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Old 02-24-2013, 10:08 PM   #1
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GFI outlets?

I purchased RESTITUTION a year ago. Have old school outlets on board. Thety are three prong. Should I replace ALL with GFI's or does one per circuit work?

Also, Genset has a green wire that is 3rd utility ground and NOT connected to anything. It is just a four inch wire coming off of the genset going to nothing. How should I wire this up properly to get a good utility ground to the 110 panel and all outlets?
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:26 PM   #2
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One GFI per circuit should do it. I will not venture an opinion on the green wire on the generator.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:35 PM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. Sam. I agree with Mr. Moonstruck. One GFCI per circuit will work but I think it depends on WHERE in the circuit the GFCI is. Beginning or end, I can't remember. More than one per circuit may have you chasing "trips" all over the boat and on our boat, shore power interruption requires resetting the GFCI. Bad enough with one but several? You would get tired of the process VERY quickly.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:38 PM   #4
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The green & white need to be bonded at the generator while the gennie is running and unbonded while on shore power.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:57 PM   #5
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I purchased RESTITUTION a year ago. Have old school outlets on board. Thety are three prong. Should I replace ALL with GFI's or does one per circuit work?
A GFI if placed in a string of plugs, if wired properly will protect the complete string. The instructions are in the box with the GFI.
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Old 02-24-2013, 10:59 PM   #6
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Greetings,
Mr. Sam. I agree with Mr. Moonstruck. One GFCI per circuit will work but I think it depends on WHERE in the circuit the GFCI is. Beginning or end, I can't remember.
Ans: At the beginning.
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Old 02-25-2013, 06:21 AM   #7
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The green & white need to be bonded at the generator while the gennie is running and unbonded while on shore power.
A lot of people don't know this, but it is correct. We would hope the transfer switch would take care of this, but if you're not sure, call in a qualified marine electrician.
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Old 02-25-2013, 06:23 AM   #8
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A single GFCI receptacle can be placed at the first outlet in a circuit and can be wiared to protect all the outlets downstream of that outlet.

Anywhere else and it only protects itself and any outlets downstream.

Again, you might want to call in a qualified marine electrician just so you're comfortable that your boat is wired safely. Electricity and water can be a fatal mix if not done correctly.
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Old 02-25-2013, 06:48 AM   #9
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You can find the outlets on the circuit by turning off the breaker and checking by plugging in a light to find the dead outlets. You can find the first outlet by turning off the breaker, remove the outlet that you think is first, then check the other outlets to see if they are dead. If it is not the right outlet, then it is the same procedure by the process of elimination.

Oh yeah, don't forget to turn the breaker back on for the testing stage.
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Old 02-25-2013, 06:55 AM   #10
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You can find the outlets on the circuit by turning off the breaker and checking by plugging in a light ..............
Better than a light, home centers and electrical supply houses sell a plug-in tester that shows if a receptical has power, if it's wired correctly, and has a button to test the GFCI feature. About $10.00.
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:25 AM   #11
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There is another possibility, and that is that your boat has ground fault breaker or breakers at the head of each major circuit. That's how Hatteras did it, and the fact that you have no GFCI outlets on your boat makes that possibility a real one. Got a picture of your panel(s)?

A big issue on older boats is figuring out what various prior owners did to the electrical system in terms of additions and deletions. To break out a panel for my inverter, I had to eliminate one of the master ground fault breakers that fed a particular circuit. So I installed a GFCI outlet right at the panel where I KNEW it would be first in line. Turned out it's come in handy otherwise. As a belt and suspenders move you can always put GFCI's in the usual suspect places like galleys and heads, but on a boat that is not the sole answer, all outlets need to be protected; I have had my GFCI circuits "tested" a few times by various items like work lights, buffers, extension cords etc finding their way into water.

I agree with Ron. AC is not something to be trifled with. Get some qualified eyes on the situation if you have any doubts whatsoever. I am very comfortable with electrical work but almost always get a "real" marine electrician to help or at least consult with the high voltage stuff.

No comment on the generator wire, there are too many variables, so without seeing the whole boat any postulation would be irresponsible.
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:51 AM   #12
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There is another possibility, and that is that your boat has ground fault breaker or breakers at the head of each major circuit. That's how Hatteras did it, and the fact that you have no GFCI outlets on your boat makes that possibility a real one. .
That's where the tester I mentioned above comes in handy. The guy who surveyed my boat had one. I have one also.


Amazon.com: GE 50957 GFCI Tester for Proper Installation/Operation 110-125V: Home Improvement
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Old 02-25-2013, 07:58 AM   #13
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That's where the tester I mentioned above comes in handy. The guy who surveyed my boat had one. I have one also.


