Tag Archives: inverter

What is this Electrickery?

Electrickery! There’s a ProPowerQ inverter thingy and the CTEK and a solar charger converter that throws out cool green & blue lights and a Sterling box of some sort…

The Electrics image
Cool! But what does it all do?

Boxes, switches, sockets, blue, red & black cables, it’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave of electrickery. It looks to me like someone knew what they were doing. Phew! I know vaguely what some of it does. At an overview theoretical level that is.


The solar panels, which are on the roof of our narrowboat collect the sun’s rays and convert them into electricity, as they strike the panels. The electricity created, charges the battery array, of which hopefully a battery management system (we do have one of those don’t we?) splits the electricity between the Starter battery and the Leisure batteries. The batteries are trickle-fed so as to keep them at the optimum level of charge; too little charge and the batteries won’t be of any use and will eventually die, too much charge and they will die early. Basically, they will die.

For a more in depth discussion of solar including photovoltaic and heating water, I’d recommend C.A.T. or the BBC’s Bitesize site (all the other sites seem to be trying to sell you something).


When the boat engine is running (preferably under load i.e. moving) it runs an alternator which also creates electricity and also charges the batteries. Wikipedia’s article goes into a lot more depth than I ever could or would want to!

Plugging In

Using the electricity made is a case of plugging stuff in. Lights and the like will be 12v and will run straight off the batteries. To use a 240v appliance i.e. a normal plug item, the voltage needs to be inverted, that is ‘turned’, from 12v into 240v, so the appliance can be fed with life-giving juice. The cleverly named ‘inverter’ carries out this job. However, it’s not a like for like process, the inverter actually takes energy to perform this conversion. The inverter we have on board is a ‘Quasi-Sine Inverter’ as opposed to a ‘Pure Sine Inverter’. What this means is that we can’t plug in and run a normal machine say, as the electronics would get upset. As I say, it’s electrickery!

Obviously, running appliances drains the batteries so more electricity has to be generated, either via the alternator or via the solar panels. The circle of electrical life!

Actually keeping said setup running is another matter. I have minus 0.5 experience of this kind of stuff but hey! How difficult can it be? 😉


I won’t worry too much, after all Geoffrey Baildon was also confused


SCHERENSCHNITTER - Patrick Wirbeleit image
from SCHERENSCHNITTER – Patrick Wirbeleit


rp – peace and narrowboats