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Kayak Wiring and Lighting


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  • Super User

So, what are you guys doing for your wiring systems and power in your kayaks? Are you picking up the wires and connectors that you need at Home Depot or going with a dedicated system?

 

After going back and forth with different options, I'm using Yak Power for my system. I'm still up in the air about this because every time I turn around I seem to need an additional cable.

 

My main battery is a 100Ah LIPO that is dedicated to the trolling motor. I also plan to purchase a 50Ah LIPO to keep as an onboard spare on tournament days. This will allow me to run from point to point at higher speeds and if I happen to drain the main battery miles and miles away from my launch I can still get back, even at a lower speed.

 

I also purchased a Yak Power battery box and in that I have 10Ah and 7Ah LIPO batteries that will power my Humminbird Helix 7 Mega DI SI and my lights. The battery box also has USB ports to charge my phone and run action cameras if I decide to do that. But I did something really dumb - I forgot to measure the size of the battery box and it does not fit into  the hatch behind my seat. Luckily, I have plenty of space for it in my tank well along with my crate, cooler, and dry bag.

 

But in order to put that box in the tank well I need to purchase yet another cable so that the switching system can reach the battery box. The switching system came with a longer cable with terminal connectors and not the SAE connector that was needed. The battery box did not come with that cable either. You would think that one of them would come with it instead of having to shell out $18 for another cable.

 

The Yak Power battery box connects to a Yak Power 5 circuit wireless digital switching system. My navigation lights, deck lights, and Humminbird all connect to this circuit. My white light n the stern is a battery powered YakAttack VISIPole II. For the deck lights I went with two red button lights. I may end up adding a few more button lights but I want to see how it looks with two lights first. 

 

The nav lights have not come in yet and it was chilly out today so I decided not to drill into they kayak and install the button lights, but I did re-route my Humminbird cables and set that up. 

 

While running the wiring through a kayak can be a pain, I found a way that worked well. I taped the wires to a metal measuring tape and then fed the measuring tape where I needed it to go.

 

Anyway, I was just wondering what other folks are doing when wiring multiple systems on their kayaks. Yak Power seems to be a bit pricey but it also seems to work well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Super User

A measuring tape works. So does a pair of magnets and some light string. Pull the string through and then use it to putt the wires. 
 

I went DIY on my wiring setup. 30 ah lithium inside the boat under the seat. Velcro to hold in place. Power to a fuse panel mounted on the vertical hatch wall near the battery. That’s everything fused. Then power wires run from each item back to the fuse panel.  That’s a helix9, mega live, and front and rear lights. I think it’s also the minn kota puck. I put two switches on the right gunwale for nav lights. If I were to put a micro power pole in I have space on the fuse panel for it. 
 

The main battery is in the box and has the battery meter shunt hooked up to it. I used ring connectors to put it all on the battery. 
 

Both the main battery and the fuse box also have a Noco genius plug end hooked in. I don’t pull my batteries to charge- I have two plugs under the seat on the starboard side that I just plug the charger into. 

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I have a 54 aH Lithium battery in a Pelican box with a quick-disconnect that's kept in the hull storage.  I use GXL automotive wire from the battery to my USB ports and Lowrance.  I don't have any lights.

 

The harness is wrapped in the same cloth tape European cars use to wrap theirs.  The harness is secured to the hull with 3M cable tie mounts.

 

I pedal FeelFree kayaks and haven't sprung for their electric motor option.... yet.

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7 hours ago, casts_by_fly said:

 

Both the main battery and the fuse box also have a Noco genius plug end hooked in. I don’t pull my batteries to charge- I have two plugs under the seat on the starboard side that I just plug the charger into. 

That’s an interesting idea. I still pull my batteries to charge them. 

 

In fact, when I launch over my sea wall I usually put in without the 100Ah battery. I set it on the dock then drop it in before I board.

 

When I return I tie off my kayak on the dock, pull the main battery, then haul it up and over the sea wall. Taking 30 pounds off the kayak makes a big difference when you have to wrangle it over a sea wall.

 

When I trailer the kayak I don’t remove the batteries when I launch or retrieve.

 

One of the drawbacks of my house is that I don’t have a garage. So when not in use my kayak is covered and on the trailer. In the cold winter months I bring my batteries inside after every use.

 

But inside my front door I have a fishing rod holder with shelves and I use those shelves as my charging station. It’s also great to have a few rods handy when it’s time for the dog to go outside.

 

But I will look into that plug end for the summer months. Thanks for the idea.

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Wish I could help! Sounds way too complicated for me haha. I just bring two poles and a couple bags of worms and flukes. 
 

it takes me half a day to wire in a light fixture 😂 

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I employ the K.I.S.S. method and do my own wiring.  I just buy bulk wire online and hook it all up as needed and solder inline fuses to everything.  It's all straight wire from battery to device.  No switches, junction boxes or anything to complicate the system.  My lights are even wired with alligator clips, so to turn them off or on, I just clip or unclip them from the battery.  The only connectors, besides the connectors that hook to the battery posts, are a pair of Anderson Power Pole connectors to connect my speed controller to my trolling motor and battery.  I had used some standard SAE connectors, but found out they're not really rated for the amperage my battery was pulling, because they got way too hot on long runs.  And all my wires run topside, except for the trolling motor power wires.  That makes troubleshooting easier and the way I've got them set up, they're out of my way.  

