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Old 06-05-2015, 16:49   #31
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

Off topic but you brought it up so...bite the bullet and lift the genoa track and do it right. Just my opinion.
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Old 06-05-2015, 17:07   #32
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

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Originally Posted by DeepFrz View Post
Off topic but you brought it up so...bite the bullet and lift the genoa track and do it right. Just my opinion.
Dang it man, don't say that! I'm not mentally prepared for that job right now! I'm stretched thin as it is! Haha, I have to change the caulking on the teak deck and lightly sand the wood (it's in pretty rough shape) before I can attempt to rebed the track. I need to whittle down some projects first. That one is next big one after the electrical and finishing my house battery system complete.. But I will be doing both tracks soon as leaks are counterintuitive to anything I do on the inside. Though I have tried tightening the track bolts but I think it's beyond that.

- Ronnie...on the geaux
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Old 06-05-2015, 18:35   #33
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

The owner of a power boat used solid 'home wiring' romex and a few wire 'twist on' connector to add a 12v socket up on his fly bridge. Something went horribly wrong and there was a fire that was determined to have been caused by this 'non-approved for marine use' materials/ wiring and his insurance company denied his claim. He hired an attorney experienced in nautical law/ insurance disputes (not cheap!). Ultimately he had to accept a settlement of about 50% of the actual damages (plus pay all his legal fees).

The really big no-nos in electrical projects on a boat are:
- Using solid wire
- Not using tined stranded wire
- Using twist wire nuts
- Soldering connections
- Calculate & use proper wire gauge
- Calculate & use proper breaker
- Routing 12v with 120ac wiring
- Must use 'captive' not 'horseshoe'
crimp terminals

(While there are many more... this are the most common serious non- approved for marine use items)

If you don't know why these are serious deviations from ABYC recommended guidelines (and what our insurance companies can use to deny claims in their investigations) you probably should either find another boater to mentor/ help you with your electrical project or take the time to detail out to a Fourm like this how you are planning to do your electrical project and specific materials you're planing to use. I've also found most Marine stores have staff that can steer you pretty well in small electrical projects. Doing it the right way has very little impact on cost... doing it wrong can have a really bad outcome/ cost.


We all like saving money and improvising, but we have a higher responsibility for the sake of our loved ones and crew (and other fellow boaters around us) to take the time to ask/ read/ learn about really important guidelines/ safety no-nos that can result in innocently making a dangerous situation. These forums help, but regardless, we bear the ultimate responsibility for our boat's safety.


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Old 06-05-2015, 21:11   #34
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

Just a thought but I have not been using ABS wiring on boats for years. I use only aviation quality wiring. It is about 25 percent more expensive but exceeds ABS by about 50 percent in all aspects. I checked with the Coast Guard about this and got their approval. ABS is merely MINIMUM spec's. The Teflon coated wires, high temp melting point and mechanical strength is worth it to me.
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Old 06-05-2015, 21:30   #35
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

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Originally Posted by kudukuguam View Post
Just a thought but I have not been using ABS wiring on boats for years. I use only aviation quality wiring. It is about 25 percent more expensive but exceeds ABS by about 50 percent in all aspects. I checked with the Coast Guard about this and got their approval. ABS is merely MINIMUM spec's. The Teflon coated wires, high temp melting point and mechanical strength is worth it to me.
ABS? You possibly mean ABYC, which is fairly stringent on wiring.
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Old 06-05-2015, 21:34   #36
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

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Originally Posted by W3GAC View Post

The really big no-nos in electrical projects on a boat are:

- Routing 12v with 120ac wiring


If you don't know why these are serious deviations from ABYC recommended guidelines......
Not exactly true. AC and DC wiring can be run together if they are in a conduit. 14/2 wire, 14/3 wire etc are considered in a conduit by ABYC. Single conductor AC and DC should not be run together.
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Old 06-05-2015, 21:47   #37
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

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Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
ABS? You possibly mean ABYC, which is fairly stringent on wiring.
My bad. Brain fart
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Old 07-05-2015, 01:03   #38
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

You can get most of the information you need via the ABYC & related wiring guides. Most of them & the relevant info is available on Amazon (at least as a starting place). Those, as well as some of Nigel Calder's works, & a few other savvy authors which will rise to the top repeatedly, if you do several searches.

That said, once you've done some studying, & sketch out on paper what you think you want to do. And will work, plus be in compliance with the guidelines in general. Take it to a pro, & have them sit down & go over the info & your ideas with you. Both the layout(s) and the math. And after a revision or three, usually not big ones, you can pickup the needed supplies & get to work.
Ah, & also have a proper diagram drawn up & approved, from what you & the consultant settle on as a final layout.

