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  #11  
Old 01-28-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Maine--

Firstly, thanks for an excellent article. Very informative.

As to the matter of Smart-Plugs on slip-side pedestal power outlets in marinas, until the Smart-Plug becomes ubiquitous, it isn't going to happen. Most yachts carry Marinco type shore power cables that could not be used with Smart plug receptacles without an adapter and I doubt many, if any, Marinas will be willing to carry adapters. For that matter, considering the cost of shore power cables, I am wondering how willing people will be to ditch theirs in favor of the new cables/plug connectors unless one can buy the plugs and retrofit them to their existing cables. Is that a possibility?

Interestingly, the only problems we've had with our shore power cables have been at the power pedestals and not on the boat itself. After the last experience, our marina replaced the receptacles on our power pedestal and I fitted a new (Marinco) plug to our power cable and we have made a routine of cleaning the blades and applying a bit of grease to the blades to prevent corrosion on both the shore-side and boat-side connectors.

FWIW...
I think that will be up to marina owners to decide and many are simply fed up with the current standard. let us not forget that marina's have been moving from 30A to 50A service at a pretty good clip thus forcing boaters to carry more and more adapters. When the pedestal ends come out there will most certainly be adapters too.

If I personally owned a marina it would have SmartPlug, regardless of public perception.

To me, continuing with this completely unsafe standard, just because most people have it & the adapters, is like saying I am going to get a fire breathing dragon as a pet and then live in a straw house.... Both are equally as stupid when something MUCH safer is available. I am sure many marinas who've, not had fires, that may continue plodding along with a saddle on a dinosaur but I suspect many smart marinas will begin to make the conversion..
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  #12  
Old 01-29-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

If the new plugs are as good as MS says (and I don't doubt him), marina insurance companies may begin insisting on them, either refusing to write policies or significantly increasing premiums. And once they do, the boat insurance companies may too.
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Old 01-29-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

MS
time to petition the code writers to rerate those hubbells to 20 amps.
then marinas could offer 20 amp breakers to hubbell and a 30 amp upgrade if you have smartplug
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Old 01-29-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
For that matter, considering the cost of shore power cables, I am wondering how willing people will be to ditch theirs in favor of the new cables/plug connectors unless one can buy the plugs and retrofit them to their existing cables. Is that a possibility?
There is an upgrade kit for the SmartPlug that includes the boat-side receptacle and a replacement plug for the cable. You cut off the original boat-side plug on your cable and splice in the new one.

SmartPlug 30 Amp Inlet and Connector

It still isn't cheap. I bought one for $125 at a swap meet from an installer. The cheapest that they generally go for is around $160-$175.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaineSail
Yes it fixes half the problem but by far and away the most chronic problem end is the boat end. People often wrap the pedestal which eliminates most of the "load" at the dock receptacle.
I've seen very few people wrap the pedestal. At my marina I take the cord with me, and so many of the other boats that I see. However I do believe you that there are many less fires on the marina side than the boat side.

I often wish there was a 15A standard, with a much lighter cord and a 15A breaker built into the cord at the marina end. I hate dealing with the heavy 30A cord when my typical loads are half an amp, and the largest are well under 10 amps. The lighter cord would put much less strain on the outlets too.
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Old 01-29-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

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Originally Posted by xort View Post
MS
time to petition the code writers to rerate those hubbells to 20 amps.
then marinas could offer 20 amp breakers to hubbell and a 30 amp upgrade if you have smartplug
That would probably be the best solution but sadly, it will likely never happen. Even after hundreds of millions in damage they refuse to admit there is are any safety issue with the twist-lock standard. Heck one fire alone was 23 MILLION.... Dropping to 20A simply admits there are problems....

I think the better approach is for a boat owner to throw a 20A main breaker in the AC panel then at least you are being safer......
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Old 01-29-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

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Originally Posted by Alex W View Post

I often wish there was a 15A standard, with a much lighter cord and a 15A breaker built into the cord at the marina end. I hate dealing with the heavy 30A cord when my typical loads are half an amp, and the largest are well under 10 amps. The lighter cord would put much less strain on the outlets too.
Like anything else marina's have moved away from 15A services because most boats now days have an installed water heater which can alone put a 15A service into the danger zone.

They are also required under the NEC & NFPA standards to use GFCI's near water. This is EXTREMELY problematic and results in constant nuisance trips when a mere 5mA / 0.005A imbalance is detected (read high resistance).... We are not yet at the point where we use RCD's or ELCI's at the marina and even when we get there we will find the problems are HUGE due to the antiquated plug standard we use. The problems with ELCI's, as now mandated under ABYC E-11, are already EPIC and almost all of this can be traced back to the piss poor plug standard we use!!

I measure imbalances that exceed RCD/ELCI's (30mA / 0.03A trip) & GFCI's (5mA / 0.005A trip) every single time I walk into a marina. The days of non GFCI 15A outlets at marinas is long gone.... If you find them they simply don't meet code....

