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#202483 - 08/04/11 07:24 PM Floating lodge questions
chinook Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/04/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Canada
Hey smile

I’m new on this forum and this is my first post so hello to all the members! I’m an electrician from England and I’m currently staying with friends on a floating fishing lodge in Canada. I’ve had a look at their electrical installation and found that there is no grounding, bonding and no GFCI protection whatsoever. They will be installing a new battery bank soon which will be a good time to get everything done safely and per Canadian regulations. I might need a few tips so will try and give and explain the whole setup as well as possible:

Currently there are around 4 separate floating wooden structures (1 lodge and 3 houses) which are connected together and wired back to the main lodge. The power is supplied by a generator (3kW) which charges a battery bank (6 x 4V) of around 500Ah. Both sources run through an inverter and additional electricity is generated by solar panels which charge the batteries. Because the batteries are old and recently failed they will be replaced by a new bank of 900Ah while the old generator will be replaced with a 5kW one. The new battery bank will be too big to fit in the old location so they’ve decided to build a new float which will act as a “floating power house” that can be moved around to any location necessary.

This is what I had in mind: The new float will have 3 small undercover rooms – one for the batteries, fuse box, inverter and other electrical accessories, one for the generator and another for the 24V freezers (connected to the batteries). Yet again the power from both the generator and batteries will be connected through the inverter which will in turn power a 6 way distribution panel (fuse box) mounted next to it. The way I thought to wire the new setup is to have 4 large pin and sleeve boxes mounted on the inside of the battery room which will supply each of the lodges separately with a plug mounted on a 6mm marine cable. Each circuit will be connected to its own circuit breaker (fuse). That way they will be able to unplug any of the lodges separately when doing maintenance or for re-jigging the structures. Would that be per Canadian regulations?

Where things get interesting and where I need help with is the general grounding and regulations regarding GFCI protection. As the whole structure is a floating one and the nearest land is solid rock, how/where can I pick up a main ground – I obviously can’t use an earth spike? I’ve read a heated discussion on another forum stating that a separate earth spike is not required according to the Canadian code as long as all bonding have been done with the main ground connected back the generator. Is this true? If not, again, where/how can I pick up a ground for the installation??? Next up would be GFCI protection. Where do I need to install the units to supply sufficient ground fault protection without causing nuisance tripping? In the UK our regulations (BS7671) state that specialized locations or certain areas require 30mA RCD (residual current device) aka GFCI. As the lodge is near water I can imagine that most, if not all, the circuits need to be connected to a GFCI.

I know that this is an “interesting” setup and not all that common so I would appreciate any tips.

Thanks!

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#202492 - 08/04/11 08:05 PM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
chinook Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/04/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Canada
Sorry, I forgot to mention that the lodge is located in British Columbia.

Thanks

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#202502 - 08/05/11 06:56 AM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
twh Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/04
Posts: 892
Loc: Regina, Sask.
If you were in Saskatchewan I would tell you that a commercial undertaking must be wired by a licensed contractor or there would be no insurance - property nor liability. As an added bonus, mistakes that end in injury often result in criminal charges against all players. I wonder if Canada has an extradition treaty with England.

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#202503 - 08/05/11 07:29 AM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
jdevlin Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/02
Posts: 402
Loc: welland ontario canada
Since this is floating with its own generating system I would think that CEC might not apply. It seems this might considered a boat and marine regs might come into play. I don't know?

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#202507 - 08/05/11 10:30 AM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
LarryC Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 775
Loc: Winchester, NH, US
DISCLAIMER I AM NOT AN ELECTRICIAN. I AM AN ELECTRICAL ENGINEER BUT NOT A PROFFESIONAL ENGINEER.

ASSUMPTIONS:

1) Structures are not connected to land based power system EVER.

2) Structures contain exposed metal such as decks, railings, structural components, plumbing systems, etc.

3) AC Power distribution is 120/240 60 Hz.

4) Safety concern is the lethal voltage present between AC power system and water.

5) No qualified and trained electrical personel present at all time.

6) Generator output is 24 VDC and is connected exclusively to the battery system.


Sounds like a robust grounding system needs to be established and everything needs to be bonded to it.

