boat on water

Maintaining marine electronics is vital for ensuring safety and efficiency. However, exposure to the harsh marine environment can take a toll on electronics, leading to early wear and decreased performance. To maximise the lifespan and reliability of your marine electronics, it’s important to conduct regular maintenance or to consult a qualified technician to perform this on your behalf. It might seem obvious but, without a thorough maintenance routine, our onboard equipment may fail us when we most need it. Here are our top tips to help you keep your devices in optimal condition: 

1. Clean and dry

One of the most fundamental aspects of ensuring the lifespan and function of electronics within a marine environment is keeping them clean and dry. Saltwater, spray and moisture can corrode components and lead to faults. After each use, wipe down your electronics with a soft, damp cloth to remove salt residue and dirt. Ensure that all openings and connectors are dry before storing your equipment.

2. Corrosion protection

Corrosion is a common issue in marine environments, particularly for electronic components exposed to saltwater. To protect against corrosion, use corrosion-resistant materials for mounting hardware and connectors. It pays to invest in reliable and robust options that are built to last. For example, the Actisense A2K range of cables and connectors use screwcaps made of nickel-plated brass, a material specifically chosen for its resistance against corrosion from salt water.

a2k cables and connectors banner

3. Regularly check connections

Loose or corroded connections can disrupt the flow of electrical signals and compromise the performance of your marine electronics. Likewise, choosing cables designed with both strength and durability in mind, such as Actisense cabling, will give you peace of mind that your connections remain secure to stand the test of time and the harsh marine environment. It is important to periodically inspect all electrical connections, including wiring terminals, plugs, and sockets. Tighten loose connections and clean corrosion using a wire brush or electrical contact cleaner.

TER U Female connection
TER U Smart Universal Micro Terminator

From a diagnostics perspective, easy tools such as the TER-U smart terminator will give you visibility about whether enough power isn’t reaching the extremity of your network and Actisense-i will give you a visible snapshot of all devices connected to your NMEA 2000 network.

4. Update firmware and software

Many modern marine electronics devices are equipped with firmware or software that can be updated to improve functionality and address software bugs or security vulnerabilities. Check the manufacturer’s website regularly for firmware updates and follow the instructions to install them. Updating firmware can enhance the performance and reliability of your electronics. The Actisense firmware library is regularly updated here.

5. Store properly

Proper storage is essential for protecting marine electronics during periods of non-use. Store your electronics in a dry, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Use protective covers or cases to shield your equipment from dust, moisture, and physical damage. Remove batteries from portable devices and store them separately to prevent leakage or corrosion.

6. Battery care

Batteries are a critical component of many marine electronics, powering devices such as depth sounders, fishfinders, and handheld GPS units. To prolong battery life, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for charging and storage. Avoid overcharging or deep discharging batteries, as this can reduce their lifespan. Inspect batteries regularly for signs of leakage or corrosion, and replace them as needed. 

Actisense-i has a great battery voltage monitoring tool, free to use with the W2K-1 NMEA 2000 Wi-Fi Gateway.

Actisense-i Voltage Monitor
Actisense-i Voltage Monitor

7. Regular testing

Regular testing is essential for verifying the functionality and accuracy of your marine electronics. Conduct routine tests on navigation systems, sonar equipment, and communication devices to ensure they are operating correctly. Verify GPS accuracy, check sonar transducer performance, and test VHF radio communication range. Address any issues promptly to prevent them from escalating into larger problems.

8. Professional inspection

Much of the time, these tips can be checked over by yourself, however, some aspects may require professional expertise or sometimes it’s just worth getting a second opinion if you’re unsure. Consider scheduling periodic inspections by qualified marine technicians to assess the condition of your electronic systems. Professional inspections can identify potential issues early on and ensure that your equipment is in optimal working condition.

Key takeaways…

Proper maintenance is essential for prolonging the lifespan and performance of your marine electronics. By following these tips, you can help protect your equipment and have peace of mind that your devices remain reliable and efficient with every journey.