Top 60 Boating Tips by Boating Magazine

Monday, December 22, 2008


In the harsh marine environment, electrical systems take a beating. Exposure to salt, fuel, ultraviolet radiation, strain, abrasion and overloading are a few of the reasons. You know how some of your 12 volt systems look after a few seasons; your shore power system is in the same environment.

Every year, we read of untold millions of dollars in marine losses, and occasional fatalities, due to faulty, or improperly installed. marine wiring. The facts are that 110 volts can kill; as little as 1/10 of an ampere is all it takes. And, talk about heat, a short circuit can generate well over a thousand degrees of heat, more than enough to ignite wood, fiberglass and most other boat building materials.

Some safety hints:

1. Use only a shore power cord set capable of handling your boats power load, and UL Listed for the marine environment. Marine cord sets are available in two common load ratings, 30 amperes and 50 amperes. If you have a 50 amp system, use a 50 amp cord set. A 30 amp cord set will overheat and will likely fail over time.

2. Use only plugs and connectors designed for marine service. Taped together wiring laying on docks, or on deck, is an invitation to disaster.

3. Don't use regular outdoor extension cords. These are subject to rapid deterioration, and expose you, and your boat, to significant danger of fire and electrical shock.

4. Check your shore power cord regularly. It should be free of knots, have no frayed areas, and the male and female connectors secure and weathertight. If it is damaged or deteriorated, replace it.

5. Keep your shore power cord out of the water. Rapid loss of zincs on your boat from stray electrical current reaching your hull is costly, but the danger to divers, and others who may be in the water, can be deadly.

6. Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI's) on all 110 volt electrical outlets on your boat. If your boat didn't come with GFCI's, you can install them for about ten dollars each. They interrupt the flow of electricity when a ground fault (leakage) of electricity is far below the lethal zone.

7. Don't "jerry rig" electrical wiring. If you can't handle the job, have a qualified electrician, competent in marine wiring, do the job. It will be a lot less costly in the long run.

If you have a 110 volt generator on board, the electrical system should be carefully monitored for deterioration. The generator is usually in the engine room, where the marine elements can damage and corrode components without being noticed. If you have any reason to suspect an electrical problem, have your systems checked out as soon as possible.

Routine inspection and maintenance of your shore power electrical system is not difficult. All it takes is a little time and care, to extend the life expectancy of your electrical system, and YOU!

Safe Boating.


Anonymous said...

I just found a neat product to keep the plug ends dry and off of the dock when I'm out of the marina. Check it out.

Good Luck!!


Pat Testing said...

Thanks for providing a lot of useful information here. A great article.

chandra said...

My son got a job in marine field and this hits were very helpful..thanks and i have also shared it with him!

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