- - Amongst other improvements in boating standards for safety and protection of boaters, The ABYC has issued a new amendment effective in 2010 for the installation of Electrical Leakage Circuit Interuptors in newly manufactured boats. Briefly put this device senses and stops any current/voltage leaking from your boat that might cause injury to anybody swimming around your boat.
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- - For ever since boats have started "plugging in" to shore power and then adding lots of different AC powered equipment on board, stray currents leaking from faulty wiring or faulty appliances has been a problem. The electrical power enters the boat through the "hot" AC lead goes to the electrical appliance and return through the "neutral" AC lead. In the USA a third electrical wire is required and is called the "Safety Ground wire" - normally green in color. Should a fault occur in the "neutral wiring" the safety ground wire would allow the current to get back to the circuit interuptor (c/b or fuse) and provide protection. However, miniscule leakage will not trip a c/b or blow a fuse and it also takes time for the sensor in a c/b or fuse to heat enough to trip. Enough time to allow somebody to get shocked or killed before the circuit is interrupted.
- - GFCI's (Ground Fault Circuit Interruptors) were the first line of defense invented to keep people from being harmed and housing standards were changed to require their use in any electrical circuits with water might provide an alternative grounding path as the current travels through a person to ground. This was bathrooms and kitchens. GFCI requirements were added to the boating world for marine bathrooms where AC electrical outlets existed.
- - But then the boating world started taking notice of a situation not found in land houses unless you live in a castle with a moat around it. AC currents were leaking into the water surrounding the boat. Several people with shocked while swimming near the boats hull enough to cause drowning. So finally the new standard is out and will require a different form of GFCI to be installed that will disconnect the entire boat's AC system from shore power should a leakage be detected.
- - This is very good for an additional reason beside protecting swimmers around the boat - stray leakage usually travels down the "metal" pathways of your boat to get to the water in which you are floating. This includes metal through hulls, propeller shafting and propellers and grounding plates. Especially in sea water electrolysis is accelerated and zincs disappear in record time, propeller blades are eaten away, and bronze thru-hulls are de-zinced. This new device may assist in preventing this acceleration of the process whenever you are hooked up to shore power. Previously there were "galvanic isolators" available to take care of this. Now this new device will do both jobs it is hoped.