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  #41  
Old 02-03-2013
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rwd View Post
Yep, I'm actually dealing with that here. Ok not connectors on a boat, but power line. A poor connector consumes power. An undersized conductor also consumes power. Both, create heat. If you replaced the cord, take a good look at the female connector on your boat as well. Corrosion and oxidization are resistive. A resistor is the best/perfect consumer of electricity. Good luck. .... Ok another post towards getting new permissions like pm'ing...

If replacing a shore power cord there is only ONE power cord to buy and that is the Smart Plug system.
Some insurance companies even give a discount if you install a Smart Plug cord set and inlet..

NEMA/Marinco/Hubbel plug standard SUCKS in the marine environment and causes nothing but problems.. As a marine electrician I would not be sad to see them outright banned and replaced with the Smart Cord standard or equivalent.

If replacing a shore power cord please do yourself a favor and spend your money wisely, on the Smart Plug.

BTW safely loaded shore power cords should NOT be "warm to the touch"! If they are, you have problems that need to be addressed.......
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  #42  
Old 02-03-2013
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

MS, I looked at the Smart Plug. I suspect it would work well. It looks like it has a lot better seal than the old nema garbage. As for warm to the touch, define warm..... But I agree, hot or hot spots says something is heating up and that means problems. Often we find faults in lines have been failing for some time before they crap out entirely. Remember that in a marine environment the neut and the ground are of major importance. Burning out a lot of light bulbs? Look for a loose neutral. I'm actually looking forward to the day that the connector I change out is one on my boat. Fair winds.
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Old 02-03-2013
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
If replacing a shore power cord there is only ONE power cord to buy and that is the Smart Plug system.
Some insurance companies even give a discount if you install a Smart Plug cord set and inlet..

NEMA/Marinco/Hubbel plug standard SUCKS in the marine environment and causes nothing but problems.. As a marine electrician I would not be sad to see them outright banned and replaced with the Smart Cord standard or equivalent.

If replacing a shore power cord please do yourself a favor and spend your money wisely, on the Smart Plug.

BTW safely loaded shore power cords should NOT be "warm to the touch"! If they are, you have problems that need to be addressed.......
That's really nice MS, but what do you do about the other end that plugs into the dock pedestal? I've yet to see a single SmartPlug installation on the shore side.
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Old 02-04-2013
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

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Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
That's really nice MS, but what do you do about the other end that plugs into the dock pedestal? I've yet to see a single SmartPlug installation on the shore side.
You keep it cleaned and use terminal grease until the marina decides to allow the other end to go Smart Plug. The side with the most issues is the boat side so you still benefit in a big way. When I see burned inlets, cord ends etc. etc. it is about 75% occurring of the time at the vessel end. The power inlet also has a temp sensor so that it can break the source if there is resistance causing heat..

As I said hopefully someday we get what we deserve and that is a better, safer and more reliable standard for shore power cords and receptacles... The current standard was never designed with the marine environment in-mind. It was adapted to work in the marine environment.
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Old 02-04-2013
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

This is true. The boat end would see more movement due to the boat's inherent instability compared to the dock. Use Dieelctric grease to keep the contacts clean of corrosion and flowing as much power as they can and secure the cable so it does not move about and you should be ok.

It might also be a good idea to disconnect and check everytime you leave the dock
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Old 02-04-2013
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

My shore power cords are hard wired at the boat end, ... fewer and tighter connections, never had a problem.
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

Sizzle and burn, especially when there was an electric load, could have been an almost open contact. (Corroded away, shaken loose, whatever.)
These arc, and generate heat.
(And, btw., would never trip an GFCI, because the current flowing is not flowing to ground.)

The load of a space heater and an iron should not be enough to fry even a semi-decent installation, something was wrong.

For the installation being as good as before, it should be enough to just open the box and replace whatever is burnt with same quality home depot parts.

For your entertainment:
If the burn is somewhere where current should have been flowing, it was an open contact.
If it is through something that should not be, but was connecting life wire to ground, it was a ground fault.

No difference for the repair: Replace what is burnt, and you are as good as you were before.

Ground fault protection does not primarily prevent fires; it prevents electrocutions. So while having it is a brilliant idea, but it would not necessarily have prevented your sizzle.

