Electrical, AC Receptacle, Galley, Starboard Side, Part 2: Wiring

The AC receptacle, wired and ready for its final installation
Having decided where exactly I needed to install an AC receptacle on the starboard side of the galley, and having cut the hole and temporarily installed the electrical box, the receptacle, and the protective plate, it was now time for the more challenging part of this project - figuring out how to route the wires to this receptacle. How I did this on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, is the subject of this posting.
You'll recall that I had located the heart of the electrical system on the port side of the galley.
Likewise, you'll recall that the AC distribution panel allowed for three separate circuits.
The first circuit I devoted to a single receptacle, and this receptacle I placed on this port side of the galley.
The receptacle for circuit 1 was to serve one purpose only - powering the window unit style air conditioner that I would use in hot and humid weather.
The second circuit, as you'll recall, I devoted exclusively to the battery charger.
The single receptacle for this circuit I placed just to the inboard side of the charger. The hard part, as I said at the beginning of this article, was not deciding where exactly to locate this receptacle; rather it was deciding how to route the wire to it.
I knew that I had to route this wire downward through the lazarette. In the picture below, we see the gray conduit coming down from the cockpit locker. Within this conduit are the three-wire cables for circuits 2 and 3 of the AC electrical system. Circuit 2, of course is the subject of the present posting. Circuit 3, which would service the main salon and the V-berth I discuss in a separate article.
Up in the cockpit locker I had left the two cables for circuits 2 and 3 "stubbed out" as they often say in residential construction. I would later, of course, come back and join the wires in these cables to the AC distribution panel. The green 6 AWG (American Wire Gauge) cable in the black conduit is the grounding cable for the AC system.
Yes, as I said, I routed the cables for circuits 2 and 3 downward into the lazarette. This route was the only one that made sense. This was the most direct way to get to the starboard side of the boat.
One reason why I did not join the AC cables to the AC distribution panel at this point was because things were just a little too uncertain in the overall rewiring project. In the picture below, you see that I have left many a cable stubbed out, because I had to play around with different arrangements to see which one would produce the least cluttered and most efficient design.
In terms of the gray, AC conduit, I decided to route it as close as possible to the entrance of the lazarette. I knew I would have more conduits to route through here, and this first one had to be snug against the bulkhead at the entrance.
Here's a glimpse of what I'm talking about. I took the picture below a few weeks after I had routed the AC conduit.
There's the AC conduit, the conduits for the two different charger cables, and there's the conduit for the DC negative circuit. This picture does not include the final conduit I would install in this space, the one for the lazarette lights. The point is that I had to be conscious of the space limitations as I routed these, especially since they were close to the cockpit hatch.
At this point in the AC wiring process, I ended the gray conduit near the ANL fuse for the charger. The fuse has nothing to do with this decision. By necessity, I had to route one of the cables downward and the other one upward. The downward one was for the circuit 3 cable. It would go underneath the galley sink and through the settee lockers in the main salon. The upward one was the one for circuit 2. It, of course, would go to the receptacle near the charger. Pay no attention to the vertically oriented gray conduit. This conduit was for the wires leading upward to the GPS and VHF.
After I had successfully routed the AC cable upward and through the cut-out for the receptacle, I cut it and then left it in a stubbed-out condition. You'll notice that to the right of the cut-out there are two conduits. These are protecting the positive and negative cables for the charger. You'll also notice another hole that I've drilled for another conduit. I would later drill other holes for other conduits. I knew that I had to drill all of these holes and route all of these conduits. That's why I left the AC cable in a stubbed-out condition and did not join it to the AC receptacle at this time. Access to the cut-out for the receptacle made it easier for me to feed the other conduits upward and through the small holes.
It was only later, after I had routed all of these other conduits, that I finally joined the wires in the AC cable to the receptacle.
In the routing of all these other conduits, one thing that I had done was to go back and add a piece of gray conduit to the AC cable. I wanted it to be as protected as possible against chafing.
