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Old 30-03-2013, 23:42   #1
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Heavy Duty Battery Cables

Gentlemen & Ladies, I am getting ready to make some battery / inverter changes to my boat and am wondering whether there is such a thing as "marine grade" AWG heavy duty cabling? Will a good grade of automotive cable of adequate size will work just as well at less cost or is the marine grade cable, if available, necessary? Any help would be appreciated! George

While I am at it, any thoughts on coating the posts and terminals with Vaseline as I do on my autos to prevent corrosion?
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Old 31-03-2013, 03:08   #2
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

George-
Yes, there is "marine grade". Specifically, you want fully tinned wire to prevent it from corroding, and automotie battery wire is bare copper. If you are upset by the price and do not use fully tinned cable, it will come back to bite you.

You might try GenuineDealz.com for the cables, they have had many happy customers posting over the years. Prices are competitive and they will fabricate the cables for you with the correct terminals and lugs, which are equally important. There's no cheap way to properly attach lugs on battery cables DIY.

Vaseline also has no place on terminals. It melts, it migrates, it also conducts slightly and makes a mess. WIth proper tinned fittings and cables you don't need Vaseline, but if you want a little insurance on the connections a proper silicone dielectric grease is the better material.
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Old 31-03-2013, 14:32   #3
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

hellosailor, Thanks for the advice. I will take it to heart. I am not the least bit averse to spending money to do the job correctly, but hate to waste money for no reason. You supplied good reasons. Thanks. George
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Old 31-03-2013, 14:56   #4
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

I'll second Genine Deals for anything to do with electrical wires and connectors. Good prices, easy to deal with.
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Old 31-03-2013, 15:12   #5
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

I second roverhi's suggestion. We ordered our stuff from:
GenuineDealz.com - Marine Electrical, Boat Wire & Cable, Custom Battery Cables

Easy to deal with, ship on time, and great prices.
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:25   #6
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

Again, Thanks to all who took the time to reply. I am well aware of the necessity of using "marine grade wiring" aboard a boat. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that the same would apply to battery cabling. Also, I do have some dialectric grease and will use that in the future for all applications instead of Vaseline. Thanks again!! George
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Old 03-04-2013, 19:40   #7
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

Vaseline is a bad choice. Di electric or any heavy grease is fine. Axle grease got us through many wars.
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Old 03-04-2013, 19:56   #8
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

Another fan of Genuine Dealz - especially his custom cable work. For $1 per cable end he will install the connector (and shrink wrap) of your choice far better than I (or you) can do. As you probably know, the great majority of boat electrical problems are due to poor connections, not bad wire.

The only challenge is to measure carefully for your order. If you order a 4' 6 3/4" cable, that's what you are going to get. I used a piece of #4 cable as a measuring tool.

Carl
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Old 04-04-2013, 01:30   #9
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

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Originally Posted by gts1544 View Post
Again, Thanks to all who took the time to reply. I am well aware of the necessity of using "marine grade wiring" aboard a boat. I don't know why it didn't occur to me that the same would apply to battery cabling. Also, I do have some dialectric grease and will use that in the future for all applications instead of Vaseline. Thanks again!! George
I dont think that battery cables have to be tinned on a boat but...
Most importantly they need the ends crimped on right, that means waterproof. So they need a high quality crimp and high quality glue lined heatshrink.

Water cannot enter forward of the heatshrink as a high quality crimp leaves the copper and the lug fused together in a solid block.

They also do need to be heavy enough to carry the load over the distance.
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Old 04-04-2013, 07:47   #10
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

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Originally Posted by Fuss View Post
I dont think that battery cables have to be tinned on a boat but...
Most importantly they need the ends crimped on right, that means waterproof. So they need a high quality crimp and high quality glue lined heatshrink.

Water cannot enter forward of the heatshrink as a high quality crimp leaves the copper and the lug fused together in a solid block.

They also do need to be heavy enough to carry the load over the distance.
I hope you sail in fresh water. I think untinned cabling aboard is a false economy, although I do concur that the quality of the crimp plays a big role in the longevity of an uncorroded length of cable.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:35   #11
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

Fuss, while your idea would appear to have merit, in the real world crimps are not gas-proof, much less waterproof, and air with moisture content might get sucked right past an open crimp. (As opposed to a sealed "cup" fitting.)

But even then, all it take is one pinhole, one chafe, to allow the whole cable to breath freely again. Not as badly as an open end, but then again, the cable was open before you crimped it, if there's any moisture in there...

So instead of worrying about whether you've got a perfectly dry sealed cable, you use tinned cable, and know that there's just no way it can punk out. Especially, unsuspected inside what you thought was a sealed cable.

Can you cheat and often get away with it for long times? Sure. I know electrical zip cord that was used for a 12v light and spliced with "twist and tape" in an obscure place. It probably had been there 20 years before something disturbed it and it drove a couple of us crazy by coming apart, unseen. I'm sure the PO said "this is good enough" when they did it.
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Old 04-04-2013, 08:48   #12
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Regardless of where you buy we recommend:

tinned wire and tinned closed end lugs
dialectic grease in the closed lug cavity
double "box crimp"
double heavy heatshrink

As the crimp tool we use (Thomas & Betts "Tru-Chrimp" interchangeable"die model from Lawson) costs over $500 we suggest you have genuine dealz make them up. Good prices and service

S
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Old 04-04-2013, 13:58   #13
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Yes, I agree, it's probably better if they are tinned.
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Old 04-04-2013, 16:16   #14
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Re: Heavy Duty Battery Cables

There is a guy who posts here and on Sailboatowners.com under the name Maine Sail. They even gave him his own "featured contributer" section at the other forum.

He also has his own website with "how to" articles including one on making battery cables.

I suggest you read all of his stuff before you do any electrical project.
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