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Basic Electricity DC
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Planning: Battery Bank
Wiring Your Boat
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Standards Documents Available Free online
Basic Electricity - Page 12 - Practical
Chapter 1: Electricity Basics - The Properties of Electricity and Key Terms http://youtu.be/117qLEuddVM
Chapter 2: Important Facts About Electricity. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LZmDcOCO9s
By Kevin Ritz on Youtube.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgGm9kmFlgA
Practical Wiring Installation techniques
The first, most important thing when installing electrical systems is Safety!
Never work on a live circuit except to take voltage and current measurements. The correct way to do this is to shut the power off. Connect the meter or instrument. Turn the power on. Read the values. Turn it off. Disconnect the instruments.
Wear Rubber Sole Shoes: Insulate yourself from the ground.
Never work with wet hands or while standing on a wet surface.
Do not use power tools that have frayed, cracked or melted cords. Use good quality industrial grade cords of at least 20 amp rating. Do not use household (two wire) extension cords.
Buy good quality tools. Why pay more? Quality tools are almost always guaranteed by the manufacturer. They perform better, last longer, and rarely break, and some will be replaced free. Cheap tools will break and can injure you when they do. Again, it's all about safety. This is just as true of electrical tools as it is of wrenches, hand tools and power tools.
Use Eye Protection: A good set of safety goggles is essential. Always wear eye protection when working with lead acid batteries. Also wear gloves. Acid burns.
Wiring and connectors:
1. Always select good quality materials. Wire, connectors, terminals, bus bars and panels should all be good quality marine equipment. This is no place to scrimp or try to save a few pennies. Remember, the most common fires on boats are electrical fires. Most are due to bad high resistance connections. Do it right!
2. Have a plan. Know what you are going to do before you start installing things. See Electrical Planning http://newboatbuilders.com/pages/electrical_planning.html
3. Use good quality tools. A cheap crimping tool will give you a bad crimp that will loosen and allow moisture into your connections. This will cause corrosion and high resistance connections.
4. If you decide to solder, use good quality solder and soldering tools. Learn how to solder so you don't get cold solders. A bad solder is going to cause a bad connection. Do not use solder alone. Crimp and solder.
5. Seal your connections with a good quality sealant and a heat shrink wrap to keep moisture out.
Battery Terminal Connectors:
Use good quality terminals that do not use wing nuts to connect the wire to your battery. ABYC says that wing nuts are not to be used to connect any terminals to batteries for wire larger than six (6) gage. Since most battery cables are 4 gage or larger, then wing nuts should not be used at all. The concern is that they will loosen from shock and vibration. Do not use connectors that rely on spring tension. Connectors need to be tightened with a bolt. See here for the correct type of terminals connecting to the battery. http://www.uscgboating.org/assets/pdf/_GIF_ELEC/ELEC-F17.gif
Heat Shrink Tubing And Connectors, AAA protection, How to install and repair. http://youtu.be/jCRsx38WRw8
When your boat is on the hard (ashore) and you are using power tools, do not power them from the boat (inverter, generator etc). You no longer have a green grounding wire connection to ground on board. Power them from a good quality extension cord from a power source at the marina or place where you are working, or use cordless power tools. Tell the marina staff what you are doing. They can keep an eye on you in case there is an accident.
Do not run extension cords onto your boat when it is sitting in the water. Would you plug in a power tool and then stand in a bathtub full of water? That is what you are doing! Use cordless power tools or power them from the on-board shore power to maintain the shore ground connection.
Terminals must be used. Bare wire to stud connections with the wire wrapped around the connector are not allowed. Good terminal connectors are required. The part of the terminal that surrounds the wire should be insulated and sealed against moisture. page on the Friendship Sloop Society web site explains it well.
Terminals should be ring or captive spade. Captive Spade terminals have tangs on them that prevent them from being pulled off, and ring terminals have to be lifted off. There are requirements for terminals that say they must not be able to be pulled off the connection under a specific pound pull. The amount depends on the wire size. A sixteen gauge wire must not pull off under a ten pound pull. A 4 gauge wire must resist a 70 pound pull. So use the correct wire terminals.
Learn to use a Digital VOM. A Volt-Ohm-Amp Meter (also called a multi-meter) is essential for anyone doing electrical work. You do not need to spend a lot of money on this. You can pick up a good digital VOM at any home improvement or hardware store, or a Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Sears, or any store that sells tools. They vary in price from $12.00 USD and up to several hundred. But all you really need is something to measure voltage, amperage, resistance, and continuity. Any multi-meter will do this. I have an inexpensive one by Cen-Tech that I can carry in my coat pocket that does the job just fine. It cost about $13.00 USD new. I bought it used for $5.00.
Get a Receptacle Tester.
© newboatbuilders.com 2007 All rights reserved. revised 03/25/2012
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