Ignition Protection is an important safety aspect for marine electrical components. Improperly vented engine compartments and bilges increase the explosive potential of ignition due to errant sparks. Dangerous fumes may be emitted from leaking gasoline, propane, CNG lines or tanks. Blowers on larger vessels cycle fresh air below decks to remove dangerous fumes. To help prevent sparks, marine starters, alternators, distributors, starter solenoids, and electrical motors are designed with Ignition Protection. To earn this designation, tests are conducted to ensure a design can suppress sparks that are known catalysts for shipboard explosions. Lesser priced automotive counterparts do not require this same safeguard. Testing agencies such as UL Marine or IMCI (International Marine Certification Institute) certify marine engine parts, but only after rigorous testing. Some manufacturers such as Arco and Marine Electrical Systems test starters on-site for compliance with CE standards. Marine grade quality is based not only on ignition protection but high tolerance to temperature extremes, voltage surges, impact, vibration, chemicals and salt spray. Any engine repairs should use certified marine parts for the safety of all passengers.
Proper electrical installation is easier than doing the job twice. To avoid future problems, try to run continuous wire in moist areas of engine compartments, but if you must use connectors, be sure to use quality mechanical connectors insulated against moisture intrusion. Avoid using wire nuts! If you are unsure of best marine electrical installation practices, seek the help of qualified marine technicians.