Your boat’s electrical system is driven by a potent source: the battery. This battery can create a considerable amount of electrical current, or amps, when allowed to do so. Every electrical device in your boat depends on the battery to do essential work, like powering your engine and pumping large amounts of water out of your bilge. But it also comes with some risks. Electrical shorts are the top cause of fires on boats. In fact, more than half of electrical fires are caused by short circuits. It is critical to install circuit protection devices to protect your electrical wires. Keep reading for more information about the importance of circuit protection.
Why You Need Circuit Protection
It is critical to consider your boat’s electrical systems when deciding on the proper circuit protection system. If more current flows in a wire than it is able to handle, the wire can heat up, melt the protective insulation, and the heated wire can start a fire. For example, this overcurrent condition can happen due to a short circuit. Circuit breakers and fuses are used to limit the amount of current that flows through wires. Except for wires that are intended to carry starting currents, every positive wire must be protected by a fuse or circuit breaker.
Types of Circuit Protection
There are two main types of circuit protection on boats: circuit breakers and fuses.
- Circuit breakers: These electro-mechanical devices are specifically designed to protect electrical circuits from a circuit overload. It interrupts the current flow when a fault is detected. The surge of current automatically trips the breaker. Once they have been tripped, they need to be manually reset. The main benefit of breakers is that they are re-usable and don’t need to be replaced after being tripped.
- Fuses: A fuse contains a conductor designed to fail when it reaches a set amount of current through it. When a fuse blows, the device is permanently destroyed, so it needs to be replaced. The most significant benefit of fuses is they are generally less expensive than breakers.
How to Choose the Right Circuit Protection Device
Circuit protection devices are primarily installed in circuits to protect the wire. Choosing the proper circuit protection device and sizing it for your boat can be more complicated than you think. To find a suitable circuit protection device, the rating of the circuit protection device must match the rating of the wire it protects. The American Boat and Yacht Council has helpful guides for matching wire rating and proper circuit protection rating.
Marine Electric Systems, LLC is a Leader In the Maritime Industry
We here at Marine Electric Systems have over 30 years of industry experience. You can trust our team for reliable service and expert craftsmanship in the Maryland, Baltimore, Annapolis, and Baltimore city areas! We’re highly certified and adhere to all ABYC and NMEA regulations. We specialize in top-notch electrical solutions for recreational, commercial, and government boating clients. Anything from electrical refits, to navigation systems, or boating maintenance. To stay up to date on our services, follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. You can also contact us at 410-263-0807.