Installing Number 16 and 14 AWG Marine Primary Wire

by | Oct 14, 2021 | Business

If your applications require 16 or 14 AWG marine primary wire, you have special needs. Boats on the water can push electric circuits to the limit of their capabilities. Even though you use some of the best conductors on the market, it’s vital to install them correctly or you could end up with trouble. Here are important tips for insuring a proper installation.


When using number 14 copper conductors, never exceed a 30 amp circuit rating inside and 35 for outside engine space. For number 16 conductors, the limit is 21 amps inside and 25 outdoors.

Why is 14 AWG Marine Primary Wire Needed?

One of the most corrosive elements on the planet is salt. Sea salt has a way of getting into the terminals and conductors of water vessels. In addition to salt, motors can sometimes be surrounded by bilge water and moisture itself can be highly corrosive.

Wiring may be subject to engine oil and exposed to high operating temperatures. When you add up all the possibilities for corrosion, they are significant. This can lead to breaking down of insulation, wire breakage and short circuits. When this happens, partial or complete electrical component failure may result and there is also the possibility of fires. This makes marine rated wiring essential.

What Does Marine Rating Mean?

Marine materials refer to components and wiring, which are exposed to salt water environments. The following things determine this rating:

  • Extreme moisture, salt, and heat resistance
  • Oil resistance
  • Multi stranded conductors are used to increase cable flexibility and lower the risk for breakage and hardening.
  • Tinned copper conductors – tinning means to coat with a thin layer of tin and this greatly enhance the corrosion resistance of a copper conductor. This is extremely important for marine wires that are exposed to salt water. In addition, tinned copper wires have a much longer lifespan. This is of special importance for motor wiring, as heat lessens the anticorrosive properties of copper. That’s why choosing 14 AWG marine primary wire with tinned copper conductors is important.
  • Tinned terminals – tinned terminals resist corrosion and marine rated terminals allow for double crimping to relieve stress brought on by vibrations.
  • Heat shrink tubing for connections

Terminating Connections

You can buy the very best marine rated conductors and if the terminations are not corrosion proof, you may be wasting your money. For example, when installing number 14 AWG marine primary wire you must use terminals designed for number 14 conductors. The color codes are:

  • Red – used for cables from number 18 to 22 gauge
  • Blue – 16 and 14 AWG
  • Yellow – 10 t o12 gauge wires

Remember, the weakest link in your circuits is the terminals. Make sure they are secure and correct. Choosing the right conductors and terminals can help you to avoid all kinds of trouble.

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