Melting AC

Hi Kevin

I purchased an old 1989 cruiser, a Regal 280 Commodore, and tripped the 20 amp dockside breaker while using a hatch a/c unit and an electric kettle. I have 30 amp service in the boat.

I reset the breaker and then the AC electric system worked for a few minutes and then went dead. Neither the dockside breaker nor onboard breaker tripped, but we smelled a burning smell. I immediately unplugged the AC system and looked behind the AC panel.

At the main breaker switch where the shore power comes in, I found the white wires melted and melting damage to the black wires. I can fix all the wires, but there is also some sort of capacitor that was wired as a jumper between the green and white wires and it is not in the wiring diagram of the boat. It looks like it has been burned out. I want to know what to replace it with, and then if this overall problem is something that points to the result of another problem or if it may have been some old wires getting warm and then touching.

I can replace everything as it was once I know what to put between the black and green wires, but don’t want to do that and then plug it in if there may be other issues that need addressing.

Thanks for your help.


The only connection in your panel between the neutral and ground would be a reverse polarity indicator. Instead of a light, some boats have an alarm. Some of the piezoelectric alarms look like capacitors.

Hope this helps


Probably Polarity


I need your assistance with my boat wiring.

I have changed trolling motor batteries in my boat and since, I have burned 2 twist plugs. My cables aren’t marked so is it possible I may have crossed them or is that something that would cause my dilemma.

What could be causing me to burn the plug? It has a 4 wire Marinco outlet.

Thank you


On a 12/24 marine electrical system, wiring the batteries is critical. Use a meter (not a test light) to determine if the polarity is correct and the battery cables are correctly connected.

The circuit protection in the positive leads at the battery should trip before you burn up the plug. If you don’t have fuses or breakers at the battery, now is a great time to add them.


Lingering Light

Boat Wiring Guys,

I put in new VHF radio into my sailboat. The installation seemed to be successful except...

Now when I turn off the marine electrical panel switch for the VHF, the green light from the breaker goes out but not right away, slowly turning off in about half a second.

Is there any problem with this? Did I screw something up?



It is not a problem.

The light in the switch gets power when the output side of the switch has power. The residual light is caused by a capacitive charge that is in the VHF radio. This capacitor in the radio helps with noise and voltage spikes but will give the appearance of voltage on the power wire which makes the light stay on.

Hope this helps

Finding Fuses


Thank you for all of the great pontoon boat wiring info that you publish. It makes for great reading and a lot better understanding of how to keep these wonderful boats running.

My question is probably too simple for you to answer, but I could really use your help...

Tahoe Pontoon Boat

Where is the fuse box on a 2003 23 foot Tahoe pontoon boat? I have searched and searched, but can't find the thing!

Thanks again.


Thank you for the kind words. It's really gratifying to hear that I am able to help.

As for your question. On most pontoons, the fuse panel is inside the helm station.

Good luck,


Dead Outlet


Pontoon boat wiring is definitely not my strong suit. Could you please help me sort this one out?

Marine electrical 12 volt outlet

I was using the 12 volt outlet in my pontoon boat to power a Dc to AC power inverter.

I turned it on, then plugged in a small string of LED strip lights, and it worked fine. Then tried a larger set, my inverter beeped and then the lights went out. With a different power supply, the lights still work, but the 12 volt accessory outlet is dead.

What can I do to make the 12 volt outlet work again? What went wrong?

Thank you for your time,


Hi Harold,

It sounds like you blew the fuse for the 12 volt receptacle. Check the fuse panel and you will find the problem