Garmin automation, so on-board electronics work for you


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Onboard Home Automation
Onboard Home Automation

Home automation, or integrated systems, are increasingly massive and distributed presences in our homes, both in Italy and around the world. By now we are getting used to using our voice to put on our favorite playlist, turn the light on and off, or close the blinds. No doubt there is a bit of a wow effect around being able to do everything without having to mash switches or remote controls, a serious simplification, we might say, that focuses on convenience. But, in the world of boating, of boats, what is happening?

On-board home automation


To answer this question, we spoke with Carlo Brevini, Garmin Italy’sMarine Sales & Marketing Manager and a true electronics expert. In fact, in 2021 Garmin ‘tamed‘ about 1,200 boats, and the numbers for 2022 are growing further as fewer and fewer boat owners want to give up what this option offers. But, to clear up any misgivings, here is what emerged from our conversation.

Dashboard with integrated systems

First, let’s start with the basics: how would you define onboard home automation?

We can say that Garmin automation is an integrated system that does something for you automatically. It is not a dematerialization of the buttons that are usually there in a dashboard. The rationale is to simplify on-board functions and support as much as possible 360-degree control and management of the boat.

However, there are those who want the keys physically….

Usually, to people who tell me they want the physical button because they don’t feel comfortable without it, I respond with the example of cell phones. We now manage much of our lives, digital and otherwise, without material keys, through a smartphone. I think, indeed, we are almost more trained to use virtual keys, and then in this way the potential is virtually unlimited.

How is your home automation structured?

At the base is a processor, the central control unit, and then there is a series of modules that can interface with each other acting as a mini-panel to control up to 20 utilities. If you want to have more utilities you will then have to install more modules as needed. Thanks to communication via NMEA 2000, both the presence and the amount of cables on board is limited, with advantages in several respects, not least of which is economic. Every shipowner, and therefore every shipyard, has different needs, but we can cater to virtually everyone.

How do you mean? Take the case of the utilities of a fishing boat. With home automation, one can manage the live tank with, for example, a timer for economized water recirculation, or create an alarm that alerts if the water has too high a temperature. Or the timing of the batters, perhaps choosing different options based on the type of fish you are chasing. Again, dimming of lights for night fishing.

This is only a small part. If we think about cars, when we start the engine, when we turn on the onboard computer we immediately understand that we are on car X. In boats, often the first graphic we see is that of the plotter manufacturer. For this we have also developed a graphics department, and for each internalized brand and model we can use a font and graphics that from the initial moment immediately remind us of the site and the range.

What size do you start from?

It depends on the type of boat, but already smaller models, under 10 meters, home automation is accessible. Of course, the more features you add the more you spend, but even on a boat this technology can make a difference with an appropriate price tag relative to the value of the boat.

So the goals are to simplify and automate?

Sure, but also make it safer. How many times did we go back to the boat to see if we had disconnected the batteries before going home? With Garmin automation, I can set up scenarios where, based on certain actions, I have everything on, everything off, lights on if I do another action that is directly related. And how I set it up is up to me. This is about Garmin simplification, but then there are functions for security. We are talking, for example, about temperature monitoring in the engine room with automatic switching on of extractors if the threshold is exceeded or safety sensors such as “ready to sail.”

What are they?

Simply when we activate the engine keys there is an alarm that alerts us if the dock plugs are engaged or portholes are open, platform lowered, etc.

garmin automation

Is it difficult to set this up?

The only “difficulty” the user has is to really choose what they need once they understand the infinite potential of this system. For installation and configuration, there is a Garmin technician supported by a team of engineers, graphic designers and programmers who develop everything as required. Once the program is entered, the interface is as simple and intuitive as ever on our plotters.

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