Shore-power cords - are yours safe? - A checklist
by Martin Flory/Sail-World Cruising on 10 Mar 2012
She looks secure but is her shore-power connected safely? .. .
Shore-power cords, and the electricity they transfer, help bring convenience and comfort aboard boats - keep the systems running, the deep freeze going, top up your batteries.
However they can become dangerous fire and electrocution risks if they fail.
Care should be taken when selecting shore power cords to ensure reliability and safety are the top considerations.
But that's not where the responsibility ends. The prudent yacht owner will be constantly looking for warning danger signs.
Check out these points:
**To be watertight, the cord should be totally encased in solid PVC material. For flexibility, lightweight jute filler inside the cord jacket makes cable coil neatly and lay flat. This is particularly important in colder climates.
**Devices such as a strain relief bull ring alleviate stress on the conductors caused by boat movement, crew traffic and rough handling.
**A molded flexneck helps prevent right-angle cable damage, as well as accidental pullout of the cord.
**To prevent overheating and burnout, a copper crimp barrel termination, the type used by power companies, is superior to brass. Copper barrel sleeves—when used to crimp the wires to each terminal—provide more secure connections, better conductivity and longer life.
**A locking ring should be present for proper alignment of the connector to the inlet. This allows for a completely waterproof connection and prevents accidental disengagement. The shore power cord should incorporate line-up notches or a similar visual indication that the contact is locked or unlocked.
**Some shore power cords utilize indicator lights to visually confirm that power is flowing. Likewise, some models also have warning lights to show that incorrect, dangerous wiring conditions exist at the power source. Any such visual indicators should be molded into the cordset connection and fully watertight.
**It's important to know when a cord needs to be replaced. If the jacket is frayed and wire exposed, it's unsafe. Electrical shorts and a cord that's warm to the touch also indicate it's time to buy new. Any singe marks or discoloring around the male or female cord ends are a warning the cord must be immediately replaced.
This information has been kindly provided by Hubbell Marine Electrical Products.
About Hubbell Marine:
Founded in 1888, Hubbell is a US based, multi-billion dollar, global electrical and wire products manufacturer that serves many industries. It marine electrical products include UL Listed shorepower inlets, cablesets, adapters, plugs, connectors, weatherproof plates, ground fault receptacles and accessories from 15-200 amps. www.hubbell-marine.com.
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