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Old 29-11-2015, 17:07   #1
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DC generator and inverter ground

I have dual electric outboard setup on my catamaran and I need to verify how to run non energized green ground wires from two inverters (both have gfci outlets 48v 3000w cotek that will be used for ac), two generators and anything else that requires green ground.

At this point I'm thinking I need to purchase GUEST Ground Plate - Dynaplate, 12" x 3" x 1/2", Loran-C Use | West Marine something like this or make something like it.

Or can I wire all the green grounds to a busbar and then attach to a keel bolt like in the picture?

Also as the boat is on the dry right now will I have to run a grounding post outside the boat while work gets completed on the boat?
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Old 29-11-2015, 18:31   #2
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

A little confused by what you are describing but can provide a couple of points. If the AC coming aboard for powering tools then there should be a green ground conductor in the power cord and it gets connected to a ground rod back at the shipyard electrical service. No local ground rod is required or needed and no connections to the ships electric system.

If you need a seawater connection after launch, the keel bolt connection should work out rather than messing with a Dynaplate.

When you mention generators what exactly are you talking about. Can't picture how this all works out with inverters and if you mean the generators on the outboards, might need to take a look at output. 3000 watt inverters and outboard generators do not compute in my mind.

Tell us more.
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Old 29-11-2015, 22:28   #3
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

The only ac coming aboard from shore will be for a couple of 48v battery chargers if I need to plug them in someday. I generate power with solar panels and store that energy in a battery. That energy is in turn distributed to electric outboards for propulsion power. House loads are supplied from the batteries with the inverters. Two small 48vdc generators are used for back up charging.

I was actually thinking of putting a dynaplate on the underside of that bolt.

Most of the diagrams show the engine block as a grounding point. I don't have that and many exceptions are made for outboard motors. Exceptions in ABYC are also made for boats with no DC grounding bus.

So I just want to be clear on if I indeed need to attach to a dynaplate through a keel bolt. I also want to preclude the need to do this by ascertaining first if I even need to.

Can I simply take my inverter chassis ground and run it back to the main DC negative bus bar or another similar but connected to it? Likewise for the generator chassis grounds going back to the main DC negative bus bar. Will this suffice to satisfy DC grounding per ABYC in this instance or do I also need to go though the keel bolt?

If the later is the case will I, while out of the water need a grounding rod at my location attached to the keel bolt?

Electrical loads for power tools are supplied by the onboard inverters. My Ray Outboards don't have generators per say but they could be configured to run as a generator I suppose. Hope that helps with your computations.
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Old 29-11-2015, 22:30   #4
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

the inverter chassis grounds go do your battery neg. you probably have a DC neg main ground on the boat.


so you'll have 2 big neg cables going to the same spot. (neg and chassis ground, both same size)




your bonding system and AC ground would also go to this main boat neg.
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Old 29-11-2015, 22:41   #5
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

Quote:
the inverter chassis grounds go do your battery neg. you probably have a DC neg main ground on the boat.

so you'll have 2 big neg cables going to the same spot. (neg and chassis ground, both same size)

your bonding system and AC ground would also go to this main boat neg.
The DC negative main ground I certainly have. I concur I will have 1 big black 1/0guage cable going to the DC negative bus bar. I will also have 1 big 1/0guage green cable from chassis ground go to my AC/DC negative bus bar that is connected to my DC negative bus bar. (Just learned that the manufacturer didn't comply with ABYC in this regard and only suggest 8guage wire - so these runs should be short so it is possible.)

When you say bonding system does that infer going though the keel bolt?
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Old 29-11-2015, 22:55   #6
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

how big is the cable between the ac/dc bus and dc bus? it would also need to be atleast 1/0 as well. that's why generally the inverter chassis just runs to the same dc neg as the neg ground. as the ac ground is probably only 8 or 10awg.
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Old 29-11-2015, 23:49   #7
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

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Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
how big is the cable between the ac/dc bus and dc bus? it would also need to be atleast 1/0 as well. that's why generally the inverter chassis just runs to the same dc neg as the neg ground. as the ac ground is probably only 8 or 10awg.
There really isn't an AC bus per say. I'm simply going to use the supplied GFCI outlets on two cotek 3000w 48v inverters. It doesn't go to a distribution panel or otherwise just extension cord 120vac to devices, appliances.

When I mentioned ac/dc bus I simply meant another bus bar to collect all the green wires from two generators and two inverters and whatever else needs a terminal post. Simply from a neatness perspective you see - then just connect that to the main DC negative bus. But because it has the ac chassis ground from the inverters attached to it I have to call in an ac/dc bus.

