop. We will also talk about the potential damage of direct or indirect strikes.

Preventing Damage

We look at the two main classes of lightning, various lightning protection standards and how to minimize the risk of damage from a strike.

The External LPS

We focus on ways recommended by the ABYC and ISO to safely conduct lightning current to ground in the case of a direct strike.

Internal Lightning Protection

We explore ABYC and ISO approaches to preventing high voltage transients and to protect your boat and crew from arcing and side flashes caused by lightning.

The NFPA’s approach to an LPS

In this lesson, we discuss how the most recent National Fire Protection Association NFPA 780 standard for marine lightning protection now has some significant differences with the ABYC and ISO standards.

Section 2 - Power Generation & Storage

6

Alternator Installations

In this module, we will examine (high-output) alternators as a power source and how to choose the right type of alternator for your engine. The videos for this module are still a work in progress. But you can access all the content in the form of lecture notes.

Lessons in this module:

Desired vs. Real World Output

We learn why the output of an alternator might be significantly lower in real life than its rated output and the implication this has for choosing the right model.

Alternator Installation

We look at different mounting options for alternators and how to determine the right pulley ratio for optimal output depending on the model of engine and alternator.

Engine Overload

We explain how to estimate the additional load of a high-output alternator to find out if the engine can handle it without overload.

Drive Belts

We learn about the various types of belts and how to ensure effective transmission of the engine's power to the alternator without belt slip.

Electrical Connection

We take a brief look at the wiring requirements for alternators, in particular with respect to the required ampacity of the conductors when run inside the engine compartment.

7

Alternator Voltage Regulators and Controllers

In this module we learn how the voltage of an alternator is regulated to appropriate levels for battery charging. Voltage regulators for alternators have evolved over time from simple devices with a single setpoint to complex and sophisticated controllers acting on data from a mass of sensors to optimize, control, and troubleshoot DC systems.  The videos for this module are still a work in progress. But you can access all the content in the form of lecture notes.

Lessons in this module:

Voltage Regulation

We learn about field current and how this controls the output of an alternator. We also look at various charge profiles.

Troubleshooting

We get to know how to detect faults with alternators and how we can "hot wire" an alternator to bypass its regulator in case of an emergency.

8

Generators

We dive into the world of marine generators and explore various types and their installation requirements. We also look at ways to maximize the efficiency of a generator by combining it with inverters and a large battery bank. The videos for this module are still a work in progress. But you can access all the content in the form of lecture notes.

Lessons in this module:

Core Safety Issues

In this intro-lesson we explore the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning, the station waggon effect, and why portable gasoline generators are not a good choice for on-board use.

Types & Selection Criteria

We get to know the difference between synchronous and asynchronous generators and various other selection criteria.

Installation & Integration into the Boat’s System

We learn how to install and integrate a generator into a boat's electrical system. If properly integrated, modern technology can help dramatically improve the efficiency of onboard generators.

Maintenance & Troubleshooting

There are a few typical issues that can arise with the electrical side of generators. We learn what to do if voltage or frequency issues occur or the generator's output breaks down.

9

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-Ion batteries (in particular the LiFePO4 / LFP variants) are becoming increasingly popular on boats. We look at the advantages and disadvantages of this fascinating new technology, plus installation and safety requirements for lithium-ion batteries on boats. There are a plethora of brands and BMS types on the market and systems evolve quickly, so we will not cover individual manufacturers, but instead focus on general requirements and best practices covered in the new ABYC E-13 and related standards. The videos for this module are still a work in progress. But you can access all the content in the form of lecture notes.

Lessons in this module:

Introduction

What makes lithium-ion technology ideal for our on board use-patterns? We look at the key characteristics of lithium-ion batteries in comparison with lead-acid batteries.

Lithium-Ion Battery Construction

How are lithium-ion batteries constructed? We learn what's inside a lithium-ion battery cell, and how high and low temperatures can affect performance and safety.

Lithium-Ion Battery Safety

We cover internal and external safety mechanisms that prevent potentially catastrophic battery fires. We also learn which battery chemistries have the least risk of failure.

BMS Requirements

Lithium-ion batteries should not be called batteries. They are an energy storage system that requires sophisticated surveillance and control. This is the job of the battery management system (or BMS). We explore requirements for such a system when it's installed on a boat.

Addendum: A Glimpse into the Future

In this short bonus article, Nigel shines a light on future developments in battery technology that are expected in the coming years.

