Buy Marine

At some point, all boats need to be refurbished, upgraded or refitted with new products and accessories. For those who are considering any of these, here are some money saving tips.

Having been in the marine industry all my life, I know the difference between marine parts and non-marine parts whether they are for your engine, cabin or on decks. For over half a century, our marine store sold and our service department installed the whole range of genuine marine products for boats.

The difference

The first difference you are going to say is that marine products cost more money but there is good reason and it sure isn’t that the marina or marine store are making a bigger markup. Marine products are designed specifically for boats for safety, functionality, durability, fit and utilitarian reasons.

Non-marine parts, on the other hand are not built or designed for boats. They will probably work but no where near as well or as long as products made specifically for marine use. They may not have the required safety features necessary for boats or securing brackets or electrical breakers or non-corrosive abilities or be made of suitable materials and, they could actually cause you more problems than you would like to encounter.

Something Brenda learned from her father’s television business when she was a young girl, was from Zenith’s motto “Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten”. This holds true in boating as well. Paying a little more up front for quality marine parts could end up costing less in the long run and serve you far better. It is like most other things in life, you really get what you pay for.

Marine Refrigerator

A good example is a marine frig. It is designed with a door locking catch so that the door won’t open and spill the contents all over the galley in rough seas. It has brackets to hold it in place, is a standard size for the standard size opening on most boats, so you don’t have to pay for a custom installation. Parts are suitable for moisture, stainless steel avoids corrosion. Some have integrated evaporators, edges on the front of the shelves to stop things falling out and others have drawers. They are designed to give you more in less space.

They run on 12V or the combination of 12V and 110V giving you greater flexibility while cruising. More than adequate insulation, the correct size of compressor, and non-flammable refrigerant are all taken into consideration on marine frigs as well as whether to use water or air cooling and how to get rid of the heat generated by the refrigeration unit. Marine refrigerators are engineered and built to operate under tough conditions. They must withstand violent movement, operate noiselessly, be thoroughly reliable – and most important of all – consume an absolute minimum of battery power.

If you are considering using a ll0-volt refrigeration unit instead of a 12-volt unit and run it off an inverter, do you research. Some technical data we found on the internet from some of the marine refrigeration sites follows:

110-volt refrigeration units used on boats are an adaptation from the standard home or commercial refrigeration units. They normally consist of hermetically sealed compressor units identified as low back pressure units so that low freezer temperatures can be maintained. They can either be air or water-cooled. The big problem with 110-volt units is the amperage required to start the unit. This may get a little technical, but something you should consider. For example: The average 1/2 horsepower frig unit will take around 1800 watts of power to start it, and it will run at about 900 watts and produce somewhere around 3000 BTU of cooling per hour at 900 watts on a 90 degree day. If you power this unit through an inverter that was 95% efficient you would have a one hour drain on your 12-Volt batteries of 83 AMP hours. At high amperage, the inverter is much less than 95%. Any time the refrigerator is running the alternator must be running.

Another marine frig company representative had the following to say when we posed the question about marine versus non marine frigs. There are no complete cabinet refrigerators made for boats. There are 12 volt RV refrigerators that are used in boats with some degree of problems such as disposing of heat produced and keeping product from falling out of box in rough seas. Most boat refrigerator systems are ice box conversion kits. Conversion kits and RV cabinet refrigerators cost from three to six times what a home refrigerator costs.

Boats cruising in the tropics need more insulation than offered in a home refrigerator but still can be OK in hot climates but they will consume more power than a box with 4 to 6 inches of insulation, and they have a shorter life due to condensation and salt air.

RV and home refrigerators require an energy source 24 hrs per day. Pleasure boats generally have 12 volt DC power, but most do not have AC power all the time. There are boats that use 110 volt home refrigerators supplying power to run them through a DC to AC inverter. The disadvantage to this inverter method is it takes about 25% more daily battery power than the same size 12 volt RV unit would.

