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Old 19-10-2016, 17:30   #1
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Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

Didn't find anything on this elsewhere so I'll ask:

I have a 29 foot sailboat with no built in onboard AC power. In winter I run two small fans and occasional power tools also. I have a Marinco 30 amp cable to the dock but this feeds thru a homemade reduction to domestic extension cord inside.

I am concerned about the lack of fusing (and any other issues ) with this setup. I see ads for inline GfI's for extension cords but I understand a GFI is not a fuse nor a circuit breaker.

An ingenious neighbour has built himself a circuit breaker and a GFI (I believe its just a domestic GFI) in a box which is possibly one solution. He does not leave it hooked up continuously however.

Any suggestions or cautions?
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Old 19-10-2016, 18:49   #2
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

You're working with power tools in a floating boat with no circuit breaker at all? GFIs are circuit breakers that compare the current coming and going and trip usually before you can feel the shock. They save lives in the situation in which you are the link to ground. Please get one in that extension cord.
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Old 19-10-2016, 19:18   #3
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

GFIs are NOT over-current protection.
GFIs are leakage protection.

You want both. Possibly there's a breaker on your dock that provides over-current protection. I'd at the very least throw a portable GFI in the mix.

At minimum for something that's halfway decent, I'd install a minimal shore power system with a marine inlet, a overcurrent/reverse breaker, and a GFI.
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Old 20-10-2016, 09:24   #4
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

Ok. Thank you for the replies. I will get an inline GFI. As for the fuse/circuit breaker there is a breaker in the quite new dock system- I expect it is 30 amp?? I would like to have an in line fuse of lower amperage to cover these fans that are on continuously in winter. This small boat is not suited to a permanent AC service and I have no other need for it. Any suggestions on a fuse setup?
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Old 20-10-2016, 10:03   #5
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

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Originally Posted by robpat View Post
Ok. Thank you for the replies. I will get an inline GFI. As for the fuse/circuit breaker there is a breaker in the quite new dock system- I expect it is 30 amp?? I would like to have an in line fuse of lower amperage to cover these fans that are on continuously in winter. This small boat is not suited to a permanent AC service and I have no other need for it. Any suggestions on a fuse setup?
Sounds like you need to hire someone like me to wire your boat for you! (I work for food and beer, you pay for parts and materials ) Just kidding. If it were my boat that wasn't equipped for an A.C/ system, I would forget fuses and install a circuit breaker (or maybe two) on the interior of the boat in a fairly watertight/weather-tight connection box with only the breaker face(s) exposed (in order to reset it/them).

Not knowing what kind of power tools you operate or the wattage of your fans I cannot recommend an amperage rating here (i.e. unknown power requirements).

You should also have a GFI installed downstream of any circuit breaker installed on the boat. Concerning GFI's, if your electrical outlets are all installed in parallel with each other and the input power source, a single GFI will work for all outlets. If however, your electrical outlets are each fed individually from the input power source then you should replace the outlets with GFI/outlet combination outlets or put a GFI in line with them.

Electricity shows no mercy, trust me on this one. Do it right. If you don't know or understand, seek out someone who does. Electrical work on most boats is not overly complicated. Ask questions, teach yourself, learn to use a multimeter...The life you may save may be your own. Good Luck and hope that you don't ever have to experience the "60-cycle Shuffle" (It's kinda like a spastic dance step when you're attached to a live wire...usually with lots of swear words involved).
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Old 20-10-2016, 12:20   #6
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

Electricity works just fine without fuses or circuit breakers. These things are only there to protect your life and property and neighboring boats. You've already built yourself a dangerous situation by connecting a 30 amp service to s fifteen amp extension cord.


You are correct in being concerned with your system but I wonder why your concern didn't prevent you from constructing it.


The correct solution is to have a marine electrician design and install an ABYC compliant electrical system on your boat.


Other than that, you need to insure that overcurrent protection and GFCI protection is provided for all circuits and that all wiring is installed according to ABYC specifications.
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Old 20-10-2016, 19:29   #7
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

buy a large plastic electrical box with lid. put a 30a inlet on one side. buy a AC panel with a double pole main and 2 15a circuits. on the top of the box. put 2 GFI outlets on the other side. wire everything inside the box.

you'll have a portable circuit breaker box that can be put anywhere in the boat. run a 30a shore cord from dock to your box. and run extension cords out from the plugs.

or do it right and just install the panel into the boat.
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Old 21-10-2016, 09:59   #8
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

Why not replace the small fans with solar powered vents. A simple solution that lots of people use. Whatever the cost, it'll be cheaper than installing an AC system or burning down your boat.

So long as the dock has a breaker (which you say it does), running an extension cord to the boat to use a power tool is fine. An inline GFI would be nice, since you are working around water. But never leave the cord plugged in unless you are there supervising it.

I removed the AC system from my C&C25. Then I secured a plug in a safe, weather shielded location in the cockpit. When I occasionally needed AC, like to run a battery charger or drill, I would use an extension cord to connect to shore. But both ends were secure, not just laying about. And I was there supervising. If I had to go, unlplugged at the post.

And finally, if you are just running some power tools...you might consider battery operated, rechargeable power tools. Are you talking about just a drill? And if you have 12volts aboard, why not use a small inverter for the little bit of AC you sometimes need.

I totally agree with you...AC is NOT needed on a small sailboat. I enjoyed removing all the AC wiring and accessories from my boat. You can replace your battery charger with a small solar panel.

Best of luck, and please let us know what happens.
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Old 21-10-2016, 10:08   #9
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

Google
Gfi extension cord
Circuit breaker extension cord
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Old 21-10-2016, 16:44   #10
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

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buy a large plastic electrical box with lid. put a 30a inlet on one side. buy a AC panel with a double pole main and 2 15a circuits. on the top of the box. put 2 GFI outlets on the other side. wire everything inside the box.

you'll have a portable circuit breaker box that can be put anywhere in the boat. run a 30a shore cord from dock to your box. and run extension cords out from the plugs.

or do it right and just install the panel into the boat.
I would go this way also. Get it done right the first time. If not you will take it for granted and you will get too confident that things are going as they should until something goes wrong, especially electrical. Protect yourself and the others around you that would go and help...
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Old 21-10-2016, 21:14   #11
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

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Originally Posted by hamburking View Post

So long as the dock has a breaker (which you say it does), running an extension cord to the boat to use a power tool is fine. An inline GFI would be nice, since you are working around water. But never leave the cord plugged in unless you are there supervising it.
The 30 amp dock breaker will not protect a 15 amp extension cord and outlet. There needs to be a 30 amp breaker on the boat (double pole) and a 15 amp breaker for each circuit.

smac999 described the safest portable solution.
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Old 24-10-2016, 14:01   #12
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

Thanks for all these suggestions. I have just seen a Marinco product that is an in-line extension cord-type device which has a 30 amp terminal at one end, then a breaker with a single set of reset buttons and a green 'on' light, then a 15 amp ordinary extension cord output - actually a tri-splitter. Its not clear to me yet whether the breaker is a combined circuit breaker and GFI...still researching this. I would kind of assume if Marinco makes it ...it is a safe-to-go device but I will report back. Cost about $C 160.00.
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Old 24-10-2016, 22:43   #13
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

It is a GFCI, not a breaker.

Dockside 30A to 15A Adapter with GFCI, 30A Locking Plug to 15A Connector | Marinco
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Old 25-10-2016, 15:54   #14
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

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Thanks for providing a picture...
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Old 25-10-2016, 18:23   #15
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Re: Use of extension cords -no AC Panel on Board

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also this is only rated for 15a total. you can't run 2 15 amp circuits from this cord.
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