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Marine Electronics Journal Blog

Best boat engine, electrical and security monitors for 2018

Boat operators have access to a lot more information now than they used to about how their onboard equipment and systems are faring. Much of that data is brought front and center to the multi-function display. From that vantage point—or from other locations also—the captain can pull up data on how the engine or engines are performing, whether there’s a glitch in the electrical system or bilge pump and if there’s a threat to the vessel’s and crew’s safety and security.

The flow of information isn’t limited to super yachts. Vessel monitoring systems are showing up on all sizes and types of boats, from 25 foot center consoles to commercial vessels. A few weeks ago we described multi-function monitors—CLICK HERE. This week we roll out devices that track engine and electrical performance and fuel usage and others that keep an eye on safety and security.

The lineup is part of an exercise that Marine Electronics Journal does every year. We call it the Best & Brightest Boating Electronics—it works like this:

We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category that they consider to be their Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters.

There are 17 categories in all­, ranging from autopilots and fishfinders to radars and multi-function displays---MFDs. Check out The Mic archives to see the roster of Best & Brightest electronics.




Actisense EMU-1

No matter how old a boat’s engine, the EMU-1 makes it possible to digitally monitor essential engine information on any NMEA 2000 MFD or software application.  Up to two engines can be connected to a single unit, providing monitoring of RPM, up to six gauges and four alarms.  The EMU-1 can also be used to monitor fluid levels in up to six tanks, with a configurable instance for each tank to identify where the data is coming from.

Digital Yacht iKommunicate

iKommunicate offers a universal NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 interfacing gateway for engine and navigation data to integrate with apps for Android and iOS. Apps like OutBoard View allow fuel economy to be optimized as well as displaying engine data in real time on an Android device.


The GOST IP67 low-voltage sensor is designed to stand up to the harsh marine environment and is set to trigger an alarm when the voltage drops below 11.6 volts (on 12V sensor) or 23.2 volts (on 24V sensor) for more than two minutes. This sensor will monitor any 12V or 24V battery bank. There is a dip switch on the circuit board that allows installers to switch the voltage monitored between 12 or 24 volts DC.

Maretron DCM100

Maretron’s DC monitor is used to measure voltage and current of direct current (DC) power sources or DC loads. DC power sources monitored with the DCM100 include batteries, alternators, solar panels, and wind generators. The DCM100 can also be used to monitor DC loads like inverters, windlasses, DC refrigerators, or any DC branch circuit. When the DCM100 is used to monitor batteries, sophisticated circuitry and software algorithms monitor battery temperature, load current, charging current and terminal voltage to precisely compute battery state of charge and time remaining. DC current measurement is done using a Hall Effect current sensor which simply slips over the wire—you don't have to break connections or install connectors as you do with inline shunts used with other solutions.

Maretron FFM100

Maretron’s FFM100 provides precision fuel flow information, which can help save thousands of dollars in fuel operating cost. The FFM100 uses positive displacement metering technology for unprecedented accuracy. FFM100 accuracy is nearly that of commercial vessel systems costing tens of thousands of dollars, yet the FFM100 costs less than existing recreational systems found on the market today. Additional benefits of the positive displacement metering technology are the elimination of flow conditioning components such as straighteners and pulsation dampers. Other flow meter technologies require flow conditioning components that increase system and installation cost. The FFM100 uses true temperature compensation with embedded temperature sensors within the meters. The FFM100 also detects momentary reverse flow in the fuel lines due to fluctuating pressure caused by the injection pump.




GOST Nav-Tracker 1.0 Elite

The GOST Nav-Tracker 1.0 Elite is a marine-grade, water-resistant vessel tracking system that globally sends out an alert if the boat’s batteries run low or power is cut off. Originally designed for monitoring battery levels for remote commercial maritime assets operating outside cellular coverage, the system features a full battery backup to the award-winning GOST Nav-Tracker Inmarsat satellite-based tracking antenna. Using the 8th generation GOST Nav-Tracker website interface and the ultra-reliable Inmarsat satellite constellation for all communication and control, the GOST Nav-Tracker 1.0 Elite provides users with remote website battery polling ability, global arm/disarm of geofence, and relay control from anywhere in the world.


Maretron RIM100

Maretron’s RIM100 is used to monitor safety-critical bilge pump systems. Generally, two points are monitored, the fuse/breaker feeding the float switch, and the pump itself. The float switch power is monitored for blown fuses or tripped breakers since the pump won’t run if water rises above the float switch. The pump’s voltage is monitored to indicate on and off status across the NMEA 2000 network. Maretron’s displays are configured to show indicator lights, graphs, cycle counters, and run timers to clearly indicate how many times and for how long the pumps have been energized. You can even set alarms if fuses are blown or pumps run longer than usual and you can receive a text or email if you’re not onboard.



