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Old 15-09-2016, 07:12   #1
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Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

Hello,

I just bought a boat and my insurance company (BoatUS) is asking me to put in writing my plan to complete the surveyor's recommendations. There were only 3 and one is already done. The other two involve upgrading the AC outlets. One is to add plastic boxes around the back of the outlet to protect from moisture. Should be easy. The other involves the GFCI circuits, and this is where I will show my ignorance and could use some guidance.

The problem (as I understand it) is that the Freedom Model 20 Inverter will not trip the GFCI in the AC outlets even at unsafe loads because it's not a true sine wave inverter. The surveyor recommended finding outlets that are compatible. This Handy Xantrex Chart seems to indicate which outlets are indeed compatible. So my plan is to simply swap out the existing outlets for a model listed on the chart and install a plastic box on the back of it.

My first question is, do I have this right or is there more to it than that?

My next question, is how can I test the functionality of the GFCIs when I am done? Stick a fork in there?

Finally, before I speak with the insurance company and commit to one plan, does anyone think it will be an issue if I tell them I will complete this repair over the winter? On the other hand, if I give them a time frame that is less realistic for the repair (like right away) do I presume correctly that they could use this to deny coverage on a completely unrelated claim? I don't want any lapse in my coverage now during hurricane season for an electrical code issue on the AC outlets, which by the way I'm not even using.

Any guidance is greatly appreciated!
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Old 15-09-2016, 07:29   #2
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeCrush View Post
... This Handy Xantrex Chart seems to indicate which outlets are indeed compatible. So my plan is to simply swap out the existing outlets for a model listed on the chart and install a plastic box on the back of it.

My first question is, do I have this right or is there more to it than that?
My next question, is how can I test the functionality of the GFCIs when I am done? Stick a fork in there?
1. You have it right.
2. Push the “TEST” button on the receptacle.

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Old 15-09-2016, 07:44   #3
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

Also note on Gord's schematic only the first outlet in a circuit has to be a GFCI outlet, you don't need a GFCI at each outlet.
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Old 15-09-2016, 08:24   #4
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

You only have to have one GFCI that is in a circuit provided it is the first one between the source (Line In) and the other outlets downstream of the GFCI. However, you have to wire it correctly so that the line wires (AC source) are on the terminals marked "Line In" or whatever it is labeled and the downstream outlets are wired from the "Load Out" terminals. They are different and not interconnected like they are on most regular outlets.

You can test the downstream outlets the same way you test the GFCI, either with the "Test" button on the GFCI or with a GFCI outlet tester. I would recommend you get an outlet polarity tester which has three lights on the end that light up in various ways to indicate proper wiring. Usually two ambers for a correct job.

You can test all the outlets with it. I have one and use it every time I rewire any AC outlets. You can buy one that has a button to also trip a GFCI outlet. You can also test it at the non-GFCI outlets downstream to cause the GFCI circuit to trip.

The first is pretty inexpensive. The second a bit more. If you do AC wiring you should always have one in your tool kit.
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Old 15-09-2016, 09:09   #5
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

You can also use a GFCI Breaker that will protect all of the outlets down-stream from it. it simply installs in the breaker box like a normal breaker with the exception that the neutral (white for normal AC wiring) is connected to the breaker and not directly to the neutral buss. The downside to this is that in the event of a trip, it has to be reset at the breaker.

You can also test any GFCI by placing a voltmeter on the Hot leg of the plug (this will be the smaller of the slots in any new polarized ac plug) and the ground (Small round hole). This will immediately trip the GFCI if it is wired correctly. If the volt meter is placed between the hot leg and the Neutral (Larger of the "Slots") you will get a normal voltage reading but not trip the GFCI.
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Old 15-09-2016, 10:18   #6
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

I'm a little surprised they asked for the back boxes. It's a very good idea, but I don't think they actually require it under ABYC or USCG currently. In fact I think it has come up before as a topic in ABYC to add it.
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Old 15-09-2016, 10:21   #7
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

This is great info, everybody. Thanks a lot.

