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  • 1 Post By BluemanSailor
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Old 12-09-2013
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Electric heaters and boat connections

To all my fellow live boards in the cold Northeast and PNW area, PLEASE CHECK ALL your power cord connections this winter. There was a fire last winter at out marine due to the poorly maintained power cord connections.
BoatUS says that 1 cause of boat fires is AC and DC wiring/appliance - 55%
I noticed one day that my cord felt warm where it was plugged in to the boat, “thought that shouldn’t be” checked the connector and this is what I found!

A lot of corrosion and some of the plastic plug was melted.
Here’s how all my connectors looked ….

Time to replace them – nice new connectors, I really liked the new Furrion plugs – really well made.

Here’s an article I copied from the Marinco site..
“What to look for...
Examine the ends of the shore power cords. Look for discoloration or melting around the blades of the plug (male end) and around the slots on the connector (female end). Examine the face of the inlet on the boat and look for discoloration or melting around the blades and the inlet. Examine the receptacle on the dock and look for discoloration or deterioration around the slots.

What causes overheating…
If a device shows signs of overheating, it is generally caused by one or two conditions: corrosion on the metal blades or contacts, or bad connections between the wiring device and the wires connected to it. Severely corroded blades or contacts are a result of exposure to a corrosive environment, most commonly salt water. If the ends of the cord set are dropped into salt water and not properly cleaned and dried, the contacts will eventually corrode. Corroded contacts do not make a good electrical connection and overheating results. Bad connections between a wiring device and the electrical wires can be a result of loose termination, corrosion on the wires or terminals, or the wires not being stripped properly so the wire insulation is under the terminals. A bad connection will result in overheating of the terminal, and this will be visible on the face of the wiring device.

What to do…
If a wiring device shows signs of overheating, it should be replaced immediately. Do not wait for the problem to get worse. When replacing wiring devices, examine the electrical wire and make sure the wire strands are clean, and are not corroded. Even a new device cannot make a good connection to corroded wire.
Many boat owners think overheating is a result of over loading the circuit, but this is rarely the case. A bad connection in an inlet will also cause the mating connector to overheat. All too frequently a boat owner will merely continue to replace his connector, not realizing the inlet is causing the problem. Both devices should be replaced in order to prevent the problem from happening again.

The same is true for the plug and the receptacle on the dock.”
http://www.marinco.com/files/media/g...#39;sGuide.pdf
So please everyone who keeps their boat plugged in with electric heaters over the winter take a moment and check your connectors..
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Old 12-09-2013
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Re: Electric heaters and boat connections

Good Advice, thanks!
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Old 12-09-2013
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Re: Electric heaters and boat connections

Great info. Before replacing any of these components look into Smartplugs. I replaced my whole system with these last year.

http://www.smartplug.com/learn.html
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Old 12-09-2013
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Re: Electric heaters and boat connections

I did look into them, but they where 2x as much and I still have a lot of refitting and stuff to buy for the boat.

But they do look great! But the new Furrion are really nice..
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Re: Electric heaters and boat connections

Don't compare the MSRPs of the Smartplugs. Hamilton Marine has some great deals on these compared to Smartplug's website. They are more but well worth it for my boats and my families safety.

~$90 for the inlet and ~$130 for the cord. Or you could convert your existing cord for ~$45.
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Re: Electric heaters and boat connections

What are the pros/cons to using some kind of conduction grease, like dielectric conductive grease, on the the shore power connections?
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Old 12-12-2013
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Re: Electric heaters and boat connections

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Originally Posted by Group9 View Post
What are the pros/cons to using some kind of conduction grease, like dielectric conductive grease, on the the shore power connections?
Dielectric means not conductive. A conductive compound could lead to a short circuit if it contacted 2 prongs of the plug. Dielectric grease is not a bad idea I guess though, although I haven't seen anyone doing that.

One thing to keep in mind is that a 30 amp plug system is rated for 24 amps continuous, 30 amps intermittently.

The Smartplug is a good idea, about time the twist lock Marinco type were upgraded - the design is faulty really as well as being about 80 years old.

In Canada (at least in B.C.) many insurance companies give a 10% one year discount for switching to the Smartplug.
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Re: Electric heaters and boat connections

Dielectric grease is really only good for prevention of corrosion... Quite frankly, I don't think it would help in the OP case... The plug looks "old" in the first place, and let's face it, I really doubt the boat was designed to use electric heaters and all the other electric gadgets now on board in the first place.

Boats have very few 110 outlets in the first place... add electric heater(s), micro, laptops, phone and what ever electronic devices you may have and you are quickly reaching the outer limits of that 30amp connection...

Look at a lot of newer boats that have 2 shore power connections... I wonder why...
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