GFI Circuit Protection and What to Expect. Since Watch Hill & Sailors Haven have recently had new electrical systems installed at both marinas, code requires that the electrical service to your vessels be Ground Fault (GFI) protected for your safety. The GFI protection configurations are different at each marina at this time so here’s what to expect.
Watch Hill. Here’s the good news — the GFI thresholds at Watch Hill were raised more than threefold late August 2018 and another problematic issue with some GFI meters reseting to very low default thresholds was also identified and remedied by FINS. With these adjustments, Labor Day — with a full marina — had no chronic GFI trips. No one had to leave the marina because of a GFI issue. This is very encouraging and if you avoided us last season due to the GFI issue, we urge you to give us another look and visit in 2019.
You may have heard rumors that large percentages of boats trip. That has never been the case even early last season prior to the adjustments by FINS. We estimate that maybe a few boats in a hundred had a serious GFI in the early days but these boats often plugged into multiple pedestals as they lost power, tripping boats with no issues thereby creating a perception the problem was much larger than it seemed. And lets face it, even one boat having to leave because of no electrical service is a big disappointment so the bad news traveled fast.
We spent hours with most boats that had issues and often isolated the problem (we’ll continue to assist). Most of the boats that had problems early on found the problem and now enjoy long visits to Watch Hill. This is good news for everyone because boats with GFI problems are a safety risk and corrode zincs and metals. If you have a GFI issue with your vessel best practice is to have an ABYC Electrician troubleshoot your electrical system (click here for the ABYC Directory to find a local technician ). National Electrical Code will require that all marinas be GFI protected in the future so ultimately there will be no place to hide and now is a great time to deal with it.
Note that at Watch Hill there is one GFI meter for each pedestal which provides power to two slips. At this time, a problematic boat can trip the power on the neighboring slip. We have been advised that the NPS is working on plans to provide a single GFI circuit breaker for each slip (similar to Sailors Haven) which is a much better design configuration. We will provide updates regarding this work as it develops.
Sailors Haven. It is rare that a boat trips a GFI breaker at Sailors Haven. It can happen but each slip has its own GFI breaker with a full 100 milliAmp threshold and a boater can reset the breaker without assistance. A problematic boat will not trip a neighboring boat. A few years ago when the marina was first rewired, the configuration was one GFI for each side of the Marina which was a poor design. FINS and the NPS remedied the problem long ago if you heard rumors that a problem still exists there. It does not.