Q&A

WHAT SIZE WIRING SHOULD I USE WHEN IN­STALLING MA­RINE ELECTRONICS?

Boating - - ELECTRONICS - ASK KEN ON­LINE For more ex­clu­sive electronics con­tent, visit boat­ing­mag.com/askken.

Wire size for 12-volt DC ap­pli­ca­tions de­pends on the cur­rent needed to op­er­ate the equip­ment be­ing in­stalled, the ca­ble length, and pos­si­ble volt­age drop across the to­tal ca­ble run. Also con­sider the added cur­rent re­quire­ments for any electronics or elec­tri­cal equip­ment you might be adding in the fu­ture.

You should fol­low the 3 and 10 per­cent rules when plan­ning your wiring. Boat wiring stan­dards spec­ify that electronics, com­mu­ni­ca­tions, nav­i­ga­tion, safety and other crit­i­cal equip­ment should have a 3 per­cent volt­age drop loss fac­tor to help en­sure this equip­ment con­tin­ues to be op­er­a­tional un­der al­low­able volt­age drop con­di­tions. A 10 per­cent volt­age drop fac­tor is used for non­crit­i­cal elec­tri­cal wiring such as in­te­rior light­ing, en­ter­tain­ment electronics, wind­lass op­er­a­tion and other nonessen­tial elec­tri­cal gear.

Blue Sea Sys­tems of­fers a cur­rent-ver­sus-wire-size cal­cu­la­tor at cir­cuitwiz­ard .blue­sea.com to help you se­lect the right wire size based on length, re­sis­tance, and the amount of cur­rent needed for your electronics, in­clud­ing the 3 and 10 per­cent rules. —Ken En­glert

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