How to Choose the Right Marine Wire .pdf
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How to Choose the Right Marine Wire
With respect to electrical wiring for boats or marine vessels, you may have heard terms such as
boat cable, marine wire, and marine cable.
Boat wiring problems has a direct relation
with whether the boating experience is
enjoyable or not. Wire used aboard a boat
has to face many obstacles, such as the
constant vibrations of a boat in motion,
corrosion induced by salt water and salt air,
sunlight, heat etc. The corrosion can
reduce the cross sectional area of the
conductor and further the increase of resistance to current flow. Voltage drops will occur, which
will result in the breakdown of electrical system and in extreme cases, the wire will overheat and
even catch fire. Consequently, the wiring on a boat is much different from electric wire for land
use, as the harsh marine environment require bigger, tougher and more durable wiring.
Properly sized multi-stranded tinned copper wire and
cables with marine rated insulation is what should be
AWG-size cables(American Wire Gauge) better suit
marine applications instead of SAE-rated wire (Society
of Automotive Engineers). Since SAE wire can be up to
12 percent smaller than AWG Boat Cable, you have to
use larger gauge wire to stay within the voltage drop limits in many applications.
Multi-strand ensures that the wire is more flexible to give a much better resistance to vibration
when compared to solid core cable used in household applications. According to the ABYC
(American Boat and Yacht Council), only stranded copper wire is acceptable for marine wiring
applications. You will find "type" cables which tell you how many strands are found in each wire.
Different types are suitable for different applications.
Besides these requirements, a good, tight connection at terminals is demanded. A crimp connector
with integral heat shrink tubing is more suitable on a boat. An unsealed crimp connector can break
with boat vibrations, leave the wire ends exposed to moisture, eventually corrosion will begin at
the terminal, as the moisture tracks up the wire, gradually the entire length of wire will be
corroded. By using adhesive-lined heat-shrink material to seal the crimp connector such
phenomenon is less likely to happen.
If you use the right wire with tight connections, you will have wiring system with years of
trouble-free service. Scrap wire and cables in a boat scrap yard can be processed by wire stripping
machine to recover the copper in the insulation.