As most boaters on the water today know, digital switching systems are becoming commonplace on modern vessels. In fact, the majority of saltwater boat builders are already using digital switching on their latest boat models. Now, refitting an older boat with digital switching has become easier thanks to some great new innovations like the MPower system from Maretron.

MPower Digital Switching Platform

Above: The MPower Digital Switching Platform in action, integrated into a boat's dashboard controls at the helm. Photo by Maretron.

Scalable, Programmable Digital Switching

"MPower is a scalable and programmable solution targeted to all segments of the recreational marine market– from smaller vessels to large boats with multiple helms," Frank Emnett, Vice President Software, Monitoring & Control Systems said in a statement.

For DIY boat owners and experienced boat builders alike, the new MPower digital switching system from Maretron offers a scalable and highly flexible solution designed for small day boats up to larger yachts. Installation is easy and integration is seamless thanks to NMEA 2000 compatibility and standard PGN messages that communicate well with most modern sensors and instrumentation. The platform is comprised of either 12-Channel or 16-Channel DC Load Controller Modules, Contura® 6-Rocker Digital Switch Modules, 12-Button Customizable Keypads and a 12- Channel Optional Bypass Module. MPower allows circuits to be paralleled and offers Ignition Protection. The CLMD16 also supports two H-Bridge reversing polarity circuits that can be used for loads such as engine hatches, passerelles, trim tabs, and more, plus 8 inputs for hard-wired switches and 3 inputs capable of monitoring tank levels.

Having a solid, centralized NMEA 2000 backbone onboard makes it possible to use systems like the MPower to communicate with all the onboard devices through a standard message-based protocol. In other words, if you're looking to add this level of smart digital switching to your boat, this system makes it easy to monitor onboard electrical systems and control them remotely.

Installation And Support

"The modular nature of the MPower system simplifies installation and redefines the future of vessel automation for boat builders and technical installers. Consumers benefit from the simple elegance of an uncluttered and integrated helm....MPower is truly an evolution in technology that creates the intelligent boating experience that today’s consumers are demanding."

To make things even easier for DIY boaters installing this system at their home (as well as professional boat builders and boat dealers with service centers), Maretron provides an intuitive online tool where the boat owner can select systems that are compatible with the specific devices they are installing on their boat. The configuration files can then be downloaded for each component and loaded.

Advantages Of Digital Monitoring And Digital Switching

Once installed, these systems can notify captains of any issues before they become a bigger problem, helping with general boat maintenance issues and upkeep as well as boating safety. With systems like these captains can control control an array of technology and systems directly from the helm including bilge pumps, generators, ventilation (AC/heat) windshield wipers, lights, stereo systems and more.

MPower systems can monitor and control onboard electrical and electronic systems and reset circuits onboard and remotely with the following devices:

  • Any 3rd party MFD that supports standard digital switching PGNs

  • Maretron MBB300C Black Box

  • Garmin OneHelmTM

  • Raymarine LightHouse 3

  • Maretron TSM Series Dedicated Touchscreen

  • MPower VMM6 Digital Switch Module

  • MPower CKM12 Keypad

  • Any device running Maretron’s award-winning N2KView® V3 Software

Pricing And Products

For the budget-minded DIY boater the CLMD12 12-Channel DC Load Controller Module has a listed MSRP of $561. Designed for vessels of all sizes with smaller loads, the MPower® CLMD12 is a compact 12-Channel DC Load Controller Module.

For larger breakers and more circuits, the MPower® CLMD16 16-Channel DC Load Controller Module is the ideal solution. This unit retails for $1,557 and is ideal for mid-sized vessels up to larger yachts.

Compatible keypads, switching modules and bypass modules range in price from $112-$207, depending on your needs.

MPower Maretron NMEA 2000 Digital Switching Platform

Above: MPower Maretron NMEA 2000 Digital Switching Platform product line. Photo by Maretron.

Maretron Company Overview

Maretron is a leading developer and manufacturer of marine electronic "networked instrumentation" tools, vessel monitoring and control systems. The company is owned by Connecticut-based Carling Technologies and has developed line of products around a common protocal and interface to monitor and control your vessel’s systems so you don’t have to learn and remember different ways to interact with each piece of equipment. And with a built-in comprehensive alert system, you don’t have to sit and stare at the gauges because you will get an alarm or warning at the slightest hint of a problem

Competition In The Digital Switching World

CZone is Maretron's biggest competitor in this space, and a comparable product would be the CZone Contact 6 Plus - a robust digital switching system that is affordable for many DIY boaters and boat builders. CZone is owned by Brunswick Corporation, as part of their Advanced Systems Group, and the technology is incorported on their boats including Boston Whaler, Sea Ray (notably the SLX-R 400e "smart boat") Heyday, Harris and even Lund (yes there are advanced digital switching systems on small aluminum boats too!)