1) Are the hulls of the structures metallic?
2) Can mettallic plates be installed if the hulls are not metal?
3) Bond all accesable metal to the metal plates or hull.
4) Remember corrosion protection such as zinc or other sacraficial anodes.
5) Bond the "neutral" of the inverter outputs to the powewr house grounding system.
6) Keep the insulated neutral and ground seperated from each other from this point on.
7) Each structure is now connected to the power house with an insulated 4 conductor cable and connector.
8) All metallic systems on each structure are bonded to its' floating structurs "ground" system.
9) The "ground" wire of the 4 conductor cable is securely connected to the floating structor "ground" system at the first point possible.
10) Use a 2 pole disconnect between the fuses and the connector that feeds each seperate structure at the power house. You do not want to change fuses with the load still attached.
11) Use appropriate fixtures, connector, cabling, etc. for the environmental conditions.

Larry C

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#202508 - 08/05/11 10:47 AM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
mikesh Offline
Member

Registered: 06/07/06
Posts: 614
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
First
You need a BC Contractors licence to get a permit and you need a permit. You did not say you are a contractor.

A boat is wired under marine regulations unless it is permanently docked in one location for a period of around 6 months.

Where does the boat gets its power? I understand this group of floating buildings is not fed from shore.

Bonding will deal with fault currents but the system does need to be grounded and you should seek advice from a boat builder as to how it is done on a boat. Zinc anodes are common to protect boats from galvanic corrosion especially where metal hulls are involved.

The requirments for GFCI devices is the same as a land locked building Outside plugs within 2.5 meters of the water on the buildings keeping in mind that GFCI outlets on the exterior of buildings are not required if the building is not a dwelling unit. Might still be a very good idea. Oultets within 5 feet of sinks are required to be GFCI protected.
Any Freeze protection may require GFI (not gfci) protection too.
Generally i can't think why a floating building needs any more GFCI outlets or protection than a dry land building

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#202509 - 08/05/11 01:16 PM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
chinook Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/04/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: "twh"
I wonder if Canada has an extradition treaty with England.
I was expecting a few snide comments...OK, so let me clear a few things up: No, I'm not a contractor and I don't have a license and I will NOT be receiving any money for any work I do. I'm volunteering at the lodge and just trying to help out because their electrical installation at this stage is definitely NOT safe. Up to this point they’ve had “cowboys” do all their wiring who didn’t have any qualifications whatsoever. Needless to say things weren’t wired as per the BC code and the installation is, to say the least, dangerous (open joints, no grounding, no GFI protection). A lot of the wiring was done by the owner himself to try and cut costs. I would imagine that they would take responsibility for the original wiring although if I can get into any trouble trying to help out (thanks for the advice) I'll rather stand aside. At least I can try and advise them as to what to do - hopefully with your help. They have a licensed electrician coming to fit the new battery bank so maybe they can get him to wire everything else as per the BC code. The lodge is very remote and only accessible via a float plane or boat therefore we will need to buy all the material before the time.

Originally Posted By: "LarryC"
Sounds like a robust grounding system needs to be established and everything needs to be bonded to it.
Hey Larry thank you very much for your positive input, it is much appreciated.

Quote:
1) Are the hulls of the structures metallic?
No they are not. The lodge is built on top of large wooden fir logs and there are no metallic structures like railings.

Quote:
2) Can metallic plates be installed if the hulls are not metal?
Please explain. Can one get special "grounding" plates that can be dropped into the water and used as the main ground? If so I'm sure they can install them.

Quote:
3) Bond all accessible metal to the metal plates or hull.
Ok

Quote:
4) Remember corrosion protection such as zinc or other sacrificial anodes.
Good tip, thanks

Quote:
5) Bond the "neutral" of the inverter outputs to the powewr house grounding system.
Ok

Quote:
6) Keep the insulated neutral and ground separated from each other from this point on.
Ok

Quote:
7) Each structure is now connected to the power house with an insulated 4 conductor cable and connector.
Ok

Quote:
8) All metallic systems on each structure are bonded to its' floating structures "ground" system.
Ok

Quote:
9) The "ground" wire of the 4 conductor cable is securely connected to the floating structure "ground" system at the first point possible.
Ok

Quote:
10) Use a 2 pole disconnect between the fuses and the connector that feeds each separate structure at the power house. You do not want to change fuses with the load still attached.
Ok

Quote:
11) Use appropriate fixtures, connector, cabling, etc. for the environmental conditions.
Ok. Many thanks for the advice

Originally Posted By: "mikesh"
You need a BC Contractors license to get a permit and you need a permit. You did not say you are a contractor.
Hey mikesh thanks for your reply. The lodge has been running for many years now without any earthing or GFI protection and my guess is that with money being tight they will not be able to afford a licensed electrician to do all the wiring. So do I just turn a blind eye and walk away especially knowing that they have young kids playing around? It is a difficult one...