To join the wire within the cable to the receptacle, the first thing I did was to strip back the white, protective cover. Then, I stripped the individual 10 AWG wires to the appropriate length. Yes, I used 10 AWG wire for this receptacle, just as I had used 10 AWG for the circuit 1 receptacle that would power the air conditioner. This Iota 45 charger would draw as many as 11 amps, so I wanted there to be as little resistance (and thus heat) as possible in the wire.
To the end of each wire I crimped forked terminals. Forked terminals as opposed to ring terminals, as I have said elsewhere, are, in my experience, the way to go when wiring an AC receptacle on a boat. AC receptacles have screws that are not intended to be fully removed. If you try to remove them (for the purpose of installing a ring terminal), you'll strip the threads. Don't ask me how I know.
For this circuit (and for circuit 3) I used a Leviton brand GFCI receptacle. For some reason Leviton, unlike Pass & Seymour (the brand I used for circuit 1), designed their receptacles to have small plastic nubs near their screw terminals. It appeared to me that Leviton did this not in an effort to hinder a marine electrician from installing forked terminals underneath the screws, but in an effort to aid residential electricians route their bare wires around the screw terminals. To get around this, I decided that I would remove the plastic nubs with my Dremel.
In the close-up below, we see the stub of the nub that I have just removed. My removal of the nub was really quite easy, and took no more than about five seconds.
Now it was time for me to apply heat to these heat-shrink terminals. You might have noticed that in the first part of this article I installed a white electrical box, but that in this second part of the article I am working with a blue box. I ended up discarding the white box, because of the hole that I had cut in it on its bottom side. I had been under the assumption that I would route the AC cable directly up into the box, since I would be routing the cable upward from the lazarette. As it turned out, the 12 to 18 inches of extra cable that I had given myself when I stubbed out the receptacle, I decided to keep as a service loop. This service loop would allow me to remove and reinstall the receptacle easily. After feeling around inside the cavity behind the bulkhead, I decided that the best way to route the service loop was upward. This meant that I would need to rout the end of the cable downward into the box.
The tab on the back of the blue electrical box provided just enough space for this large AC cable with its three 10 AWG wires.
It was nice to have this service loop for this circuit. It made the final installation so much easier. You might recall that due to the cramped space on the port side, I was unable to have a service loop for circuit 1.
As I pushed the blue box into place, I made sure to push the service loop upward and to the right in the cavity behind the bulkhead. I wanted to keep the service loop from going leftward, because the pointed ends of the screws for the charger were protruding into the cavity on that side.
At this point it was simply a matter of screwing the box to the bulkhead with four pan head screws.
The stainless steel protective cover provided the finishing touch. Now I could, at last, route the cables for the charger up and over the AC receptacle.
This ends this posting on how I wired the AC receptacle for the battery charger on the starboard side of the galley in Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

Electrical, AC Receptacle, Galley, Port Side, Part 2: Wiring

The AC receptacle, fully wired and installed
Choosing the place where I would install the AC receptacle and then installing it (at least temporarily) were projects in and of themselves, and it was for these reasons that I devoted the first part of this two-part article to them. In this second part, I discuss the process of wiring this receptacle. I use the word process here not without deliberation. Since I was not simply replacing the existing wire for an existing receptacle or simply replacing an existing receptacle itself, I first had to determine how to route the wires. Then I had to determine how I would join them to this entirely new receptacle in such a confined space. How I did all of this on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, is the subject of this posting.
You'll recall that it was on the port side of the galley that I had also temporarily installed most of the other major components of the AC and DC electrical systems - the battery switch, the battery monitor, the main DC breaker, the AC distribution panel, the two bilge switches, and the three DC distribution panels.
The most challenging task was trying to determine how to fit all of these components into this space and, at the same time, trying to imagine how the wiring, that would go behind them, would fit into that space behind them.
Compounding these challenges was the space itself behind these components. This was a cockpit locker. The space was small; it was not easy to access; and, despite whatever I might need to do from an electrical standpoint, it still needed to be used for its intended purpose - stowing gear.
