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The Critical Ground System — Marina

by James D Shafer

Providing electrical power to yachts moored in a marina presents a unique challenge to the operations staff. Because electricity goes about its task of providing services and comfort, quietly and unobserved, problems that may lead to injury or property damage may not be apparent until it is too late. Fires, fatalities, and damage to underwater metal hardware are all too often the first indication that something has gone seriously wrong somewhere in the power system.

Most of us are aware of the potential hazard of standing in a pool of water while using a power tool with a metal body. Yet, we think nothing of plugging a yacht into a 125v (or 250v) outlet and then jumping into the water to clean the props! Or worse, a child falls into the water accidentally, and, along with a would-be rescuer, becomes disabled, and both drown because a low level ground fault on the yacht or dock has energized the water. While a low level fault might not always present a hazard in the water, it still may create a potential point of combustion on the yacht. At the very least it is a waste of energy.

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