Quote:
Where does the boat gets its power? I understand this group of floating buildings is not fed from shore.
It is not a boat but rather a wooden lodge built on top of large floating logs. The power is generated by a generator which charges a bank of batteries. Additional power is generated by solar panels.

Quote:
Bonding will deal with fault currents but the system does need to be grounded and you should seek advice from a boat builder as to how it is done on a boat. Zinc anodes are common to protect boats from galvanic corrosion especially where metal hulls are involved.
As they don't have a metal hull or any other metal involved I guess one could install metal plates, as mentioned by LarryC?

Quote:
The requirements for GFCI devices is the same as a land locked building Outside plugs within 2.5 meters of the water on the buildings keeping in mind that GFCI outlets on the exterior of buildings are not required if the building is not a dwelling unit. Might still be a very good idea. Outlets within 5 feet of sinks are required to be GFCI protected.
Any Freeze protection may require GFI (not gfci) protection too.
Generally i can't think why a floating building needs any more GFCI outlets or protection than a dry land building
All the buildings are dwelling units which are used either for the guests, hosts or volunteers. All outside outlets would be within 2.5m of the water. There are outlets within 5 feet of sinks in the kitchen which are currently not protected and there might be some outside but within 5 ft of some of the bathrooms as well. Do those need GFI protection? Each building has its own bathroom. Do the lighting circuits need GFI protection (they do as per the new 17th edition in England)?

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#202511 - 08/05/11 03:53 PM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
dougwells Offline

Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1226
Loc: kamloops BC Canada
Quote:
First
You need a BC Contractors licence to get a permit and you need a permit. You did not say you are a contractor


Remember there are certified contractors In British Columbia. maybe it is time to have this place legally compliant.

Please read this link.
http://safetyauthority.ca/licences-certificates/working-bc/electrical

BTW I am very knowledgeable of the new Canadians working in Canada.
so I do know what new Canadians go through to be able to be sponsored and beable to work in Canada.

Please feel free to PM me if you need more info.



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#202512 - 08/05/11 04:04 PM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
dougwells Offline

Member

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1226
Loc: kamloops BC Canada
I volunteered also at senior citizens recreation center. I was hanging some wall scones that they supplied in the dining area.
so one day when i was doing this work during lunch the dining room is also open to the general public i am working away and lord and behold this table of people were watching me.
Then one gentleman called me by name to have a chat with him.
he told me he did not see a permit cross his desk for the work i was doing.

those people were 2 electrical inspectors and the receptionist.
i had just moved back to this town and had not been into the AHJ office yet.

He knew me from over 20 years ago when i shortly work with the same company he was with.

I did get a no fee permit.

smile

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#202519 - 08/06/11 02:43 PM Re: Floating lodge questions [Re: chinook]
chinook Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/04/11
Posts: 4
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: "dougwells"
Remember there are certified contractors In British Columbia. maybe it is time to have this place legally compliant.
Hello dougwells and thanks for your input. Getting a certified contractor in would of course be ideal and the best solution although as I've mentioned earlier the owners of the lodge already spent too much on their new battery bank and I don't think they will be able to afford a licensed electrician. At the moment they are doing everything themselves to safe money and the installation is definitely not as per the BC code. Maybe I should just try and turn a blind eye although that goes against the grain...

Quote:
BTW I am very knowledgeable of the new Canadians working in Canada.
so I do know what new Canadians go through to be able to be sponsored and beable to work in Canada.
A very kind offer thanks but not applicable to me! I'm just passing through Canada while on holiday and volunteering at the lodge for a short while before heading off again. I've even been to your neck of the woods in Kamloops and fished in the Scuitto Lake, although the big one got away of course wink

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