Trouble Free & Optimized Electrical Systems

In this two-part online class series we will identify and fix common electrical system problems that upend the enjoyment of our boats while exploring how to fully utilize recent advances in solar power to enhance life on board and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

2x 90 Min Sessions English Unlimited Access

Electrical installation mistakes not only interfere with the enjoyment of a boat, but also pose serious safety hazards. And our host, Nigel Calder (author of the best-selling ‘Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual’ and co-founder of has seen them all. In this two-part online class series, we will both identify and fix electrical issues as well as explore, in depth, a series of recent innovations in the world of onboard solar power - which can enhance the electrical system on any boat, especially one that spends significant time away from the dock and its shoreside power connection.

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This course is for anyone who has a boat with more than a minimal electrical system and who likes to enjoy life onboard away from the dockside hookup. It does not require previous electrical system knowledge, but will encourage you to take the time to investigate key features of your electrical system installation and functionality.


In this online class series, we will identify a number of common electrical installation errors and address how to fix them. We will discuss testing critical voltages crucial for both extended battery life and optimal system performance. Finally, we will take a relatively deep dive into recent advances in solar panel technology and how these can be fully exploited to optimize energy production and minimize fossil fuel use and energy costs.



  • Maximizing battery life and performance
  • Correcting common battery installation mistakes
  • Understanding conductor sizing
  • The critical role of overcurrent protection
    (fuses and circuit breakers)
  • Rectifying common wiring mistakes


  • Core features of solar panel construction
  • Enhancing solar performance and extending life in the marine environment
  • Buck and boost controllers
  • Minimizing the real cost of creating electrical energy on a boat



Nigel Calder and his wife, Terrie, have built or owned a succession of boats on which they have cruised extensively in the Caribbean, the U.S. and Europe with Pippin (now aged 38) and Paul (37) augmenting the crew along the way. For decades Nigel has experimented with advanced electrical and propulsion systems, with funding from the European Union, the UK government, and a large U.S. corporation. Nigel has partnered with OceanPlanet Energy in Bath, Maine, to continue development of advanced solar panels, alternators and controllers. Nigel is a thirty-year veteran of the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) which writes the standards for recreational boat electrical systems. He is best known for his Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, now in its 4th edition, and his Marine Diesel Engines, in its 3rd edition.

In addition to hundreds of magazine articles, he has also authored a Cruising Guide to the Northwest Caribbean, Cuba: A Cruising Guide, Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook, How to Read a Nautical Chart, and a memoir of his family’s first long cruise titled Shakedown Cruise. His most recent venture is a partnership to provide detailed and accurate online marine technical education at Currently available are courses in Basic Marine Electrics (BE 101) and Advanced Marine Electrics. Soon to be released is a course on Diesel Engine Maintenance.


Jan co-founded with Nigel to share comprehensive knowledge about boat electrics and mechanics with a broader audience. Holding a PhD in computer science, Jan brings valuable expertise to this online class as a moderator. His experience as a full-time liveaboard and operator of an online boat supplies shop in Germany will add practical insights to the discussion.