Gauge of wires to use - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 10 Old 06-18-2012 Thread Starter
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Gauge of wires to use

I need to do some electrical work - install radio station, music player, etc. What gauge of wires would I need for those?

Also, I want to be able to charge cellphones on the boat - can someone recommend a device? I think usb exit would be good, car plug might be ok too.
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post #2 of 10 Old 06-18-2012
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Re: Gauge of wires to use

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I need to do some electrical work - install radio station, music player, etc. What gauge of wires would I need for those?

Also, I want to be able to charge cellphones on the boat - can someone recommend a device? I think usb exit would be good, car plug might be ok too.
The West Advisor: Marine Wire

That's a good starting point. Get only good quality marine wire. I suggest Ancor brand duplex safety cable. 12V is red, GND is yellow (yes yellow to avoid confusion with AC ground if present).

I suggest getting a quantity of 14 or 16 awg, and the appropriate adhesive lined shrink crimps. Also make sure you have the appropriate fusing. Look for bluesea brand terminal blocks, fuse blocks, fuses and other things.

Ancor Marine Grade Flat Duplex Safety Electrical Cable
Ancor Ring Terminals (Heat Shrink)

For charging you can wire in a lighter plug outlet and then get an automotive 12V usb charger. This lets you use other lighter plug items if you need too.
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Re: Gauge of wires to use

The NEC rules for wire guages are the minimum Dia wire for the current so the insulation doesn't melt. Not what you really want for marine enviroment.

Without more information, (I'm assuming 12v devices). And not a very long run 16 guage should be plenty. For longer runs, it may be 20-30 ft from the battery to the panel, then another 10-20ft to the devices, 12 guage should be fine, (not for the current, but to minimise voltage drop).

To charge my cell phone I installed a car style 12 volt socket, and bought a car charger for my cell phone. For the phones that have usb style charger ports, I bought a 12v to usb charging adaptor.

I hope this helps. If you need more info, you need to give more details about the specific install you are doing. WHat kind of radio, what wattage etc... size of boat, distance from panel?

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Re: Gauge of wires to use

Wires are sized for how many amps you want to run through them and the distance of the wire. Once you select your wire size, then you install "protection" in the form of a fuse or a circuit breaker that trips before the amp capacity for your particular wire has been exceeded.

Here is an example of a table for selecting your wire size. Scoll down to the 12 volt table.

DC Wire Table

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Gage of wire

The gage of wire you well use depends on the length of the run and number of amps of max current draw. Check out the book Sailboat Electrics Simplified by Don Casey

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Re: Gauge of wires to use

Here ya go ... based on the total run (in ft.) of the wire: AWG by wire length/amps calculator

... and for 'boats' dont use less than 18 ga. for small wiring primary 'hook-ups'.
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Last edited by RichH; 06-18-2012 at 07:00 PM.
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post #7 of 10 Old 06-18-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Gauge of wires to use

About the length - not too far from the main electrical box and the batteries. I would think not more than 10ft.
The radio I have is STANDARD HORIZON GX1150 Eclipse DSC+ (or something very similar, I don't remember exactly).
Stereo - I want to reuse the one I had in the car:
Alpine FM/AM CD Receiver OWNER'S MANUAL CDA-9827, CDA-9826, CDA-9825 | ManualsOnline.com

by the way - do you think it will last or will it completely corrode? I am in salty water. I don't mind if it will break after some time, I have no good use for it anyway.
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Re: Gauge of wires to use

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Originally Posted by Romario View Post
I need to do some electrical work - install radio station, music player, etc. What gauge of wires would I need for those?

Also, I want to be able to charge cellphones on the boat - can someone recommend a device? I think usb exit would be good, car plug might be ok too.
I recommend this book which includes a chapter on electrical work.

http://www.amazon.com/Caseys-Complete-Illustrated-Sailboat-Maintenance/dp/0071462848/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303148437&sr=1-3

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post #9 of 10 Old 06-18-2012 Thread Starter
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Re: Gauge of wires to use

Already put that book in my Amazon cart, so was looking what else do I need :-)

Here is what is there so far:
United States Hdwe. R-011B Putty Tape (Butyl Tape)
3M Company 3/4X66 Scotch Elec Tape 4218-Ba-40 Electrical Tape & Shrink Tubing
Chart No. 1: Symbols, Abbreviations and Terms - NOAA NOAA; Paperback

and the book you recommended.
Wanted to put some wires there as well. I think some 18AWG and some 16AWG should be ok for now.
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Re: Gauge of wires to use

Forget the 18 gauge and double up on the 16.

ABYC recommends that no wire thinner than 16 gauge is used on a boat, no matter how low the current. This is because the wire needs to have a certain strength to resist damage.

These days I keep a long length, like 30ft, of 16 gauge, 2 core, Boat Cable on the boat, so most of the time I've got what I need whenever I'm installing small stuff like radio, instruments, etc.
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