Also, in case you are considering installing it, it does not have to be in the power outlet box; can be in the main breaker box, too, if you have 3-strand wiring.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Philzy3985 View Post
I liveaboard. It's a 1985 Catalina 30. I was up at 4:45am ironing my work clothes, running the small space heater, and had the speakers on listening to NPR. All of these were plugged into a power-strip, which was plugged into an outlet.
Anyways, a couple minutes into waking up and getting ready for work, I heard "zzz-zzzz-zzzzzzzz-zZZZZZzzz" and thought "This is a weird sound-bite for them to use-" until I realized there was a little spark at the wall outlet and everything stopped working. (process of about 2 seconds)

So. What now? Neither outlet works. I think - with zero electrical knowledge - that I could just replace the outlet for a few dollars at home depot, plug the wires back in, and be on my way. Is this correct, or should I look deeper down for the source of the problem?

I was advised by the surveyor to replace them with GFCI outlets, but the actual wall-boxes are not large enough to fit the GFCI's. Maybe because of the ease of access I can cut out this one and install a GFCI. This is the outlet I use primarily for things because it's easiest to reach.

Here are views of the outlet(burn). Front, side (access), and back (wire)

WP_000277

WP_000278

WP_000280

Hopefully the collective sailnet wisdom will have had experience and solutions with a problem like this. - Thanks ahead for your input
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

I think overload is out as a cause:
He said he had a functioning circuit breaker.
Overload would have tripped that breaker.
If it does not trip, there is no overload.

If the installation is only marginally following any electrical code, or reason, everything in the circuit will carry at least the amps the circuit breaker will permit.
That is what a circuit breaker is designed for:
Breaking the circuit BEFORE anything starts smoking.

Catalina might have been a bit sloppy, but putting in circuit breakers that allow enough load to start cable fires would be criminally insane, and they sure are not, and did not do that.

That pretty much only leaves a ground fault (less likely, because the sizzle happened to happen under load), or a high resistance, almost open contact.
Either way, whatever happened, happened in the outlet box. Repair/replace.



PS: A short circuit is pretty much the only thing that can't have happened: That would have triggered the breaker, without time for sizzling.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
No, you should not simply buy new units, plug them in, and be on your way.
You have no idea what caused the failure, and could cause a fire and lose your boat next time.

Either you overloaded the circuit, or you suffered a short circuit.
If you have suffered a ground fault, and had GFCI outlets installed as the surveyor recommended, the outlet would have tripped, saving you from damage.

It's impossible to know for sure what went wrong based on the limited information you've provided. Find an electrician and get it fixed right. Not only will you save your own boat from burning, but perhaps your neighbors' boats as well.

*Edit:
I just noticed that you were running the space heater and the iron. Most likely (but not definitely), you have overloaded the outlet and melted down the guts of the outlet, or perhaps the wire in the run somewhere.

I suspect this was a 15 amp circuit, and the iron and space heater took you up to 14.9 amps. Not enough to trip the breaker for an overload, but enough to "boil the frog", and melt down the wiring.

For future reference, do not continuously load a 15 amp circuit more than 80% of it's rating.

15 * .8= 12 amps. Don't continuously draw more than 12 amps on any single 15 amp circuit. That's for the whole string of outlets on that 15 amp breaker, not 15 amps per outlet.
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

I disagree. It isn't always that simple.

The boat is an '85 Catalina. The boat is nearly 30 years old, which offers plenty of time for age and corrosion to introduce extra resistance into an electrical circuit.

My assumption is that the OP is running over 80% of the rating for the circuit, at the end of a long wire run, the wiring or the contacts in the outlet begin to heat up, it melts down, causing the "sizzle" and now the outlet is out of commission.

As I said in my post where you quoted me, running at close to 100% of the circuit's rating continuously, on 30 year old wiring and equipment, is likely to induce extra heat, which would eventually cause a failure.

You make it sound as if electrical components don't at all to break down with age, especially in a marine environment, and that it's safe to run at 100% of a circuit's rating indefinitely. I disagree with that.

The "80% rule" not only applies to vessels, it applies to shore-side installations that aren't even subject to the constant motion and corrosion of the marine environment.

That's cool though. You be you, and I'll be me.
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Re: Power Outlet Sizzle - Help Please

copper wire corrodes. Salt water is an excellant corroder. Old wires have had plenty of time to corrode, get brittle, and break. This will cause either an overloading (a cable meant to pass 20 amps will not be able to pass that when half the strands are corroded and broken) or a short.

I think if that were my boat, I would consider replacing most of the wiring as you get a chance to. I would also replace all the breakers and outlets as they too will probably have some corrosion inside

It might also be a good time to consider bringing your outlets up to household code (flip them over so the ground pole is up)
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