Thursday, 12 June 2014

12 Volt Sockets Are Always Useful

Like most people we have a growing collection of portable gadgets than need charging however like many cruisers Temptress rarely visits marinas meaning we don't have the convenience of a 240v electricy supply. So with two mobile phones, two Kindles and a plethora of other 12 volt guzzling items including stuff like an electric toothbrush and the vacuum cleaner that we charge via a small inverter designed for use in a car, suitable charging outlets are in seriously short supply on board.

This is despite there being a two pin DC socket in each heads plus one by the galley and a USB socket hanging from the nav station. Another really impractical outlet, exists inside a locker in the saloon designated by the builders for a portable TV or similar but now used for storage so crammed with binoculars, torches, spare batteries, radios, the foghorn(s) and a few small games - not practical to have open in a rocking anchorage and with its drop down flap being above a popular spot on the sofa, you’re not flavour of the month if you have a power cord hanging out the hole where the catch is either.

Our aft heads 12 v outlet has the cockpit lights permanently plugged in to it, the forward heads the anchor light; both essential whilst we are stationary though sometimes commandeered during the day if suitable plugs can be spared. Charging your phone in the shower always seems a bit risky but somehow charging a toothbrush is ok. The galley outlet also requires a 12v plug which is fine however we have only one set up where a 12v DC plug that fits these continental sockets with their flat slots is attached to a cigarette lighter type socket usually used for the anchor light and anyway anything that uses it has to have a suitable plug. We aren’t about to replace the USB plugs on the end of every phone or Kindle charger as that would be totally impractical off the boat so it has not been unusual in recent weeks to see a queue of items lined up on the chart table waiting for some charge from the sole USB outlet.

LED cockpit lights plugged in, aft heads

The anchor light needs its fused plug
so uses our portable 12v cigarette lighter socket set-up

Chart table jumble
As it was raining hard this morning (Tuesday), outdoor jobs though preferable as it is cooler on top than down below, had to be postponed. Kevin decided to tackle the 12v charging congestion instead. As usual simply adding a socket to an existing circuit, that for the other 12v DC plugs, meant dismantling various bits of the boat, including removing the radar and the woodwork behind the galley sockets to which the second autopilot head is attached and required the GPS removing too. It looked a mess, not helped by all the cables that then hang out. Drilling a hole in the woodwork and wiring in an extra cigarette lighter style socket was then the easy part!




The new 12v socket - above it from the top
a French style 240V socket, a 12V DC socket and a light switch
and second row a UK 240V socket
Charging the wifi hotspot
via 12v USB/Cigarette lighter socket
Car inverter with a laptop plugged in
gets awfully hot but ok for emergencies

The new socket will take a plug designed for cars which has two USB ports contained within it – Hoorah! We can now charge two more items simultaneously! No more queuing for charge and Kevin’s Samsung which acts as Temptress’ own wifi hotspot (incredibly fast now 4G has come to the island of Grenada) can now be almost permanently on charge. Alternatively the car inverter can use it and thence the toothbrush or even a laptop can be charged. How long before we solve the two laptops but only one suitable 12v charging system conundrum I wonder?

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