Hopefully, you will never find any of these cringe-worthy mistakes on your boat.
There’s absolutely no shortage of people that can do a good job slapping on a coating of paint or even tuning up an engine. But based upon marine surveyor Frank Lanier’s expertise examining boats, the pool of qualified folks with the skill level to make electrical related repairs and installations gets a lot smaller.
Boaters are actually a creative lot when it comes to solving issues afloat. Not only is the homegrown junction splice utilized in the positive battery conductor at left nonstandard, it likewise leaves an energized bolt to arc and spark while bouncing about the engine compartment– a genuine fire hazard.
Here we have a hose clamp being utilized to secure a bonding wire to a seacock, an installation that is as inadequate as it is unorthodox. Even though the pros and cons of having a bonding system set up are often debated, one thing is certain: if one is installed, all connections must be tight and corrosion-free for the system to function properly. One that’s incorrectly installed or maintained will provide the worst of both “to bond,” and “not to bond” worlds, and your thru hulls will not be protected.
Wiring Gone Awry
The only thing even worse than dealing with an electric issue is needing to wade through a mishmash of loose, messy electrical wiring prior to even beginning the troubleshooting procedure. Unsupported wires and cables can easily bounce about while underway, creating lots of electrical problems, varying from broken connectors or wires to gremlin-like intermittent issues which seem to magically appear and disappear with absolutely no rhyme or reason. Worse, they can chafe and trigger a fire.
Industry requirements call for batteries to be set up in liquid tight, acid-proof boxes or trays, be properly secured (movement absolutely no greater than one inch within any direction), and have all exposed positive terminals covered to prevent accidental shorting. All great suggestions, however sadly none of them are met in this specific installation. One more recommendation is that no battery cables and conductors 6 AWG and larger be connected to the battery with wing nuts. They’re difficult to correctly torque and may loosen due to ship movement. Use marine-grade nyloc nuts instead. Keep in mind that a battery is a really just box of electricity, and in the event that it gets loosened, sparks could fly and ignite something flammable nearby.
AC Plug Installation
Many DIYers have no idea that domestic style solid copper wiring (aka ROMEX) is not suggested for use on boats. Solid wire is actually prone to damage because of vibration– the reason marine-grade wire is actually created of multi-stranded copper wire.
DC-powered equipment installations always need fuse or breaker protection. In some cases it’s appropriate to power devices via a connection directly to the battery, but always ensure a correctly sized inline fuse is part of the installation. Without a fuse, the wire carrying current to the device can ignite if there is a short in the device.