In terms of the wiring itself, I needed to figure out how to route the wires from the AC distribution panel on the far left to the AC receptacle on the far right.
A simple, straight shot would not do. For one thing, I had to route the wires through the protective covers, which would require me to make right angles. For another, I had to take into account all the other wires that I would need to route through this area.
Everything also needed to fit behind the protective cover that I was in the process of creating for this space.
Additionally, I had to take into account the wiring that would be passing from the cockpit locker into the lazarette, directly beneath it.
All of this was so complex that it was difficult to know where to begin. I had to start somewhere, and one of the first things I did was to route the wires for the AC receptacles that would be on the starboard side of the boat. These I placed in a gray, plastic conduit to help prevent chafing. At the same time, I routed the 6 AWG (American Wire Gauge) grounding cable for the AC system. This I put inside of a small, black, plastic conduit. In the picture below, you can see this black conduit coming down from the cockpit locker with the gray one.

Note that I am now using the word cable as opposed to the word wire in speaking of the AC system. I'm doing this because many people use the word cable to refer to large wire. 6 AWG wire, or I should say cable, falls into this category. Likewise, many people, including manufacturers, refer to bundled marine wire as "boat cable." The wire that I selected for the AC system was bundled or sheathed in a white, plastic, protective cover.
Up in the cockpit locker I left enough slack in these cables so that I could terminate them and join them to the AC distribution panel. Ideally, I would have left more slack in the cables, but I didn't want to have too much of it left over at the end of the project, especially in a cockpit locker. Pay no attention to the wires on the far left. These were some of the remnants of the old wiring. I had already removed almost all of it. Some of it I left here and there, just to remind me of some of the major routes of the old system.
After I had routed the above mentioned AC cables (in other words, the ones that passed through the lazarette), I thought it would be smart to go ahead and route some of the wires and cables for the DC system before I routed the AC cable that is the subject of this posting - the AC cable that would join the AC distribution panel to the AC receptacle, pictured right in the photograph below. As I said before, I had to take all of these other wires and cables into account. Otherwise, I would never be able to fit all of these pieces of the puzzle together.
When the time at last came for me to route this cable, I began by cutting a hole in the top of the electrical box. In the world of residential construction, the box you see pictured below is known as a "shallow" box. It is intended for tight spaces, and this space in this cockpit locker was, without a doubt, tight. The standard, punch-out hole in this box was not the right shape or size. Therefore, I used my Dremel to cut a rectangular-shaped oval hole that was just the right size for the boat cable that needed to pass through it. After I fed the cable through the box, I carefully stripped the white, protective cover back to reveal the three 10 AWG wires within. One was black, one was white, and the other was green.
Some might say that 10 AWG wire is too big, but not me. After all, I was dedicating this receptacle to the window unit style air conditioner that I would mount in the companionway when the weather was hot and humid. These appliances draw a lot of power, and I wanted to minimize resistance and voltage drop. Besides, I had to buy 10 AWG wire for the shore power inlet. Likewise, I needed to buy 10 AWG wire for the AC receptacle on the starboard side of the galley, which was dedicated to the battery charger, and which would draw 11 amps while charging.
Inside the boat, I joined the green wire, which is the ground wire, to the screw terminal with a forked heat-shrink terminal that I had earlier installed on the end of the wire.
As far as the black wire (hot) and the white wire (neutral) were concerned, I joined these to the receptacle in the style commonly seen in residential wiring jobs. Instead of crimping and heat-shrinking terminals on the ends of the wires, I simply stripped the wires to the proper length, inserted them into the appropriate holes, and tightened down the appropriate screws. Why did I do it this way? Well, from what I could tell, it appeared that there was just no way that I could fit the receptacle into the shallow box if I used heat-shrink terminals on the ends of these wires. Using a heat-shrink terminal on the green wire would work, since the screw terminal for this green wire was more recessessed than the ones for the black and white wires. This seemed like a really bad decision on my part, but I did not see any way around it at the time.
