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Old 06-03-2020, 05:15 PM   #1
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ELCI Hum/Buzz

Hi all,

My boat has a 30A Blue Sea Systems 8100 ELCI main breaker that is about 1 year old.

As I was walking by it last night, I heard a loud humming coming from the electrical panel. I went in to take a look and listen it was clearly the ELCI.

There was no smoke, smell, or noticeable heat. Holding the wires attached to it in various positions didn't make a difference. The shore power monitor read about 110V and 60Hz with a 20-something amp load on 30A service.

I shut off one of my HVAC units, a 5 year old marine 9000 btu reverse-cycle heat pump, and the humming went away. I turned the HVAC unit back on, and the humming stayed gone. It has stayed gone since.

I'm at a loss as to what could have caused the humming. I'm used to that coming from really old transformers when the core starts to age. I'm having a hard time understanding how a relatively new coil in an ELCI could do that, if that was what was happening. I guess some weird harmonic, maybe.

I called Blue Sea and they were amazing. The customer service rep couldn't explain it, but pinged engineering who asked that they replace my unit for free under warranty. They asked for an address to send me a new one.

I guess I am inclined to let Blue Sea Systems replace it. That was a very kind offer. But, I'm not yet convinced that there is anything wrong with it vs maybe some weird harmonic or something having gotten started and been interrupted by shutting down the HVAC.

Has anyone heard of this before? Any ideas what might cause it?
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:17 PM   #2
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I have not heard of anything like this, but it is about what I have experienced with Blue Seas customer service. They have been very good to me.
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:31 PM   #3
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Comodave,

I agree. Blue Sea Systems is the best of the best.

Every time I call before buying I quickly get connected to someone who knows their stuff and has access to every detail of the products. At one point, I lost some screws for a panel meter and they sent them to me for free without delay and without me even asking (I asked for the specs on the screws to buy my own, which they provided by phone -- but they also sent new screws by mail).

After the first time I called them I quit wondering why their products had a different price tag than "random stuff" on Amazon. So totally worth it!
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:57 PM   #4
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I am still curious if anyone has any ideas on this one, but...

The Blue Sea Systems rep replied to my most recent query. He said that there are many reasons that a breaker can buzz, that some of them indicate that it is failing and may not trip properly, and that their strong preference and recommendation is that I replace it to be safe.

They are sending me a brand new one for free, shipping included. The only thing I had to do was give them my shipping address.

The scientist in me is still a little curious about the cause of the buzz -- but the rest of me that sleeps on the boat at night is really glad that my breakers are Blue Sea Systems! These folks are great.
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:23 PM   #5
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Well if you are really curious you could cut it apart and see if anything looks odd inside, but then Blue Seas will probably not give you a free replacement. Myself I would just replace it and get the new one working and then move on to the next problem on my boat, of which there are many...
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:44 PM   #6
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Comodave

They didnt even ask for the old one back! Cut it up, I can!
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:45 PM   #7
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Well then, get out the saw and start sawing! Like we all agree great customer service.
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Old 06-03-2020, 07:50 PM   #8
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My guess would be slight arcing on a set of contacts. Seen it before on a breaker feeding a baseboard heater. Sounds would come and go until I replaced it.
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:13 PM   #9
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Glad you had a positive experience with Blue Seas. Last year we had just the opposite experience. A one year old, or less, Blue Seas rotary switch failed at an inopportune time, nearly causing a fire in an out of the way locale. The work around was difficult but we managed.

A few weeks later we arrived back in our home port and had our electrical guy try to trouble shoot to no avail. Upon requesting a new switch from Blue Seas they were out of stock, hampered by their facility fire.

Finally all was made well, but with over half a century of boating it was surprising that a manufacturing defect on a rotary switch would take months to get right.
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:38 PM   #10
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Hey Sunchaser,

I'm so very sorry. That sounds like a mess! Glad you got it worked out!

I guess I'm more surprised to read about the defect in the switch than their supply problems at that point in time. I'm not sure if you happened to look at the shelves at West Marine, or look for their stuff online during that period -- but their stuff was no where to be found.

These days, I think no one wants to keep warehouses of stuff. The big retails replenish "just in time" and the manufacturers know those orders and produce them "just in time".

That factory fire really did shut down their production -- and there were a lot fewer of their parts warehoused than I'd have guessed for a relatively stable product line. Quickly, they were just gone.

I suspect that, if they'd had the switch, they'd have gotten it to you. But, I'm guessing they just didn't.

I'm surprised how quickly they were actually able to get rebooted, actually. None-the-less, I'm guessing they lost some market share as retailers diversified their supply chain to protect themselves for the future. I know I've seen more "new brands" at West Marine and other places since then than before (of course, some of that could be due to West Marine's change in ownership and seeming movement away from traditional marine suppliers to others in the electrical aisle).
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Old 06-03-2020, 11:04 PM   #11
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I had to wait for a couple of things from Blue Seas last year due to their fire, but I didnít hold it against them. I am sure that they didnít really want to have the plant burn down...
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