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Marine Electronics General Maintenance

by Dave Alston

Today’s marine electronics have become more sophisticated and versatile.  Technology has allowed manufacturers to incorporate many new features and functions while, in most cases, not overwhelming us with extremely complex operating procedures.  However, like all other electronic products, there will be problems from time to time.  That’s when the owner operator needs two basic tools.  We would like to offer boat owners some valuable information about marine electronics general maintenance.  First, he needs a thorough understanding of how the equipment works and what to look for when problems arise. Second, he needs a working relationship with a quality marine electronics dealer.
Minimizing Electronic Problems
Familiarize Yourself with the Entire System: 
Many of today’s electronics have “hidden components” that may be installed in some out of the way compartment.  Know where everything is and make regular inspections to verify everything is clean and dry and not being banged around by loose gear that may have been stowed there. 
Know where the input power comes from and have spare fuses on hand.  Low batteries and bad connections can cause a fuse to blow.  Never put a larger amperage fuse in than is called for.  Doing so can easily damage the electronics and even cause overheating in the wiring. 
Keep Clean and Dry: 
Even though much of today’s new electronics are built to survive a certain amount of exposure to the environment, the old rule that water and electronics don’t mix is still true. 
Obviously, the best thing is to prevent moisture and water from coming in contact with your electronics or electrical system.  However, that’s quite often difficult to accomplish on some vessels.  The use of dehumidifiers and heat strips can go a long way toward extending the life of your equipment. 
Many LCD displays can be damaged with cleaning fluids.  Avoid putting chemicals (including Windex) on monitor screens.