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Rewiring My Boat And I Have Some Questions

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Im putting in some led lights in my storage compartments and rewiring my 24 volt trolling motor, what gauge of wire would you use for the trolling motor and should i put in a breaker? For the led lights should I run separate wires for each light or is there some kind of power distribution that i can use? Any tips or ideas would be greatly appreciated

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A minimum of 6 gauge for the trolling motor.  Individual led lights should each have their own wiring.  If the lights for your compartments have several lights in a strip or some other grouping, they should have two pigtails, one negative, and one positive, to power the complete assembly, not pigtails to each individual light in the grouping.

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There is no lighting at all on my boat right now so ill be running the wires myself

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Whatever you choose for lights, be it an individual light, or a cluster of lights, there should only be two wires for you to hook them up, three in the case of tail lights on a trailer because there is a ground wire, a tail light wire, and the brake/turn signal wire.  You'll find the same plug/wiring on a tail light with ten leds.

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Without knowing the full amp draw of your motor, 50amp breaker would be a starting point for a 24v system. As far as wiring the lights, you would wire them in parallel. Make your connections with butt connectors and shrink tubing. 

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I'm using heat shrink connectors to keep moisture to a minimum

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You're going to want to fuse the lights as well. Add up the total number of amps the lights will draw to come up with a fuse size. If they are rated by watts, you can calculate the amps by watts/volts=amps. Install an inline fuse near the battery on the + wire which is sending power to the switch. 

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http://www.superbrightleds.com/cat/through-hole/

These are the LEDs that I was thinking of putting in are they ok or does anyone have another suggestion?

 

IMHO, do go down this path.

 

Take a look at these water proof LED strips http://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Flexible-Adhesive-Olympic-Lighting/dp/B005EHHLD8/ref=sr_1_44?ie=UTF8&qid=1373334850&sr=8-44&keywords=water+proof+LED

 

Here is how mine turned out 

 

gallery_35950_341_1196482.jpg

 

 

gallery_35950_341_3936901.jpg

 

 

 

gallery_35950_341_3031363.jpg

As for the TM, 6 gage wire is standard, but check with your TM's manufacture for the current draw and what circuit breaker to use; it should say in the TM manual.

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Those light look awesome, that's pretty much the look that I want. I was thinking about some red lights on the sides of my deck or do you think it would be too distracting or affect eyesight at night?

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Those light look awesome, that's pretty much the look that I want. I was thinking about some red lights on the sides of my deck or do you think it would be too distracting or affect eyesight at night?

Red and green will have the easiest affect on your eyes. If it were me, I would put the white in the storage/livewells and red or green on deck. 

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When I put the LED's in the lockers I also laid in the wires to ring the inside of the gunnel's with red LED's, but I haven't completed the project yet; some friends tell me it would look tacky, but I think it would be helpful.  If I do complete the project I will put a rheostat in the circuit so I can control the brightness of the LED's, I only want enough light to see if I'm going to step on another rod.  I'll also retro-fit the locker LED's with magnetic contacts (reed switches) so the locker will light-up when I open the lid.  The reason for this is I sometimes forget to turn off the switch on the console.

 

If need be I can walk you through how to install the LED's.  First off, you'll need to be skilled in basic electronics grade soldering.

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Soldering isnt a problem for me, a rheostat and the magnetic contacts is a great idea. Did you cut the strips to fit in the locker and then solder wires to the portion that you cut off and use that in another locker?

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Soldering isnt a problem for me, a rheostat and the magnetic contacts is a great idea. Did you cut the strips to fit in the locker and then solder wires to the portion that you cut off and use that in another locker?

 

The LED’s come in a five meter reel that you can cut as needed.  Every three LED’s there are a set of solder pads, two on the positive side and two on the negative side; you cut the strip between the two sets of pads using an X-Acto knife.  Next you carefully cut away the RTV Silicone waterproof covering to gain access to the pads with the same X-Acto knife, about a ¼” will do, just make sure the pads are clean of silicone.  Tin each pad and each wire with solder before attaching the wires to the pads, and make sure you have good solder flow to cover the wire on the pad; you don’t want a cold solder joint that will break after installation.

The LED’s only draw 4.8 watts per meter so you can use 22 awg stranded twin lead (red/black) hook-up wire or 22 awg stranded Security cable you can find at the big box stores.

After the wires are attached to the strip of LED’s cover the connections with RTV Silicone to seal the strip and set it aside for 24 hrs to let the RTV cure.  Then cover the connection area with adhesive heat-shrink tubing to finish the job; you will find it’s necessary to cover one LED to properly attach the heat shrink, but that’s the cost of a good waterproof connection.  Do the same to the butt end of the strip also.

If you can do this, installing mag contacts and a rheostat will be a piece of cake.

Next, I’ll cover attaching the strips inside the lockers.

 

EDIT: 7/11/13  You only need to attach a pigtail of one foot max to each LED strip to facilitate connections in the boat later.

 

EDIT: 7/12/13 added pic's.

 

This photo shows the solder pads and where to cut the strip.

gallery_35950_341_689780.jpg

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Great instuctions, I really appreciate the advice on this

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When planning your installation look for a clean flat vertical surface under the lip of the locker where the LED’s will be out of line of sight; a good location is usually under the latch side of the compartment so the LED’s are facing away from you and shining across the compartment. Otherwise the light will be in your face making it very difficult to see.  You only need LED’s on one side of the locker, one meter long at most.

