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Top tags: Boat Wiring  E-11  AC and DC electrical system  Boat Battery  Corrosion  Corrosion Protection  Electric Shock Drowning  Electrical systems  ESD  Exhaust System  Label wiring on boat  voltage drop 

How To Properly Label The Electrical Wiring On Your Boat.

Posted By Shannon Aronson, Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, February 6, 2018
How to Properly Label Wiring on Boat


What’s the best way to label the wiring on your boat?

 The photo below shows one person’s take on this, use a sharpie and write on the wire insulation to tell you what the cable is for. Certainly this is something I see fairly often on new boats right from the factory and the bottom line is that it actually meets the ABYC E-11 standard.

But, I would suggest that this may not be the best approach to take. One, its pretty hard to write clearly on a piece of 14 AWG wire in a legible fashion, two, if the wire ever gets re-terminated, part of the description will probably end up going missing; as you can see in the below photo the writing is right next to the crimp connector on many of the wires shown.

My personal preference on new boats are printed heat shrink labels. These get purchased in sheets and are actually run through an old DOT matrix printer. As long as they don’t get shrunk into place too close to the terminal, re-termination will not impact the label. I’ve seem paper labels used and they simply don’t hold up. 3-m does make some paper labels that get sealed with a transparent plastic overlay once you write what you what on the label.

Again, as long as the label isn’t too close to the end, all is well. Pre-printed numbers on heat shrink tubes are also a good choice. Just make sure to provide a decoder chart that tells what wire # 23 is for. You get the idea. Just remember, ABYC E-11 offers broad latitude for identifying the function of DC conductors. For AC wiring, it’s best to strictly follow the internationally accepted colors, black or red for “hot” wires, white for neutral and green or green with a yellow stripe for grounding or “earthing” conductors.

Tags:  Boat Wiring  E-11  Label wiring on boat 

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Does Your Boat’s Wiring Meet ABCY E-11 Standards? - Ed Sherman

Posted By Shannon Aronson, Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2018

One of the areas I get an occasional question on has to do with what you see in the photo below. You are looking at the backside of a fairly typical electrical panel. What you see is three rows of standard two pole circuit breakers and the master wire harness coming in from the top side with all of the DC positive conductors attached.

On the opposite poles you see some neatly bent uninsulated single strand copper wire that connects all of the other poles on the circuit breakers. At each circuit breaker the installer has carefully made a solder joint attachment to the 5/16″ male spade terminal protruding from the breaker. All very neat and tidy.

The question however is whether of not this complies with ABYC Standards. The answer is no. Not so much because of the single strand copper, I consider that as nothing more than a “custom” buss bar. Its probably better than the brass bars you often see used on cheaper panel arrangements, since copper is far more electrically conductive than brass.

The problem here is the beautifully hand-crafted solder joints on the terminals. The ABYC E-11 standard is quite clear that “solder shall not be the sole means of electrical connection”. Crimp and then solder yes. Straight solder. NO.

Too bad, because this looks sort of elegant and my bet is it’ll last for years just as it is. But, that’s just my vote. The ABYC electical PTC (project technical committee) said no to this arrangement somewhere along the line. Not sure if they were really thinking of this sort of arrangement. I understand the reasoning behind the requirement, if the terminal were to overheat it could actually melt the solder and cause a disconnect. Also, the solder really doesn’t have the physical strength. I get that too.

My thinking here is that if it got that hot behind the panel,  the boat owner would have bigger worries. As for the strength properties, I just don’t see where its needed in this particular installation. I’d love to hear your comments on my thinking here! So, send them along.

Tags:  Boat Wiring  E-11 

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Wire and Water Don't Mix

Posted By Ed Sherman , Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 30, 2018

OK, so you are probably wondering what’s going on in this photo (see below). Well it’s part of a little experiment I conducted over the recent holiday break. I had been working on an article for Cruising World magazine that was related to hidden damage to boats that may have been damaged and ultimately “totaled” by the insurance company down in the Caribbean this past fall. The crux of the article was what hidden damage there may be that could make a great deal on a damaged boat look like not such a great deal. In my research for that article I came across some information about a test that one of the surveyor groups conducted some years ago trying to find out how far up an insulated wire water might migrate if either end of the wire were exposed to sea water. Grab a copy of the 2018 DIY issue to read that article entitled “Trouble Lurks in Wet Wiring”. The bottom line is that I had some time to kill and decided to try testing this potential problem myself. So, the three pronged plug and 30″ of wire you see in the above photo is the result of my little experiment. You can clearly see the white fuzz surrounding each of the three conductor terminals on the plug assembly shown. This was the end of the wire that was NOT submerged in salt water. This plug and cord was just cut off a failed appliance that I had in my test area. I stripped the wire insulation off one of the three conductors and just left the other two with a clean edge from the cutting pliers.

So, after four weeks you see the result of the test. The moisture from the salt water I had submerged the cut-off end of this length of cable into managed to migrate via capillary action up the entire length of the 30″ length and managed to exit around the terminals. So, what have I learned? If submerged in seawater for any length of time you need to be concerned that this migration will travel along the individual strands of copper wire and ultimately cause some pretty extreme corrosion!

Tags:  Boat Wiring  Corrosion 

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