10 Tips for Troubleshooting Boat Electronics


When it comes to yachts, there’s only one thing on which you and your plans depend and these are those tiny but electrically technical bugs that come out of nowhere and spoil the whole mood. Doesn’t matter how reliable your boat is, its electronics can also be affected by some of these occasional glitches. Many people face such types of issues and they don’t even know what to do and how to do it. Below in this article, we will cover the 10 Tips for Troubleshooting Boat Electronics.

10 Tips for Troubleshooting Boat Electronics
10 Tips for Troubleshooting Boat Electronics

Luckily, most of these common bugs can be easily traced by just knowing the basics and simply get the errors fixed. Most of the time, it’s just the user error. Sometimes, the issue is fixed just on the spot, and part of the time, a problem occurs that requires a professional service. But if a person knows the basics and traces the problem, then it will help him save both his time and money and he/she will be ahead of the game.

In most cases, boat gear fails and it happens due to the electronic equipment snags that just pop up at the worst time. Sometimes the multi-function display goes off due to dust or the depth sounder breaks out during location transiting etc. Some marine installation service providers also offer tech support that is a great thing, but obviously, you can’t have the tech support every time and everywhere with you, especially when you are in the middle of nowhere. That is why one must be self-reliant and does have the ability to diagnose and fix such simple problems. Here are the top 10 basic but imperative electronic troubleshooting tips to assist you in fixing your boat back so that you can resume your beautiful trip.

1. Starting with the Basics

The first and foremost step is to get the know-how of your boat. You must have the knowledge of something you are going to ride. And for that, you must read the owner’s manual of the boat to get important information and basic understandings like wires plugging info, electronic meter working function, etc. in short, a basic understanding of how the gear system works and its installation assists you to troubleshoot without difficulty. Most of the manuals also have troubleshooting sections to guide you in the right direction. If by any chance you lost your owner’s manual you can search for some online manuals like Manualsnet that can help you with all the information that you need and solve your problems fast and for free.

2. Visibility

Sometimes its happens that the display screen goes off and shows nothing. In this case, simply check the brightness of the screen and the contrast settings. These settings often auto-adjust for the night vision. It may happen due to the difference in lighting conditions or just by accident.

3. Checking-up the Power Connections

Sometimes, we overlook the most obvious things like checking the plugs, wires or switches. It is the easiest and basic thing to consider. The electronics that don’t work properly or just seem to be in “On” and “Off” situation, are just due to the loose connections or just due to some inner damage of wires that can be easily fixed. Such tiny problems occur due to the corrosion problem or may be due to the movement of plugs. Also, don’t forget to check in the battery connections that they are firm and unmoving or not.

4. Voltage Checks

If you have verified that all the connections are tight and secured and the problem is still existing, then it is time to use a voltmeter. Each boat must have one on board. To authenticate that the switches of batteries and breakers are in “on” position, set the voltmeter to DC (Direct Current) volts and connect the probes of a voltmeter to the leads of battery switches. Just make sure that the positive probes must be connected with the positive lead of the plug and the same for the negative probe ad lead. Else, the voltmeter shows a negative reading.

If the voltmeter shows a reading of “0” it indicates that the power is not reaching the unit. It may be due to tripped breaker, blown fuse, broken wire etc. Just for information, if the fuse blows in a short time when being replaced then it is a symptom of a low voltage or high resistance in the line may be due to the faulty connection or corrosion problems. For this, just check if there’s any damage to the wires or clean out the dust from the plugs.

5. Examine Voltage Consistency

You should also consider the voltage consistency throughout the equipment operation. As some of the electronic appliances draw more power during their operating time such as your radio while transmitting and receiving the transmissions. To determine the dropped voltage or inconsistency in voltages, I have got marine audio installation near me. It helps me in listening to loud and clear sounds and whenever the voltage drops, the deflection in audio sound lets me know about it. The deflection occurs due to the health of the battery as it weakens with the passage of time. For this, just change your battery to get the consistent voltage.

6. Inspect the Correct Installation

Following the instruction manual, inspect thoroughly the installation of the electronic appliances. There are installation manuals in boats that help you determine whether they are properly installed or not. But if you don’t know anything about it then it’ll be better if you let the professional do the work. Additionally, inspect the basic accessories of marine like chart plotters, GPS units, and lights that are secured into your boat’s electrical system and have been properly connected.

7. Unplug/Plug the System

Tech standards recommend turning the system “off” and then “on” again. It works most of the time as some electronics catch a bug that gets out just by unplugging and re-plugging the system. It doesn’t have any risk of data loss while doing a forced shutdown, keeping you and your boat on a safer end.

8. Get the Latest Updates

Now, in most of the boats and yachts, there are computerized electrical systems that require proper updates to be free from glitches just like mobile phones and laptops etc. It is just the same as you update your laptop, make sure you also update your onboard systems. Just be careful while doing the updates as it may cause loss of your valuable information if not done properly. And always keep in mind that any new upgrade or appliance you add affects the frequency and type of an update.

9. Use a Multi-meter

Having know-how of using a multimeter is essential if you own a boat or yacht as it is required in repairing electronic appliances. It helps you know about the problem, whether it is low or no voltage, current loss or improper working of the system. You can do three types of tests using this multimeter as follows:

  • Open circuit voltage test
  • Voltage-drop test
  • Continuity of the electrical flow.

It is crucial to determine whether your systems are having suitable power at all or not.

10. Doing a Reset

Occasionally, doing a complete factory reset of a system becomes a necessity. But this option should only be used as a last option when there is no other possibility. It will reset the whole system, erasing all your data and valuable information that you installed. Just remember to backup all your important data before resetting the system.


Always consider your safety first while performing any repair work of marine electronics. Properly insulate yourself before touching any electrical appliance as there may be short circuits or damaged wires that can harm you. Follow all the instructions given in the manual before proceeding to anything as Life is precious, not the boat.

Leave A Reply