Monday, December 12, 2016

Shore Power and ELCI's

Our 2 wheel drive Ranger without snow tires

Autarkia in her Winter element

We had our first major snowstorm of the year and it has basically stranded us at home for the weekend.  Unable to go anywhere, I have sat down and spent some time designing the electrical system for Autarkia.
Not that there is a lot of designing to do, since it will be quite a simple system, but I do want to make it safe and legal, so that when the final survey is done there will be no issues with my insurance.

My plan is to have a simple shore power system that can hook up to any 30A single phase shore power outlet, that will supply a total of 3 outlet plugs only, and nothing else.  There will be one GFI protected outlet in the utility room forward, that will have a slave outlet in the stateroom.  That will be one 15 amp circuit.  The remaining 15 amp circuit will supply a single GFI protected outlet in the galley.

The new regulations concerning shore power for any boat built since 2013, require ELCI protection on the whole supply.  The ELCI breaker is much the same as a GFI breaker that is typically installed in a house, except that it trips at around 30ma of leaked current, as opposed to 5ma of leaked current for a household GFI.  This prevents a lot of unnecessary tripping in a marine environment while still providing protection from lethal current.

I hesitate to provide exact details of my installation because if you do not know how to look this up, understand it completely, and safely wire your boat then you are taking a chance.  Hire a professional please! I should point out now that I am a licensed Industrial Electrician...

Now about my 12vdc power:  In actual fact I will have 2 DC systems.  One of them is associated with the outboard motor, and comprises the starting battery and the motor's charging system.  I intend to supply LED running lights with the motor's battery, as well as the chart plotter and VHF radio.  This system is completely independent from anything else on the boat.  The motor by the way, has a starting pull cord and starts very easily without the battery - so running it down is not a problem.

My other DC 12 volt system will simply be a single deep cycle battery for the LED cabin lighting, anchor light, and phone/computer chargers.  I will keep this charged with a solar panel, and will also have a charger on it that plugs into a shore power outlet.

We will also have on board a 2000W Honda generator, capable of supplying 12volt charging current as well as 120VAC.

I think that, along with our wood stove and propane cooking set up, oil lamps for light, and 3 separate and independent electrical systems backed up with a portable generator, we will have a lot of redundancy should something fail on the boat.  All eggs do not occupy one basket!

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