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Old 11-27-2017, 08:27 PM   #1
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Shut down shore power during storms?

The thought crossed this brain that I don't want to risk potentially damaging anything electrical in the boat with brown- or black-outs. I've been shutting off AC shore power as a result in high winds as we do get power outages in our area (San Juans).

Is this generally a good practice or something that you all do as well? As long as my bilge pumps are hard wired to batteries, which they are, I see no reason why not. When storm passes I turn AC power back on to run low-watt heaters and a fan.
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Old 11-27-2017, 08:35 PM   #2
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I would consider and have shut off power during lightning storms, for fear of surges, but I do not understand your reasoning for shutting it off during high winds. If the power goes out it goes out and it should not harm anything. Just my opinion FWIW.
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Old 11-27-2017, 09:07 PM   #3
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Yes but what about a brown-out where voltage dips and surges wildly.... as in... lights go dim for several seconds. I'm thinking I don't want that going into my inverter/charger, heater/fan, fan, etc.

Plus a black-out, at least in our area, is rarely just a hard shut-off of power. Usually there is some form of brown-out just before.
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Old 11-28-2017, 06:18 AM   #4
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Box stores have surge protectors for about $75 that will should care of surge from a nearby lightning strike for house current.

How the DC electronics and computer engine injection setup handles surges is always a problem.
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Old 11-28-2017, 06:47 AM   #5
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I would consider and have shut off power during lightning storms, for fear of surges, but I do not understand your reasoning for shutting it off during high winds. If the power goes out it goes out and it should not harm anything. Just my opinion FWIW.


Shutting down power during lightning storms is a good idea, but unless you physically unplug your shore power cord you are not protected. The damaging lighting “spike” can, and usually does, enter your boat via the ground wire which is still connected when the power breaker is turned off!
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:18 AM   #6
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If you are not on your boat at the time of the storm, you can't really do that. That would be about 99% of the time for most of us. And as suggested by Pgitug, you gave to physically unplug the cord to get any real protection.

A lightning strike will take out your appliances regardless.

Unplug it if you can and want to, but for most of us it's impractical and a low risk.
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:26 AM   #7
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Box stores have surge protectors for about $75 that will should care of surge from a nearby lightning strike for house current.

How the DC electronics and computer engine injection setup handles surges is always a problem.
If you've got 100's of Ah of batteries connected, the DC side of the system is not an issue with regards to surges our brownouts. The battery bank is a BFC.
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Old 11-28-2017, 07:38 AM   #8
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I have boat insurance to cover this. If I time it right, I can upgrade the electronics and installed professionally too.

Of course when you have a storm at home, you unplug your TV then go open the breaker at the house feed then, light the candles, qnd start a fire in the wood stove or sit in the dark.
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Old 11-28-2017, 08:37 AM   #9
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Thousands of vessels in the PNW remain plugged in all the time. Certainly mine is. Never had an issue in the 12 years we've been at same marina.

What do your marina owners recommend? Does the marina have a unique issue?
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Old 11-28-2017, 12:19 PM   #10
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Thousands of vessels in the PNW remain plugged in all the time. Certainly mine is. Never had an issue in the 12 years we've been at same marina.

What do your marina owners recommend? Does the marina have a unique issue?
Haven't received a clear answer from harbormaster on this issue. I just know i dont want power fluctuations coming i to my boat via brown outs or power surges, period. Not worth it in my opinion especially since I'm not a liveaboard. power went out again last night (likely associated with some form of brown out just prior) so I'm happy that I shut off shore power. I've had other equipment, not on boats, get fried due to brown outs, so I'm naturally cautious on this front. Curious to hear none of you implement this practice.
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Old 11-28-2017, 02:37 PM   #11
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Curious to hear none of you implement this practice.
When I'm not on vessel for an extended period, the only power draws are for heaters and chargers. What do you leave on? I'm not too concerned about "low" voltage for either of these items.

But brown outs? Not an issue at my marina that I'm aware of. Sounds like your docks have some problems.
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Old 11-28-2017, 08:23 PM   #12
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When I'm not on vessel for an extended period, the only power draws are for heaters and chargers. What do you leave on? I'm not too concerned about "low" voltage for either of these items.

But brown outs? Not an issue at my marina that I'm aware of. Sounds like your docks have some problems.
I have on my AC main, battery charger/inverter, and AC receptacles powering a fan and two low-watt heater/fan units.

The issue isn't necessarily at my marina. My common sense tells me to minimize allowing highly-fluctuating voltage into ANYTHING electrical - boats, at home, etc. I've seen motors and electrical gizmos have big issues in those situations. I figure there's no point to risk it and no harm done in shutting off shore power before an approaching storm that will likely result in one or many electrical anomalies. Good to hear many of you don't have issues... maybe this is more of an "island" worry!
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:35 AM   #13
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If you have a refrigerator and use it, you'll probably want to stay connected to shore power. If it switches to battery power, you'll get three or four days max, depending on your batteries and ambient temperature.
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Old 11-29-2017, 10:09 AM   #14
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Sent my boat to the yard for a week. (no shore power) I have a 12v fridge, full of food. I have two solar panels on the pilot house roof, charging the batteries. When I got back to the boat, all was well.
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Old 11-29-2017, 02:38 PM   #15
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I'd be far more worried about a low watt heater running unattended than about the potential issues with a power surge or brown out. I've witnessed these devices start a fire. Is your boat in the water? Why are you running a heater at all?