Look at it this way. Boat's electrical systems are wildly more complex than they were 15 or 20yrs ago, so by doing it right, & being able to show as much - via your certified wiring diagrams. The value of the vessel goes up, as does it's safety.
And the time & cost required for the nod from a certified pro shouldn't be that terrible when figured against the cost of all of the new materials & lights.
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Old 07-05-2015, 05:56   #39
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

This is an interesting thread for all of the do's and don'ts that are posted. Lots of pretty good advice. I'm nearing the end of some serious rewiring and (thankfully) have adhered to most of the good advice here. But, if you go back to post #28, you'll notice that the OP (Ronnie) has it pretty much together and may exceed some of the recommendations.

To comment on the "off topic" part. Check out MainSail's posts and website on bedding deck hardware and the use of butyl tape. ***Buy Bed-It Butyl Tape*** Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com

I've started to use that for projects and am a big believer!

Now, someone else can take it back on topic.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:12   #40
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

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Originally Posted by SailRedemption View Post
I'm thinking about rewiring the overhead dome lights and reading lights in my boat, I have already rewired other larger electronics and pumps. The reason for the lights is that I have most of the overhead paneling down checking for leaks and running wires. The girlfriend and I would like to just take the rest of the paneling down to remake them, most are rotted badly from leaks, and really cover with new fabric. Since this would require cutting the wires on the existing lights to remove the panels, we got a nice look at the state of wiring of them all. I'm not sure if it's standard practice but the lights are wired in series. They have soldered connections which some have broken loose, so that's an issue right there.

Now when I rewire these, how do I wire them? Each light has its own wire and I send all those to bus bars and one larger wire from bus bars to electrical panel breaker? Or do I do series again and jump from light to light? I'd like to do series if I can to save on wire and unnecessary weight of it all.

Other than that, I am very familiar with crimping and connectors, shrink, etc. Also, I have the correct tools for the job. Lights will have LEDs or be LED fixtures. So I was going to use 18/2 awg marine wire, and probably 12 awg from the bus bars to respective panel connections.

- Ronnie...on the geaux
The problem with wiring in series is that one light goes out, they all go out.
I woulde prefer wiring them in parallel sircuit. I would also use 16 or 14 wire rather than 18 gague.
The benefits of saving wire will be quickly forgotten once you start having a problem and you usually do considering the environment the wiring living in. Do it the right way at the beginning and you won't regret it.
Just my opinion.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:24   #41
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

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Originally Posted by SWTFRDOM View Post
The problem with wiring in series is that one light goes out, they all go out.
I woulde prefer wiring them in parallel sircuit. I would also use 16 or 14 wire rather than 18 gague.
The benefits of saving wire will be quickly forgotten once you start having a problem and you usually do considering the environment the wiring living in. Do it the right way at the beginning and you won't regret it.
Just my opinion.
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I agree. 14 gauge is the smallest I use on any boat.
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:29   #42
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

I have rewired all my DC by segmenting the circuits. I divided the boat into equal sections both port and starboard and installed both ground and hot terminal blocks at each segment. I ran #10 wire for each back to the main breaker box. This way I can easily wire new components without running new wire runs and greatly simplify the wiring of the boat.

I am also replacing all lighting with LED with constant current drivers to eliminate RF interference.

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Old 07-05-2015, 09:08   #43
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

n.b. The reason to have a minimum of 16ga wire for power circuits is for the mechanical properties of the wire, not the electrical. So 18ga, or 20ga, or whatever may be fine for the amperage, volts, distance - it is not as strong and durable, especially after it is stripped for crimping.

And there are "horseshoe" style crimps which are also captive. Some of them have the ends bent up so that they are harder to get off of a screw post, or are snap click on. I personally hated ring terminals when working as a pro on boats. You have to take the screws completely off, often times in very tight spaces without good access and very short screws - like on circuit breaker panels and terminal strips. Many a special little screw has been lost that way. It is even more difficult when two connectors need to go under the same screw.

But I never used the non-captive type spade/horseshoe crimps. The ring types are more secure in comparison but will still come off if the screw backs out. But it takes a heck of a tug to get the captive spades off.
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Old 07-05-2015, 17:49   #44
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

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Originally Posted by trifan View Post
Another possibility:

Twist on wire connectors (otherwise known as wire nuts in the US) work well and can be sealed with caulk. However, according to Wikipedia: "They are widely used in North America, but are not approved for use on low-voltage wiring in countries in the European Union and in many other countries"

So, using the ones with metal wire inside will work, and work well, they may not be your answer. Just FYI...
DO NOT USE WIRE NUTS ON YOUR BOAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 07-05-2015, 17:56   #45
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Re: DC cabin lights wiring

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Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
Series wiring is a no no as if one light is out they all go out...................
Not to mention the fact that you would have to wire six two volt bulbs in series for a twelve volt supply. Or three four volt bulbs. Or two six volt bulbs (you can actually find these).

I don't think his lights are actually wired in series.
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