Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 18 Old 05-19-2014 Thread Starter
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Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

So my DC rewire being complete, and working as intended, I've moved onto the shore power in my Santana 28.

I've done a bunch of reading, and have a good understanding of the intent of the reverse polarity light, as well as proper wiring for shore power systems.

My shore power setup is pretty basic, with one 30a shore power connection, and 3 circuits ending in GFCI outlets. Having bought the boat last year, and NOT doing much reading then, I used the system as-is for the season last year, primarily running small fans/ portable lights and portable radios on the system.

This year, having dug into all things electrical, I realized the system was sub par on safety components, primarily in that the junctions between the shore power and the three circuits comprised of an open box, wire nuts for connections, and some electrical tape holding it in a standard metal electrical box, see attached

No breakers, no fuses, nothing but hard wiring to the 3 GFCI outlets.

So I set about getting properly setup, and purchased a Paneltronics AC pane with 2 pole 30a main and 3 15a breakers. These come fully pre-wired, and you just connect the shore line in and loads out. All wires connected with ring connectors at panel, and bare wire at the screws at the outlets.

So to my dilemma and questions:
Having wired in the new panel, as well as replaced all 3 GFCI outlets, I am not getting power at the outlets.

Observations:
1) 30a breaker turned on, correct Green LED indicates power
2) turning any of the 3 circuit breakers on activates the reverse polarity warning light (reverse polarity light does not light up with circuits off/ main breaker on)
3) 2 times, plugging in a portable light at one of the outlets caused the main breaker to trip
4) No power at any of the outlets with power leds on (reverse polarity light on also)
5) Re checked all 3 GFCI outlets to confirm ground, neutral, hot properly wired on Line side.
6) None of the GFCI breakers will trip. Pushing test button does nothing, pushing reset button does nothing

I am at a loss at this point, but hopeful this may be enough info for folks to provide some suggestions. I used one of the simple plug in 3 light testers, but there appears to be no power at the outlets. Since the reverse polarity light only comes on when a circuit is live I am unsure if the problem may be on the shore side? I've gone over the board and all 3 outlets 3x now and am sure all wiring is clean. The 14-3 wiring has no junctions between the panel and the outlets.

Shore power is 50a at our marina, just purchased a 50a to 30a pigtail yesterday with LED indicator that does light up when breaker on the dock is turned on.

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 18 Old 05-19-2014
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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

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3) 2 times, plugging in a portable light at one of the outlets caused the main breaker to trip
4) No power at any of the outlets with power leds on (reverse polarity light on also)
There must be power at the outlets or you could not have tripped the main breaker by plugging something in.

Can you post a picture of the back of the main panel as you have wired it?

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Living aboard in Victoria Harbour
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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

Is this the panel?

http://www.paneltronics.com/technica...ms/9972313.pdf
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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

did you make sure you twist locked your plug at both ends. . it will not work correctly if you do not. it will show reverse polarity and the interior electrical outlets will not work. ask me how i know this , after sooooo long on board and......


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Last edited by zeehag; 05-20-2014 at 01:04 AM.
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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

Not exactly on topic but you should always use either ring connectors or captive spade connectors at the outlets. Bare wire connections are intended for solid core conductors on land, not boats and stranded wire.
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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

Get multi meter. First check power into the panel, then power leaving the panel, then power into the receptacle.

Is each receptacle on its own breaker?


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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

Assuming the schematic referenced by Tempest in the above post (http://www.paneltronics.com/technica...ms/9972313.pdf)is correct, I believe you have your GFI outlets wired incorrectly. The panel hot/neutral/safety ground leads go to the LINE side of the GFI, not the LOAD side. In a circuit with a single GFI protected outlet the LOAD side is not used. Wiring to the LOAD side will cause the GFI to display the condition you observed. (Test and Reset non-functional)

If the pylon was wired incorrectly, the red "reverse polarity" led would be on the minute you plug in the shorepower cord as it is upstream of the main breaker.

If you check one more time, I will bet you a shot of rum you will find you have the leads from the panel connected to the LOAD terminals rather than the LINE terminals on the back of the GFI(s). Factoid to remember.... on all AC components the neutral (white) wire goes to the silver screw, and the hot (black) wire goes to the brass screw.

Reversing the LINE/LOAD connections is easy to do (it's why I know the symptoms myself) and the if done, the unit is designed to display the non functionality you described.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

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Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
There must be power at the outlets or you could not have tripped the main breaker by plugging something in.

Can you post a picture of the back of the main panel as you have wired it?
A bit more detail on this point. I do *think* there is/was power running, and agree, no way the main would have tripped. But tester shows no power, and the gfci won't trip. I don't have a picture, but will try to get one
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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
did you make sure you twist locked your plug at both ends. . it will not work correctly if you do not. it will show reverse polarity and the interior electrical outlets will not work. ask me how i know this , after sooooo long on board and......
Are you referring to both ends of the shore power cable? I am pretty sure, but will check this. The pigtail is new, and you have me wondering if I fully twisted the cable to it. At the boat end, I am confident I'm twisting it in and it's locked.
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Last edited by tatracy; 05-20-2014 at 08:43 AM.
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Re: Shore power - Reverse Polarity and no power at GFCI outlets

In reply to a couple others: Yes, the panel is the one referenced, and wired as indicated in that specific schematic. Each of the three circuits is on it's own breaker, with hot (black) on the breaker, neutral (white) to the Neutral Bus and Ground (green) to the Ground bus.

I went yesterday and rechecked that the gfci outlets were correctly wired to LINE side, and Hot to brass/ neutral to silver (also per labeling on the back). All GFCIs still have the tape on the LOAD side as there are no downstream outlets on any of the three circuits.

I will get the multimeter out and check per Minnewaska's suggestion today, and try to get a decent picture of the back of the panel.
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