How many devices have you needed to replace at home as a result of these conditions?
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Old 11-29-2017, 08:03 PM   #16
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I'd be far more worried about a low watt heater running unattended than about the potential issues with a power surge or brown out. I've witnessed these devices start a fire. Is your boat in the water? Why are you running a heater at all?

How many devices have you needed to replace at home as a result of these conditions?
I'm running two west marine "dehumidifier" but they are really a low watt heater with fan. I think most people run similar devices on their boats to help keep temp up and air moving to prevent against mold and freezing temps. yes boat is in water. I'll get mold if I do nothing.

I've had fried computers and a washer fry from brown outs.
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Old 11-30-2017, 07:47 AM   #17
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I think we may be missing the definition of "brown out." To me, that means a sustained low-voltage situation introduced by the power company during times of critical demand on the grid.

In that case, motors like fans and compressors might be working a little harder. But presumably voltage is not lowered enough to damage them in normal use.

So let's move on to voltage surges (spikes) and sags. I live at what used to be the far end of a 15-mile-long line from the nearest substation, along a tree-lined, winding road. Suffice it to say I know a lot about storm-induced outages.

Yes, the lights flicker and dim before an outage. Yes, the power typically comes back on for a moment, or up to five minutes, a time or two before the final outage. This is due to intermittent connections as wires fail, and/or automatic switching in the grid.

I've never had, and never heard of anyone who has had, damage due to this sort of thing. I would unplug computers (back in the days before laptops) and TV's if I knew it was coming. Beyond that, not much you need to do.

And of course, the DC side is fairly well isolated from these sorts of things, assuming we're still not talking about a lightening strike. Sensitive DC electronics would normally be powered off when on shore power anyway.

Hey, if you're living aboard, and want to feel better weathering a storm with the power cord unplugged, no reason not to. But if you're away from the boat, it's better plugged in than unplugged.
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Old 11-30-2017, 12:36 PM   #18
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I think we may be missing the definition of "brown out." To me, that means a sustained low-voltage situation introduced by the power company during times of critical demand on the grid.

In that case, motors like fans and compressors might be working a little harder. But presumably voltage is not lowered enough to damage them in normal use.

So let's move on to voltage surges (spikes) and sags. I live at what used to be the far end of a 15-mile-long line from the nearest substation, along a tree-lined, winding road. Suffice it to say I know a lot about storm-induced outages.

Yes, the lights flicker and dim before an outage. Yes, the power typically comes back on for a moment, or up to five minutes, a time or two before the final outage. This is due to intermittent connections as wires fail, and/or automatic switching in the grid.

I've never had, and never heard of anyone who has had, damage due to this sort of thing. I would unplug computers (back in the days before laptops) and TV's if I knew it was coming. Beyond that, not much you need to do.

And of course, the DC side is fairly well isolated from these sorts of things, assuming we're still not talking about a lightening strike. Sensitive DC electronics would normally be powered off when on shore power anyway.

Hey, if you're living aboard, and want to feel better weathering a storm with the power cord unplugged, no reason not to. But if you're away from the boat, it's better plugged in than unplugged.
I guess it's one of those things where if it has happened to you, you take extra precautions, but if you haven't had any issues you might not worry about it. Like I said, I've experienced fried motors, computers, electrical boards from brown outs (power sags if you want to call it that). So I'm extra cautious here. I live 20 minutes away from my boat so shutting off shore power for 24 hours then turning it back on after the storm passes... I feel this is a good practice. Doesn't do any harm and potentially saves onboard systems. I guess i cant be convinced that a high probability of having frequent surges/sags coming into my boat, in any form, is a good idea. Its like hooking up to a marina shore power with faulty electrical... forget it! I'd rather use battery power for a few hours until I can be guaranteed steady, consistent power. To me, it's not worth the risk, but to each his own. 😁
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Old 11-30-2017, 12:56 PM   #19
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Do you shut off power to your house too when storm clouds appear?
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Old 11-30-2017, 01:03 PM   #20
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I have on my AC main, battery charger/inverter, and AC receptacles powering a fan and two low-watt heater/fan units.

The issue isn't necessarily at my marina. My common sense tells me to minimize allowing highly-fluctuating voltage into ANYTHING electrical - boats, at home, etc. I've seen motors and electrical gizmos have big issues in those situations. I figure there's no point to risk it and no harm done in shutting off shore power before an approaching storm that will likely result in one or many electrical anomalies. Good to hear many of you don't have issues... maybe this is more of an "island" worry!
You may be right about being more at risk for power fluctuations on the island. I wouldn't worry about it much though in my case. The only high-value item that may be at risk would be my inverter/charger but I'm not sure it actually would be. I keep some small dehumidifiers running on the boat and the resistance oil pan heater. Those wouldn't be affected.

Now, if I lived right next to the marina, I would be more inclined to disconnect shore power temporarily during a storm, but I'm not so I don't worry about it.
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