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Keep Outlets Out

All it takes to ignite fumes is a little spark. No matter how big or small the spark is, if there are enough flammable fumes in the air, the tiniest spark will light up the sky. Therefore, having AC outlets in an engine compartment with gas engines is a BIG no no.

Little Mistakes, Big Problems

Sometimes the quality of a manufacturer's vessel is only as good as its workers. Let us look at some mistakes that must be corrected as soon as possible so that your boating experience is not disturbed by unnecessary problems.

Fuses Blowing? Why Going Bigger is NOT the Solution

We were recently on a boat that kept blowing fuses to one of its electronic devices. What is the standard mistake made in this situation? Trying some bigger fuses! There are two reasons we use fuses. One is to protect the wire feeding a device (in case of a short or too much current); the other is to protect the device/appliance at the end of the wire.

Bad Connections: Too Many Ring Terminals

How are elementary school jokes related to marine electrical? Let's find out! Q: "How many feet are in a yard?" A: "It depends on how many people are standing in it." Or, in this case, "how many connectors can I put on a battery stud?" Your answer to this second question should not be "as many as will fit."

The trouble with battery mixing

We've heard (and seen) stories of battery shorts from improper fusing. A shorting battery will heat up, possibly explode, and the wires carrying the current will melt - a sure way to catch a boat on fire! A strange series of events can cause a battery to short when you'd least expect it: topping up your batteries when there is no fuse protection.

Alternator protection: avoiding irreversible damage

When installing or upgrading an alternator, it is important that special care is taken. Alternators will be damaged irreversibly if they are electrically disconnected from the batteries while the engine is running, since the power they produce will have nowhere to go. A failed alternator means the batteries on a boat won't be charged when the engine is running.

Fire hazards: a bad connection

Shown here is something we see far too often: connections with signs of overheating. In the image, you can see the heat resistant plastics are melted and the fuse has scorch marks on it. In this case, the cause was probably as simple as a loose connection, someone not tightening the nut down enough. Or maybe they only threaded the nut on finger-tight with the intention of coming back later with a wrench to cinch it down, but forgot.

Fused vs. Switched: What's the Difference?

This is one of those many cases where I wish I knew what the installer was thinking. "Car stereos", as I call them, have two positive wires. One power wire will typically come from your main DC fuse or breaker panel and will lose power when the main battery switch on the boat is turned off. The second wire can be connected to the same place, but ideally it will go to the battery before the main battery switch.

Don't Get Burnt

It's very important that when changing light bulbs, you replace them with bulbs of the same model number, voltage rating, and wattage rating. Not following this simple advice could be catastrophic. I have seen potential fire hazards caused by failure to pay attention to any of these three simple criteria.

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