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Posted by on Sep 28, 2012 in How To, Marine Electronics, Powerboating, Safety and Seamanship, Sailing, US |

Is the Wiring Support in My Boat Overdone?

There are different ways for wiring support to be compliant with ABYC standards. Compliance failure is easy to see, but overkill is in the eye of the beholder.

Question:  In the photo below you can see some of the wiring runs in my new boat. You can also clearly see the black wire ties that are screwed into the bulk heads to hold the wire in place. I remember reading someplace that there is actually a standard that addresses how many of these wire hold-downs should be used, but I can’t remember what the standard says. As I look at the way the builder did my boat it looks like overkill to me. What do you think?

boat wiring support

The wiring in this boat is certainly well-supported, maybe verging on overkill.

Answer: You are quite right. ABYC Standard E-11 addresses the matter of wire support. The requirement states that wire and cable runs need to be supported throughout their length at least every 18 inches or 450 mm.  Compliance with this standard is achieved in a variety of ways in actual practice. Your builder did a really nice job and most certainly exceeded the requirement. From some  perspectives it might look like a bit of overkill, but it really is a nice neat job well done, in my opinion.

There are other methods of achieving compliance. In the photo below you can see that the builder simply lays all the wires into a wire tray. It provides full support for the length of the run for sure, but it’s not nearly as neat.  The photo was taken on board a commercial boat where service access is an attribute and cosmetic appearance is not too important. It is also compliant.

wire supported in tray

In this commercial vessel, wires are supported along their length by a continuous tray — compliant, but not as neat.

In the photo below we see wire trays employed. All the wire and cables are tucked inside, and exit the sides of the trays where appropriate. These are also compliant and quite popular on new boats.

wire trays with wired tucked inside

Here, lengths of wire are tucked inside trays, with only the terminals exiting.

Wire trays work quite well in areas outside of engine room spaces. Some that I’ve seen inside engine room spaces that get rather warm have deteriorated, due to continued exposure to high temperatures. The plastic material they are made from gets brittle and begins to crack over time when exposed to high temperatures continually, so I don’t really recommend their use inside engine room areas.

- Ed Sherman