With regard to:
Big Box Charger vs Charger/Inverter: So far the discussion has been dominated by the Victron Charger/Inverter set up. One of my cruiser friends (non-Amel) has switched his boat over to keeping the chargers and inverters separate, with good logic. Thoughts? [...] What would Henri Amel do?
This may depend on one's boat and its wiring.
In our case, when we went all-MasterVolt in 2013, I wanted to install an inverter-charger. If I recall correctly, with it came fancy advantages, such as being able to compensate for low-amperage shore connections, which we have come across of late in the Baltic and in the North Sea.
However, my electrician warned me against it. I did not want to re-wire the boat and he said the existing engine room to battery box cables were not sufficient for the MV Charger/Inverter 100A/3500W we were considering at the time. Not because of the nominal capacity, mind you, but because the inverter was able to supply double its rating for a limited time. You'll recall Scott of Tengah's different course of action: "you need to break the epoxy seal between the engine compartment and the passage berth, located on the floor on the forward end of the “passage”. After this, you will re-epoxy the hole so the watertight separation is re-established".
One altermative the electrician gave was to install the charger/inverter in the wet locker, that is, close to the batteries, and with fat wiring, but when I asked what exactly did Henri Amel do for boats of our (now ancient) generation, the answers were, one, he put the inverter in the engine room; two, it was not a combo device; and three, it was the Xantrex 1800 (230v). So that's exactly what we did. The installation has proven to be bullet-proof.
Having said that, if I had the thicker cables, either because the boat came with them or because I was willing to break and re-do the epoxy seal, I would not hesitate to install a combo unit for the main charger. Like Scott says, there is a smaller charger as backup anyway (a 30A MV in our case). The advantages of these units when one has an integrated monitoring and control system, such as Scott's Victron or our MV are too many to be dismissed out of hand.
currently Delfzijll, Frisia