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Old 29-09-2015, 07:40   #1
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Rewiring for all LED Lighting

We've got an older boat with some really questionable wiring (mid 70's) most of the fixtures are shot so we've been looking around and LED lighting seems to have come down drastically in price! (down to $20-30 a fixture including LED's) question then is if I do the wire calc's I can easily wire multiple lights together and still end up with less than 1amp draw ( in fact with my current design I can turn on every light in the boat and only draw 3amps!!!).

Using 5% I can easily go with 18awg wire 100% of my runs. What are the drawbacks to using 18awg wire? I've heard that corrosion can be an issue, 18awg more fragile?

Major up side is lower materials cost across the board! wire costs less, connectors cost less, if you wanted to you could easily wire the entire cabin lighting loads to 1 or 2 breakers and not com close to their tripping loads. Its a real game changer for panel sizing.
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Old 29-09-2015, 08:03   #2
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re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

As you note, #18AWG wire will exceed the ampacity required for LED lighting, and if installed with sheathed duplex wire, will have adequate mechanical strength.

Minimum Wire Size and LED Lighting
Minimum Wire Size and LED Lighting - American Boat and Yacht Council
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Old 29-09-2015, 08:16   #3
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re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

Wow. Just wow. Gord, you are the man!! You're like a google ninja. Thanks for sharing your immense knowledge and search skills over the years.

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Old 29-09-2015, 08:20   #4
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re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

The only possible downside is if you want to put in something other than LED at some point, for one or two of the lights. Depending on how much the price difference comes to, I might go with 16g wire just for the extra capacity. But, as already pointed out, 18g will definitely work.
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Old 29-09-2015, 10:15   #5
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re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

Go for the tinned marine wire whichever gauge you settle on. If you want it to last.
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Old 29-09-2015, 10:58   #6
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

Tinned wire for sure! at 18/2 awg a whole 250' roll only costs $80ish!
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Old 30-09-2015, 09:27   #7
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

Go with the 16 gauge wire. Voltage drop is a real issue, especially on long runs. The efficiency of the LED's drops at lower voltage, and shortens their life from heat. And while you're at it, put lots of 12 volt outlets in for all the various chargers of yours and your guests.

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Old 30-09-2015, 09:39   #8
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

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Go with the 16 gauge wire. Voltage drop is a real issue, especially on long runs. The efficiency of the LED's drops at lower voltage, and shortens their life from heat. And while you're at it, put lots of 12 volt outlets in for all the various chargers of yours and your guests.

Dave
Dave, I've done the calculations. even with 3% as my limit 2 LED lights per circuit over 70' run is only 1.9% voltage drop with 18awg!
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Old 30-09-2015, 09:59   #9
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

FWIW, I almost always use 16ga as my lightest wire. I can't prove it's better, but it gives me peace of mind and I don't have to calculate 3% drop all day long-I never use higher % drop-I'm kinda conservative in that way. And as others have noted, I use tinned wire and high quality fittings and almost always fit shrink tubing. I've refitted a number of boats and am too often amazed that things still function at all. Some may say it's too much, but for the small increased investment it's worth it to me.
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Old 30-09-2015, 10:03   #10
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

Any of the good leds will tolerate a wide range of voltage.

There is no downside in upsizing your awg. The only downside for min speccing the wire is not related to its electrical performance.

Thinner wire tends to need closer support to look neat. The biggest issue is toughness. Something moves in a locker or you jam something in a locker then thinner wire is readily damaged. Trivial.

I size all our wiring lighting for incandecent. We're all lunasea leds but we retain the original bulbs as spares.

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Old 30-09-2015, 10:05   #11
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

hi, we changed all our lighting inside to LED last year and we bought them online from china for about $1.00 a light and we just searched the bulbs by the colour and lumens we wanted for the area we were lighting. went with bright white for the galley working areas and soft white for cabins. way cheaper than buying locally and free shipping too! we also bought dimable LED lights for our home at $3.00 a light compared to $25.00 a light at home. Stick with wire gauge suggested and you will save many amps that way. good luck!
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Old 30-09-2015, 10:05   #12
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

Another vote for 16 AWG minimum.

The extra cost isn't that much and it's so worth it for the extra toughness.

edit: also I'd vote against using the super cheap LED stuff as it will mess up your VHF reception
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Old 30-09-2015, 10:21   #13
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

agree on the larger gauge wire, and marine wire for sure,
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Old 30-09-2015, 10:52   #14
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

Hi, Just a quickie on something I read...a guy had his boat hit by lightening. Everything was ok except the thin (18AWG I think) guaged wire to his LEDs...it all fried and melted together. I don't wish this to happen to anyone of course, but it is a reality is this environment...I'd go with 14Awg tinned as I did in my Irwin 30...Peace of mind is a wonderful thing.
Good luck and God Bless
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Old 30-09-2015, 11:29   #15
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Re: Rewiring for all LED Lighting

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Originally Posted by pcmm View Post
We've got an older boat with some really questionable wiring (mid 70's) most of the fixtures are shot so we've been looking around and LED lighting seems to have come down drastically in price! (down to $20-30 a fixture including LED's) question then is if I do the wire calc's I can easily wire multiple lights together and still end up with less than 1amp draw ( in fact with my current design I can turn on every light in the boat and only draw 3amps!!!).

Using 5% I can easily go with 18awg wire 100% of my runs. What are the drawbacks to using 18awg wire? I've heard that corrosion can be an issue, 18awg more fragile?

Major up side is lower materials cost across the board! wire costs less, connectors cost less, if you wanted to you could easily wire the entire cabin lighting loads to 1 or 2 breakers and not com close to their tripping loads. Its a real game changer for panel sizing.
Length of run, amperage, if to be run in engine compartment (heat), and wire type (# conductors) are all factors in determining wire guage. We always over spec as it is inexpensive insurance against fire. Also if you are doing any extensive cruising the thicker insulation of larger wire aids against wear from vibration, even with appropriate fire rated wire split loom. ABYC has charts for determining gauge based on run length, amperage and ecuipment type. Google voltage drop calculator and ABYC for info. Hope this helps.
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