An isolation transformer is a versatile device that provides galvanic isolation from shore power systems, improves electrical safety, and eliminates corrosion caused by stray currents. Some isolation transformers are also used for raising the shore voltage to handle a voltage drop. By isolating your boat’s power system from the shore power, the current cannot travel through the water and electrocute swimmers. Having an isolation transformer on your vessel is essential for your safety and the safety of those around you. Let’s go over the importance of isolation transformers.
What is an Isolation Transformer?
Think of an isolation transformer as your private onboard power source that uses your boat’s shore power connection. An isolation transformer takes the marina’s often wild and unpredictable high shore power and converts it to pure clean power. Another common use is to adapt the vessel’s internal power system voltage to a higher or lower shore power supply.
Without an isolation transformer, there is a direct connection between the earth ground of the dock and your boat’s electrical system. A stray wire on the boat may cause a current to flow through the ship’s hull to the water and back to the shore supply. That current flowing through the water is hazardous to anyone in the water. An isolation transformer transmits power to the boat through the magnetic field in the core. This means there is no direct connection and keeps fault current from flowing between the ship and water.
Another potential hazard remedied by an isolation transformer is polarization. If the supply from the shore has the hot and cold wires swapped, your power switch may not be disconnecting your appliance from power properly. Reversed polarity can be dangerous because appliances that should be off when their power switch is turned off will still have current flowing into them. So, the magnetic field of the transformer core protects you from swapped wires at the shore, so they will not cause swapped polarity onboard.
Protects Against Galvanic Corrosion
Another benefit is that an isolation transformer protects against galvanic corrosion. The same isolation properties that separate your boat’s ground from the dock ground also prevent galvanic current from eroding your vessel’s zincs or other expensive metal pieces. Even if the ship next to you is not isolated, this connection can cause neighboring boats to damage or destroy each other’s underwater fittings.
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.