Marine Electrical - Lights, Wiring, Batteries & Switches

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Electrical How-To's

Electrical Parts for my boat

Different Types Of Boat Electrical Parts

The joy or fun of boating is ability to operate a watercraft in the most efficient manner. Although many boats come with the essentials, you may need to upgrade some parts if you are seeking maximum satisfaction. In addition, ... read more the various boat electrical parts need to be replaced in case of fault or aging.

Some of the electrical parts that will be found in most vessels consist of the following:

Navigation Lights

Marine Boat Lights

Proper lighting is necessary if activities are to progress on smoothly without unnecessary interruptions. There are varied types of marine boat lights. Each type will be suited for a particular application. For instance, underwater lights are used to attract fish, spreader lights illuminate the deck as well as the water, and deck lights are fixed on the deck, while LED strips or ribbons are used in tight corners or for ornamental purposes.

Marine Battery Chargers, Batteries & Accessories

The boats power source should always be given priority. This is the heart of the operations in the vessel. A boat's battery supplies power to various instruments, electronics and other accessories. Battery chargers are used to charge the boat’s batteries. A power cord running from the boat to an offshore power source is used while the boat is docked at the marina.

Boat Wiring & Cable

One area of the boat that is usually overlooked is the wiring and cabling. Boaters will let the cables hang loose, fray or even become exposed. Some will also opt for low-quality replacements instead of top notch wires and cables. This will place more strain on the connections as well as the battery or power system. Heavily insulated or marine grade wires are the most suitable.

Marine Electrical Panels & Circuit Breakers

Electrical panels are the points where the electrical connections intersect. A good panel needs to have additional slots where extra connections can be made. It should also be made from durable and heat resistant material. Circuit breakers should also feature in a mariners list of boat electrical parts. The breaker cuts off power supply when it senses an electrical overload or short-circuiting.

Marine Shore Power & AC Distribution

While docked at the harbor, a boat may access the offshore power through connections placed at the dock. The AC power is used to power the boat as well as charge the batteries inside the boat. It’s important to make sure the connectors at the port are compatible with the boat system. The cabling also needs to be of high quality to avoid short-circuiting which may damage the boat. While using the offshore power, it’s always advisable to disconnect other appliances.

Marine Electrical Terminals

Electrical terminals are the points where electrical connections meet. This point will usually handle high voltages and current. Poor connections may lead to leakage of current and electricity as well as overheating. BusBars which are flat or hollow strips are usually placed in points that have many connections. They allow easy and safe connections without compromising electricity flow.

Marine Electrical Meters

Different types of meters will be found on the boat. Some will come as standard features while other may be added later by the boat owner. Common types include a voltmeter which measures electricity/power in volts, ammeter (measures electrical current in amps), oil pressure meter, vacuum gauge and many more. Whether repairing, upgrading or installing, always go for a quality meter.

Marine Fuse Blocks, BusBars & Terminal Blocks

Overloading the system, technical fault, natural catastrophe, or accident may affect the electrics hence damaging essential components and electronics. This can be avoided by using fuse blocks which burnout and cutoff the power. Terminal blocks allow the disconnections of multiple circuits. BusBars are used in areas where high current is prevalent. They allow easy dissipation of heat. You should replace the boat electrical parts with the same type and quality.


Marine Engine Instrumentation & Gauges

To monitor the boat’s performance, marine gauges and instruments are used. They gauges will measure temperature, electricity, pressure and more. Instruments are used to check the weather, gauge, direction, wind speeds, marine life and more. An aging instrument or gauge may start giving unreliable information hence needs to be replaced immediately.

Boat Heating & Air Conditioning

Different weather and climate may affect the temperature on the boat. It can either be too cold or hot. A good heating system will come handy in the cold while an air-conditioning unit is effective in the hot temperatures. The best accessory should be energy efficient, easy to install, and also environmentally friendly.

Marine Switches - Battery, Ignition, Rocker & Toggle

The electrics in a boat have to be in ship-shape. This is the only way to maximise efficiency and minimize wastage and cost. The battery, switches, toggles, cam switches, rockers and sockets should work in harmony. A faulty part affects other parts. For example, a bad switch will inhibit the flow of electricity or current from the battery to the power sockets.

Marine DC Power Plugs & Sockets

Many boats especially the small and mid-size vessels operate on direct current (DC). The voltage will come as 12, 24 or 36 volts. The electrical system consists of wires, plugs and sockets. Plugs attach to the devices or electronics while sockets are fixed on the boat and are the power points. High-quality accessories don’t suffer from power leakages or loose connections.

Solar Power Boating Accessories

Different types of electronics, meters and accessories place lots of demand on the boat’s battery. To subsidize or backup the battery, solar power unit is used. It consists of solar panels which turn sunlight into electrical currents, a battery to store the power, the charge controller that regulates the amount of power to avoid under or overcharging the battery, and an inverter (optional) that increases the power from 12volts to 110/220 volts AC.

In order to get the best service from your electrics, it’s paramount to go for quality and certified products. Settling for poor quality or substandard products will cause more harm than good. For example, the part may cause the system or electronic to overheat thus damaging it. Too much heat may also lead to a fire. Such mishaps are best avoided by buying boat electrical parts from credible dealers.
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Learn About Volts, Amps, Watts, and OHMs

What are Volts, Amps, Watts, and OHMs?

Every electric-based product on (along with any other marine store) consists of volts, amps, watts, and OHMs, all of which are crucial units of ... read more currents and pressure. These units work together to create a flow of electric waves and currents. Voltage and amperage specifically work together to create electric currents that cause our products to work as well as they do. All four of these concepts have a unique purpose in creating high-functioning electric waves and pressures.

