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With respect to electrical wiring for boats or marine vessels, you may have heard terms such as boat cable, marine wire, and marine cable.


Boat wiring problems has a direct relation with whether the boating experience is enjoyable or not. Wire used aboard a boat has to face many obstacles, such as the constant vibrations of a boat in motion, corrosion induced by salt water and salt air, sunlight, heat etc. The corrosion can reduce the cross sectional area of the conductor and further the increase of resistance to current flow. Voltage drops will occur, which will result in the breakdown of electrical system and in extreme cases, the wire will overheat and even catch fire. Consequently, the wiring on a boat is much different from electric wire for land use, as the harsh marine environment require bigger, tougher and more durable wiring.


Properly sized multi-stranded tinned copper wire and cables with marine rated insulation is what should be used.
AWG-size cables(American Wire Gauge) better suit marine applications instead of SAE-rated wire (Society of Automotive Engineers). Since SAE wire can be up to 12 percent smaller than AWG Boat Cable, you have to use larger gauge wire to stay within the voltage drop limits in many applications.
Multi-strand ensures that the wire is more flexible to give a much better resistance to vibration when compared to solid core cable used in household applications. According to the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council), only stranded copper wire is acceptable for marine wiring applications. You will find "type" cables which tell you how many strands are found in each wire. Different types are suitable for different applications.


The tin coating helps protect the copper wire inside. Tin copper wire has the inherent advantages of longevity and anti-corrosion properties compared to non-tinned ones. Copper is chosen for the conductor because of its low resistance to current flow.
The PVC insulation adds defense against the elements. It gives a good resistance to abrasion and petrol, diesel, lubricating oils and diluted acids.


Besides these requirements, a good, tight connection at terminals is demanded. A crimp connector with integral heat shrink tubing is more suitable on a boat. An unsealed crimp connector can break with boat vibrations, leave the wire ends exposed to moisture, eventually corrosion will begin at the terminal, as the moisture tracks up the wire, gradually the entire length of wire will be corroded.   By using adhesive-lined heat-shrink material to seal the crimp connector such phenomenon is less likely to happen.
If you use the right wire with tight connections, you will have wiring system with years of trouble-free service. Scrap wire and cables in a boat scrap yard can be processed by copper wire granulator to recover the copper in the insulation.

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