Digital Switching: Your One-stop Shop to Control All Your Boat’s Systems

While the passengers on a boat may be able to kick back and relax with nary a care in the world, the captain knows there’s quite a bit to be aware of to ensure everyone arrives back at the dock safely. Historically, there have been a fair number of switches and fuses to pay attention to as you monitor your tanks, your battery, your bilge pump, your lights and more.

That’s where digital switching and integrations come in. This kind of technology can give you the smart-home experience — except, obviously, on a boat. You can reduce your reliance on traditional switches and circuit breakers or fuses by integrating digital controls and monitoring into your boat. In other words, you can view and operate all your onboard electrical functions right from your chartplotter screen — all while keeping your helm crisp, clean and free of clutter.

Garmin offers two ways to add these capabilities, based on where you are in your boat-ownership journey — whether that’s updating the boat you already own and love or purchasing a new one.

Garmin Boat Switch™ Digital Switching System

If you already own a boat, and you’re looking to make some moves to modernize, you’ll want a Garmin Boat Switch. It’s a simple solution that’s ready to use right off the shelf.

Boat Switch comes with a preconfigured module, harness and pre-labeled connectors with 18” flying leads for easy setup by your favorite professional installer. It replaces your fuse box and physical switches, and it communicates via NMEA 2000® to control up to 20 circuits from a digital switching screen on your GPSMAP® or ECHOMAP® chartplotter.

You can have customizable switch names that add touchscreen control of on-off toggle switches for nav lights, bilge pumps and more and press-and-hold dimmers for interior lights and momentary switches for horns. You also get built-in tank sender detection and calibration for as many as four tanks, such as fuel, freshwater, greywater, blackwater or livewell. Boat Switch even offers a livewell timer that turns on the pump — so you can cycle water to keep fish alive while helping your pump to function longer. Plus, you’ll be able to monitor analog voltage on your house and start battery, as well as bilge pump operations. And, of course, you have the option to still use physical switches for backup. It’s your boat — now even smarter.

Garmin EmpirBus™ Systems

Building a new boat offers the greatest opportunities to create the most connected and smart-boat experience out there with digital EmpirBus systems, which include digital integration, controls, monitoring and automation. You can work with your manufacturer to make sure your new boat functions exactly how you want it to, with next-level setups that include sensor alerts, system monitoring and customized modes, such as cruising, fishing, partying and docking.

For fishing boats, that may include automated controls of bait wells and outrigger control. On cruisers and sailboats, you can add more automations akin to smart-home functionality — including grouping lights, monitoring system data, and even operating winches and sails. You can even tailor your light settings to automatically change based on time of day.

In each case, you’re gaining a boatload of control over your vessel. From your MFD, you can control a full array of exterior lights, cabin temperature, pumps and more. Monitor tanks, mechanical and electrical systems. Operate accessories, including entertainment systems, security systems, shades, sunroofs, wipers and windlasses. And you can even add full control from a compatible mobile device when in Wi-Fi® range of your MFD — or from a keypad conveniently added in your salon. Plus, you can add physical buttons to your most critical features, so you have redundancy for peace of mind. And if you need multiple screens or system access points on your boat, think about networking in the TD 50 touchscreen display as a companion instrument for access around your vessel — not just at the helm.

Have a third-party input device like a steering wheel with input keys? No problem. The EmpirBus™ Connect 50 allows for third-party inputs to be programmed as remote input devices for GPS chartplotters, and it can be programmed to a variety of functions, including favorite keys, function-specific keys, media controls and complete display navigation.

If you can dream it, you can make it a reality on your new boat with EmpirBus system options.

Whether you’re designing a new boat for your future adventures, or you’re adding capability to your existing vessel, Garmin has solutions that will help you get the most enjoyment from your boat-ownership experience — and it’s all just a few touches away.

Learn more about Garmin marine products, and see how to make the most of your time on the water.

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