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diverchick71 09-09-2013 04:39 PM

When to hire a pro...
Our boat (first-time boat owner unless you count the bass boat) needs some electrical work. The inverter doesn't seem to be working, when I switch the switch, I get no lights, sound, anything. Our outlets work on shore power, but that's no fun. We'd like juice when we actually go sailing and anchor out. (We just bought the boat, needs some rigging fixed before I feel comfortable taking her out) The windlass is fairly new but also not working.

I want to be a DIY...but I know NOTHING about electricity. I have a couple books but they also sort of read like greek to me. Should I just hire someone? Someone that's willing to explain things to me, and follow them around and learn while they are at it? Construction style stuff doesn't scare me...but systems are just a mystery to me.

fred1diver 09-09-2013 05:04 PM

Re: When to hire a pro...
electricity is really simple when you take your time to understand it
get yourself a multimeter and work from the battery to the electrical panel, then from the panel to each circuit, as long as there is no break in the wires and no blown fuses, the current will flow.
if you need help, I'm sure many people will chime in to help
start with a pencil and a piece of paper and draw what circuit you can find

Fstbttms 09-09-2013 05:14 PM

Re: When to hire a pro...
If you do want to hire someone, here's your man:

Mathieson Marine
(510) 350-6622

manatee 09-09-2013 06:17 PM

Re: When to hire a pro...
Sign on the wall of a shop:

Labor Rates: $50/hr
If you watch: $75/hr
If you help: $100/hr
If you laugh: $200/hr

MarkSF 09-09-2013 06:22 PM

Re: When to hire a pro...
Might as well do the basic checks first... like is there 12V power reaching the inverter?

Does the inverter have a breaker? Check that 12V is entering it, and leaving it when it's on!

The best book for an intro to marine electrics that I know of is this one, and it covers other aspects of inspection and maintenance too :
This books is kind of the key chapters from all his books rolled into one. If you JUST want electrics, there's this :

Minnewaska 09-09-2013 06:26 PM

Re: When to hire a pro...
Electrical fires are the number one cause of boat fires, by far. Ironically, 12v systems are more likely than 110v, probably because novices are more likely to play with them.

Nothing wrong with doing your own electrical work, but only to the extent that you know what you are doing. I will do some, but not all.

manatee 09-09-2013 06:51 PM

Re: When to hire a pro...
Another candidate: The 12-Volt Bible for Boats

jimgo 09-09-2013 10:24 PM

Re: When to hire a pro...
Before you do it on the boat, play with a 12 volt system at home. Get familiar with the concepts, then go aboard and have at it. But I agree with all of the comments above. It's really not that hard, but it DOES have to be done properly or you risk having serious problems.

diverchick71 09-10-2013 12:53 AM

When to hire a pro...
Thanks for all the great replies. The inverter seems to not be getting juice. I flip the on/off switch at both control panel and on inverter and I get zilch. Two thick wires coming out of the back (red and black) but I'll actually have to remove the inverter to get behind it, it's mounted too closely to the side of the boat. It's mounted under nav station. All things I need to look at when I get back to her. I need to move closer. :-). I have Don Casey's Illustrated Sailboat repair, and Nigel Calder's essential systems. Not knowing what I'm doing and fear of fires is exactly my fear!

Minnewaska 09-10-2013 05:40 AM

Re: When to hire a pro...
A very basic invertor will have wires connected to the 12v DC system and others run to the 110v AC receptacles. More sophisticated systems also have wires connected to shore power, as they double as battery chargers. In order to test them with a multi meter, you need to know which are which. Some should show voltage, even if the invertor is bad.

Invertors do go bad, but its tough to know if its hooked up properly, turned on properly or blew a fuse. The cost of an electrician could be a good education in how your boat is set up. Meet him/her there.

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