How to avoid scary electrical fires
27 October 2022 | Paul
As we approach Halloween we thought we would speak about the scariest thing to deal with when it comes to 12 volt electrics....electrical fires. 12 volt systems may not present a shock hazard but a short circuit can result in very high currents which can very quickly result in a fire, potentially engulfing your van, motorhome or boat in flames.
So, how can we avoid this horror... well here are some simple steps.
One of the most common causes of vehicle fires is the use of an under-sized cable. As a current passes through the cable its temperature will increase, and if it is not sized correctly to be able to safely carry the current and the resistance is too high, the cable is in danger of getting so hot that the insulation will catch fire. As most cable is hidden behind panels or in cupboards the fire can very quickly spread without you noticing, so it is vital to make sure you use the cable size specified by the manufacturer of the equipment you are installing or have worked out the correct size cable you will need. You can find more information about cable sizing here.
If a dangerously high current passes through the cable due to a short circuit or other issue, a fuse or circuit breaker will help stop that current causing a fire by interrupting, or breaking, the circuit and stopping the current flow. All positive cables connected to a power source (e.g. a battery) should be fused as close to the power source as possible to prevent a fire in the event of an over-current condition. To see what type of fuse you might need check out our guide here.
Loose connections, cables or batteries can lead to several problems that could cause a short-circuit and potentially a fire. Before connecting to your your battery it is always a good idea to make sure all your cable connections are tight and will not come loose. During installation, it is also good practice to secure any loose cable to prevent it moving, which will protect the insulation from being damaged via rubbing against sharp edges etc. You might also want to consider running the cable inside conduit or some other type of protective sleeving.
We only work with brands and manufacturers that are well respected and have a strong history, so we can ensure our products are safe and of the highest quality for your installation. Be wary of cheap products that might use sub-standard materials.
Image by Neil of Urban Vanlife
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