Steve, I like your idea since it wouldn't require following the existing outlet wiring to determine the upstream/downstream order. Since there is already a double pole breaker for the AC power on the main switch panel, could I just replace that with an appropriate GFCI breaker, or does it have to be separate? I believe the battery charger also runs off that switch. Something like this perhaps, but small enough to fit on the existing panel? I don't want to cut a new hole nor do I want it to be hidden out of reach. Any suggestions for a specific breaker?

Is there any difference between ELCI and GFCI other than where on the system it is located? Would a breaker like this at the panel meet all relevant standards? Besides protecting from shock and damage, as I mentioned my main concern is being up to code for insurance purposes.

If I can't find a way to use the existing panel, installing a GFCI on the most upstream outlet seems like a good solution. I will definitely invest in a circuit tester as you suggested, exMaggie to make sure everything checks out when I'm done.

Thanks again.
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Old 15-09-2016, 10:25   #8
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeCrush View Post
This is great info, everybody. Thanks a lot.

Steve, I like your idea since it wouldn't require following the existing outlet wiring to determine the upstream/downstream order. Since there is already a double pole breaker for the AC power on the main switch panel, could I just replace that with an appropriate GFCI breaker, or does it have to be separate? I believe the battery charger also runs off that switch. Something like this perhaps, but small enough to fit on the existing panel? I don't want to cut a new hole nor do I want it to be hidden out of reach. Any suggestions for a specific breaker?

Is there any difference between ELCI and GFCI other than where on the system it is located? Would a breaker like this at the panel meet all relevant standards? Besides protecting from shock and damage, as I mentioned my main concern is being up to code for insurance purposes.

If I can't find a way to use the existing panel, installing a GFCI on the most upstream outlet seems like a good solution. I will definitely invest in a circuit tester as you suggested, exMaggie to make sure everything checks out when I'm done.

Thanks again.
ELCI and GFCI are similar but not the same. ELCI is a 30ma trip point GFCI is 5ma trip. The marine GFCI breakers are some what rare and expensive. Your best bet dollar wise is finding the most upstream outlets and replacing that outlet. You could try to email the boat builder to see if they have a wiring diagram to help out.
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Old 15-09-2016, 10:37   #9
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

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Originally Posted by Colin A View Post
ELCI and GFCI are similar but not the same. ELCI is a 30ma trip point GFCI is 5ma trip. The marine GFCI breakers are some what rare and expensive. Your best bet dollar wise is finding the most upstream outlets and replacing that outlet. You could try to email the boat builder to see if they have a wiring diagram to help out.
Got it, thanks. While I'm at it, how can I be sure my boat is protected by an ELCI? Although I suspect it is, it wasn't mentioned in the survey and the yard where I will be keeping it over the winter has a less than stellar electrical system.
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Old 15-09-2016, 11:10   #10
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeCrush View Post
Got it, thanks. While I'm at it, how can I be sure my boat is protected by an ELCI? Although I suspect it is, it wasn't mentioned in the survey and the yard where I will be keeping it over the winter has a less than stellar electrical system.
If it's an older boat, It will have been retrofitted in the past 5 years or so if it has one. Typically it will either have a main breaker on the panels with a test button. labeled ELCI. Most retrofits tend to have it added inline between the inlet and the panel in a sealed enclosure.
Enclosure Mounted ELCI Panels | Bass Products
There are also types that go inline on the shore cord.
30 Amp Inline Marine ELCI - GFCISTORE.COM
And also some sold by Hubbel that are mounted in a cover that looks like a shore cord inlet near the inlet.
http://www.hubbell-wiring.com/press/...ail.aspx?ID=91
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Old 15-09-2016, 11:19   #11
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Re: Need to Replace AC Outlets for Insurance...

Very helpful, thanks. Most of the electrical system was replaced 3 years ago. I will check with the former owner and look for it if he doesn't know.
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