 

I don't even mess with battery boxes.  You really don't need them for protection.  These batteries can get wet (not submerged, but splashes are fine) and I don't need USB ports.  My phone is always charged, and I'll keep it charged in my car while driving to the lake.  And it's not like I have my phone out while fishing.  Kayaking, especially on a crowded lake, is too dangerous to bury your head into your phone.  So I only pull out my phone to take a photo of a fish or text my wife... that's if I have service at the lake, which a few do not.    

 

I highly doubt you'll actually need both a 100Ah battery AND a 50Ah battery.  Especially for tournament fishing where you'll want to spend more time fishing than moving around.  But if you like the peace of mind, that's cool.  I've never ran my 50Ah battery dead, and never even monitor it for charge either.  Just keep a paddle with you.  And some extra fuses.  While I've never had a battery die, I have had my motor seized with fishing line or weeds many times before, and I needed a paddle to get to the bank to get out to clear it.  And that can also blow a fuse.  In my experience, that's the real threat.  

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Extra fuses are a great idea. Thanks for that. I already pack a few tools, spare prop and washers, and a few shear pins.

 

I find it interesting that your wiring is external. I’d be worried that I would trip or snag something on it.

 

I always keep a full paddle strapped to my kayak. The batteries are probably overkill, but I’m fishing some Bass Nation and Bassmaster kayak events this year and I may need to cover water as quickly as possible depending upon the lake I am fishing. It may be quicker to travel on the water than it would be to load back on the trailer and hit another ramp.

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Yeah, I've found the external wires look more like a hazard than they really are.  So long as the area around my feet and legs is free, the rest doesn't seem to matter.  That's why I run the power cable that connects the main battery to the trolling motor's speed controller that sits beside me below deck, because otherwise it would cross that area by my feet.  

 

My philosophy for the kayak has been to test things out and come up with solutions as I encounter problems.  I've tried to avoid anticipating problems.  And that's why I have a few wires running topside.  It was the easiest solution in the beginning, and after some experimentation, didn't need further refinement.  So it stuck.  Leave well enough alone, as they say.  

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I am almost, but not quite done with all my wiring and rigging.  I was working on the final iteration of version 1.0 this fall but my wife very unexpectedly passed away the week before Thanksgiving and the kayak fell to the back burner.  I think this is my first post since then...  The kayak is currently stored in an enclosed trailer and I'll pull it out a tick later this winter and finish it up for some mental therapy.  Then I will get out to fish as much as I can for additional mental therapy.

 

So I did NOT keep it simple.  My approach is this is as close to a bass boat as I'm going to get so I threw everything at my PA14. 

 

In nitpicky details - I used Ancor Marine Grade wiring (all tinned copper) for everything and have a mix of custom wiring and some yak power stuff as well.  Also used tinned copper ends/lugs and soldered and double wall heat shrink wrapped everything.  All exposed metal contacts (battery terminals, fuse block terminals, etc..) have a health coating of silicon grease.  As part of the rigging, I picked up several useful tools, among which were a Weller soldering station for the soldering (goodness, with a decent soldering iron I can actually solder stuff) and a torch for soldering the larger 6ga lugs.  Also picked up a hydraulic crimper to crimp those 6ga lugs.   I used 6awg for the leads off the batteries to the motor and fuse block and 14awg for the rest of the electronics.

 

I have 3 Ionic batteries in my setup.  50ah under the deck under the seat to power the Lowrance HDS Pro 10", transducer, Point1 heading deal, NMEA network (auto navigation with the Xi3 hooked up to the HDS Pro is pretty darn cool), 2 power ports (phone charging, GoPro cameras), lights, and other random electronic stuff I'm probably forgetting.  30ah under the deck to the right (to offset weight of HDS Pro hanging off left side rail) dedicated solely to the Forward Facing Sonar.  And finally a 125ah in battery box that I take on and off to power the Xi3 trolling motor.  All batteries have an on/off rotary switch close to the battery as well as an appropriate sized inline fuse.  The run for the trolling motor also has a 60a breaker inline and I still need to put in a relay with a kill switch/key.

 

I have a fuse block mounted on the mounting plate (inside the hull, up front, right behind the front hatch removable cargo bin).  I need to look and jog my memory what is run through the fuse block.  I believe it is the NMEA and main power for the head unit.  I also have the Yak Power 8 circuit switch deal which I use for the usb power ports, the power trigger for the head unit and FFS unit, and lights.  This switching unit is powered off the fuse block as well.  I did pick up an assortment of SAE connectors and soldered them to device wires using tinned copper barrel connectors and covered those connections with double walled marine heat shrink.

