by Allied Wire & Cable,
The marine environment is a hostile one for electrical wire.
Wire used on board a marine vessel will potentially be exposed to numerous
obstacles, such as salt water, sunlight, heat and other outside hindrances. All
electrical wires are not constructed to endure the problems associated with
marine conditions and therefore will not be suitable wiring on boats or ships.
In these situations, marine wire or boat cable may be necessary.
wire, boat cable, and marine primary wire are terms you may have heard used in
reference to electrical wiring for boats or marine vessels. Wiring specified as
"marine" or "boat" is different in several ways from other types of electrical
wire, such as power wire used in the home, or automotive wire, etc. A main
difference is that the conditions surrounding marine installations require
marine wire and boat cable to perform better than other wires designed chiefly
for land use.
A marine wire is specifically designed and engineered for
the electrical wiring of boats and is intended for all possible uses abroad a
ship. Marine wire may be distributed to the pleasure boat and commercial marine
industries and is often used by boat builders. The term "boat cable" may often
be used interchangeably with marine wire or marine cable. Boat cable usually
refers to general electrical wiring used on a boat. Marine wire that may fall
into the sweeping category of "boat cable" often starts as a single conductor
cable. Extra wires are added from there into one cable, consequently creating
multi conductor boat cable.
Because of the demanding marine environment,
approved marine wire usually possesses a copper conductor. In addition, the
jacket of the cable will most likely have been tested for flammability safety.
The jacket and the insulation should be rated water resistant.
frequently requested single conductor boat cable styles are marine primary wire
and marine battery cable. The cables are extremely similar. The main factor that
differentiates the two is the AWG size of the cable. According to General Isles
Marine, single conductor boat cable in sizes 16 AWG up to 8 AWG are widely known
as primary wire sizes. The larger single conductor marine cables ranging from
size 6 AWG up to 4/0 AWG are known as battery cable sizes.
marine wire and boat cable provided by a manufacturer or distributor will meet
the requirements of UL, SAE, Coast Guard, ABYC, and NMMA. The American Boat and
Yacht Council (ABYC), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the National Marine
Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
have developed safety standards and guidelines for marine electrical
installations specifically serving manufacturers, technicians, and even boat
Corrosion is a primary cause of electrical failures on a boat. In
order to avoid the common problem, marine wire and boat cable are built to
resist quick decay. In both wet and dry conditions, marine wire needs to behave
consistently in order to perform properly. Marine wire, boat cable and marine
primary wire may possess PVC insulation for added defense against the elements.
After all, they need all of the help they can get.
The remaining links
will examine the various types of marine wire and boat cable on the market
Common Types of Marine Wire
Wire (Tinned Copper)
Marine Primary Wire may also be listed as
Tinned Primary Wire. The copper conductor will usually possess a tin coating
which causes the strand to be called "tinned copper." Tinned copper marine
primary wire is built to reduce corrosion and prevent electrical
Marine Primary Wire (Tinned Copper) can be used in 105"C marine
applications, in the internal wiring of electrical equipment and for general
circuit wiring. It is employed for electrical connections in the marine and
automotive environments where a tinned conductor is preferred. The marine
primary wire may additionally be utilized for motorcycles and other applications
requiring a high temperature primary wire. Tinned copper marine wire performs
well in all marine environments, even in saltwater.
You may see marine
primary wire listed as UL 1426 marine grade wire. Most brands of tinned primary
wire will meet the requirements of the US Coast Guard and ABYC, as well as
Marine Primary Wire (Bare Copper)
Primary Wire (Bare Copper) can be used in 105"C marine applications, in internal
wiring of electrical equipment and for general circuit wiring. The marine
primary wire shares many of the same applications and properties as tinned
primary wire. However, the conductor is bare copper instead of tinned
SAE Primary Wire
SAE Primary Wire is
General Purpose Thermoplastic (GPT) insulated primary wire that corresponds to
SAE specifications, generally specifications J1128 and J378. SAE Primary Wire
may be used for general purpose marine and automotive applications. It usually
has a temperature range of -20"C to 105"C and voltage rating of 50
Flat Boat Cable
Flat Boat Cable is a
multi-conductor marine cable that can be used for marine or brake cable. The
boat cable usually meets UL Standard 1426 and UL Style BC-5W2. Flat boat cable
also may meet DOT Coast Guard specs. The boat cable has a PVC insulated
Round Boat Cable
Cable is much like flat boat cable. However, round boat cable makes for easy
installation where tight, jagged spaces are present. Many installers of boat
cable favor round cables because they are easier to arrange. Additionally, round
boat cable may be used for harsh environments.
Marine Battery Cable generally has a temperature range of
-20"C to 105"C and a voltage rating of 50 volts. The battery cable also resists
oil, fuel and acid. Marine battery cable is designed to survive the harsh marine
environments. The cable normally has a high strand count cable with tin plated
copper stranding. Marine battery cable may be used in battery