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Old 02-09-2018, 17:44   #1
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Conduit for Sailboat Wiring

I'm new to all this, so I'll just ask.

The plywood/FRP sailboat I'm working on has a PVC electrical pipe bored through bulkheads from the electrical locker in the pilothouse all the way forward to the cabin. It's 3/4 or 1 inch. At first I thought it was a hillbilly-type solution, but after wrangling with the existing branch circuits all day I'm beginning to think I like it.

In other places the 12 VDC wiring is run through some kind of 3/8 or 1/2 inch urethane-type tubing. In too many other places it's just run helter-skelter like spaghetti.

So, what is the preferred method of managing and protecting wiring? I need to know for both 12 VDC and 120 VAC.

The existing 120 VAC is all Anchor "Marine Cable". All 14 gauge Romex-looking cable protected by a 30 amp breaker in the electrical closet, a few feet from the male inlet.

My previous marine experience was building dredges where we just ran rigid, sealtite, and cable tray. I don't think that will work here. Lol.
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Old 02-09-2018, 18:26   #2
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Re: Conduit for Sailboat Wiring

Marine wire is pre-tinned Copper. Use no nonapproved wire as the salt will render it junk even inside the insulation. I prefer to keep DC away from AC. There are marine wiring standards which should be followed. They are for the good and sub-standard will get you gigged by an inspector some day.
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Old 02-09-2018, 18:34   #3
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Re: Conduit for Sailboat Wiring

Conduit is an excellent solution, and don't discount those cable trays. My boat was built with cable trays on the inside of the lockers in the main cabin. An excellent solution. It also has lot of conduit. And real PVC conduit is a whole lot easier to work with than waterpipe. Thinner and lighter and much more flexible.

For conduit, make them at least twice as big as you think you need. Boat wires multiply. At EACH end of EVERY conduit label EVERY wire. Be sure to leave a length of string in each conduit so you can pull that next wire through without a hassle.

Helter-skelter spaghetti is a nightmare. rip that crap out and do it right.

Lastly, boat wire is VERY different than Romex, although they have superficial similarities. Boat wire is more expensive, but is really worth it both in the long and the short run. Boat wire needs to be flexible, so it has lots of very fine strands of copper. It needs insulation that has a high temperature rating, and is water and oil proof. The best has the individual strands tinned for corrosion protection and better connections.
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