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Understanding ELCI and Circuit Protection

Understanding ELCI and Circuit Protection marine electric systems

From fires to lethal electric shocks, marine electronics pose severe risks for all passengers.

From fires to lethal electric shocks, marine electronics pose severe risks for all passengers. It is important to strengthen your boat’s defense system with Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters (ELCIs), and DC circuit protection. An equipment leakage current interrupter device ensures electricity sent from a shore power pedestal returns. Additionally, the breaker detects any current leaking into the water, posing a hazard to anyone swimming in the water. Let’s go over the importance of installing ELCI and circuit protection devices.

The Danger of Electrical Faults

There should always be an equal level of alternating current (AC) flowing through the hot and neutral wires in an electrical system. If the current levels are unbalanced, it poses severe consequences. Electrical system faults are a significant hazard to everyone’s safety and may cause lethal electric shock. Most commonly, electrical faults are caused by either ground faults or faulty grounds. Ground faults occur when there is a “leak” on the ground wire. The path is often broken because of a loose connection or a damaged wire. An example of a faulty ground is a damaged shore power cord. Both instances are hazardous. It’s essential to install Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters to reduce risk and prevent tragedies.

Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupters and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

You must prioritize safety on your boat with ELCIs and GFCIs these devices measure current flow in the hot and neutral wires. They immediately switch the electricity off if an imbalance of current flow is detected. ELCIs and GFCIs also share the overcurrent tripping protection characteristic of a traditional circuit breaker. GFCIs protect against faults in devices plugged into them but do not protect from the risk of a failing hard-wired appliance, such as a cooktop or water heater. On the other hand, an ELCI provides additional protection to the entire boat. 

DC Circuit Protection

Electrical shorts are the number one cause of boat fires. More than half of electrical fires are caused by short circuits, mainly in the DC circuits. If you have any circuits on your boat, they must be protected. When installing DC circuit protection, it is crucial to consider the operating amperage of the device and the size of the wire in the circuit. According to the ABYC, the fuse or breaker amperage should be 1.5 times the standard running current. The overcurrent protection must be placed on the positive side of the DC circuit and never on the negative side of the circuit. Installing your circuit protection in the proper configuration ensures that your boat is protected against electrical faults and fires.

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.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2022 at 12:14 pm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.