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would I be right in thinking that to charge a 12v 7 ah sealed lead acid battery from a cigarette lighter socket on a canal boat, I would need to wire a bulb into the positive lead of the connecting wire (series) to limit the current?

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No, I don't think you'd need any sort of current limiting.

However, you won't get any useful charge into the battery unless the vessel batteries are also being charged, either by the engine alternator, or from a shore-power charger.

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