Toms Tips About Marina Dock Power
By Tom Neale, 2/4/2010
1. Be particularly careful about power supply in offshore marinas that use generator power. I knew if an island marina, for example, where the operator actually ramped up the generator’s RPMs to help “balance” the load. If you have a good digital volt/ohm meter and a hertz meter, and know how to SAFELY use them, you can check out questionable power before it does damage to some of your sensitive equipment.
2. You can have a panel hertz meter and/or a portable one. These will tell you the frequency of the sine waves, which for most US boats, should be very close to 60. If it’s very far off, it could adversely affect, perhaps even damage, some of your equipment.
3. While most US marinas supplied by a land based power grid will have stable current as to sine wave, the wiring in the marina may be inadequate for large loads and cause a voltage drop at your boat which could not only damage equipment, but be dangerous. If a large boat pulls in and plugs in on your dock, or if a lot of people are running air conditioners, check your panel voltage meter to be sure you’re OK.
4. It’s not uncommon to see dock receptacles that look like they’ve been overheated, that arcing has occurred and that even smell burnt. This indicates that there has been a problem, or perhaps many problems, in the past. This could lead to arcing or wire burn out which could damage your equipment and your connecting plug. While the receptacle may still be good, you should carefully check your current when you plug in and continue to monitor it. You should also tell the marina operator. Most good marina operators have a supply of good receptacles and can quickly replace a questionable one. Most will appreciate your letting them know there may be a problem. If your dock power line plug smells burnt or looks blackened, it’s time to replace it.
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