Onboard electronics: beware botched installs
12/14/2020

Several issues ago Marine Electronics Journal ran a few articles on "botched” installations of electronics and electrical components aboard boats. The culprits were many and varied. Some were the result of inadequately trained installers who operate independently or at boat dealers. Still others laid blame at the hands of boat owners or the guy at the next slip who overstates his skills and offers to help. Sometimes it happened on the boat builder’s factory floor. All of the articles we ran pointed to the need for more and better technical training.

Our purpose in sharing these observations with you is to help boaters understand what a proper installation entails--and to become better at selecting installers who have the necessary skills to do the work. Below, the former education director at the American Boat & Yacht Council talks about some of the botched work he has seen on new boats right off the factory floor. While Ed’s advice is tailored for technicians, the points he makes are universal.


By Ed Sherman


I often get the question, "Hey Ed, what are some of the most common mistakes you see with a boat’s build quality or with systems installations?” The good news here is that groups like NMEA and ABYC have developed training and certification programs. Increasingly, field installers and service technicians have taken these courses and achieved relevant certifications. I believe that as a result I am seeing higher quality, standards-compliant installations as more the norm than ever before.

Unfortunately, I and at least one of the marine electronics dealers I interviewed for this article cannot say the same for many of the new boat factory installations we have seen. I believe this is a serious training issue, perhaps better stated as a lack of training issue. This is a reality that can cause some nasty new boat warranty issues because the result of some of these errors may not manifest themselves immediately or be so well hidden that labor hours to troubleshoot the problem end up being excessive and tough for a dealer to get full reimbursement for. Let us get a look at some of these problems so you can be the judge.

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