Know Your Fuse Box

January 2015 Warren Childers

First and most importantly, a boat owner should never modify or add onto an electrical box. Any electrical work should be done by a qualified marine electrician.

One of the things the owner can do, however, is maintain his shore power cords. You should check the plugs on the cables on a regular basis. Make sure there is no corrosion or discoloration in the ends. If you see a little corrosion, clean it up. Also, it is good to put a little corrosion block or electrical grease on the plugs to prevent any trouble in the future. If you notice any blacking or discoloration, you need to have the cord looked at by a marine electrician. Or simply replace it. Discoloration means the cord is overheating due to a bad end or an overload.

All boats, regardless of size or sophistication, are required by regulation to have circuit protection on every positive wire outside of the engine starting circuit. If an electrical circuit is overloaded with excess current, the wire insulation can melt with a fire the likely outcome. Circuit breakers and fuses are designed to protect the wires in all main and branching electrical circuits.

If you are having issues running the hot tub and the A/C at the same time, this is due to the boat’s power system being overloaded. There are a couple options to fix this problem, but both require a qualified marine electrician. First, you can change the hot tub to another leg of the incoming shore power, one that the A/C is not drawing power from. If your boat has only one 50 amp service, you can add another 50 amp service to the boat to provide more power. A lot of the older boats were not built with the features that are popular today in mind, but can be easily upgraded.

Over a period of time, the bulbs on your circuit panel may no longer light when the circuit is active. Shut off the power and remove one of the lights and take it to an industrial electrical supply store. You won't find them at a regular home supply store, but you can track them down and they are available in a variety of colors. If you have any that are not shining steadily, replace those as well as the dead ones.

Depending on your current setup, you may need to have your panel replaced altogether. Blue Sea Systems designs and manufactures AC and DC electrical products engineered to withstand the demanding applications in Marine and Specialized Vehicle electrical systems. One of their top products is the 360 Panel System.

The 360 Panel System uses an open frame to mount a broad selection of modules, allowing multiple functions to be combined in a single panel.

This innovative design offers a wide choice of panel features, can accommodate future changes and permits rapid assembly. With options ranging from battery management to source selection, the 360 Panel System provides unmatched design flexibility. You can design your panel yourself on the company’s website and have it shipped right to your houseboat.

A parting thought: always use a qualified marine electrician to make any changes to a boat’s power systems. Even someone qualified in household wiring should not attempt to modify a boat’s wiring system. One mistake can cost lives.

Blue Sea Systems

www.bluesea.com

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