Raymarine CAM220IP

Raymarine’s CAM220IP is a marine-grade, ultra-compact CCTV camera with high-definition imaging and convenient video-over-IP installation. The CAM220IP is ideal of on-deck and below-decks monitoring, blind-spot monitoring, serving as a backup camera and much more. Equipped for day or night operation, the CAM220IP produces stunning daytime visuals, and equally impressive night-time images thanks to its onboard near-infrared LED illumination system. When combined with Raymarine LightHouse 2 or 3 MFDs, the camera’s feed can be recorded as stills or digital video.


Maretron SIM100

Maretron’s SIM100 monitors switch closure devices including security systems (e.g., motion, door and port hole magnetic switches), safety equipment (e.g., heat, smoke, carbon monoxide), and vessel monitoring equipment (e.g., valve closed/open, high water bilge). The SIM100 continually monitors switch closure devices and broadcasts information over the NMEA 2000 network so everyone onboard can be alerted to potential conditions or problems that warrant further investigation. The SIM100 even includes the ability to detect whether or not power has been disconnected from the monitored device or if the signal wires have been disconnected due to corrosion or tampering. With the SIM100, you can rest assured that critical sensors are receiving power, signal wires are connected, and all the security, safety, and vessel functions are under constant supervision.



Designed for small- to mid-sized watercraft and vehicles, the HSL30 is guaranteed to light up the night. The KJM HSL30 Wireless Halogen Searchlight is affordable, compact and powerful. Command full functionality of the spotlight wirelessly within 90 feet. Control with up to four WRC30 wireless remotes. The HSL30 is a rugged, marine-grade halogen searchlight with a brilliant 30,000 candela of light output. The wireless remote simplifies installation by eliminating long cable runs to the helm.


GOST Apparition XVR GPS

GOST Apparition is the ultimate vessel security, monitoring and crew management system. The Apparition includes a five-inch touchscreen GOST interactive display and main control panel and is capable of controlling up to 192 sensors, 250 relays, 999 users, 8 partitions and 999 remote controls and provides access control for up to 32 doors and hatches. The system has a wireless expansion module and a full battery back-up built-in. For simple remote control, the water-resistant GOST GP-KF25 key fob remote control comes standard. The GOST Apparition LTE 4G cellular communications module for SMS/text message notification and control, the Internet access module and the Inmarsat based Nav-Tracker GPS tracking system are also included.




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Comments | Leave a Comment
Page 1 of 3 ( 13 comments)

Jp:(8/11/2018 5:28:29 PM) "I have a 2018 Yamaha f40 la and Humminbird helix 7 di , I would like to leverage the nema 2000 capability of the helix 7 to display engine info, what do I need , Humminbird does have a gateway and lowrance makes a Yamaha nema cable, but I'm reading connectors are proprietary . How can I get what is needed?

Since these products are not NMEA 2000 certified there is little assurance that they will share data with each other.

1. Here is the link to see all NMEA 2000 certified products:

2. The NMEA 2000 cables and connectors are from many manufacturers: Here is the link for approved cables and connector manufacturers:

AC/DC grounding distance:(8/2/2018 1:29:35 AM) "What about the grounding points of AC /DC systems? can they be grounded at the same point?
If one system has both AC and DC can they both be grounded to a common buss-bar that has only one conection to the hull?

Here's what Ed Sherman, electric tech guru at the American Boat & Yacht Council, said:

The ultimate goal should always be to tie ac and dc grounds together on board at a single point. In ABYC Standard E-11, it is described as “the engine negative terminal or its buss.” It is most commonly done at a buss."
Hard-Over with Brushed APilot Pump:(12/18/2017 5:37:05 PM) "Jim.
What do you mean by ...."Garmin GHP 20 with SmartPump...Because it is a brushless system, it is fail-safe and won’t execute a hard-over turn the way a brushed pump can."

Thanks for the note. Since the description came from Garmin I contacted the company for an explanation. Here's what one of their engineers told me:

On brushed DC actuators, a single-point failure in the drive circuit (shorted wire or blown component inside the controller) could cause the motor to run full speed in one direction and take the rudder all the way to one rail. A brushless actuator relies on timing-controlled commutation, so a short or component fail would cause the actuator to stop moving rather than moving at full speed.

Hope this helps,

trawlerdeejay:(10/13/2017 3:46:51 PM) "Excellent article. I had no idea what the differences were between o183 and 2000, Thank you so much."
Darryl:(3/27/2017 10:17:15 PM) "Putting the MSRP with each unit reviewed would have been helpful. If each unit was actually tested, the reports on each unit would have been helpful too.

Thanks Darryl---we generally don't mention prices due to confusion over so many variations---MSRP (mfg. suggested retail price), MAP (min. advertised price), MRP (min. resale price) and then there are internet prices on some websites that go their own way. But your point is well taken--buyers need to know if something is in their price range. We'll work on it.
There is independent testing of some of these products on sites like but the information we receive from manufacturers rarely cites the results of any shootouts they may conduct against the competition's products. "
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