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Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 9:39am

Post Subject: electrics

Hello, my partner and I are moving onto a canal cruiser boat however the one that we think is most suitable for us has not got plug sockets. Is there any way of installing plug sockets? And if so what are the prices of getting a professional is it worth the hassle? We are both new to living on the waterways but enthusiasts at the very least. Thank you


Posted: Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:39am

Post Subject: electrics

First of all we must be clear as to what you mean by "plug sockets". It is almost inconceivable that a boat in fair condition does not have some form of 12/24V DC outlets. There are a great variety about but the most common are car cigar lighter sockets, mains type 5A 3 pin sockets (connected to 12/24V in a variety of ways), and two thin slots that accept two blades on the plug. I suspect you means mains 240V AC sockets and with what you say about yourselves that raises some worries. Boats are not like houses with a permanent connection to great big power stations and all your electricity has to be stored in batteries at either 12 or 24 volts. See later. If you moor in a marina you can usually pay for the facility to plug in a shore line that does connect your boat to the national grid but that in turn raises some issues. For your safety and to minimise the dangers of hull corrosion you will need a shore line "socket" fitted to the boat and wired to the new mains circuit using an isolation transformer or galvanic isolator plus and RCD and at least one circuit breaker. Without seeing your boat any costing I give will be a guess but as long as there is fair access to the "under gunwale" area with no fuel or 12/24V wiring along it then installing a few mains sockets along the boat should be fairly easy. However you will only have mains when you are plugged into the shore supply so most people install and inverter costing from maybe £20 to over £5000 to convert the 12/24V DC to mains AC. Again, this raises even more issues about the size and type you need. The main one apart form size is will you need a pure sine wave inverter or would a modified sine wave one do. Pure sine waves will run almost anything but modified sine wave ones are cheaper. The inverter draws its power from the batteries and roughly speaking a hair dryer will draw maybe 150 amps from the batteries and many boats only have a 50 amp alternator for charging so you could be looking at regularly ruining batteries. Installing anything but a small inverter of less than about 200 watts may well to require extra batteries being fitted. You do not tell me what you intend to do with the boat but as an illustration we have been out boating since May. Apart form a cheap 150 watt inverter that plugs into a cigar lighter socket to charge a few small battery items we have no 240 volts aboard. We have car radio, a 12V TV, a 12V fridge (expensive - if your boat has a gas one that works keep it and learn how to look after it), 12V ingniters on the cooker, car chargers for the phones and the laptop I am replying on is running from a car power adaptor. May I suggest that you study all the notes on my website,, which may or may not help you to a better understanding of what is involved in boating. Come back if you need more information, explanation or help. Tony Brooks

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