In fresh water it takes approximately 0.1A or 100mA to kill a human being. Here we have AC leakage, going somewhere, most likely into the surrounding water. This is 19 times the lethal amount to kill a human in fresh water...... Ouch!!
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

Sorry, I wasn't being very clear. I'm not advocating for a new service standard, just a system that would adapt it for use on boats that don't need 30A or 50A of power.

I would like to own a 15A cable that plugs into a 30A marina post. It would have a 15A breaker in the male plug, to protect the cable and boat. The boat end could offer 15A (for older boats) or 30A (for modern boats) connectors.

The goal would be to provide a safe but light power cable for boats that don't have hot water heaters (which is most <30' sailboats, there are hundreds of them at my marina).

There are multiple 30A -> 15A adapters available, but none of the ones that I've seen have a 15A breaker in them. I don't see how these are considered safe at all. Examples:
Marinco Shore Power Adapter
Furrion 15 / 20 Amp Female to 30 Amp Male Adapter
Furrion Pigtail 15 Amp Female to 30 Amp Male

I could use a product like with a standard 15A extension cord and a new power inlet on my boat, but I don't consider the non-locking plugs to be safe or the 30A breaker to be safe.
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Old 01-29-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
There is an upgrade kit for the SmartPlug that includes the boat-side receptacle and a replacement plug for the cable. You cut off the original boat-side plug on your cable and splice in the new one.

SmartPlug 30 Amp Inlet and Connector

It still isn't cheap. I bought one for $125 at a swap meet from an installer. The cheapest that they generally go for is around $160-$175.

I've seen very few people wrap the pedestal. At my marina I take the cord with me, and so many of the other boats that I see. However I do believe you that there are many less fires on the marina side than the boat side.

I often wish there was a 15A standard, with a much lighter cord and a 15A breaker built into the cord at the marina end. I hate dealing with the heavy 30A cord when my typical loads are half an amp, and the largest are well under 10 amps. The lighter cord would put much less strain on the outlets too.
Alex--

Thank you for that link. I will follow up ASAP.

In re: pedestal receptacles, it has been my experience that marinas are reluctant to replace even obviously deteriorating equipment. In my own marina, it took more than 10 years to finally get some action and only then after a "special assessment" of the boat owners to fund the costs for the marina. The new pedestals are however a major improvement and do include a cleat that one uses (is supposed to use) to restrain the power cable so that there is no loading on the receptacles. The receptacles also include a threaded throat so that one can screw down the supposedly water-proof cover once one has plugged in. What I have noticed, however, is that many owners are now not leaving their boats plugged in unless they are aboard their boats because of the special assessment on boats that are continuously connected to power.

FWIW...
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Old 01-29-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
Sorry, I wasn't being very clear. I'm not advocating for a new service standard, just a system that would adapt it for use on boats that don't need 30A or 50A of power.

I would like to own a 15A cable that plugs into a 30A marina post. It would have a 15A breaker in the male plug, to protect the cable and boat. The boat end could offer 15A (for older boats) or 30A (for modern boats) connectors.

The goal would be to provide a safe but light power cable for boats that don't have hot water heaters (which is most <30' sailboats, there are hundreds of them at my marina).

There are multiple 30A -> 15A adapters available, but none of the ones that I've seen have a 15A breaker in them. I don't see how these are considered safe at all. Examples:
Marinco Shore Power Adapter
Furrion 15 / 20 Amp Female to 30 Amp Male Adapter
Furrion Pigtail 15 Amp Female to 30 Amp Male

I could use a product like with a standard 15A extension cord and a new power inlet on my boat, but I don't consider the non-locking plugs to be safe or the 30A breaker to be safe.
What you want to look for is a "no overload" extension cord. A few companies make them with a circuit breaker. It is important that the breaker be in the pedestal end plug not the boat end. Do not buy a GFCI cable you want a circuit breaker. A GFCI and circuit breaker are not one in the same.

The reason Marinco and others get away with selling those adapters is because the NEC/NFPA stop at the dock pedestal and the ABYC really does not address shore power adapters. Plugging a 15A extension cord into a 30A breaker is a recipe for disaster but sadly people do it every day.... The best you can do is find a no overload extension cord. I will warn you that the breakers don't last long unless well protected from water. Try to keep it dry and out of UV...
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Old 01-29-2014
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Re: Shore Power-SmartPlug vs. 1938 (long post)

Not to be a Luddite or Neanderthal, but after seeing all those charred "proper marine" connectors, I don't feel any trace of guilt anymore, for having used a simple high quality heavy-duty extension cord to bring power aboard from a dock post, for occasional use.

The smartplug seems very nice, especially having the thermal breaker built in. Although I generally don't like "buried" devices like that and would prefer to see some glaringly obvious pointer to it, i.e. so that any idiot unfamiliar with it could figure out it was there and had tripped, even in poor light without reading glasses. Something like a big bright red flashing LED when it was tripped. Or a SonAlert, or both. (He can send me a couple after those are in production, thank you.)

Edison's competitors were apparently right after all. That mystical oscillating AC electricity is just lying in wait, leaping out of the sockets to kill you in the night.
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