“Save the planet” has been a tagline since the beginning of the modern environmental movement over 30 years ago. Now, more than ever, the push is on to go green, not only to preserve the natural beauty that draws so many to boating in the first place, but also to “save your wallet” from today’s rising fuel prices.
Fuel monitoring systems or fuel flow meters can increase a boat’s effective range by accurately recording total fuel consumed and pinpointing optimum speed. This will help you construct a fuel/speed curve for your particular vessel. You can use this chart to determine your boat’s sweet spot, rather than try to figure it out from the engine manufacturer’s published information.
Installing a fuel sensor with an NMEA 2000 backbone is a project any boat owner can complete; however, before you attempt it, here are a few pointers and tips that we have used throughout our many installations.
Networking your system with an NMEA 2000 is a huge advantage over systems of the past as an N2K network allows a boat owner to add N2K devices without resorting to running new connections between each sensor and display. N2K networks allow the boater the simplicity of plug-and-play. Herein, I will discuss some pointers for a simple N2K network with a few nodes.
Displaying the wealth of information from your fuel flow sensor through N2K is plug-and-play with a multi-function display. However, this information can be buried in sub-menus and may not be readily available. I suggest considering a dedicated data instrument, such as the Garmin GMI 10 or the Lowrance LMF-200 and LMF-400. These devices are simple to navigate and can display data such as fuel usage, level monitoring, engine data, depth and more.
It is exciting to witness the level of systems monitoring technology being integrated into marine vessels. I tell my clients that the addition of a fuel sensor and an N2K backbone is a great jumping off point, opening up a world of future expansion, with many great new N2K-enabled products being developed every day.
About the author: Jeff is a systems design engineer and owner of Pacific Yacht Systems, a full service shop delivering marine electrical and navigation solutions for recreational boats. This is a new series of columns on the changing world of technology and boating.