You may need to remove a strip of carpet and insure the surface is clear of any carpet adhesive; or if the surface is rough fiberglass you’ll need to do some sanding; again you need a clean smooth surface. Wipe all mounting surfaces with alcohol or acetone to insure the surface is clean.

Plan a wiring route from your console to your forward starboard locker, then from there to your center lockers and then to your port locker.  For your rear lockers and live-wells go from your console through the wire-way to the rear battery compartment, this should give you access to all rear lockers. Don’t scrimp on battery compartment lighting.

Lay in your home run power wire (18 or 20 awg) to the furthest point from the console and make your first pigtail attachment from the LED strip, then dress the power wire back to the next pigtail and make that attachment, and so on, working your way back to the console. Use adhesive cable clamps to keep the wiring up and out of sight.

If you put the LED’s on a console switch, IMHO, I’d suggest one switch for the forward lights and one for the rear lights.  It’s helpful if the switches are illuminated so you’ll know when they’re on. I also strongly recommend that all connections are soldered and covered with adhesive heat shrink.

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I ordered my led strips, 2 white ones and 1 red one, going to get some wire after work today then ill be waiting on the delivery truck

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Awesome looking and great instructions. 

 

Just a thought for those thinking about it and not wanting to solder.

 

I am guessing you could use these to make your connection, waterproof them with some sealant, then cut the other end and splice in your wire to the next location or back to the switches.

 

http://www.amazon.com/HitLights-Connector-Conductor-SMD3528-Lights/dp/B0062RBR84/ref=pd_bxgy_hi_img_y

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Awesome looking and great instructions. 

 

Just a thought for those thinking about it and not wanting to solder.

 

I am guessing you could use these to make your connection, waterproof them with some sealant, then cut the other end and splice in your wire to the next location or back to the switches.

 

http://www.amazon.com/HitLights-Connector-Conductor-SMD3528-Lights/dp/B0062RBR84/ref=pd_bxgy_hi_img_y

 

I know these connectors, they are mainly for indoor use and work well for that purpose; I chose not to use them for marine environment work.  They have pins that penetrate the strip and try as you may the electrical connection is not a "gas tight" connection and will oxidize in time.  The white connectors are also hard to waterproof with RTV.

 

Throughout my carrier as an electronics technician and engineer I have worked with all types of electrical connectors for both indoor and outdoor use.

 

In my humble and professional opinion, If your doing any connections that will be exposed indirectly to the weather and humidity found in the marine environment, or parking your boat outdoors, soldering is the only way to go; it offers both a solid mechanical connection and a gas tight connection that you will not have to deal with again.

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I'm no electrician but I love to tinker and do DIY stuff.  So, I will gladly lean to your opinion on wiring.  I am planning on doing this to my boat as a project just because I think it looks cool.  I will likely sell it and upgrade within 3 - 6 months, but this will give me practice so I can do it on the bigger boat when I buy it.  :)

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I'm no electrician but I love to tinker and do DIY stuff.  So, I will gladly lean to your opinion on wiring.  I am planning on doing this to my boat as a project just because I think it looks cool.  I will likely sell it and upgrade within 3 - 6 months, but this will give me practice so I can do it on the bigger boat when I buy it.  :)

 

That's a good idea, you may get more for your boat with some nice Bling on it.

 

I would suggest you take some short pieces of wire and do several practice connections until you feel comfortable with the process.

 

The easiest connection for this project would be a standard pig-tail.  Other than the first connection where your only dealing with two wires and will have an in-line connection, the other connections will have three.  Just skin the wires and arrange them so the butt of the insulation of each wire are together, then twist the bare wires tight.  Insure you get a good solder flow onto all wires of the pig-tail.  When the connection is cool place a piece of adhesive heat-shrink over the connection so it covers the wire insulation and solder connection, plus a little bit to pinch closed to seal the end.

 

It always helps to draw your circuit layout on paper to visualize what you'll be doing and to make an inventory of supplies you'll need.

 

Here is a good website for "How to solder"   http://www.aaroncake.net/electronics/solder.htm  Watch the video at the bottom of the page.

 

If you really want to get into wiring, here is something from my on-the-job training; I also took the NASA soldering course while attending TESST college.  http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codeq/doctree/87394.pdf

 

I do not recommend a "Lap Splice" for anything.... period.

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Thanks. 

 

I'm ok with a soldering iron.  Luckily, I raced 10th scale RC cars for a few years and they ran off batteries.  We had to solder everything.  Had to solder the batteries together to make packs and we had to solder all the connections to the motor.  I got plenty of practice there.  Having said that, I'm no expert and I appreciate the video.  I'll be watching it as soon as the kids go down tonight. :)

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Hey Guys,

 

great thread.  My boat already has lights in most compartments but they are dim.  I think I am going to tap into those wires and run LEDs and leave the old lights disconnected.

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Have you guys had any experience with these?  They are more pricey, but they are small and look like an easy replacement solution. 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shoreline-Marine-8-Inch-Strip-Light/dp/B00BNTZGP6/ref=pd_sim_sg_5

 

You can go that route, but look at these.....   http://www.amazon.com/Waterproof-Flexible-Adhesive-Olympic-Lighting/dp/B005EHHLD8/ref=sr_1_44?ie=UTF8&qid=1373334850&sr=8-44&keywords=water+proof+LED

 

See post #9

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