Shore power provides the all important trickle of electricity which keeps our batteries healthy, our bilge pumps with unlimited power in the case of a leak and energy to enjoy our boats at the dock. While shore power is a beautiful thing the cord is one of many important items that requires inspection from time to time. Corrosion on the contacts, those pieces of metal which transmit the energy, creates resistance. Over time that extra resistance will create more and more heat until the plastic casing begins to break down and even burn.
The beginnings of a fire caught just in time.
The shore power connector shown above was replaced after it became evident that heat was beginning to build up due to corrosion on the contacts. The owner noticed the issue mainly because their inverter/charger unit constantly monitors all incoming shore power to insure that the electricity is the right voltage, frequency and polarity. While onboard the owner noticed that the inverter unit shut down the incoming AC power feed. Inspection revealed that it only did this because the tiny smoldering fire inside the connector had done enough damage to make the incoming power feed unstable such that the inverter rejected the feed as being substandard. It should be noted that most boats do not have a system that monitors incoming power and shore power cord corrosion often results a much more dramatic situation. It is also important to note that this corrosion results in a persistent brown out and your onboard AC electronics will last much longer if you give them “clean” power. So be sure to periodically inspect your connectors and repair or replace them as needed. Your boat and budget will thank you!!!
Happy boating all!!!