Having joined the three wires to the AC receptacle, I had a buddy stand in the boat and hold the receptacle steady while I slowly worked the cable through the box. The goal, of course, was to fasten the box to the bulkhead where it belonged.
After I had secured the box in its proper place, I began to think about how I might route the cable. Having installed the cable on the top side of the box, I already knew that I needed to route it upward and across rather than downward and across.
To protect the back of the bilge switches, I had installed a modified old work box, pictured below in blue. Over this I had already routed the red positive cable from the back of the main DC breaker. This seemed like a good route for the AC cable as well.
As I routed the AC cable, I left room for the black conduit that I soon afterwards routed downward from the bilge pump switches. The gray conduit that I had earlier routed upward, over the bulkhead was for the yellow negative 10 AWG wires for the DC distribution panels in the galley.
At this point I considered this part of the overall AC wiring project complete. Several weeks later, however, I returned to this circuit to have a second look at the receptacle. Ever since I had installed it, I had been concerned about my decision not to install heat-shrink terminals on the black and white wires. Therefore, I thought it would be a good to return to this receptacle and reevaluate the situation.
My greatest concern, of course, was that these wires would soon corrode in the warm, salty air of Charleston, South Carolina. The space in this shallow work box was indeed very tight, but I thought I might be able to make this receptacle fit with heat-shrink terminals on the black and white wires. The issue with heat-shrinks, as you can see on the green wire below, is that they inhibit the bending of the wire.
My first thought was that I could help matters by cutting off half of the heat-shrink material. After dry-fitting the one pictured below on one of the wires, however, I changed my mind. I wanted these wires to be as protected as possible.
It was not easy crimping these terminals on the wires.
There was no extra wire, so I had to do this work right up next to the bulkhead.
Even more challenging was the heat shrinking of the terminals. I had to set up a temporary shield of plain mahogany to protect the varnish on the finished mahogany panel behind the battery switch. I also had to use needle nose pliers to turn the terminals as I applied the heat. If I had not done this, I would not have shrunk the terminals correctly.
The work area got so hot that the blue electrical box became soft and pliable. After I had finished the job, I took this picture of the box, as seen from the cockpit locker. Notice how the right hand side is slightly concave. Fortunately, the black plastic conduits beside it were unaffected.
The Pass & Seymour brand GFCI that I used was more welcoming than other brands for the use of heat-shrink terminals. Some of them have plastic nubs near the screws which prevent you from inserting a forked terminal underneath the screw. Why not use ring terminals you might ask? Well, the screws are not designed to be removed from the receptacle. Having done some residential wiring, I knew this. Nevertheless, I thought it was worth trying to remove them, so that I could use ring terminals instead of forked terminals, since the former provide better contact than the latter. With a little force I was able to remove the first screw. Not a problem, or so I thought. Immediately afterwards, I reinstalled the screw and attempted to tighten it down. It would not cooperate. The reason? I had stripped the threads. The result? The GFCI was ruined. What did I have to do? Go out and buy another one. The lesson learned? Forked terminals are the way to go on AC receptacles. By the way, in case you're wondering, in my experience in installing the AC receptacles in Oystercatcher, I found that the screws on the receptacles, regardless of the two different brands that I used, were Number 8 in size.
The makers of these receptacles have done a lot to keep people from making dumb mistakes while wiring them. For instance, they have placed yellow tape over the screws on one end to warn people not to install wires on those screws if this GFCI is the only receptacle on the circuit. Likewise, they have labeled the screws according to the wires they are to receive.
After double-checking and then double-checking one more time, I installed the wires in their appropriate locations.
I felt much better now that all three of these wires were protected with heat-shrink terminals.
Fortunately, I had very little trouble fitting the receptacle into the box, even though the heat-shrink terminals made the fit even tighter than it already was.
At last I could install the stainless steel protective plate and call this part of the overall AC wiring project complete.
This ends this posting on how I wired the AC receptacle on the port side of the galley in Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.