Amazon.com: GE 50957 GFCI Tester for Proper Installation/Operation 110-125V: Home Improvement
That tester will tell you if an outlet is working and/or has a fault; but it won't tell if the outlet is first in the circuit.
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Old 02-25-2013, 08:30 AM   #14
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A lot of people don't know this, but it is correct. We would hope the transfer switch would take care of this, but if you're not sure, call in a qualified marine electrician.
More house electrician nonsense.

It is house electrician nonsense because it is based on terrestrial electrical code rules that state a neutral will only be bonded to ground at a single location.

Unless you have a houseboat that is firmly fixed to the beach and has street address on the side instead of a hailing port you should adhere to marine practice and forget what house electricians tell you "must" be done.
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Old 02-25-2013, 09:20 AM   #15
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More house electrician nonsense.

It is house electrician nonsense because it is based on terrestrial electrical code rules that state a neutral will only be bonded to ground at a single location.

Unless you have a houseboat that is firmly fixed to the beach and has street address on the side instead of a hailing port you should adhere to marine practice and forget what house electricians tell you "must" be done.
Thank you for your kind words.

Bob and I are still correct even if the NEC does not apply. Electricity does not care if it's on a boat.
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Old 02-25-2013, 10:37 AM   #16
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That tester will tell you if an outlet is working and/or has a fault; but it won't tell if the outlet is first in the circuit.
Actually, you can find this out pretty fast by using the tester in each outlet and seeing which GFCI pops.

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Old 02-25-2013, 10:42 AM   #17
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That tester will tell you if an outlet is working and/or has a fault; but it won't tell if the outlet is first in the circuit.

That's correct and I didn't mean to imply that it would, just that it's a good way to check GFCI receptacles and/or breakers.

Note: It's possible that there will be no "first" outlet in a circuit. The circuit could branch before any outlets.
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Old 02-25-2013, 10:45 AM   #18
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"call in a qualified marine electrician "

Where does one find such an individual? In our area, Galveston Bay/Clear Lake, TX, I have yet to run across any marine tradesman worth a damn.

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Old 02-25-2013, 10:53 AM   #19
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More house electrician nonsense.

It is house electrician nonsense because it is based on terrestrial electrical code rules that state a neutral will only be bonded to ground at a single location.

Unless you have a houseboat that is firmly fixed to the beach and has street address on the side instead of a hailing port you should adhere to marine practice and forget what house electricians tell you "must" be done.
Not only this this wrong, but it's wrong in a way that can kill you.

There is a very good reason for a single neutral bonding point, which I will describe: Current in your AC system flows through two wires: the hot and the neutral. The ground wire exists so that if there is a any "leakage" of electrons, they will flow to the ground and that will trip any over-current protection device (OCPD, typically a breaker or fuse), which is located in the same circuit as the OCPD.

Now, I want you to imagine that you have the ground bonded to the neutral in two locations, for example the shore power breaker panel on the dock and also the genset. Now imagine that for some reason the ground connection from the shore panel breaker to the boat is poor -- which can easily happen for any number of reasons: a bad connection in the cable, a wiring problem on the dock, a wiring problem on the boat, etc. Now imaging that we have the same leakage of electrons from the hot to the ground on the boat. This will not induce any current flow from hot to ground in the OCPD. In fact, even worse, since there is a second connection to groundon the boat, this will have the effect of energizing the ground circuit on the boat to the full potential of the hot leg of the incoming circuit. This is potentially lethal to both people on your boat as well as to people on other boats and in the water.

If you want some gruesome reading, Google "electrocution at the dock ground bonding". And here's a link to proper "marine practice", from Steve D'Antonio, that directly contradicts the advice given by the poster quoted above: Steve D'Antonio - Marine Consulting Services for Boat Buyers, Boat Owners, and Manufacturers

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Old 02-25-2013, 11:03 AM   #20
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Tell it to the folks who might know a bit more about marine generators than the average house electrician...


"There is no consensus of opinion on whether the neutral conductor should be connected to the bonding system (grounded) or not (floating ground).

Grounding the neutral may increase electrolytic corrosion. Not grounding the neutral creates a potential shock hazard. The American Boat and Yacht Council recommends grounding the neutral at the generator for safety reasons, though this may shorten the life of heat exchangers and other components. Northern Lights heartily recommends grounding the neutral since personal safety takes priority over all other considerations.

For additional electrical information, consult the AC wiring diagrams in the Generator Manual for the generator end installed on your set."
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