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The Key Differences Between Wireing A Boat, Barge & Floating Residence.

Last week we answered a question submitted by Joe the electrician. So, he had been asked by a potential customer to wire up a floating residence that was simply described to me as a barge that someone was going to build a house on and move into. Unclear to me was whether this was going to become a mobile craft or just sit parked on one place forever.

Turns out it may make a difference in how he may approach the wiring questions Joe presented to me. After publishing the post where I basically advised treating the whole thing as a boat, a friend contacted me to remind me about an area found within the national electrical code that addresses “floating structures”.

I usually think of these as casinos and such but frankly tend to forget that there are areas of the US, such as Seattle where year round live aboards do live on small floating sturctures that never move. Not really boats at all with any of the associated dynamics that we need to think of on boats. So, by way of comparison, compare the photo below of yet another liveaboard found on the waterways of Amsterdam to the photo in my Joe answer below.

The boat shown above is my idea of a boat. It’s got a pointy end (bow), its got a rudder.. It was originally designed to move through the water. So, as far as I’m concerned its a boat vs. a “floating structure”. Now I’m not sure if this boat has moved from its berth in many years or not. It was pretty clear to me that someone was indeed living on board as we went by it.

So, back to Joe’s original questions about the type of wire to use, grounding systems and the like. I guess you need to answer the basic question first….is your potential customers craft a boat or a floating structure. If the determination is that its a floating structure, you can save a lot of money going with the NEC wiring recommendations.

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