I second Chucks recommendation on those two books
, and have nothing to add to Knottybuoyz thoughts on your questions.
However... the stuff I wished I knew before starting out working on my wiring adventures:
Solid copper does not belong on board... anywhere. Stranded tinned wire is best... but not totally immune to corrosion
unless shrink terminals and dielectric grease rule
the day. Do not... use wire nuts. No matter how well electrical
tape. By the way... there is only one electrical tape... that is Scotch 88. Even as totally righteous as it is... it pales in comparison to shrink tubing.
If you can run a continuous length of wire... do it. The less connections the better. Hard nylon crimp connections don't belong on board... use shrinking crimp connections and terminals. West marine
isn't the place to go... buy them buy the box at NAPA, or better yet an wholesale electronic house. Put shrink tubing over every connection... no matter where it is, soldered or crimped.
Klein tools makes excellent wire strippers and cutters. But double crimps are the best way to go. Even a bargain basement double crimp goes above and beyond the standard "Smash it down" crimpers. You will however... want two sets of stippers. One with the stripper in front of the pivot, another with it behind, as sometimes the position doesn't allow the use of one or another without serious effort. The side cutters you use for wiring/cable cutters... are only going to be used on copper, or you will hate yourself after they are dulled by steel
When you cut the tail off a zip tie, put down those side cutters... use a razor blade. Lay it up against the square block, push it into the tail... and pull on the end. Pop. You've created a stress risor that slices the zip tie off flush... No more gashed hands working on stuff. To get zip ties off, don't try to cut them... grab them with a pair of needle nose and give them a twist. Pop... no sawing and praying you don't harm the insulation
on the surrounding wires.
I suggest you read through Acoustics guide on crimp connections... the best I've seen.
All About Marine Wire Termination Photo Gallery by Maine Sailing at pbase.com
As far as the wire gauge goes, I suggest going one step larger than whatever is required to curtail voltage drop and extend the time it takes for corrosion
to negatively effect the system. SAE and AWG wire sizes are different so be aware. Buy a spool twice as big as you think you'll need, and then double it... of good quality boat cable. Or make up your own of high quality, 600v oil
resistant stuff... If you do this... make a wire comb so you can keep all your runs neat and orderly. A rats nest is easy to create... Put a load of zip ties on loosely. Straighten out the run, and as you go every 6-10 inches sinch one down. Don't be afraid to add a ton of temporary ones... grab some really cheap
flimsy ones and cut them off as needed when you add more wire runs.
I like the ABYC's recommendation that the 12v ground be yellow, though not necessarily that the whole length need to be... yellow shrink tubing on the ends suffices in my opinion. (Keeps you from grabbing a 110v (black) thinking it is a harmless dc ground...)
On your 110v receptacles... do not unscrew the screws all the way out and use ring terminals... they are knurled to prevent the AC's vibrating from loosening them. I like spade terminals with the ends bent up to positively lock them in place.
You can solder VHF
and coax connections... so save yourself some money
and don't go wild with funky connections! 30 bucks vs a little time, a little solder.. and some shrink tubing.
Leave enough extra wire everywhere that you can replace the ends a few times. There is nothing like having to patch in a new piece of wire on to the old one 4 inches from the end... That and make the control panels
and fuse blocks wires long enough to work on the back side... be able to unscrew the whole shooting match and turn it around backwards! Perfect place for a drip loop...
Bus bars are a beautiful thing... Ring terminals and a bolt into something non-conductive do the same thing on the cheap
, but by golly a nice bus bar is a lovely thing to work with.