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Old 16-09-2013, 20:20   #1
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"Marine grade" wire

What standard(s) is/are met when a manufacturer calls it marine wire?

In other words I read that SAE J378, J1127 or J1128 is minimally sufficient and that the genuine article is up to 12% thicker. I'm fine with that. So I search for the actual marine wire standards (as stamped on the wire) I only see those SAE codes, or UL AWM 1015, UL AWM 1230 etc. And AWM seems to stand for Appliance Wiring Material. Nothing marine about that.

So what codes equate to "marine" wire? GPTM tinned? Heck there are mil specs for glue. Would this be Mil-C-915? I know it can't just be "ABYC approved". Or can it? So if I were to manufacture wire (hypothetically), and I wanted the minimums for purity strands, insulator, tinning alloy, I'd get that from ABYC books? This link implies that GPTM tinned is the same as SAE J-1128 and SAE J-378.

If I had a spool in front of me I'd look.

Being picayune, I know, but when West Marine said that marine wire is up to 12% thicker, I want to see the cross sectional area somewhere.
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Old 16-09-2013, 20:55   #2
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Re: "Marine grade" wire

Underwriter's Laboratory has developed a set of marine grade standards. Ancor and other suppliers have received UL certification of their marine grade wire. If you want to supply marine grade wire then UL certification would be one way you could prove it to your customers.

SAE wire is 12% less cross section area than AWG (American Wire Gauge) wire for the same gauge. This has to do with the way SAE specifies the usage of wire. It's confusing to use SAE sized wire on a boat because all the marine ampacity charts are designed for AWG. Marine wire is sized in AWG in the US and in millimeters in the rest of the world. A #10AWG wire is the same size wire whether or not it is "marine grade".

Practical Sailor did some tests with tinned and untinned wire in marine environments. They found no significant difference in connection reliability. Tinned wire will look better longer but it does not improve the conductivity over plain copper.

Edit: There is no such thing as UL "Marine Grade" wire. UL calls it "boat cable". Marine Grade is a trademark of a certain wire supplier (can't remember which one).
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Old 16-09-2013, 21:00   #3
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Re: "Marine grade" wire

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
... Marine wire is sized in AWG in the US and in millimeters in the rest of the world. A #10AWG wire is the same size wire whether or not it is "marine grade"...
That actually answers 99% of my question. Thanks

This link seems to indicate most of what I am thinking about is "Marine approvals for 10 AWG - 16 AWG: UL Standard 1426, BC-5W2"
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Old 17-09-2013, 07:33   #4
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Re: "Marine grade" wire

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
Practical Sailor did some tests with tinned and untinned wire in marine environments. They found no significant difference in connection reliability. Tinned wire will look better longer but it does not improve the conductivity over plain copper.
I'm not completely up on the spec for "marine" wire, but I do know from experience that some plastic insulation seems more flexible yet more impermeable to water than others, and that some wire wicks moisture in more than others.

With regards to tinning, most of us have seen old untinned stranded copper wire from boats, cars, trailers, etc where there was darkening and corrosion up under the jacket, up to a few inches away from the stripped end.

So it's my expectation that the ideal "marine" wire would be tinned, fine stranded, and with a flexible, tight jacket. Maybe the type of strand and twist determines the conductor cross-section for a given AWG size?

If you're a professional, you pretty much have to be installing official "marine" wire (eg ANCOR) to reassure the customer, but I'm sure that less expensive yet suitable wire could be found if you search in other channels - eg automotive.
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Old 17-09-2013, 08:06   #5
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Re: "Marine grade" wire

A. What the PS article did not address as clearly was damage under the isulation and repairability. Non-tined wire may be code compliant, but use it only in dry locations. The real intent of the PS testing was to test corrosion preventatives. The wire comment was more of a side note on the effectivness of a good crimp. (I did the tests)

B. SAE wire will require adjusting you crimper.

C. Non-tinned SAE wire is quite corrosion prone because of the fine stranding. The corser strands of industrial wire hold up better , though fine stranding is require around vbration sources (motors) on land or sea.

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Old 17-09-2013, 08:11   #6
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Re: "Marine grade" wire

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
...
With regards to tinning, most of us have seen old untinned stranded copper wire from boats, cars, trailers, etc where there was darkening and corrosion up under the jacket, up to a few inches away from the stripped end....
No doubt about that. The tinned coax in my Catalina just rotted away well past the end of the insulation, so I can easily imagine a standard wire rotting away. It just falls apart. Thanks to Catalina for deciding to run it under the floor and adjacent to the bilge.

I'm not trying to lowball anything, it's just my curiosity started me on this thread. I actually started by looking at the recommended cable gauge for a given length wire, and from there I started wondering about this note about SAE being thinner than "marine", with the salient detail being transmitterdan's caution on the use of SAE gauge versus AWG in sizing.

EDIT: I found a comparison of SAE versus AWG sizing here.
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