Some boaters need to connect to shore power at one time or another, while others hook up 24/7 or until we have the occasion to head out away from the dock. That shore-power connection appears simple enough to connect and maintain, but I can assure you there is more to it than meets the eye.
The Marinco Electrical Group designs and manufactures products to make life aboard a bit easier and a lot safer, as with its 30-amp right-angle cordset adaptor. The company responded to “customer demand for a 90-degree solution,” says Alan Beyrouti, group product manager for Napa, Calif.-based Marinco.
“We used to receive weekly phone calls asking for a cordset or an adaptor for a cordset at a 90-degree angle,” he says. “Our right-angle adaptor allows boaters to just plug it into their existing cordset.”
The cordset adaptor lets you plug in the shore power cord as a right-angle connection, rather than the conventional straight connection that protrudes from the power inlet and side of the boat. Straight shore power connections, with their drooping cables, take up valuable deck space in addition to becoming tripping hazards as the cord dangles far out from the bulkhead. More important than saving space, the right-angle adaptor may save your boat from overheated electrical connections at its shore power inlet.
The Marinco right-angle adaptor offers several features that make the shore power connection a bit safer and more convenient. First, it takes the guesswork out of aligning the cord with the boat’s power inlet. Most power cords aren’t indexed for alignment, which means you must examine the plug contact blades, match them up to the power inlet, and then manipulate the power cord while attempting to retain the alignment, an often frustrating task, especially in the dark.
The Marinco adaptor assures quick, single-handed alignment using what it calls the Grip Lock. Simply hold the adaptor plug as you would a garden hose nozzle, angle it to approximately 5 o’clock, insert it into the power inlet, and turn the grip to 6 o’clock. Screw the locking collar in place, and you’re done. The cord will run straight down to the deck (see photos).
The adaptor also helps reduce the physical loading on the electrical connection that can occur when using a straight cordset. A conventional straight shore-power cable has a lock ring designed to screw onto the boat’s power inlet to eliminate the strain to the electrical connection and offer weather protection. However, the lock ring often isn’t properly installed, and the electrical connection must support the cable weight.
Aboard my trawler, I initially connected the Marinco adaptor without using the lock ring. I monitored it for several weeks, and the connection remained secure. With the straight cordset, the boat’s constant motion, along with the weight of the cord, loosened the connection within a few days. As soon as I loaded the power supply with the on-board air conditioning, the connections began to overheat.
When using a straight cordset on my boat, it protrudes 11 inches from the cabin side before dropping down to the deck. That’s almost 50 percent of the side-deck width, and that’s a high-traffic area. With the right-angle adaptor, the cord protrudes just 4-1/2 inches, barely more than various other vents and fittings. And any power cord that must bend excessively or bear weight will be prone to premature failure, which in the case of the shore power cable can have disastrous results.
Marinco manufactures quality components, and the right-angle adaptor is no exception. It is made using three conductors of 10-gauge Type 3 stranded wire, with the strands made of soft annealed copper for better flexibility. “The jacketing is made of vinyl using a custom durometer formulation for recreational use in harsh environments, providing better resistance to UV in marine and RV [applications],” says Beyrouti. “The right-angle cordset adaptor includes a standard threaded ring and watertight sealing collar for maximum moisture protection between the adaptor and your existing cordset.”
I’ve used the 30-amp adaptor aboard my boat for five-plus months and appreciate the additional side-deck space it provides. I’m also confident that, because of its easy installation, almost anyone can properly make the critical shore-power connection. There is no strain on the electrical connections, internal wires or cable covering/insulation.
The 30-amp 125-volt right-angle cordset adaptor is available through most chandleries and many online suppliers. Suggested retail price is $59.99. Marinco also offers a 50-amp version, which reportedly incorporates the same features, but uses four conductors of 6-gauge Type 3 stranded wire to handle the increased amperage. The 50-amp right angle cordset adaptor has a suggested retail price of $129.99.
Contact Marinco Electrical Group at (707) 226-9600 or visit www.marinco.com.
This story originally appeared in the January 2009 issue.