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Recommended Books on Marine Electrical Systems


Electrical systems can be difficult to understand. Incorrect installations can lead to nuisance trips, malfunction, dangerous heating, and sometimes fire. In response to frequently asked questions about what to read to gain an understanding of electrical systems on boats‚ the staff at Blue Sea Systems, one of West Marine’s most respected suppliers, compiled this list of books. These authors explain the basic principles and offer in-depth discussions on some topics.

Anyone designing a complete electrical system should read more than one of these books. In some situations, it is advisable to consult a marine electrical expert. No one book or stack of books will make someone an electrical engineer or an electrician. Furthermore, anyone wanting to perform electrical work on a boat should study the relevant standards from ABYC and the instructions that come with each piece of equipment.

Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual

Boatowner’s Mechanical and Electrical Manual, third edition (Model 7103625)

Nigel Calder
Maintain, repair, and improve a boats essential systems. A comprehensive guide to electrical, mechanical, and propulsion systems.

The 12-Volt Bible for Boats, Second Edition (Model 4844627)

Miner Brotherton and Edwin Sherman
The 12-Volt Bible for Boats is a clear, non-threatening introduction to the 12-volt electrical systems used on small boats to power everything from reading lights to bilge pumps. This second edition is thoroughly updated with respect to modern batteries, breaker and panel design, alternative energy sources, and troubleshooting equipment, but it retains the fundamental simplicity that is the source of its enduring popularity (more than 100,000 copies sold).

Sailboat Electrics Simplified

Sailboat Electrics Simplified (Model 1945047)

Don Casey
How to install wiring, make good, safe connections, match your battery bank and alternator to your needs, troubleshoot problems quickly, and avoid shore power problems.

The Fisherman’s Electrical Manual

John C. Payne
A complete guide to electrical systems for bass boats and other trailerable sport fishing boats.

Understanding Boat Batteries and Battery Charging

John. C. Payne
Provides information about batteries, battery types, battery ratings, installation, charging devices and systems.

Understanding Boat Wiring

John C. Payne
Compact explanation of basic boat wiring functions and practices.

The Marine Electrical and Electronics Bible

The Marine Electrical and Electronics Bible, third edition (Model 11015708)

John C. Payne
The long awaited third edition of the world's most comprehensive electrical and electronics handbook for sailors. Fully updated with information on battery capacity, charging systems, wiring, lightning and corrosion protection, radar, autopilots, VHF and SSB radios, shortwave communications, GMDSS, GPS, EPIRBs and much more. The book is illustrated with hundreds of informative charts, wiring diagrams and graphs.

Powerboater’s Guide to Electrical Systems

Powerboater’s Guide to Electrical Systems: Maintenance, Troubleshooting and Improvements, second edition (Model 9911603)

Ed Sherman
Focused on power cruisers‚ the author is a recognized authority on electrical practice and is well respected by boat builders and marine electricians.

Advanced Marine Electrics and Electronics Troubleshooting

Ed Sherman
Targeted at trade professionals. Boat builders, installers, electricians and boatyard owners will want this book for its insight into new tools and techniques for tracking down problems. The advanced boat owner will benefit as well.

The 12-Volt Doctor’s Practical Handbook (Model 210328)

Edgar J. Beyn
Practical solutions to common problems with your onboard electrical system. Electricity, switches, engine instruments, alternators, batteries, pumps, solar power, safety standards and more.