Volts and Amps

Voltage consists of the amount of pressure produced in electricity. The higher the voltage, the faster and stronger the pressure will be. Volts are energy, circular motion that creates a pushing flow. Simultaneously, amperage is the amount of electric currents that gets the voltage moving. Voltage would be useless without the amperage, and amperage could not exist without voltage. Volts and amps can be compared to water running through plumbing systems—volts resemble water pressure, and amps represent the flow of that water pressure that gets it moving. .

Watts and Ohms

Watts are the source of power produced in the electricity each second. Watts are the muscle in electrical power and currents. By putting in the majority of the effort, this amplifies the strength of the volts and amps. Simultaneously, Ohms are a measure of electrical resistance that is a result of volts and amperage combined. Note the equation below: .

V / I = R

In this equation, V represents the voltage, and I represent currents (amperage), and R represents the resistance (Ohms). This all ties in with Ohm's law which combines volts, amps, and watts together into a relationship that creates varied amounts of electrical power. .

To summarize, each of the four concepts comes together to form the electric power. The electric power is necessary to make electrical products work as well as they do. So remember... .

  • Voltage = pressure.
  • Amperage = volume/currents.
  • Watts = amount of power.
  • Ohms = resistance.
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Blue Sea Systems Tech Tip: Considerations of Circuit Protection

Learn the tips and considerations for Protecting Circuts. ... read more Infographic: Tech Tip: Considerations of Circuit Protection

A standard by the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC), in regards to circuit protection, encourages boat owners to take this into consideration. Circuit protection can be achieved by attaching circuit breakers or fuses to the DC main circuit. Using these items help to protect the wires in the primary distribution system. The ABYC has a few recommendations for methods to use in order to protect your circuits:

  • 7” distance: applied when the conductor is NOT protected by an enclosure along with wire insulation. This allows a single conductor to stream directly from the main unit to the load.

  • 40” distance: applied when the conductor IS protected by an enclosure accompanied with wire insulation. This runs from the protected conductor to the primary power source to the battery switch to the load.

  • 72” distance: applied when the conductor and the battery are directly connected and is additionally sheltered in an enclosure with wire insulation. Protected conductor runs directly from the power source to the load.

Advising with a mechanic or technician is advised in selecting the appropriate method depending on the application.
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Troubleshooting Marine Electrical Systems

Troubleshooting Marine Electrical Systems

Observation and inspection are two important concepts to follow when preparing to troubleshoot your electrical system. Troubleshooting your electrical system should not ... read more be attempted alone if you are inexperienced with boating. You should at least be well instructed on what needs to be done, which is why we have provided some useful tips and procedures below.

  • Check the fuel system. Most importantly, inspect the status of the fuel pressure and quality. Replace or repair components and parts as is required.
  • Check the body of the hull in the surrounding area. It will be an obvious indication that something is amiss with your engine and or/electrical system if the outer shell of your boat has taken damage. Specifically, you should check the state of the propeller and the hull.
  • Check the status of any oils and lubes. In this process, you will want to check for contamination and any residue that might have found its way into the materials.
  • Inspect the spark and ignition system. You will likely need to remove spark plugs and wires to test the spark in the ignition system. We suggest another person present to help you in this process. After you remove the previously mentioned parts, have someone turn on the engine while you check to see if there is any spark.
  • Have a reliable set of tools and emergency supplies nearby. You should keep service kits close by to perform maintenance on the engine. Terminal lugs, sealants, and crimping tools are especially useful in these circumstances. Do NOT attempt this without the consultation of a technician or local mechanic, especially if you have not attempted and accomplished this before.
  • Some applications will include diagnostic tools. If this is the case, this will be an effect and fast way to determine if there is an internal problem. Monitors in the electrical system can connect with diagnostic tools and run tests on the voltage and other components in the system. Any drops in the wiring or spark will indicate that parts need to be repaired or replaced completely. Other useful tools include voltmeters and ohmmeters.
  • If you are unsure of how to start or need more visual aid, view your owner's manual. Having an owner's manual by your side is something that you should use from the very start; at least as a frame of reference. Furthermore, the written language in an owner's manual is often simplified in its text, so instructions and guidelines are easier to comprehend/understand.
  • Sometimes, it is as simple as just turning off the system and turning it on again. If there is not a serious problem, but the system still seems to be acting up, you can likely just get away with pulling out the plug, waiting 30-60 seconds, then plugging it back in.

*We do highly recommend consulting with a technician as you go with this process.

Last Resort
When all else fails and the GPS, chart plotter or other microprocessor-based equipment goes, the last thing you can do is perform a “clear,” “restore” or “master” reset. Doing so will often cure misbehaving microprocessors, but will clear all your routes and waypoints.

Pull the Plug
As with a faulty computer, you can often get a misbehaving unit back on its feet by turning the set off and on. Sometimes you need to remove the power cord or switch off a circuit breaker and wait about 30 seconds before applying power again.

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About Electrical
The harsh marine environment is undoubtedly hardest on a boat's sensitive electrical system; a good reason to never settle for anything but the best marine-grade electrical components and parts. Thanks to the our wide selection, great prices, and quality products from trusted brands such as Attwood, SeaSense, Innovative, Aqua Signal, Perko, Blue Sea Systems, and more, our electrical category is heaven to all our DIY customers looking to do the job only once. We carry every type of boat navigation light, over 9 different categories of electrical switch types, and many options for fuse and busbar blocks, circuit panels and breakers, and battery terminals. You can be confident in getting quality and selection with fast shipping on all the marine electrical parts and accessories you need for your boat.