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Date: 22 December 2018. Pilothouse AC Power Solution.


For years I have wished for an electric outlet in my pilothouse. During the Christmas season I enjoy having lights up there. Though I do have an outlet on the port side by my dinette, I wanted one forward too. The ideal spot is on my dashboard. Rain could present a problem in that location. Eventually I came up with a $5 solution. Here is what I did.

First I drilled a couple of holes in the dash for cigarette lighters. Next I cut out a hole just below that.

My hole for the AC power is not perfect. It doesn't need to be.

Side Note: Perfection is the enemy of Good Enough.

Seaweed was originally planned to run off 12-volt power. Our 40'er was primarily 12-volts too, so I understood that system. Eventually however I started to switch over more and more to standard AC power -- just like in a house.

The addition of an inverter made a world of difference to me. I've written about how I power my off-grid home. The
Powering the Refrigerator series is a good place to start if you're curious.

12-volt appliances are far more costly than standard AC items. A reefer the size of mine would run almost $1,000. My AC powered Haier 3.1cf refrigerator/freezer was $120, on sale from $150. One of my readers gifted it to me. Using it still feels decadent and I am grateful.



Rather than trying to wire in a real outlet, I could utilize the one in my head as a power source. An extension cord fed through the cutout just below those two cigarette lighters could solve my problem.


First though I needed to be able to seal off that hole. I did not want any rain to be able to get down below via the opening. For that job I found the perfect Rubbermaid condiment container.

Years ago my friend Mabel had given me a Dremel for crafting. I used it to remove the bottom of the container.

I again used the Dremel with a sanding disk to smooth off where I had removed the bottom.

A final scrape with Daddy's knife, and the plastic container was ready for installation.

Spiffy! It fits. I finished up by adding *Size 4 screws to the top and right side of the box.

*Size 4 screws are about the diameter of a #2 pencil lead.
These are 1/2" long and ideal for securing the box in place.

Next, I tested to make sure the $4 extension cord/power strip I'd bought would be long enough.

I needed a CUTOUT FOR THE CORD. That way I could close the lid even when the extension cord was in use.

For the curious, that fine gauge wire existing at the upper right corner of the box leads to a 12-volt meter. I like knowing what my voltage is at all times. It is fed off one of the cigarette lighters. When that lighter is in use the reading is not accurate, but that's life. Most of the time the lighters are unused.

When first put in, one lighter was for my Garmin72 handheld VHF. That unit no longer works. The second outlet was for my netbook, which I used for navigation via OpenCPN. The Emergency Anchor Up (OpenCPN info too)  article provides details about that computer program.

I use OpenCPN now on a nifty Verizon tablet. For years however I used my netbook:

Side Note regarding OpenCPN: It is free software for your computer. Of course donations to the developer are welcome. Better yet, install the app on your Android tablet. Though fine on my netbook, I must say the Verizon tablet makes the whole OpenCPN experience even better. The program is just $10 in Google Play and worth every penny of that.

One cigarette lighter outlet allows me to keep the tablet fully charged while underway.

But I digress... I needed to cut a notch for the electric cord to fit through.

I used the Gerber knife my friend Ken gave me years ago.

Finally, I CUT A NOTCH into the lid of my Rubbermaid container.

At last I have a way to plug in my Christmas lights.

The power bar has an on/off switch which is handy for the holiday lights. When Christmas is over I can remove the extension cord. At that time I will rotate the red lid a quarter turn. That will seal the box and prevent water intrusion down below.

In the meantime, Skipper and I enjoying Christmas lights in my pilothouse.

Honestly, Skipper is not all that thrilled with the lights. The music she enjoys as I dance with her. We like Bing Crosby.

I am enjoying the holidays, listening to my music and trying to stay warm. Thank goodness for hurricane lamps and oil lanterns. The oil burners throw off quite a bit of heat. That makes them a particular favorite during colder months of the year.

FOAM shoved in the frame of the door lessens drafts.

To you and yours, Happy Christmas. Stay warm
and remember all the good things in your life.


Thank you for reading.

I wonder if any of you have added an AC or DC outlet in your pilothouse.
And, have you used an extension cord in a similar fashion in your home?

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