You may want to consider Marine Frigs that run 12V and 110V. It could save you a lot of grief and generator time.

Marine Sink Hardware

Another example of when you should buy marine is taps, faucets and drains for the head and or galley. It is easy and inexpensive to pick up a set of taps from your local discount store or building supply store, to replace your aged or out of fashion faucets and taps. All too often they are not made of a non-corrosive material making them unsuitable for a boat installation. The mechanism for lifting the drain is different on a boat and the under sink space is much more confined than the typical residential bathroom again making your purchase unsuitable.

Check out the sink hardware carefully before purchasing. You may find it better and less expensive in the long run to buy from your local marina or marine store.


When installing or replacing canvas, there are many things you can request your canvas installer to include, to prevent annoying leaks. Get referrals and inspect the work done on other boats before jumping into a $2,000 to $6,000 or more canvas job. This is covered in detail in a previous newsletter “What to have included in your canvas job and have a professional do it”.

Marine Heads

Marine toilets and holding tanks are engineered to work on boats. Charging the holding tank with holding tank chemical not only reduces the odor, but also “works” in the tank to breakdown the sewage and paper. It is important to use RV/Marine grade biodegradable toilet paper though. It isn’t wise to use the double or triple ply paper that you’d use at home even though it is more comfortable. It doesn’t break down the same way in a marine holding tank.

When repairing your toilet, buy genuine parts for your make and model or you could face some smelly consequences. Some boaters who have repaired toilets with the wrong parts have been punished unbearably with the condition worsening and the corrective surgery very costly.

You’ve heard the expression “shit happens”. Well, don’t let it happen in your bilge. Buy the right marine parts and have them installed properly.

Marine Deck Chairs

Deck chairs are a necessary purchase for most larger cruisers and yachts to accommodate guests. However, some chairs are suitable and others are not. Deck chairs should fold and stow easily, and have a lower centre of gravity for stability and rubber type non-skid feet to prevent sliding. Marine deck chairs offer this; whereas, some of the residential plastic deck chairs are too high with the feet too close together to offer stability. There are no rubber feet on home chairs which could cause an unsafe situation for people to slide across the deck in rough water. The typical aluminum back yard lawn chairs are too high, made of aluminum that will corrode and have no rubber feet.

For the safety of your crew and guests, proper marine deck chairs are the best seat.

Marine Hardware

Boat hardware should be stainless steel or marine grade plastic, so it won’t corrode or deteriorate. Installing aluminum or cheap fittings will look dreadful after a year or so and stop being functional requiring repair or replacement. If you have to replace hardware every year or two, it sure makes sense to spend a little more to get the right marine grade the first time. Buy it right and buy it once.

Marine BBQ

A marine barbeque on your boat is safer and way less frustrating than a typical domestic barbeque. There is a lot you should consider before purchasing a barbeque for your boat. We will publish an article on barbeques in future.

Marine Cleaning Products

Washing the boat with the wrong product can shorten the life of the paint and/or gelcoat. Be sure to use marine cleaning products to extend the life of your finish.

If areas have soot from the engines or stains around through hull fittings (A/C outlets, cooling water outlets, etc.) find a product at your local marine supplier that is made for that purpose or you may harm the finish.

If you ever get oil and sludge in your bilge, use the marine absorbent pads to soak it up and dispose of it according to your local environmental regulations.

All marine cleaning products should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some work better than others so do your research before buying. This summer we are comparing some of the Marine cleaners on the market and will do an article later in the season.

Buy Marine

These are only some examples, there are many more. Any marine operator could rhyme off a handful of horror stories without even thinking about it.

Marine stores have heard all the horror stories of people buying non-marine, having troubles, then coming to get the right marine product to do the job.

Buy Right and Buy Once

When you consider all the above, it makes sense to go marine. Even though it may cost a bit more in the beginning, it usually costs less in the long run. Buy right and buy once for hassle-free boating.

Doug Dawson


  See also A Hose is a Hose is a Hose?

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