Boat Wiring Questions?

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Whether you are in mid-project or just curious, there are loads of posts on the site to check out. If you’re trying to track down more specific marine wiring info, please use the search box on the right or check out the list of various subjects farther down on this page.

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Lingering Light

VHF Radio

Boat Wiring Guys,

I put in new VHF radio into my sailboat. The installation seemed to be successful except...

Now when I turn off the marine electrical panel switch for the VHF, the green light from the breaker goes out but not right away, slowly turning off in about half a second.

Is there any problem with this? Did I screw something up?

Thanks

Hi,

It is not a problem.

The light in the switch gets power when the output side of the switch has power. The residual light is caused by a capacitive charge that is in the VHF radio. This capacitor in the radio helps with noise and voltage spikes but will give the appearance of voltage on the power wire which makes the light stay on.

Hope this helps

Grounding the Gauges

Hi Kevin.

I recently bought all new gauges for my 1985 Evinrude 140VRO, including a tach, GPS speedo, fuel and water temp.

Evinrude-VRO-label

My problem is that I am struggling with the term GROUND! I have a fiberglass boat, so is Ground the same as Negative?

Can you please advise.

Many thanks

Hi,

You are correct.

On your boat, Ground is the same as the negative of the battery.

Hope this helps,

Kevin

Hello Kevin

That does help.

Could you please answer another question?

I'm hooking up a second battery, deep cycle. Can I have a common buzz for negative ground for both battery's? Do all the new gauges need to be fed from the cranking battery? Or does it not matter?

Thanks for your help.

 Best regards!

Hi,

Yes. Use a common ground when adding a second battery.

No. Not everything needs to be fed from the cranking battery.

Keep in mind that without some method of connecting the positives of the batteries (switch, charger, smart switch, etc), the second battery will not be charged by the engine alternator.

Kevin

Self Lifting

Hello Easy,

I came across your site somehow and thought I would send a question.

If I can get my boat onto my lift next year, I am wondering about different ways to power the ac shore station hoist mortar without shore power. Is there an economic way to utilize the boats batteries or use an inverter, or a very small generator that could be on the boat? Last year I left a portable generator on the dock, but I would hate to get it stolen and am just hoping there is a way comparable to using a dc motor (which I don’t have). boat lift motor

My boat is less than 3000 lbs and the motor presses against the wheel to rotate it.

Thanks.

Brian

Hi Brian,

It is amazing how low the lakes were last summer. Hopefully they don’t drop too much more.

The most economical solution would be to buy an inverter just large enough to run the AC motor on shore station. The shore station should either have a wattage rating or a current draw (watts=current*120).

Running the inverter for a short period of time to lift your boat should not be enough to completely discharge your boat’s batteries. If your boat has a battery switch, I would make sure it is not in the BOTH position when you are using the hoist to help prevent draining both batteries.

IMPORTANT; If your inverter is not ignition protected, do not run it in the engine room

Hope this helps,

Kevin

Cord Cutting

Hello Easy,

I am installing a new battery charger, a Guest Intelligent Charger, on my Irwin 25.

The new charger has an AC Plug and of course in the instructions recommend plugging into an AC receptacle protected by a GFCI breaker.Wire stripper

Is there any good reason or regulation, ABYC or other rules that would preclude me from removing the AC plug from the charger and terminating those wires directly to a dedicated breaker in my AC distribution panel?

The bulkhead where I am locating the new charger does not have a whole lot of room and I can save wiring real estate if I do not install an outlet. The run from the new charger to the AC distribution panel is no more than 2’.

Thanks.

Hi Andrew,

There are no ABYC regulations against hard wiring. In my opinion, it is safer to have a charger hard wired into the panel than to have any outlet in the engine room. You have no idea what other, non-ignition protected items may get plugged into the outlet. Also, GFCI outlets should not be used in an engine room because they are not ignition protected.

But, before you cut the plug off, I would make sure the charger works. You may void your warranty if the plug has been hacked.

Hope this helps,

Kevin