10

Optimized Energy Systems

To keep up with the power demands for the lifestyle of modern boats, we need a substantial amount of energy. Without regular access to shorepower, the only practicable way to produce this energy is with a fossil fuel driven engine. In this module we explore how we can optimize the energy produced with a high-output alternator and how this eliminates the need for a standalone generator in many cases. The videos for this module are still a work in progress. But you can access all the content in the form of lecture notes.

Lessons in this module:

Fuel Consumption

We learn about the specific fuel consumption (SFC) of an engine, which is dependent on the engine's RPM and the load.

Generating Electricity

What happens if we add an additional load to a boat engine at typical cruising speed? It improves overall engine efficiency! We explore how this allows us to generate electricity from the propulsion engine with surprisingly high efficiency.

Efficiency Comparisons

We compare the efficiency of alternator-based systems both underway and at anchor to traditional generator-based systems.

Cost of Energy

What is the cost per kilowatt-hour of energy produced on board? We make a detailed cost comparison of alternator-based systems with standalone generators based on cost of fuel, amortization, and maintenance costs.

Section 3 - Networks & Technological Trends

11

NMEA 0183 and 2000

This module gives an overview of onboard networks. The focus is on NMEA2000 networks. We learn how they are set up and how to troubleshoot the physical layer if problems arise. The videos for this module are still a work in progress. But you can access all the content in the form of lecture notes.

Lessons in this module:

Introduction

In this short introduction, we learn how data is transmitted digitally between various devices.

NMEA0183

Although NMEA0183 is considered by many to be outdated, there are still many devices on older boats that use this standard. We cover the main principles of connecting NMEA0183 devices but also the limitations of the standard.

Basics of NMEA2000

The current industry standard for onboard networks is NMEA2000. We explain the principle of the underlying CAN-bus technology and the requirements for the physical layer.

Setting up an NMEA 2000 Network

We learn how to plan and set up a standards-compliant NMEA2000 network, including the required voltage drop limitations. We also explore simple troubleshooting techniques.

Ethernet & Co.

This lesson is a short excursion into the future of onboard networks based on ethernet technology and the NMEA OneNet standard.

12

Digital Switching

In the text lessons of this module, we talk about the technology behind digital switching systems. We learn why they help to significantly reduce the amount of wiring on a boat, but also talk about the risks and potential downsides of such an installation.

Lessons in this module:

Introduction

We get to know the core components of a distributed power system and why such a system can drastically reduce the amount of wiring needed on a boat.

Overcurrent Protection

We explore requirements for electronic circuit breakers (ECBs) in a digital switching system and how to size them.

Extended Functionalities

We explore the smart capabilities of a digital switching system and look at examples of how they can be used to enhance the system's capabilities well beyond what would be possible with a traditional system.

Issues & Troubleshooting

We learn about the various things that can go wrong with a digital switching system and the importance of a "limp-home" capability that allows us to manually override the system in case of a software or hardware failure.

13

Electric & Hybrid Propulsion

In the text lessons of this module, Nigel dives into considerable detail with respect to the trending topic of Electric & Hybrid Propulsion in recreational marine applications. The lessons of this module are based on extensive original research that Nigel conducted funded by the European Union. The lessons contain a wealth of experimental results that are a valuable resource for any boater seriously considering replacing a diesel engine with an electric or hybrid system. The articles of the module are highly technical and aimed at professionals or boatowners who have a very deep interest in the details of such systems.

Lessons in this module:

Serial vs. Parallel Hybrids

What are the key characteristics of purely electric propulsion systems as well as serial and parallel hybrid installations?

Regeneration

One of the promises of electric propulsion is the ability to generate energy while under sail. We examine under what conditions this is possible and what output can be expected with various propeller types and electric motors.

Electric Motors

We learn about different types of electric motors and their efficiency in bringing power to the propeller shaft.

What People are Saying About Us

Andy Schell

Skipper of ICEBEAR & ISBJORN

at 59-north.com

Guru of Yacht Systems

Nigel Calder is universally recognized as the guru of yacht systems. His hardcover tomes grace the bookshelves of yachts the world over. On Isbjorn, his are some of my most referenced books.

Laura Secorun

Managing Director at ona ocean

Wealth of Knowledge about Boat Systems

Jan has a wealth of knowledge about boats and boat systems, in particular when it comes to electrics. He is a great teacher and explains you in great detail how to choose  the right components and install them properly.

