Marine Electrician vs. Regular Electrician
If you own a boat, you are aware that insurance companies use marine surveyors to inspect your boat before they insure you. One of the top issues these surveyors run into are electrical systems that have been jury-rigged. This usually happens when you use “Bob the Electrician” from down the road because his rates are cheaper. Some of these guys think wiring a house is the same as wiring a boat but that is absolutely not the case.
The older the boats get, the more jury-rigged wiring occurs and ends up causing a substantial number of problems. I’m not mocking residential & commercial electricians but substandard boat wiring can cause problems to your entire system, such as, chronic battery drain, frequent system faults or even electrolysis and fires. And not to mention a long list of fixes from the marine surveyor.
So, why does using a MARINE electrician so important? Well, most importantly is that your boat is in the water which makes a boat much different than a house or car. Sea water is a fair conductor of electricity. There are addition rules about materials & methods of installation that you won’t find on land based vehicles or buildings. Water provides an awesome ground path for electricity so we must be careful how things are completed.
Many marine electricians are self-taught as there are little vocational schools for this career. I was lucky enough to receive exceptional training in the U.S. Coast Guard. So, when hiring a marine electrician, experience and training is key so I would ask for credentials, or a resume or anything that provides proof of knowledge in this field.
Materials and equipment are much different in the marine repair industry. The ABYC or American Boat & Yacht Council has strict standards for this as does the U.S. Coast Guard. Do not use common wire or wiring devices or residential electrical equipment. If proper materials are not grounded, properly constructed or insulated, you might be at a high risk for fires.
One of the most horrible things I’ve seen on a boat is the use of extension cords, non-marine wire, audio speaker wire and even household lamp cords. This is not a joke at all. House wire and marine wire is completely different. Marine wire must have the right temp, be water & oil resistant & should be purchased from a reputable marine supplier.
No one who is untrained in marine high voltage systems should touch boat wiring. Deadly fault systems are too risky. Grounding & a boat’s electrical system most commonly misunderstood. Only someone educated in AC & DC marine grounding should touch boat wiring. AC & DC are two separate systems. If you don’t know the 4 principles of ground systems, stay away from boats. And owners need not hire.
In the next article, I will discuss the main parts of a boat’s electrical system and further stress the importance of hiring a marine electrician vs. any old regular electrician. Moral of the story is that you will actually save money in the long run and have peace of mind using a skilled and trained marine electrician on your boat. Protect your investment.
Cliff Hairston, Owner/Marine Electrician
http://www.coastiemarine.com or Facebook: @coastiemarine