Yes that is what it is the chassis ac ground at 8awg. The manual is here:
http://www.canadianpowerconversion.c...000_Manual.pdf

Am I wrong in my interpretation of the ABYC in relation to this ground where they state:

ABYC’s Standards & Technical Information Reports for Small Craft (Section A-31). Paraphrased, it states:

The DC grounding conductor shall be connected from the metallic case or chassis of the battery charger, inverter, or inverter/charger to the engine negative terminal or its bus, and it shall be of an ampacity equal to that of the DC positive conductor.


Also will I need to have a dynaplate attached to a keel bolt or does it suffice from a safety standpoint to just keep everything internally isolated from the water without a ground plate?
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Old 30-11-2015, 07:30   #8
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

Don’t get your hang up with this Dynaplate business. Dynaplate is intended for a HF radio ground (and of questionable value in that use). If you feel the need for a seawater connection then external metallic keels and metallic thru hulls typically suffice. Keep in mind that proper boat electrical systems cover AC and DC safety, corrosion protection, and lightning protection. Sometimes these various systems fit together nicely and sometimes they cause conflict.

AC equipment grounds (green wires and DC returns (yellow/ black) should be connected together, and the connecting wire size should be same size as the wire feeding the DC side of the inverters. Making a connection to the earth (dirt) from this junction is only important if you plan on encountering lightning.

If you will be using the inverter outputs to power systems/tools aboard the boat, then ALWAYS, ALWAYS use GFI protection for those circuits. The reason the neutral (white wire) and equipment grounds are connected together at a typical electrical service is to provide a low resistance path so ground faults (ground faults are the majority of electrical failures) will cause high currents to quickly trip circuit breakers and thus isolate the faulty circuit/ equipment. It is never clear, with the electronic overcurrent protection built into most inverters, that this concept will also work on inverter AC output, thus GFI protection is a must IMO.

When you bring AC shore power aboard to charge your batteries then this equipment ground is also connected to the common ground point and usually a galvanic isolator is installed in series with this shore power ground to reduce stray current corrosion issues. Also might include a RCCD main circuit breaker because it adds a level of safety to the AC system.
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Old 30-11-2015, 11:17   #9
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

First, suggest you look at your ground and grounding systems separately and then "bond" them together.

A ground system (as opposed to a grounding system) is for the DC side of things. You would have a main DC "ships" ground point where your big DC negatives go. All the small DC negatives go to one of the bigger cables somewhere or also to the main ground point. Your inverter input DC, battery negatives, solar power output negative, etc. go to the ships ground.

Grounding (per ABYC and other) is for AC power - the ground wire (green or yellow/green). If you don't produce AC on board the green (or green/yellow) wires of the appropriate size would all go to a central AC grounding terminal strip. Your inverter housing, AC to DC charger housing, shore power inlet, and any other AC devices. Per ABYC you would have one and only one connection between this AC grounding strip to the DC ships ground point, i.e. you would not have several AC grounding wires from the AC devices to the main DC ground point.

Since you will be using a DC inverter for your AC power, AND, you will be using only the inverter pre-installed outlets, you will never connect the white shore power inlet to anything else on the boat via a separate wire. Your inverter will "bond" its internal neutral to its internal ground and that will be isolated to the inverter. If you were to hardwire the inverter to a ship AC panel or external outlets then you would have to bond the AC neutral to the AC ground onboard ONLY when you are not connected to shorepower, i.e. to a panel not at the inlet.

Most marine AC inverter/chargers will have an internal transfer switch which will manage this bond so that the neutral is bonded when the inverter is producing AC and remove the bond when AC is input to the inverter. However, there are inverters which do not have this capability and if you wire the AC output to the ship (in addition to the inverter outlets) then you need to have your own relay type transfer switch to manage this. Since you are going to use the inverter outlets ONLY then you don't need to worry about this. Your inverters may not have an internal transfer switch (I bet they don't but don't know really).

Re: Dynaplate - OK to use it as a ground point, which, since you would have an AC grounding connection already to the main DC ground, the AC grounding would also be bonded to the Dynaplate via the DC ground. The main DC ground would have a big cable from the main ship ground strip/point to the Dynaplate.

Note: using the diesel motor as a main ground point is not really recommended any more but nothing wrong with doing it. You would have a DC ground from at least the starter OR the engine block to the main ships ground strip/point (if you had one and you don't).

