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Old 31-07-2014, 23:58   #1
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LED Wire Size

I am replacing my tricolor bulbs with LED's can I use a smaller wire? The run to the mast head is about 65 feet from the panel.
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Old 01-08-2014, 07:58   #2
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Re: LED wire size

Smaller than what? If the current wiring is 8 gauge then, yes, I'd say you probably don't need wiring that large.

The basic rules concerning current and length of run still apply. LED bulbs tend to use very, very little current. How much current? How long is the run? Check the available charts for minimum acceptable wire size. Just like with any other appliance.

Or just assume that if the existing wiring was good enough for incandescent bulbs then it MUST be good enough for LED bulbs. That is probably a good assumption. But then, I never did like to ASS-U-ME when making certain is so very easy.
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Old 01-08-2014, 08:09   #3
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Re: LED wire size

Probably, but if the wiring is still good then why? The weight aloft difference should be minor.

Is it a combination fixture with other lights combined in it like anchor etc? All going to LED or just tricolor?

Do the math. Assuming a combination fixture the what is the highest load (in amps) combination? Then plug that into a wire gauge calculator or look up in ref table...plenty of them on line.

http://www.westmarine.com/WestAdviso...e-And-Ampacity
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Old 01-08-2014, 08:39   #4
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Re: LED wire size

If you are trying to maintain ABYC compliance, you will need at least 16 gauge wire. This may be what you already have in place and would give you a roughly 5% voltage drop if your LED's draw 1 amp. Are you replacing damaged wire?
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:00   #5
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Re: LED wire size

I would not use such small wire because of the chances of it being damaged even from just its own hanging weight.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:09   #6
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Re: LED wire size

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Old 01-08-2014, 10:10   #7
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Re: LED wire size

Are you replacing existing wire because of age?

If so, and your new light draws less than 2 amps, you should have no problems going with a light gauge wire, like 14-16. Make sure it is Romex for chafe.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:14   #8
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Re: LED wire size

Never use Romex on a boat.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:29   #9
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Re: LED wire size

You can buy (and should buy) stranded tinned wire such as Ancor wire for the wire run. You can buy it with outer sheathing for chafe resistance. The problem with Romex is that it works best with wire nuts which you never want to use on a boat either. Crimps don't stick well enough to solid strand wire such as Romex. Crimp connectors stick to stranded wire well enough.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:45   #10
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Re: LED wire size

The problem with Romex is that it is solid, not stranded, and can fracture easily.
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:57   #11
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Re: LED wire size

With very low amp devices, the structural ability of the wire to hold up to vibration, tugging and other mechanical failure methods becomes the primary consideration (as opposed to voltage drop).
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Old 01-08-2014, 10:57   #12
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Re: LED wire size

i would think 16 is a good size for an LED light. duplex ancor wire is the standard. also be sure to use waterproof connectors at the mast head.
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:06   #13
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Re: LED wire size

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
I would not use such small wire because of the chances of it being damaged even from just its own hanging weight.
Isn't that just the opposite? That is smaller wire in proportion to it's size is stronger.
I believe this called the square cube ratio and explains things for example why an ant can fall from any height, but an elephant cannot jump
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:06   #14
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Re: LED wire size

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
With very low amp devices, the structural ability of the wire to hold up to vibration, tugging and other mechanical failure methods becomes the primary consideration (as opposed to voltage drop).
++1

Specially on long runs like up the mast.
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:16   #15
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Re: LED wire size

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...explains things for example why an ant can fall from any height, but an elephant cannot jump
I'm no expert on ants and elephants, but I think it's easy to guess which one will make the biggest mess.

On one end of the spectrum would be a wire so fine that it cannot carry its own weight. While on the other end is a wire so stout that it supports itself.
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