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Engine Room July 2014

 

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by Frank Lanier

From air conditioning to washing machines, the desire to have all the electrically powered comforts of home while afloat places a huge demand on your boat’s AC electrical system. It’s no wonder most AC electrical fires involve overheated shore power cords, plugs and receptacles. Here’s a look at the basics of AC shore power maintenance, as well as products designed to help make them safer.

Barring physical damage or some owner-induced MacGyverism gone bad (jury-rigged adaptors, botched plug installations, etc.), corrosion and overheating are the primary causes of shore power system problems. Loose or corroded connections generate heat and the potential for fire, a problem especially prevalent among vessels that continually run high energy loads such as air conditioning, water heaters, and the like.

Plugging and unplugging AC shore power connectors while energized also contributes to the problem. The micro arcs and sparks generated each time you do so creates tiny pits on the surface of the connections, which in turn leads to resistance and heat build-up.

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