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Old 07-30-2020, 06:17 PM   #1
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120V outlet wiring

I took a look at one of my outlets, and think it has house grade romex going to it...

It's a 3 conductor cable - SOLID white, black, and bare copper (ground) conductors.

From Calder's book, I got the impression that wiring on a boat should be stranded wire, not solid - and they get ring terminals on them for the connection to the outlet. Is that correct?

Is a 14ga stranded wire reasonable for a 15A 120V AC outlet that is within 15' of the breaker box?

Would a surveyor balk at other previous 120V AC wires that were solid conductors?
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:24 PM   #2
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Yes, if the surveyor sees household wiring in the boat it will be called out. You should only have stranded wire and preferably tinned stranded wire. Yes 14 gauge wire will carry 15 amps. Be careful of polarity and make sure it is grounded back to the ground bus bar. Ring terminals are preferred.
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:44 PM   #3
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Thanks Comodave,

Hm. Now I guess I need to get into the rest of the wiring and see how much of it is house wiring... Was solid wire ever used on these boats? (this is a 1980 Chris Craft 410 cabin cruiser)

And I'm assuming ring terminals on the end of the wire going to the outlet is the right thing to do (not trying to get a stranded wire to wrap around the screw...?)?

John
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by oak_box View Post
Thanks Comodave,

Hm. Now I guess I need to get into the rest of the wiring and see how much of it is house wiring... Was solid wire ever used on these boats? (this is a 1980 Chris Craft 410 cabin cruiser)

And I'm assuming ring terminals on the end of the wire going to the outlet is the right thing to do (not trying to get a stranded wire to wrap around the screw...?)?

John
Stranded wire under a screw is a no no as tightening the screw in that configuration tends to break strands of wire.

Don't know what the wiring standard was 40 years ago. Before you start, a survey of your wiring would be a good idea. Make sure the ground isn't tied to the bonding system or the DC negative. Checking for GFI outlets would also be a good idea.

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Old 07-30-2020, 07:03 PM   #5
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You can use either ring or fork connector to go onto the screws. I donít believe that non stranded wire was ever approved for marine usage. Probably some PO did it. I had a 1978 Trojan and out 1987 President have stranded wire.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:05 PM   #6
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1980 USA standards are what need to be met.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:10 PM   #7
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ABYC also requires that cables connected via clamping screws not be contacted directly by the screw... there has to be a contact plate that bears on the wire. The clamping screws will also cut conductors and create problems.Click image for larger version

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Old 07-30-2020, 07:11 PM   #8
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1980 USA standards are what need to be met.
Not true. There are no codes for boats, but rather recommendations by ABYC.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:30 PM   #9
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Using house wires is really not recommended on boats however, Please do not use any crimp terminals on solid wire and just loop wires under the screws of the outlets. you will need to be very carful to connect the neutral and the line to the appropriate connection on the outlet (of course the ground can only goes to a specific location on the outlet). GFIs are also recommended and most importantly the AC ground is not to be connected to DC ground {battery (-)}.
after you are done, please make sure you check your boat for leakage to prevent any damage to your boat or your neighbors at the marina.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:32 PM   #10
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I second Comodave "There are no codes for boats, but rather recommendations by ABYC"
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:51 PM   #11
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Not true. There are no codes for boats, but rather recommendations by ABYC.
Correct ABYC is voluntary
However.... most US builders will state they comply with ABYC at time of mfg.
If so they should comply.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:54 PM   #12
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I second the idea of a complete electrical survey. Know what you are getting into before you start.

My horror story:
I had an early 70's Tolly that was wired with romex type solid wire, Square D domestic type breakers in a domestic type steel enclosure. It did last until 2015 when I pulled it all out, installed Blueseas panel, stranded tinned wire, all new outlets with GFCI on each leg, new shore power inlet and ELCI. It was a HUGE undertaking for DIY work. I can't imagine what it would have cost to have an electrician do it. I did have the guidance of an electrician.

The hardest part was pulling the old wire and running the new. Copper hardens with age and vibration, the insulation and sheath also hardens with age. It was like trying to bend sticks. Add in the cable ties and staples, yes old skool wire staples, in inaccessible places and much of the old wire had to be cut short and left in place so I could not use the old to pull in the new.

And the builders and DIY POs had run DC with AC which is not a good idea. So I got into trying to sort that out as well. The DC also needed to be done but I never got that far before I moved on to another boat.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:59 PM   #13
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Not true. There are no codes for boats, but rather recommendations by ABYC.
I was referring to what "standard" a marine surveyor would use while writing his report. Such as "wiring complies with standards at time of construction but does not meet current ABYC recommendations". Sorry that wasn't clear. I would want a survey to point out anything that was "outdated" even if it was OK at time of build. I don't know if there's a standard practice for surveyors regarding this sort of thing. I put USA in because we have boats from other countries here as well. I'll work on my clarity.
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:52 PM   #14
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No problem. It is just that people get confused and think that there are building codes for boats. Just recommendations by ABYC here in the US.
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Old 07-30-2020, 11:21 PM   #15
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most importantly the AC ground is not to be connected to DC ground
ABYC Standards call for the AC ground to be bonded to the DC negative.
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Old 07-30-2020, 11:25 PM   #16
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1980 USA standards are what need to be met.
What standards are to be met is entirely up to the underwriter
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Old 08-02-2020, 11:32 AM   #17
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I have dealt with well installed solid wire on boats by terminating the solid wire at a terminal block (barrier strip) by looping the solid conductor under the screw head in the correct direction, exactly as it is done in house electrical systems. On the other side of the individual poles, I ran three conductor boat cable from the terminal block to the outlet, equipment, etc.

On one old Chris Craft, I mounted a 20 gang (pole) terminal strip on the back pane behind the panelboard where all the loads were identified and terminated. AWG 12 whips were run between the terminal strip and the load side of the load circuit breakers, the N bus and the G bus. Saved the owner a lot of money and greatly improved the system.
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Old 08-02-2020, 12:41 PM   #18
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I have dealt with well installed solid wire on boats by terminating the solid wire at a terminal block (barrier strip) by looping the solid conductor under the screw head in the correct direction, exactly as it is done in house electrical systems. On the other side of the individual poles, I ran three conductor boat cable from the terminal block to the outlet, equipment, etc.

On one old Chris Craft, I mounted a 20 gang (pole) terminal strip on the back pane behind the panelboard where all the loads were identified and terminated. AWG 12 whips were run between the terminal strip and the load side of the load circuit breakers, the N bus and the G bus. Saved the owner a lot of money and greatly improved the system.
You may have saved him money in the short run but it's not safe to use solid copper and the next decent surveyor will call it out and the underwriter will probably make him change it (if they actually read the survey).

Solid copper work hardens from vibration, over tempers and degrades.
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Old 08-02-2020, 12:49 PM   #19
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If I recall, even the USCG was OK with solid wire on commercial vessels till recently....not sure if stranded is mandatory (CFRs) or not
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Old 08-02-2020, 12:53 PM   #20
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The 120V wiring on my 1986 Chris Craft is all stranded. Looks like Romex, but it's not. I'd be surprised if the solid stuff is original.
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