If it were me I would install the Dynaplate but I don't think it is an absolute requirement so long as you do everything else.
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Old 30-11-2015, 13:17   #10
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frankly View Post
Making a connection to the earth (dirt) from this junction is only important if you plan on encountering lightning.
NOT TRUE AT ALL!

Your AC grounds must be tied to earth to prevent electrocution.

If your AC equipment "grounds" are floating at some potential other than "earth", should your body come in contact with any floating component and earth, you could get zapped.

A Dynaplate is a great solution (albeit certainly not the only one) to ensure that your AC system ground is at "earth" potential when disconnected from shore power, especially in the case of a fibreglass encapsultated or epoxy barrier coated keel.

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Old 30-11-2015, 14:39   #11
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

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Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
NOT TRUE AT ALL!

Your AC grounds must be tied to earth to prevent electrocution.

If your AC equipment "grounds" are floating at some potential other than "earth", should your body come in contact with any floating component and earth, you could get zapped.
There is a ungrounded type of electrical system, such as a battery circuit that's not grounded. On a ungrounded system there isn't a path for current flow on non-circuit components
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Old 30-11-2015, 15:06   #12
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

Quote:
A ground system (as opposed to a grounding system) is for the DC side of things. You would have a main DC "ships" ground point where your big DC negatives go. All the small DC negatives go to one of the bigger cables somewhere or also to the main ground point. Your inverter input DC, battery negatives, solar power output negative, etc. go to the ships ground.
In this case my inverter positive negatives come from the positive and negative DC bus bars with 1/0 cable. They then produce the 120v that I will use via their own GFCI outlets. They are Cotek 3000w 48v 120v inverters.

The solar power positive and negative leads from the panels arrive at the charge controller and from there make their way to the main positive and negative dc bus bars. I'm using 650amp BEP busbars. I have three of these.

Quote:
Grounding (per ABYC and other) is for AC power - the ground wire (green or yellow/green). If you don't produce AC on board the green (or green/yellow) wires of the appropriate size would all go to a central AC grounding terminal strip. Your inverter housing, AC to DC charger housing, shore power inlet, and any other AC devices. Per ABYC you would have one and only one connection between this AC grounding strip to the DC ships ground point, i.e. you would not have several AC grounding wires from the AC devices to the main DC ground point.
I will produce AC on board from two inverters so my chassis ground from both of these will tie in to a dedicated bus bar for those devices. For AC to DC charging I use a couple of Lestronic II 120vac to 48v chargers so they simply plug into a normal 120volt outlet if I can find one at marinas. So I will run all my green ground wires to a dedicated bus bar and then attach only once to the main DC negative bus bar.

Quote:
If you were to hardwire the inverter to a ship AC panel or external outlets then you would have to bond the AC neutral to the AC ground onboard ONLY when you are not connected to shorepower, i.e. to a panel not at the inlet.
I won't be wiring to an AC panel on the ship. Here I will post some shots of my test bench. Also for reference I've taken the time to post over in another thread of what my experience has been so far with my batteries etc... LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Please know that I have corrected my color coding on these pictures for the wires both at my time and expense of learning. The charge contoller is a Coleman Air 440HVA.

Quote:
Since you are going to use the inverter outlets ONLY then you don't need to worry about this. Your inverters may not have an internal transfer switch (I bet they don't but don't know really).
I will include the link to the manual for my inverters again here:
http://www.canadianpowerconversion.c...000_Manual.pdf
So I am pretty much covered by their GFCI outlets.

Quote:
Re: Dynaplate - OK to use it as a ground point, which, since you would have an AC grounding connection already to the main DC ground, the AC grounding would also be bonded to the Dynaplate via the DC ground. The main DC ground would have a big cable from the main ship ground strip/point to the Dynaplate.
So your saying go ahead with this through the keel bolt. Then on the dry this will in turn need an earth ground attached to a grounding rod beside the boat. I expect to be on the dry a couple of weeks at this point and using the power and systems on the boat so better to have then not.

When I did my limited testing with the inverters I had a ground wire out the door to a metal bar in the ground.

Quote:
If it were me I would install the Dynaplate but I don't think it is an absolute requirement so long as you do everything else.
At this point in time it seems rather pointless to not attach the main DC Ground bus bar to the keel bolt then to the dynaplate under it. Just means I have to replace the bolt with same type of material I use for the grounding plate be that a dynaplate or otherwise copper bar stock.

