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DC wiring basics?

Old 04-14-2004, 09:36 AM
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Default DC wiring basics?

I've stripped a 14' Livingston of all its crappy old wiring, switches etc. I want to buy and install a small DC panel wired for a few electronics, running lights, DC outlet, some form of battery monitoring, and room for expansion. Is there a good reference book or Web site for sizing wires, designing DC systems, learning correct crimping techniques, choosing the right tools, etc.? Thanks in advance for any advice.
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Old 04-14-2004, 10:22 AM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

http://www.bluesea.com/

Read the tech section and order their free catalog.


http://www.panchdara.com/Panchdara/DCWiring.htm
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Old 04-14-2004, 10:25 AM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

The 12 Volt Bible
Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual
Powerboater's Guide to Electrical Systems
and 2nd the Blue Sea Systems tech info
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Old 04-14-2004, 11:03 AM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

Books:
I have both Beyn's "12 Volt Dr.'s Practical Handbook for Boat Electrical Systems" and Wing's "Boatowner's Illustrated Handbook of Wiring". They're pretty good, but I found more info from reading sites like these and perusing websites for more "how to" info.

Materials:
I'd strongly advise you use nothing by Ancor or equivalent marine-grade tinned wire and buy plenty of Ancor adhesive-lined heatshrink, (buying the 48" runs really cuts down on the price).

Buy the stuff on-line from Ship Store and save 40 to 50% off on Ancor and Blue Seas products versus the high-priced congolmerate of West & Boat/US .

Surplus Unlimited has some approved/certified marine-grade tinned wire at even cheaper prices, but it is not Ancor brand. I did buy some in #6 size and the quality looks as good as Ancor and it carries the ABYC/BIA certification on the insulation jacket. It was also more pliable than Ancor's wire.

Tools:
Try to use good quality Ancor or Klein crimp tools ... not the $2 K-Mart import specials.

Techniques:
* I like Thom's method of squeezing some 5200 in where the wire exits the butt connector, before applying the adhesive-lined heatshrink over any connection. Also support your wire runs every 6-8" or so.

* Make sure to calculate your wire size appropriately, as both the run TO and BACK from the item need to be included in the calculation for the wire size (Ancor link, click here: , go to "Technical Info" then to the "Wire Calculator".

* Add a bit to the lengths for future service (gives you room to work with the wires and cut back years later if needed) and room for "drip loops". No wire should be affixed to a buss or connector so that any water or condensation could run down the wire and ruin it. Run your leads from below or add a "U"-shaped drip loop off to the side before the wire joins the connection point.

* My advice is to not solder any connection ... or you do so at your OWN risk ! Note: the USCG says this is NOT to be the primary method of connecting wire ...

Ask away here if you have any further questions or feel free to PM me .
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Old 04-14-2004, 01:22 PM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

Wow...thanks so much to all. Very useful info, and enjoyed checking out ReelRascal's Parker. Nice job. I may need some more advice, but will do some homework first.
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Old 04-14-2004, 01:34 PM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

Adhesive lined heat shrink covering a properly crimped wire is more than enough.

5200 belongs on mechanical components not wires. You gain no additional value from it's useage.
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Old 04-15-2004, 09:23 AM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

I'm making progress with system design, but have more questions.

1. Anyone have a guess about what the starting motor on a Honda 40 needs in terms of amperage, i.e. for wire sizing?

2. I'd like an in dash voltmeter to monitor my single battery. Any recommendations?
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Old 04-15-2004, 11:24 AM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

Sorry...can't help you with your Honda question.

Here is a panel voltmeter. BlueSea is expensive but the quality is outstanding.

http://www.bluesea.com/Products/ME/ME.html

I also wanted to mention.....get yourself a "good" DVM (handheld digital volt meter). Make sure it has a tone, continuity tested.
Price ranges $35 and up.

Just a reminder to only use "tinned" copper wire for marine applications.

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Old 04-15-2004, 12:34 PM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

Questions from Cabinboy:

1. Anyone guess what the starting motor on a Honda 40 needs in terms of amperage, i.e. for wire sizing?

Why ;? ? What's wrong with the factory battery cables that came with the OB?

I can tell you that for OMC V4 outboards (90-140hp), they require:
* Minimum of a "4-gauge" cable, for runs 1 to 10 feet in length (OB to battery switch)
* "3-gauge" for runs 11 to 15 feet
* And "1-gauge for runs 16 to 20 feet
* No splices allowed and no run to exceed 20'

These are the minimum specifications for stranded copper cable, straight out of the OMC Service Manual. I'd call your dealer if there's any issue or Honda Marine @ 770-497-6400.

2. I'd like an in dash voltmeter to monitor my single battery. Any recommendations?

If an electric start motor, there should already be leads in the factory harness to the dash that'll couple to a tach and other gauges. These are "usually" 3 wires to a common connector, "usually" a gray (tach), purple (ignition switched "ON" power) and black (ground) wire.

But that's the typical OMC color code, which other OB makes also use ... but God knows what Honda came up with ! The purple wire supplies power from gauge to gauge (daisy chained) and the voltage is read by this wire. You could then add an accessory lead, usually dark blue, for night lighting that voltmeter, via a run from a main power buss+ under the dash, with an in-line independent switch.

FWIW Honda sells an individual volt gauge for $20, click here: . See picture:
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Old 04-15-2004, 12:52 PM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

Reel, could you use a "power post" (bus) to join the #4 ? In other words, could you run a say, 000 wire from the batteries (under a console) to a power post at the stern and then run the #4 from the motor to the post? Is that considered a "splice"? I know, I know, so many questions. ;? ;? ;?
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Old 04-15-2004, 01:23 PM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

I did on mine tg.

The reason was I couldnt get them big ole 2/0 cables to route through my transom tubes to the engines.

Been a year now with no problems.
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Old 04-15-2004, 01:26 PM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

tg - 4/15/2004 11:52 AM

Could you use a "power post" (bus) to join the #4 ?
Sorry, but I don't really know the answer to that question and I'm not qualified to answer it.

But from what I've always read, it is the recommended method to only have single cables from motor to batteries. If nothing else, any connection is always a source of resistance and possible corrosion, and corrosion spikes resistance whenever encountered. I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy when it comes to marine systems and would only use a continuous run myself.

FWIW, this previous post here seems to imply that the negative run could be bussed via a power post. Best I can do ...
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Old 04-20-2004, 08:25 AM
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Default RE: DC wiring basics?

I'm totally impressed with all the help I got on The Hull Truth. Especially Reel Rascal! I've got my wiring plan down now, tools and hardware on order. Thanks all. Now I'm going to get myself a wheel to support the forum.
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