Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Avalon Catalina
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I'll presume you are using a stand alone generator ( Honda of Yamaha) and it is normal for the reverse polarity lite to be on. The reason is that with the generator you have a floating ground. To explain simply. Today most all 110V wiring consist of three (3) wires, Hot (colored ,typically red or black) Neutral (white) and Ground (green). The Hot wire brings electricity from the power plant to your house or boat, through the shore power cord. The Neutral wire take the electricity back to the power plant, remember electricity needs a completed circuit, and is also connected to Mother Nature-the earth. The Ground wire is a safety wire, forty years ago it was not required, in case of an internal short of the appliance (their are other reasons but thats the main one) and is also connected to the earth usually at the fuse box.
On your boat at sea the neutral wire is not connected to earth, thus the floating ground, and the reverse polarity lite. DO NOT connect the neutral wire to the boat ground it can be dangerous and WILL DESTROY your zincs in a matter of hours.
If you have made any changes to the wiring on you boat, generator, or power cords please make sure they are wire correct, so that the Hot is always connected to HOT-Neutral to Neutral-Ground to Ground. The West Marine catalog has picture showing which prong is which, or contact marine electrician.