I do though feel quite safe with the quality of the inverters and knowing that if chassis grounded to the dc bus that it will at least take that path of least resistance back to the battery. So for the first few days this is how it will operate.

Quote:
A Dynaplate is a great solution (albeit certainly not the only one) to ensure that your AC system ground is at "earth" potential when disconnected from shore power, especially in the case of a fibreglass encapsultated or epoxy barrier coated keel.
I agree with the Dynaplate being a great solution - readily available for purchase. I'm not sure how I will get disconnect from shore power as I won't ever be hooked up to shore power and my boat is wooden.

The Chassis ground for the inverter is what we are specifically discussing here. If a wire were to ever come off inside the inverter it needs to find the path of least resistance as a wire back to the dc ground bus bar and not me. That would pretty much be the equivalent of cutting the end off an extension cord and plugging it into the inverter 120vac gfci outlet at which point the gfci would trip and disconnect.

Suffice to say I'm getting to the point of understanding ABYC grounding much clearer now. Grounding to the water does open up an entire new can of worms with galvanic corrosion.

Quote:
AC equipment grounds (green wires and DC returns (yellow/ black) should be connected together, and the connecting wire size should be same size as the wire feeding the DC side of the inverters. Making a connection to the earth (dirt) from this junction is only important if you plan on encountering lightning.
Yes and this is how sometimes I interpret the ABYC as well. I don't necessarily have to be grounded to the ocean. So at this point I'm still factually unsure if I need to ground my system to the ocean or not. From the manual for the inverters:

3-6. AC Safety Grounding:

The AC output ground wire should go to the grounding point for your loads
( for example, a distribution panel ground bus ).

3-6-1. Neutral Grounding (GFCI’S):

3-6-1-1. 120V models:The neutral conductor of the AC output circuit
of the Inverter is automatically connected to the safety
ground during inverter operation. This conforms to National
Electrical Code requirements that separately derived from AC
sources (such as inverters and generators) which have their
neutral conductors tied to ground in the same way as the
neutral conductors from the utility tied to ground at the AC
breaker panel. For models configured with a transfer relay,
while AC utility power is present and the Inverter is in bypass
mode, this connection (the neutral of the Inverter’s AC output
to input safety ground) is not present so that the utility
neutral is only connected to ground at your breaker panel,
as required.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI):

Installations in Recreational Vehicles (for North American approvals) will
require GFCI protection of all branch circuit connected to the AC output of
the hardwire terminal equipped with Inverter. In addition, electrical codes
require GFCI protection of certain receptacles in residential installations.
While the pure sine wave output of the Inverter is equivalent to the
waveform provided by utilities, compliance with UL standards requires us to test and recommend specific GFCI. Cotek has tested the following GFCI – protected 20A receptacles and found that they functioned properly when connected to the output of the Inverter.

So basically I have two trolling motors and batteries. Exceptions are made in ABYC for these types of installations and I digress I do not want to make it any more complicated than that if I can avoid it.
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Old 30-11-2015, 15:22   #13
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

Grounding non-current carrying components are for lightning protection also. So any conductive path should be grounded to earth (ocean), as I see for equipment and personnel safety
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Old 30-11-2015, 16:26   #14
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

Quote:
Originally Posted by EllisElectric View Post
There is a ungrounded type of electrical system, such as a battery circuit that's not grounded. On a ungrounded system there isn't a path for current flow on non-circuit components
I repeat, your AC grounds must be tied to earth to prevent electrocution.

If your AC equipment "grounds" are floating at some potential other than "earth", should your body come in contact with any floating component and earth, you could get zapped.

Should a fault occur where a line conductor comes in contact with anything metal that is ungrounded, it will be live and at AC voltage potential to earth.

If you touch this casing (or anything electrically connected to it) with one hand, and touch seawater (connected to earth) with the other. Good night Irene, forever!

The only exception would be if the vessel was equipped with an ELCI (very good idea by the way), and I still recommend a proper AC ground, as ELCIs can fail.

I can't think of a "good" reason not to ground any marine AC electrical system.

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Old 30-11-2015, 16:41   #15
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Re: DC generator and inverter ground

Quote:
Originally Posted by PacificGreen View Post
In this case my inverter positive negatives come from the positive and negative DC bus bars with 1/0 cable. They then produce the 120v that I will use via their own GFCI outlets. They are Cotek 3000w 48v 120v inverters.

The solar power positive and negative leads from the panels arrive at the charge controller and from there make their way to the main positive and negative dc bus bars. I'm using 650amp BEP busbars. I have three of these.

