At Marine Electric Systems, your safety is our top priority. From boat fires to lethal electric shock hazards, marine electrics pose a series of risks for all passengers. Our team will strengthen your boat’s defense system with Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCIs), Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), and DC circuit protection. We follow all ABYC and United States Coast Guard regulations to minimize risks out at sea. To learn more, please contact us today!
The Severe Impact of Electrical System Faults
In a proper electrical system, there must be an equal level of alternating current (AC) flowing through the hot and neutral wires. If the current levels are unbalanced, the consequences could be severe. Electrical system faults pose a significant risk to the safety of everybody on board and, in many cases, even spark lethal electric shock. Most commonly, there are two conditions to blame: ground faults and faulty grounds.
Ground faults occur when there is an electricity “leak” on the ground wire. It’s undetectable and extremely dangerous. In this case, the path is often broken due to a loose connection or a damaged wire. A prime example of a faulty ground is a damaged shore power cord.
When both conditions occur, tragedy strikes. Passengers and nearby swimmers are at a significant risk of serious injury or even death. If you’re on board the vessel, touching any metal equipment could produce a deadly shock. People in the water will be hit by a paralyzing spark of electricity, leading to a disastrous loss of muscle control. It’s essential to install Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCIs) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) to minimize risk and prevent tragedies.
Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCI) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)
A boat’s electrical system is susceptible to failures caused by the environment it is kept in. Its intricate infrastructure requires the attentive installation of vital protective devices. In many cases, failure to install these devices could cause disastrous consequences, including lethal electric shock. It’s important to prioritize safety onboard with Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCIs) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs).
The American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) is dedicated to creating a safe and secure environment for all boating enthusiasts. To minimize hazards, they’ve set a series of safety regulations for all new boat construction. According to the ABYC, all boats must have Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCIs) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). These preventative devices measure the alternating current flow on the AC ground wire. If they detect an imbalance, they immediately shut down the electricity to reduce risks.
The Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter (ELCI) provides comprehensive protection to the entire boat. Most frequently, ELCIs are installed in the incoming shore power line with a 30mA ground fault protection device. For enhanced insurance, we recommend retrofitting the ELCI to the existing AC system.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are designed to be installed in primarily wet locations like the galley, head, machinery, or weather deck of the boat and prevent ground faults in the branch circuit. Unlike the ELCI, the GFCI focuses on individual devices, not the whole boat.
Direct Current (DC) Circuit Protection
Unprotected short circuits are the leading cause of dangerous boat fires. To strengthen your safety offshore, it’s crucial to protect the Direct Current (DC) circuit. When installing DC circuit protection, there are two crucial factors to consider, the operating amperage of the device and the size of the wire in the circuit.
The Ampere Interrupt Capacity (AIC) rating defines how much power the circuit breaker can handle at once. According to the ABYC, the amperage of the fuse or breaker should be 1.5X the normal running current. The overcurrent protection needs to be placed on the positive side of the DC circuit and never in the negative side of the circuit.