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Current game version: 0.12.0.3
Installations are permanent devices installed on a submarine. They come with a sub, and can not be moved or removed, and can be upgraded at a Shipyard. They are among the most important tools at the crew's disposal to survive the dangerous depths of Europa.
Vital installations (Nuclear Reactor, Oxygen Generator, etc) are essential to the submarine's operation and must be kept running properly at all time to ensure the survival of the crew. Other installations are necessary to endure specific situations but can be kept non-functional with no ill effects the rest of the time (although it is recommended to keep them ready to be used at any time to deal with emergencies).
Most installations need to be powered to function, with the exception of the reactor, which provides power, and the steel cabinet, which doesn't require electricity.
See 'Maintenance' for bits of advice on how to take care of installations.