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Old 08-02-2019, 09:11 AM   #1
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Why are wire nuts disliked in boats.

Anytime I have used a wire nut in the boat, I have first solder tinned the wire ends. I have about 4 in use. Other places, to join wires, I have used copper crimps, then heat-shrink them. I have also put marine grease inside wire nuts, and honestly those few wire nutted connections have been fine.
From my testing there have been no problems.
Maybe its the way everybody uses them, just screwing onto bare wires?
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:41 AM   #2
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IMO they can loosen with vibration. Frequent temperature variations probably don't help either.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:42 AM   #3
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Disliked is putting it mildly. It might be do to the way DIY'ers can go to any big box store and use them.
Exposure to corrosion is a big issue with the open ends.
The potential for trapped water in the cone ?
The possibility of them untwisting causing a shorted condition on a possible critical piece of equipment ?
Galvanic corrosion inside the wire ?
Just to name a few.
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Old 08-02-2019, 09:43 AM   #4
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While I don't know for sure, I would guess wire nuts aren't approved for anything that moves (may be subject to vibration) as there is no locking mechanism to keep them from loosening. They're certainly not approved for any kind of vehicle, airplane, or boat.

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Old 08-02-2019, 09:54 AM   #5
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Over time I have found that following the codes is generally better than what somebody can get away with. If I saw wire nuts on a boat I was considering I would wonder what else was done incorrectly.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayview View Post
Over time I have found that following the codes is generally better than what somebody can get away with. If I saw wire nuts on a boat I was considering I would wonder what else was done incorrectly.
I found 2 buried in the lower helm while I was doing an electronics install this winter. I ended up having to rewire most of the lower helm in the process. It still nags me where else I might find similar work.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:13 AM   #7
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vibration. read this:

https://forums.mikeholt.com/showthre...=94443&page=15

industrial electricians even resorting to using tape and then a tie wrap over it all when dealing with shaking wire nuts.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:25 AM   #8
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Plus, if they end up pointing down, salt water collects in the cup and will speed up corroding the wires.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:28 AM   #9
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Plus the latest adhesive heat shrink butt splice connectors are easy to buy in bulk, relatively easy to use (with a correct crimping tool), and they allow you to sleep much easier at night....
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:30 AM   #10
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Plus, if they end up pointing down, salt water collects in the cup and will speed up corroding the wires.
good point. while on a similar subject; one must not use the "back stab" feature on receptacles. I won't have that even in my house.

One time, I had a auto grade wire running in the boat. Salt water found a pinhole in the insulation, then migrated +/- a foot either way, and actually opened up the electrical path. Essentially no visible damage. Thus, the reason for 600V rated insulation for boats. Nothing to do with applied voltage; its the applied sea water.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:39 AM   #11
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Humm, properly crimped wires held by nuts used all over on every vessel for larger wires. As with everything, and stealing PSNís wording, it just depends.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:42 AM   #12
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Humm, properly crimped wires held by nuts ....
I'm not sure what that means.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:46 AM   #13
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Just twisting, as in household use, doesn't reliably hold in vibration, even if taped or heat shrink taped outside the nut.

Soldering generates stress points where the eire is more subject to failure and also makes the nut bite less into the wire.

Also remember that home wiring is solid and boat wiring is stranded to let it bend more easily -- but which also lets wire nuts damage the thinner constituent wires more easily.

Crimping provides a better connection with less damage and when combined with a heat shrink sheath provides a strain relief that prevents the stress at the crimp. A similar arrangement could be made for soldering but would require similar consistency in form, which is unlikely by hand without a jig ornm controlled heat, timing, volume, etc.
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Old 08-02-2019, 10:51 AM   #14
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I can also add that i just got through debugging an autopilot failure that delayed the departure for a long trip of a dock neighbor and stumped an electonics shop.

Corroded wires in wire nuts were half of the failure. Wire damaged inside the sheath at a stress point was the other half. And a mislabelled breaker that controlled the autopilot pump but not controlled head or computer was a confounding factor (it was labelled deck lights), as were wires changing colors in odd places.
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Old 08-02-2019, 11:09 AM   #15
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There are wire nuts with set screws but still not recommended.

Non adhesive lined crimp connectors can get water in there too.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:17 PM   #16
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I agree with the negatives stated above but would add that if you sell the boat, the surveyor will call them out if he/she sees them. It just adds more potential for the buyer to say, humm wonder what else is not done properly? Besides why not just do it correctly? It isnít any more difficult.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:24 PM   #17
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Personally, I'd prefer wire connections that were soldered with a wire nut over cheap crimp connections done poorly. But the wire nuts are more obvious, so they tend to get the bad rap.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:33 PM   #18
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For splicing cables, I use these.

They are filled with gel to keep water out and the clamp screw has a waterproof cover.

These are rated for wet areas.

I buy them at an electric supply distributor.
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Old 08-02-2019, 12:36 PM   #19
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I get it.... But the reality is after working on many boats....I have seen failures in every other kind of connector (except maybe heat shrink crimps...probably because they were rare till recently)....and yet on those same boats the wire nuts connections were still OK.


ANY connector poorly done is an issue....and there are lots out there....not just wire nuts which some boaters probably have the most experience with.


Not suggesting their use, but their bad rap is like many other boating no no's....not as bad as they are made out to be. Or look at it as ....many shouldn't work on their boats including many pros.
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Old 08-02-2019, 01:03 PM   #20
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Illegal for many reasons but holding water and not vibration proof are near the top of the list. Most common wire nuts have plated steel guts too.
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