Comparing marine wiring to household or land-based wiring is a definite no. There are multiple reasons for this such as stranded wire instead of solid wire is always used on a vessel due to the continuous vibration and movement of the craft. The stranded wire should also be tinned copper. The tinning protects the copper from corrosion and if non-tinned stranded copper wire is used the corrosion will make its way up into the entire length of the cable run and turning it into a brittle mess and a headache to replace. It is a given that marine products are costlier but there is often a justifiable reason and with marine grade electrical cable it is that the cables are specifically manufactured for the marine environment. We must not forget the insulation. Marine wire insulation also differs from its land-based counterparts as it must be flame retardant, must be oil and fuel resistant to name a few. Connecting the wiring is also treated differently. Typically, the wire ends are crimped using crimp connectors or they are soldered. Insulating a connection is similar as outdoor connectors and care is taken to make it as moister tight as possible.
Marine grade electrical cable for alternating current (AC) or commonly referred to as triplex wire consists of three cores of tinned stranded copper wire. Each core has a different color insulation namely, black, white and green. Marine grade electrical cable for direct current (DC) or commonly referred to as duplex wire consists of two cores of tinned stranded copper wire. Each core has a different color insulation namely, red and black or red and yellow. Specialty wire are considered coax antenna cable, instrument wire, trailer wire and speaker wire. When considering installing speakers, using a good quality marine grade cable such as the Super Flex Audio Cable that is an all copper super flexible tinned duel core cable specially manufactured for this application is recommended. Battery boat wiring consists of fine stranded copper (Type III stranding) with each strand completely tin plated so tinned copper will resist corrosion and ensure safe and secure operation under harsh marine enviornments.
Crimp on connectors, a common accessory used to join cables, attach and eye or a slip-on spade connector. Although these might appear similar in manufacture between different manufacturers, there is a difference with connectors produced for the marine or wet environments. The crimp connectors are made of slightly thicker material and the tinned coating is also more robust such as the crimp fitting manufactured by ‘Ancor Marine®’. Soldering is often used and here again the use of solder and flux specially formulated for soldering cables in a wet or marine environment is highly recommended. To aid in insulating a connection there are many options available such as the proven electrical tape, the liquid tape, shrink tubing, the shrink tubing with the adhesive lining and the self-sealing tape. To organize the wiring installation the products and options are also plentiful. Some of the basics are the all plastic cable ties, nylon cable clamps, spiral wrap or split wire conduit are available from manufactures such as ‘Ancor Marine®’, ‘Perko®’ or ‘Sea-Dog®’ to name a few. What ever the electrical project aboard might entail using good marine grade components will ensure a satisfactory outcome.
Tool for boat cable are no different that what is required elsewhere in the electrical industry. A sharp wire cutter, an easy to use wire crimper, a good wire stripper and a heat gun should complement any tool bag aboard the vessel. Another handy tool to consider is a cable tie tensioning tool. This tool is designed to tension the cable tie to the preset tension and cutting it off flush at the same time. Tools are available for a marine environment and these are typically constructed of stainless steel to prevent the tool from rusting. To test that your boat wiring job was a success, a voltage meter is also an essential part of your tool-kit.