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Adding shore power?

NINEv2

.
Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
I'm looking at a couple boats to buy for the upcoming season, and some don't have a shore power connection. For someone with zippo wiring experience (my greatest victory is installing a ceiling fan that didn't burn the house down) how much of a pain or expense would it be to add shore power?
 
Jul 7, 2004
7,884
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
It's difficult if you are unfamiliar with e-magic but it's doable. You just need a good book and YouTube. Not being sarcastic. You can do this if you plan it out and follow the instructions. Would be nice though if you had a friend that has some experience.
 
Sep 25, 2008
6,236
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
The expense if you hire the work out is in buying/installing a control panel and running the wiring throughout the boat to power receptacles and whatever else you want/need, all of which can be a DIY project given the time and some guidance. You can always do the work yourself and hire a marine electrician only to inspect the work prior to using it.
 
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Likes: DArcy

DArcy

.
Feb 11, 2017
1,175
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
The first time I did a big wiring job on my house I bought a book and then had it inspected by a pro. You may want to see if there is a marine electrician willing to inspect it before you plug it in.

Depending on how you plan on using the boat, not having shore power may not be a show stopper. My last boat (C&C27) had shore power that I never used because I didn't like the way it looked. It was factory original from 1974 with solid, household, romex wiring :yikes:. A survey, required by my insurance company, after I had owned the boat about 10 years, required me to either remove or replace the AC wiring. I was going to rip it out then realized for about $150 and an extra couple hours of my time I could just replace it. I ended up replacing the entire AC wiring, fixtures, breakers, new panel. It worked fine after that but I still didn't use it. I just ran an extension cord from the dock to the battery charger and all was good.

If I had spent more time on board at the dock I probably would have used it though.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,830
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
BOOKS

Every so often folks ask: "What book should I buy to learn electrical stuff about my boat?"

The appropriate answer is: "Depends on how you like to learn."

Go to a chandlery and read a few in person, and start by buying one that you think suits your "level" and is "readable" to you."

Here's a good start: Recommended Books on Marine Electrical Systems - Blue Sea Systems

Jan. 2018 - West Marine revised their website, so the following link no longer works. Darn! But a Google or Amazon search for "boat electrical books" will do it for you. Charlie Wing's comes highly recommended by many.

A good starting list is provided by West Marine in the their online Advisors (and usually in their catalogs, one of which should be in your house and the other on your boat).

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wc...ecommended-Books-on-Marine-Electrical-Systems
 
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Likes: mermike
May 24, 2004
6,746
CC 30 South Florida
If shore power is important to you purchase a boat that already has it. Boats that don't have it are generally cheaper but not because they do not have shore power but mainly for other reasons.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,436
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
#1 If you want AC shore power, find/buy a boat that already has it.

#2 If you insist on doing it yourself just be aware that this is an expensive undertaking to do correctly, especially if you don't already have the proper tools.

#3 Join the ABYC, via the recreational boat owner site, and you will have access to the standards. It actually cost less than what a professional pays. (bone of contention with many professionals)

Be aware that he standards are written for trained professionals so a lot of it won't mean much to you at face value, if you've not also been trained.. This is why you then buy Charlie Wings Boatowner's Illustrated Electrical Handbook (second edition) as well as Nigel Calder's current book and follow these exactly and compare what you're doing to the ABYC standards.

There are way too many points & nuances to cover in a forum post to get your AC side wired safely. The fact that you "have zippo wiring experience" really has me leaning to suggest that you a hire a pro, but with enough research and very good comprehension of what you've actually read, it can be done by a DIY. You absolutely need to take this seriously and need to do this by the standards or people can be killed..

One of the ABYC members, who is now heavily involved in ESD (electric shock drowning) education, lost his son to bad & non-compliant AC wiring. We have also had customers lose thousands of dollars in batteries due to non-complaint AC wiring as well, even though their boat was wired correctly.

#4 All that said I've been sailing and cruising since before I could walk and we've never plugged into shore power. As a marine electrician, I won't do this without an isolation transformer, and I am unwilling to install one when we don't need AC power.. The only time I use AC shore power is when the boat is next to my barn, on the hard, during the winter to run the charger, which powers the Espar in "power supply mode". Perhaps if you can explain exactly why you want/need AC power we can better guide you..

Best advice is follow #1...
 

NINEv2

.
Jul 21, 2020
88
Catalina 250 Black Hills
#1 If you want AC shore power, find/buy a boat that already has it.

#2 If you insist on doing it yourself just be aware that this is an expensive undertaking to do correctly, especially if you don't already have the proper tools.

#3 Join the ABYC, via the recreational boat owner site, and you will have access to the standards. It actually cost less than what a professional pays. (bone of contention with many professionals)

Be aware that he standards are written for trained professionals so a lot of it won't mean much to you at face value, if you've not also been trained.. This is why you then buy Charlie Wings Boatowner's Illustrated Electrical Handbook (second edition) as well as Nigel Calder's current book and follow these exactly and compare what you're doing to the ABYC standards.

There are way too many points & nuances to cover in a forum post to get your AC side wired safely. The fact that you "have zippo wiring experience" really has me leaning to suggest that you a hire a pro, but with enough research and very good comprehension of what you've actually read, it can be done by a DIY. You absolutely need to take this seriously and need to do this by the standards or people can be killed..

One of the ABYC members, who is now heavily involved in ESD (electric shock drowning) education, lost his son to bad & non-compliant AC wiring. We have also had customers lose thousands of dollars in batteries due to non-complaint AC wiring as well, even though their boat was wired correctly.

#4 All that said I've been sailing and cruising since before I could walk and we've never plugged into shore power. As a marine electrician, I won't do this without an isolation transformer, and I am unwilling to install one when we don't need AC power.. The only time I use AC shore power is when the boat is next to my barn, on the hard, during the winter to run the charger, which powers the Espar in "power supply mode". Perhaps if you can explain exactly why you want/need AC power we can better guide you..

Best advice is follow #1...
Thanks for the input all. I believe we need AC because the boat will basically be a weekend hotel room... that we can take out on the lake! So TV, microwave, fans, heater, mini fridge, devices to charge etc. As I said I have zero experience, but that seems like quite a bit for a couple of marine batteries. Not too terribly interested in DC appliances after some of the stuff I've read also.

Does this help?
 
Sep 24, 2018
1,427
O'Day 25 Chicago
So TV, microwave, fans, heater, mini fridge, devices to charge etc.
The microwave, heater and sometimes minifridge can suck a lot of power out of your batteries very quickly as you may have already read. Shore power can alleviate this
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,830
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
You can't heat a boat with DC unless it is a diesel or other fuel fired device; electrical resistance heaters will not work off batteries alone.
Follow Maine Sail's advice. To the letter. If ABYC makes no sense to you after you've read Wing & Calder, hire a pro.
Good luck, happy hunting.