I will produce AC on board from two inverters so my chassis ground from both of these will tie in to a dedicated bus bar for those devices. For AC to DC charging I use a couple of Lestronic II 120vac to 48v chargers so they simply plug into a normal 120volt outlet if I can find one at marinas. So I will run all my green ground wires to a dedicated bus bar and then attach only once to the main DC negative bus bar.

I won't be wiring to an AC panel on the ship. Here I will post some shots of my test bench. Also for reference I've taken the time to post over in another thread of what my experience has been so far with my batteries etc... LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Please know that I have corrected my color coding on these pictures for the wires both at my time and expense of learning. The charge contoller is a Coleman Air 440HVA.

I will include the link to the manual for my inverters again here:
http://www.canadianpowerconversion.c...000_Manual.pdf
So I am pretty much covered by their GFCI outlets.

So your saying go ahead with this through the keel bolt. Then on the dry this will in turn need an earth ground attached to a grounding rod beside the boat. I expect to be on the dry a couple of weeks at this point and using the power and systems on the boat so better to have then not.

When I did my limited testing with the inverters I had a ground wire out the door to a metal bar in the ground.

At this point in time it seems rather pointless to not attach the main DC Ground bus bar to the keel bolt then to the dynaplate under it. Just means I have to replace the bolt with same type of material I use for the grounding plate be that a dynaplate or otherwise copper bar stock.

I do though feel quite safe with the quality of the inverters and knowing that if chassis grounded to the dc bus that it will at least take that path of least resistance back to the battery. So for the first few days this is how it will operate.

I agree with the Dynaplate being a great solution - readily available for purchase. I'm not sure how I will get disconnect from shore power as I won't ever be hooked up to shore power and my boat is wooden.

The Chassis ground for the inverter is what we are specifically discussing here. If a wire were to ever come off inside the inverter it needs to find the path of least resistance as a wire back to the dc ground bus bar and not me. That would pretty much be the equivalent of cutting the end off an extension cord and plugging it into the inverter 120vac gfci outlet at which point the gfci would trip and disconnect.

Suffice to say I'm getting to the point of understanding ABYC grounding much clearer now. Grounding to the water does open up an entire new can of worms with galvanic corrosion.

Yes and this is how sometimes I interpret the ABYC as well. I don't necessarily have to be grounded to the ocean. So at this point I'm still factually unsure if I need to ground my system to the ocean or not. From the manual for the inverters:

3-6. AC Safety Grounding:

The AC output ground wire should go to the grounding point for your loads
( for example, a distribution panel ground bus ).

3-6-1. Neutral Grounding (GFCI’S):

3-6-1-1. 120V models:The neutral conductor of the AC output circuit
of the Inverter is automatically connected to the safety
ground during inverter operation. This conforms to National
Electrical Code requirements that separately derived from AC
sources (such as inverters and generators) which have their
neutral conductors tied to ground in the same way as the
neutral conductors from the utility tied to ground at the AC
breaker panel. For models configured with a transfer relay,
while AC utility power is present and the Inverter is in bypass
mode, this connection (the neutral of the Inverter’s AC output
to input safety ground) is not present so that the utility
neutral is only connected to ground at your breaker panel,
as required.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI):

Installations in Recreational Vehicles (for North American approvals) will
require GFCI protection of all branch circuit connected to the AC output of
the hardwire terminal equipped with Inverter. In addition, electrical codes
require GFCI protection of certain receptacles in residential installations.
While the pure sine wave output of the Inverter is equivalent to the
waveform provided by utilities, compliance with UL standards requires us to test and recommend specific GFCI. Cotek has tested the following GFCI – protected 20A receptacles and found that they functioned properly when connected to the output of the Inverter.

So basically I have two trolling motors and batteries. Exceptions are made in ABYC for these types of installations and I digress I do not want to make it any more complicated than that if I can avoid it.
All sounds good PG. It sounds like you don't have a dedicated shore power inlet on your boat if you are using extension cords to go to marina or boatyard (on the hard). Just make sure that you use 3-wire cables. If the marina and the boatyard are properly grounded (they are

supposed to be but I usually check if I have any reason to not trust it). If you have that proper ground through the 3-wire AC power you shouldn't need to have a separate connection to a grounding rod to earth. If in doubt then your grounding rod connection would give you one for sure. But it should be buried several feet to meet code here in the US.

Galvanic corrosion is indeed a whole other can of worms. However, all boats should have good grounding regardless. You would need to address the corrosion issues around this safety requirement.
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