Topic: Replaced the shore power plug and AC system.
This winter wasn't too hard on the boat but the brittle plastic shore power socket succumbed to old age crumbled apart. So, instead of living without shore power, I thought I could simply replace the plug... however, why replace an old fire hazard with a new one?
I stopped by HMP to pick up a shore power socket and spent $125 on a new, stainless plug (later to discover binnacle.ca has them fro $89). I had a good chat with the guy there and he tells me that in order to pass an insurance survey, I'll need a full panel. That's double 30A breakers plus a 15A breaker for each circuit. My options were ...
- 3 circuit panel ($190@HMP, $165@binnacle). This limits you to a single 15A circuit and you need to buy your own 15A breaker to be installed (included in those prices)
- 8 circuit panel ($250@HMP, $200@binnacle). This is a fairly large panel and there's no way I'll ever use 6 x 15A circuits on the Contessa.
- 5 circuit panel including voltage meter ("Too expensive"@HMP, on sale for $220@Binnacle). I chose this option as it allows for 3x15A circuits and has the safety feature of having the voltage meter as well as all breakers included.
I also discovered that the AC wiring in my boat was household stranded copper; I guess that's better than solid copper. I decided to replace that wiring with proper tinned, stranded marine wire.
The good news is that the stainless, Marinco, shore power plug is an exact bolt-pattern match and size. I was able to simply unbolt the old one, clean up the gunk and fit the new socket in place. I should have taken a picture... our cabin tops are THICK!
The shore power socket, on our boat, is right behind the head and the ABYC standards tell us that the run to the panel must be less than 10' or inline breakers are needed. I decided, for logistical reasons, not to run the AC wire aft and to build the AC Panel into the removable wall behind the head. On our boat, it seemed to be the only place the panel would fit and remain dry. I would still like to split the wall into two pieces to allow access to the head pumping without disturbing the AC wiring. I would also like to insulate the back of the AC panel as these panels arrive without any protection on the rear.
I replaced the 30A shore power input with 10AWG wire, which is the recommended size for 30A. And I replaced the existing 15A circuit wire with 14AWG wire. All of which is tinned, stranded, marine grade copper. The current circuit only has a single GFI socket on it, which is a good thing but I will be adding a second socket to the v-birth as we found sometimes it's nice to not run cables up front. I crimped all connections with a good quality ratchet crimper and didn't use any solder. I think this is the best and safest method on a boat... please don't use non-ratcheted crimp tools.
The wiring went well and I learned a lot about proper wiring, sizes, connections and AC safety... if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask them in this thread.
I really should have taken pictures or video... I suppose it's not too late.