In response to a 2008 Coast Guard sponsored study entitled In-Water Shock Hazard Mitigation Strategy, ABYC standards now require boatbuilders to install an Equipment Leakage Circuit Interrupter (ELCI) on each shore power line on new vessels. Although refit of older vessels is not required as of 2011, prudent boatowners will consider installing an ELCI to protect themselves from liability and nearby swimmers from potentially lethal electric shock, muscle paralysis, and drowning.
Most boaters are familiar with the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet. GFCIs provide 5mA branch circuit ground fault protection in wet locations. An ELCI, installed as required within 10’ of the shore power inlet, provides 30mA ground fault protection for the entire AC system beyond the ELCI. GFCIs are still required in heads, galleys, machinery spaces, and weather decks.
Blue Sea Systems offers several options to help boatbuilders and boatowners comply with ABYC regulations. Three of those options will be discussed here.
If a boatowner has an existing AC Main panel, it may be possible to retrofit an ELCI breaker into that panel. Blue Sea Systems PN 3106 is a toggle breaker designed for Traditional Metal panels, and PNs 3102, 3103, and 3104 are large-frame circuit breakers intended for use with the 360 Panel System.
ELCI Main Circuit Breakers
Alternatively, Blue Sea Systems offers several standard panels with ELCI breakers, both in the Traditional Metal line and the 360 Panel System. These panels are available in standard sizes and with and without AC Voltage metering.
Traditional Metal Panels
360 Panel System
For the boatowner with special considerations, Blue Sea Systems’ Custom 360 Panel Program offers the ability to fit ELCI breakers into a custom panel. Panels can be created in many sizes and configurations, and generally ship within five days of order finalization.
Consider viability of a retrofit, cost, and future expandability when choosing between these options. Since ELCI breakers are physically larger and have more poles than their standard AC Main counterparts, some modification is likely to be required to an existing panel, whereas starting fresh with a standard or custom panel allows more choice in configuration.
Blue Sea Systems is committed to providing customers with products to meet requirements as regulations and the needs of boaters change.