Jeff Cote

Pacific Yacht Systems

Skills and Tools for Trouble Free Boating

Having the confidence and skills to tackle unexpected issues makes boating much more enjoyable.
The team at BoatHowTo  will walk you through the skills and tools required to troubleshoot your boat’s electrical system, so we can all be safe on the water.

Our course helps you

SAVE THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS

... by preventing expensive damage

An improperly installed grounding system, for example, may result extensive damage to rudders, thru-hulls and sail drives. And it can even sink your boat. We teach you how to check your bonding system and prevent galvanic corrosion through the shorepower connection.


...by making the right choices

Boat systems are not only complex, they are also expensive. Properly installed lithium-ion batteries for example can easily cost you $10,000 or more. The same is true for a generator. If you optimize your system with our courses, you may be able to use significantly cheaper options without sacrifices in your onboard lifestyle.


... by doing things yourself

A good marine electrician costs you easily $100 an hour and just the planning of a rewiring (without the hardware) will often come down to $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the size and complexity of the boat. But even if you don't do all the planning by yourself, the information from our course will help you make informed decisions and save costly consulting time.

Don't miss out on our early-bird launch offers!

Advanced Marine Electrics

our course for advanced students

$

299

  • Immediate Access
  • 13 Advanced Modules with  53 Lessons
  • Future Updates & Bonus Lessons
Electrics Course Bundle

Advanced Marine Electrics + Boat Electrics 101

$

398

  • Immediate Access
  • 13 Advanced Modules with 53 Lessons
  • Future Updates & Bonus Lessons
  • Access to our Boat Electrics 101 program
  • Access to our Boat Electrics Planner Software through BE101

Already a student of Boat Electrics 101? Log in here to get our special discount for existing students...

100% Satisfaction Guarantee for 60-Days

You are fully protected by our 100% Satisfaction-Guarantee. If you are not convinced by our course within 60 days of your purchase, just let us know and we'll send you a prompt refund.

Increase your confidence and knowledge now!

Advanced Marine Electrics

our course for advanced students

$

299

  • Immediate Access
  • 13 Advanced Modules with  53 Lessons
  • Future Updates & Bonus Lessons
Electrics Course Bundle

Advanced Marine Electrics + Boat Electrics 101

$

398

  • Immediate Access
  • 13 Advanced Modules with 53 Lessons
  • Future Updates & Bonus Lessons
  • Access to our Boat Electrics 101 program
  • Access to our Boat Electrics Planner Software through BE101

Already a student of Boat Electrics 101? Log in here to get our special discount for existing students...

Frequently Asked Questions

I don't know much about electrics. Can I still take the course?

You don't need a PhD in electrical engineering to follow our lessons. Basic high school math and a serious interest in the topic should do the job.
 However, if you don't have a solid background in DC systems, you should definitely start with our Boat Electrics 101 course. This is where we cover all the basics. Check out our bundle option!

What if I the course is too hard for me?

We try to explain everything in great detail and with plenty of animations. If you have mastered our Boat Electrics 101 course, you should be able to follow the advanced content.  If not, just send us an email and we'll give you a refund.

Can I ask questions about the lessons?

Yes! There is a comment section below the lecture notes for each lesson. While we cannot plan your system for you, we do our best to answer every single question about the content of the course. 

Do you really have a 60-day money back guarantee?

Yes. We are convinced that our courses provide great value for the money. But if for some reason you don't like them,  just send us an email and you'll get your money back.

I am a boatbuilder / surveyor / systems installer. Is this course for me?

Yes, absolutely! You may be familiar already with some of the topics. Be are convinced that even professionals can take a lot out of our advanced modules. 

Is the course applicable to the regulations in my country?

We cover both the American ABYC and the international ISO standards. Most  countries base their national standards and regulations on these, so our course should have you covered pretty much everywhere around the world.

Knowledge is key to trouble free boating!

And it has never been easier to acquire this knowledge. We are confident that with our courses, you too can get a deep understanding of even the most complex system on your boat!

If you want to follow all the lessons, there is going to be a lot to take in. But you can also focus on the ones that are most relevant to you. And you can do every lesson in your own time and go back as often as you like.


We are looking forward to seeing you in class!


Jan & Nigel

Copyright 2022 by BoatHowTo

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