When it comes to marine electrical systems there is massive amount of information to take in even for the most experienced marine electricians, never mind just for the general boat owner. However, depending on the boat or boats you own and the type of electrical systems you use on board, there are always a few things that can apply generally to any situation. We’ve outlined five of these tips below in the form of frequently asked questions.
When Should I Use A Fuse and When Should I Use A Circuit Breaker?
At the most basic level, fuses and circuit breakers ultimately do the same thing, they protect the wire from carrying excessive current. From a convenience standpoint, circuit breakers are easier to manage as they can be reset easily, however they are considerably more expensive than fuses. Fuses on the other hand are more inconvenient as when they ultimately blow, you have to hunt around a bit to replace them, but they are considerably cheaper. So in most situations, it’s a matter of weighing the convenience needed when it comes to replacements verses the overall cost for parts when it comes to replacements. A few other things to consider when it comes to making this decision are that fuses are more readily available in a greater variety of increments making it easier to find what you’re in need of and that for more critical applications a circuit breaker may be more appropriate as it will be easier to troubleshoot and get back to an operational status during a critical time.
How do I charge two battery banks and still keep them separate?
When it comes to charging multiple battery banks while still keeping them separate, there are a few different approaches that you can take. The easiest way to achieve this would simply be to turn your battery switch to “BOTH” when charging, and turn it back to 1 or 2 when you are finished. However, this solution may not be ideal for those boaters who sometimes forget and then end up with a flat battery from time to time. The best way to manage this, if possible, would be to have two alternators. This allows each bank to charge independently, and by fitting a combiner switch you get the added feature of a backup alternator for either bank in the event of a failure.
How Can I Properly Inspect My Shore Power Connection Cord?
Shore power cords should be inspected often for any corrosion, melted pieces of plastic, blackened connections or anything else that looks like it may be out of the ordinary or damaged on the cord. If shore power connections get salt or moisture on the conductors, the corrosion can cause a voltage drop across the contacts. As a result of the voltage drop, excess heat can be produced, which further accelerates the deterioration. While male prongs of a cord can be cleaned fairly easily, it is basically impossible to clean the female contacts inside of the socket, so prevention is your best bet. The best way to prevent contacts from becoming corroded is to keep it sealed at all times, either with a tight fitting plug in place or with a tight fitting lid securely fastened. A small amount of WD40 sprayed into the socket might also help.
What Is Circuit Protection?
In general, the purpose for circuit protection is to keep the wire in question from carrying more current than it is able to. In the simplest sense, if the current in the wire becomes excessive, the circuit protection in place should simply interrupt the circuit. Interrupting the circuit will stop things like the wire overheating, the insulation melting, or impact on nearby wires or insulation from happening. Since the core intent of circuit protection is to protect the wire, the circuit protection needs to be as close to the source of power as possible.
What Are The Standards That Apply to Boat Wiring?
In the United States, the standards that apply to the wiring within your boat are known as ABYC standards as well as the Code of Federal Regulations. While the ABYC standards are voluntary and the CFR standards are mandatory, the ABYC standards incorporate the CFR standards, so if a boat is built to the ABYC standards, it should already meet the CFR standards as well.