10/30/2013

Basic Considerations for Marine Wire

What's the deal with Marine Wire?

Marine wire is a generic term used to describe electrical wire suitable for use in the marine environment. So why would we need a "special wire" to use in marine electrical installations...I mean copper is copper right?

Well there are some considerations when finding a suitable wire for any installation. For this particular case of boats and their wiring needs we have to consider the immediate environment surrounding these installations. First, obviously is that there's water around so it would be handy to have a wire that is rated water resistant just to be safe. Another issue is

Marine Grade Wire

What is Marine Grade Wire?

   
 So we get to tackle the subject of what exactly is a marine grade wire and you're going to learn more about what constitutes a marine grade wire than you ever imagined.

We will be dealing with boats as covered and defined in USCG CFR Title 33 Covering Navigation and Navigable Waters and gasoline engine boats (not outboards) and we are NOT dealing with Shipping Vessels as listed in CFR Title 46 which have their own separate rules for wiring. 

     To start with, let's define what marine grade wire means. Marine grade is not a specification or an exact measure of a certain wire type but is really

Tinned Marine Wire

Why care about tinned copper marine wire?

This comes down to another simple and basic argument. If there's a benefit to your wire installation and the cost is negligible then why wouldn't you take advantage of the extra protection?

Tinned copper is a process of electroplating the individual copper strands with tin so that each strand is totally encased in a thin tin layer that keeps corrosion and oxidation at bay. We've all seen what happens to bare copper when it is exposed to air and moisture. The beautiful bright shiny copper turns black and/or green with the buildup that forms on it's surface. That buildup can be scrubbed away however it's not a task you want to perform daily and it's not feasible to "scrub" each individual strand of your copper wire. 

Now, of course the argument can be made (has been made and surely will still be made in the future) about

Marine Wire Connectors

Marine Wire Connectors, Making Quality Small Wire Connections

When discussing marine wire connectors there are many styles and instances for particular connectors as well as the methods of installation to consider. I'm sure you will come across many opinions as to the proper way to make a wire connection for your boat and hopefully this article will leave you better educated so you can form your own opinion. 

Small Wire Connections

When discussing small wire gauge connections we will be referring to the most commonly used primary wire sizes which would be size 8 AWG and smaller. In most cases

Marine Wire Size Calculation

How to Calculate the Correct Marine Wire Size

Ahh...this is what you've wanted to find. We get this question all the time, "What size wire do I use for..."

There are some variables that need to be filled in first in order to begin figuring out the correct wire size. First of all we will deal with DC (Direct Current) which is most common on boats, coming from your batteries to whatever equipment you are trying to figure out a correct wire size for. There are some limiting factors to consider with electricity and they are the voltage and current. 

Often in the marine industry we are dealing with low voltage 12 Volt circuits. A big issue is voltage drop which occurs as the voltage at the end of a circuit is less than what was sent through the circuit to start with. This occurs as the electricity travels...the further it has to travel, the more voltage will be lost.  

In the boating world, the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) has set forward some guidance on the acceptable voltage drop limits on boats.  The ABYC has two levels