Getting to grips with electrical regs
Warren Tait, Managing Director of EAL Electric, suggests a practical solution for boat owners adapting to stricter requirements for marine shore power connections.
While an E Box has been a common method of delivering electricity to vessels, one can now only be used while a responsible adult is onboard the vessel, according to guidelines specified by the New Zealand Marina Operators Association to help boat owners and marinas meet the relevant standard around power supply to vessels in a marina.
This means that if you are using your E Box while your vessel is unattended, you are plugging into shore power illegally. This can have serious implications for you if there is an issue, such as a marina fire or electrical damage or even electrocution.
Small to medium sizes vessels are often the most challenged in meeting the requirements says Warren Tait, founder of EAL Electric, because they are now required to have an installed AC system if they wish to run appliances such as a fridge or dehumidifier when someone is not physically onboard to monitor it.
“Many vessels don’t have the room for an installed AC system or a need for it to justify the investment,” says Warren.
In response to this issue EAL has developed a means of modifying the existing E Box with the electrical components and wiring required to comply with the regulations. This Generation 2, E Box, then has to be permanently fixed to the vessel structure thus making it a ‘connectable installation’ and compliant to the relevant regulations.
It is important to note that the on-board DC system, also forms part of the requirements of the regulations and this system will also be inspected as part of the WOEF verification inspection. However, because the requirements are obvious and logical ‘best practice’ he anticipates most vessels will comply without any major changes required.
EAL’s retrofitted E Box G2 ‘kit’ usually costs approximately $250.00 plus GST plus the cost of installation, making it a viable and fully compliant solution enabling boat owners to leave appliances running even when they aren't onboard.
Depending on the nature of the vessel, the cost of installation can vary from a couple of hours work for an electrician to a day’s work, especially if a metal earthing plate must be installed on the hull.
For those with different types of E Boxes, Warren explains that some units have different equipment and hardware, but should still be modifiable.
While WoEF testing is undertaken every four years, your shore power lead will need to be tagged and tested annually.
Westhaven is committed to providing a safe working environment for customers, staff, and contractors, and publishes information for customers on this topic on the ‘Using the Marina’ section of this website - or click here.
Warren Tait established Electrics Afloat Limited (EAL) in 1986 specialising in all aspects of Marine Electrical, Design, Installations, Service and Maintenance. Since then EAL have worked on a wide variety of vessels ranging from, Marina boats and Trailer boats to Commercial Vessels and Superyachts. www.ealelectric.co.nz