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Date: 5 September 2023. 50A Power Cord Option to Save Money.

janice142


As mentioned in the previous article
Troubleshooting a 50A Power Leg Problem, there are multiple ways to wire power into a boat. Most larger boats utilize 50A power. Today I will touch on one way to save money on wiring the inlets for power in your vessel. Aboard the yacht with the problem described in the Troubleshooting article, Sparky, the *ABYC certified wiring guy, installed multiple 50A 125/250V power cord inlets. This was both brilliant and dumb. Here is why.

*ABYC: American Boat and Yacht Council. The ABYC develop boat building and repair standards focusing on safety, equipment, installation, etc. ABYC also offers training and certification.
 

Aboard the vessel in question there are a total of five places to plug in a power cord.  Three are 50 amp power receptacles. Two are for 30 amp cords. The other inlets include a water fill station along with telephones (two) and a television connection point.
 

These are the port side inlets aboard the vessel:

 


Stainless Steel 30A 110V inlet

I was curious about those inlets. Therefore I checked on Amazon to see what power receptacles cost. On 31 August 2023, the 30 amp stainless steel inlet is nearly $90 however the 50A 125/250V inlet is a whopping $170, before tax!


Stainless Steel 50A 125/250V inlet


This boat usually utilizes a single 50A 125/250V power cord. Each leg described in the
50 Amp 125/250 Volt Power Plug Wiring How-To (4-wires) article feeds one 125V power distribution panel. She (the boat) also has one 30 amp power cord.
 

There are two HOT LEGS ↓ in the 50A 125/250V power cord. Each carries 125 volts. This was
detailed in the
50 Amp 125/250 Volt Power Plug Wiring How-To (4-wires) article.

 

 

At the end of the "why is a wire missing?" article aka Troubleshooting a 50A Power Leg Problem I rather ashamedly admitted to not reading the Power Connections page shown here. →
 

When confronted with an easy to understand explanation I was relieved... and irritated with myself for not reading the gosh darn POWER CONNECTIONS page. It was all right there.
 

On the other hand, with over a century of boating experience on this dock, not one of us gave the Power Connections page more than a cursory glance.


Age and experience do not always equate to infallible and smart (said while blushing).
 

Side Note: The pertinent parts I should
have read long before now will repeat below...

 


As I can presently see on the Power Connections page, just because the inlet says on the face 50A 125/250V does NOT mean four wires are attached. Thus, two of the three labeled 125/250V power inlets are actually feeding just three wires below. Basically that means that instead of both 125 HOT slots having a wire running to the power panel below, only one hot is connected. Therefore those inlets are providing 30 amps to the electric panels.
 

On the starboard side the Power Connections paperwork clearly states:

 

In retrospect Sparky, the ABYC installer could have installed 30 amp inlets, thus saving a boatload of money. 30 amp receptacles cost $90 each, whereas the 50A 125/250V receptacle currently retails for $170, plus tax.
 

Below are pictured the starboard side power receptacles. Though one cord plugs into the 50A 125/250V power inlet, it is not wired inside the boat for both of those 125 volt legs. The two receptacles regardless of the fancy stainless cover individually provide 30 amps apiece. Each feeds one of the 125 volt power distribution panels.
 



 

The port side does have an actual 50A 125/250V power receptacle. In addition there is a 50A 125/250V pretender, wired to provide one leg of 30 amps below. Also one 30 amp/125 volt power inlet is installed on the port side.



 


Marinco Power Cord - 30 amps, 50'

For the curious, here are two power cords by Marinco used aboard the boat. The 30A cord, currently at $100 is significantly less costly  than the 50A power cord which retails for $365. Both are 50' in length.
 

Affiliate Links


Marinco Power Cord - 50 amps, 50'

 

 

In the last article I was impressed with the decision to utilize the 50 amp power cord as both a 30 amp and a 50 amp provider of power. I initially believed that using the 50 along with a 30 amp power cord was a wise decision. Then I did the math...

 

Current Set-up

Fiscally better option

 

Port

2x @ $170 - 50A 125/250V
1x @ $90 - 30A 125V

$340 plus $90 = $430

50' Power Cords:
$365 for 1 50A 125/250V cord
$100 for 1 30A 125V cord

TOTAL: $895

Starboard

1x @ $170 - 50A 125/250V
1x @ $90 - 30A 125V

$170 plus $90 = $260

50' Power Cords:
$365 for 1 50A 125/250V cord
$100 for 1 30A 125V cord

TOTAL: $725

Port

2x @ $90 - 30A 125V

$180

50' Power Cords:
$200 for two 30A 125V cords

TOTAL: $380

Starboard

2x @ $90 - 30A 125V

$180

50' Power Cords:
$200 for two 30A 125V cords

TOTAL: $380

If built today, $1620

If built today, $760

 

It would have been much better financially to only utilize 30 amp
cords on both port and starboard to power the two 30 amp 125 volt panels below.

 


The brilliant part of the whole set-up was utilizing the 50A 125/250V cord as a 30 amp provider, in addition to a true 30 amp cord. The not-so-great part of that set-up is that the 50A cord was so costly. As the boat requires two lines of 125 volt power, having two 30 amp power cords would have been a better option in my opinion.
 

Of course most of us can spot places where we could have/would have/should have made changes. For instance, recently I had the wire from my power receptacle to the AC panel replaced with the same 10AWG wire as previously utilized. Now, a month later, I wish I had saved up to buy 3 strand 8AWG for that 12' length. On the other hand, I did have extra 10 gauge, so...!
 

If you have a vessel requiring 50A 125/250V power, may I be so bold as to suggest you rethink that? Consider simply using two 30A cords  to provide for your power requirements.
 


Y-splitter from 50A 125/250V female to two 30A male plugs

A Y-splitter or joiner can make those 30 amp cords work with your set up. Here are the options:
 

Affiliate links


Y-splitter from 50A 125/250V male to two 30A female plugs


For me, the weight of a 50' 50 amp power cord is well
beyond my strength. Quite frankly, even my 30 amp cord is heavy.
 

That said, the wiring confusion is not the cause of the problem the yacht owner is experiencing. I chose to post this because figuring out why the second 125 volt power panel does not work interested me.  One panel functions well. The other does not. And that is the problem. Specifically this one power selection switch is most likely in need of replacement. Maybe.



So that is the story hereabouts. Seaweed and I did well during Hurricane Idalia. I was fortunate.


The final part of this series will be posted shortly. I really could use your guidance and advice on the problem switch. Stay tuned, and thank you for reading.
 

Have you ever had to wire a new outlet into your vessel?
And, does your boat have one or two 125 volt power panels?
 

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2023

Categories:  Boat Talk, Characters, Gear, In the Bilges, Money,

Troubleshooting a 50A Power Leg Problem ~ Previous Post ...    ... Next Post ~ Waters of Idalia

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