5 Safety Tips For Working on Boat DC Electrical Systems

A nasty accident looking for a place to happen

Just because the battery-supplied systems on cruising boats are low voltage, that does not make them safe, and yet that's the common view.

Sure, none of the DC voltages on our boats (12, 24 or 48) will hurt us—except possibly the last, and then only in special circumstances (don't stick a 48-volt wire in your mouth)—but the current (amperage) sure can¹.

So let's take a look at five ways we can reduce the chances of getting hurt. Particularly relevant since we just published several articles encouraging members to work on your own systems and have more coming².

¹Actually, it's always the current that damages people, even in high voltage (shore power) systems, but let's not split the hair in four.

²If this sounds like an article written to cover my ass and keep our journalism insurance underwriters happy, trust your instincts. Nonetheless, these tips reduce, but do not eliminate, very real risks.

  1. One Simple Law That Makes Electrical Systems Easy to Understand
  2. How Batteries Charge (Multiple Charging Sources Too)
  3. How Hard Can We Charge Our Lead Acid Batteries?
  4. Cruising Boat Electrical System Design, Part 1—Loads and Conservation
  5. Cruising Boat Electrical System Design, Part 2—Thinking About Systems
  6. Cruising Boat Electrical System Design, Part 3—Specifying Optimal Battery Bank Size
  7. The Danger of Voltage Drops From High Current (Amp) Loads
  8. How Lead Acid Batteries Get Wrecked and What To Do About It
  9. 11 Steps To Better Lead Acid Battery Life
  10. 10 Tips To Install An Alternator
  11. Stupid Alternator Regulators Get Smarter…Finally
  12. WakeSpeed WS500—Best Alternator Regulator for Lead Acid¹ and Lithium Batteries
  13. Smart Chargers Are Not That Smart
  14. Equalizing Batteries, The Reality
  15. Battery Monitors, Part 1—Which Type Is Right For You?
  16. Battery Monitors, Part 2—Recommended Unit
  17. Battery Monitors, Part 3—Calibration and Use
  18. Do You Need A Generator?
  19. Efficient Generator-Based Electrical Systems For Yachts
  20. Battery Bank Size and Generator Run Time, A Case Study
  21. Battery Options, Part 1—Lithium
  22. Battery Options, Part 2—Lead Acid
  23. Why Lithium Battery Load Dumps Matter
  24. 8 Tips To Prevent Lithium Battery Load Dumps
  25. Building a Seamanlike Lithium Battery System
  26. Lithium Ion Batteries Explained
  27. Should Your Boat’s DC Electrical System Be 12 or 24 Volt?—Part 1
  28. Should Your Boat’s DC Electrical System Be 12 or 24 Volt?—Part 2
  29. Q&A—Are Battery Desulphators a Good Idea?
  30. Renewable Power
  31. Wind Generators
  32. Solar Power
  33. Hydro Power
  34. Watt & Sea Hydro Generator Review
  35. Why Most New-To-Use Boat Electrical Systems Must Be Rebuilt
  36. 8 Checks To Stop Our DC Electrical System From Burning Our Boat
  37. 5 Safety Tips For Working on Boat DC Electrical Systems
  38. Battery Containment—Part 1
  39. Choosing & Installing Battery Switches
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