Surveyor’s Notebook:Electrical Alert

I often see poor electrical installations on boats, but here is a real classic. The owner of this boat wanted to install a switch for the air conditioning water pump, but there was no room for it on the shore power breaker panel.
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Would you do this? Let’s hope not!

Would you do this? Let’s hope not!

I often see poor electrical installations on boats, but here is a real classic. The owner of this boat wanted to install a switch for the air conditioning water pump, but there was no room for it on the shore power breaker panel. So, he simply attached it to the waste pipe under the galley sink. When I questioned him about this, um, unusual installation, he replied that it had been working fine for years!

What’s worse, this is a 120V breaker and all it would take is an accidental contact with its live connections to bring your boating days to a premature end. Clearly, water and electricity do not mix, and all breakers should be correctly mounted in a suitable panel. The ABYC rules on shielding are very clear: “Energized parts of electrical equipment shall be guarded against accidental contact by the use of enclosures or other protective means.” Plastic electrical tape is not one of these! If you do not have room on your breaker panel for another switch, mount it somewhere away from moisture and make sure hands cannot come into accidental contact with the terminals.

Lifelong boat addict and marine surveyor Mark Corke can be reached at surveymyboat.com

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