On-board electrical system: the 10-point checklist

USCG-Rescues-Man-from-Burning-SailboatWhich of you would ever want to find yourself in the situation illustrated by the picture above? None, it is obvious. On-board fires are often caused by failures of the on-board electrical system. If you were to conduct a complete check of the on-board electrical system, would you know what and which points to check so as to avoid potential damage and problems? Just as the Americans do, here is a 10-point checklist that may help you:

1. Batteries. Check that they are properly and securely mounted, so that they cannot move even in rough seas, and that they have adequate overload protection and wing nuts to secure the wires to the poles in good condition. Be sure to have them installed in a dedicated space, in a spot where no damage would be done if electrolyte leaks occur: ideally, it should be well ventilated. The rated capacity of the battery is sufficient for the task it will have to perform (starting, services…)

2. Cable support to be connected to 220 at the dock. Always check its condition and apply friction guards along the cable if necessary.

3. Cable insulation. Check periodically for uncovered spots

4. Location of electrical wires. Are all cables secured in such a way that they can never disconnect inadvertently?

5. Quality of crimped connectors. Always check the condition of crimped connectors (for the uninitiated: the crimping operation involves physically and electrically connecting, using a tool called a crimping machine, an electrical cable to an appropriate termination or connector).

6. Location of thermal or water-sensitive electrical components. Are they mounted in a ventilated place that will remain dry while sailing?

7. Connections for alternating current. Are AC electrical connections located inside enclosures that require tools to access?

8. Cable labeling. Is the set of on-board wiring clearly labeled so that the various circuits are easily identified?

9. On-board lighting. Does it create too much heat? Could this heat damage any points in the surrounding areas?

10. AC switches. Check that they are mounted in appropriate containers.



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