Recommending a one-size-fits-all electrical system for your boat is impossible. No two boats are alike. We can give you some guidelines on the basic marine and electrical components you want to be aware of.
One thing we know for sure is the electrical system on your boat is very different than the electrical system in your home. For one, houses don’t float (unless it’s a houseboat!)
Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. There are a lot more rules for boats about installation and materials used than for your home. To get the latest standards for marine electrical systems, visit the U.S. Coast Guard website.
Substandard wiring and electrical components can cause serious trouble. Chronic battery drain, frequent system failures, and worst case - a fire - are common.
So, first up is battery management. Your marine battery starts the motor and powers your instrumentation and lighting. Battery capacity depends on the load. Weight is another consideration because marine batteries are heavy. You’ll want to think about how the weight of the battery will affect the weight distribution on your boat.
Next to consider is an ignition-protected battery switch. You want a marine-grade switch that can withstand the corrosive marine environment. The switch turns all of the electrical power off. If you think you may want to add a second battery down the road, buy a switch that can handle two batteries. This will save you from needing to buy a second switch.
To protect the electrical circuit, you’ll need a marine-grade fuse block near the battery switch. If you overload the wiring, it will get hot and melt and likely start a fire. Be sure to buy a fuse block with two fuse holders so you'll have a spare on hand should the fuse blow. Remember, the fuse is there to protect the circuit.
Finally, installing a voltmeter is one of the most cost-effective actions you can take. Both high and low voltages can cause premature motor failure and damage to electrical equipment.
Nothing will ruin a boat outing faster than having to be towed back to shore or needing to put out a fire. A safe reliable electrical system is crucial to a quality boating experience.
Give our technical experts a call. They can answer all your boat electrical questions.
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