Thursday, February 23, 2012

Smart plug

Over at s/v hello world, Jason gives a nod to a product that is pretty new to the market, and one which you may want to consider:
We have a few safety rules on Hello World. Somewhere in the top five is: DON'T LIGHT THE BOAT ON FIRE. We had a few incidents here and there (for the record, melting butter in a plastic dish on top of a burning diesel heater is not a great idea), but by and large, the biggest risk right now while we're in a marina full time is our shore power cable.

Our marina is full of stories of boats either lighting on fire or almost lighting on fire from shore power cables working loose and heating up from the electrical resistance in a loose connection. Standard twist-lock shore power outlets are notorious for this.

I finally got around to installing a Smart Plug. Smart Plugs replace the shore power outlet on the boat and boat connector plug on your shore power cable. They provide a much stronger physical connection between the outlet and cable than the ordinary twist-lock plugs. And they have a thermostat inside that will cut the power if the connection ever starts to heat up. [emphasis mine -Ed.]

No going back now.

Relieved to find clean copper wiring inside our shore power cable.

Half the plug installed.

After many F-bombs and a couple bloody knuckles, I finally got the old shore power outlet out of the boat.

Wired up the outlet.


I did some forensic analysis after I was done. I found signs of overheating on the old shore power plug I cut off. There was some discoloration on the plastic and some melting. I have no idea how long before that would have manifested into smoke and fire and OH THE HUMANITY but I'm pretty relieved I headed off the problem before the boat caught fire.

Disclosure: I have a friend that works at Smart Plug. And yeah, I'd really like to see the company take off and for them to make cement trucks full of money. However, what I'd like more is for my boat to not catch fire. Whether I knew anyone at Smart Plug or no, I'd be all over recommending this product.

Seriously, if you have a boat, buy one of these things.

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