 

To keep cabling neat, I used a variety of sizes of PET expandable braided sleeving.  Keep in mind this usually expands up to 2-3x it's 'measured size'.  For example, if you're sliding it over a bundle of wires that is about 1/2" in diameter total, use 3/8" PET and it'll keep the wires nice and snugged together.   This is the same stuff a lot of rod sleeves are made from.  In my opinion, I like it better when it fits snug over the wires.

 

On the overthinking and ultimately most likely unnecessary front, prior to the PET braid, I also ran most all of the wiring bundles through tinned copper mesh braid to which I soldered  grounding wires and ran them back to the ground terminal of associated batteries.  So wires/cables are covered first with tinned copper mesh braid, then plastic PET on the outside.  .  My goal was to eliminate electrical interference and whatnot with the sonar units.  I did this over both the transducer cables, and all the power wires I ran.  That said, those on this forum who know more about it than I do pointed out this was very likely completely unnecessary.

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I have a Vibe Sea ghost 110 that has lights operated by switches, a couple of USB ports, and sonar. I built a fuse box as opposed to inline fuses. Everything was bought on Amazon. I would estimate the whole wiring job cost between 50-70$. I have a small LiFe Po 12 Ah battery that runs my Stryker 4 and all my lights. 

My lights consist of red and green lights on the bow, white lights on the stern, red interior lights, and a 360 light mounted on a pole behind me. The 360 light is removable and mounts in a spare Railblaza mount when needed. 

One of the reasons I bought the Sea ghost was for hull access. All wiring runs within the hull. My battery sits inside, as does the fuse box. 

I have many pictures but they are quite large and reducing them is a PITA. If you want them PM me and we can figure it out. 

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52 minutes ago, Bass Junke said:

I have a Vibe Sea ghost 110 that has lights operated by switches, a couple of USB ports, and sonar. I built a fuse box as opposed to inline fuses. Everything was bought on Amazon. I would estimate the whole wiring job cost between 50-70$. I have a small LiFe Po 12 Ah battery that runs my Stryker 4 and all my lights. 

My lights consist of red and green lights on the bow, white lights on the stern, red interior lights, and a 360 light mounted on a pole behind me. The 360 light is removable and mounts in a spare Railblaza mount when needed. 

One of the reasons I bought the Sea ghost was for hull access. All wiring runs within the hull. My battery sits inside, as does the fuse box. 

I have many pictures but they are quite large and reducing them is a PITA. If you want them PM me and we can figure it out. 

Thanks for the offer, but no need to PM. I am just interested in what other anglers have being it DIY or a pre-fab solution.

 

My nav lights are due to be delivered today and the remaining connector on Thursday. With that, I will finish the wiring either Friday night or Saturday morning before I hit the lake.

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I finally got around to installing my nav lights but have not installed the button lights, I went with a Yak power setup, but I have mixed feelings so far.

 

The 5 port switch is in the hull storage behind my front seat, and then I put the Yak Power battery box just behind that in the tank well since it did not fit in the hull storage. I already had both a 7ah and 10ah LIPO on hand, so I put them in there to run my electronics and lighting. I went with the two batteries because I like to do a lot of night fishing, but probably the 10ah would be enough.

 

But when I connected the battery box to the switch and turned it on the switch would not work. I couldn't find my multi meter (probably still in an unopened box from my move last fall) so I hooked directly to the 10ah and stowed that in the hull.

 

But even then when I used the Yak Power controller mounted to the rail it didn't always engage the switch, but worked with the app. As for the nav lights, they work but even after cleaning the hull I'm not sure the sticky tape is going to last. So far I'm not sold on Yak Power.

 

I also ordered a second 100ah battery that I will store on board as a backup. While I won't need that backup for recreational fishing, I checked the launch points for a few upcoming tournaments (especially Lake Murray)  and areas that I want to fish and I have 3-4 mile runs to get to those areas. I want to be able to run wide open. I can save 20 minutes running at max speed.

 

So far I like the Autopilot, but I do miss the instant reverse of my pedal drive. With the Autopilot you need to swing the motor 180 to reverse.

 

One thing I have not taken advantage of is plotting courses on the i-Pilot remote (it doesn't link to the fish finder). I think that will come in handy for some stretches, especially tournament fishing.

 

I also took the advice I received here on BR and stow an extra prop and shear pins.

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1 hour ago, Koz said:

One thing I have not taken advantage of is plotting courses on the i-Pilot remote (it doesn't link to the fish finder). I think that will come in handy for some stretches, especially tournament fishing.


I haven’t bothered. It works by saving a track, i.e. you have to navigate the track and then it will repeat it. The remote is a little clunky, so I don’t bother. What I find more useful is navigation with cruise control. If you’re just going down the bank, set a direction off in the distance that’s a cast length from shore and set a speed you want to go. Then just the occasional tap on the arrows will keep you on track.  That plus spot lock (jog if you have it) is really total boat control. The only thing I wish I had was a shallow water anchor for picking apart shallow grass. 

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You guys have a lot of wiring lol

 

I turned my front hatch into a makeshift battery box and that is where i store my twin 30ah ionics that I then used a thru hull connector and ran it to the back where i put a trolling motor receptacle for my Newport 180s.  I primarily fish rivers so I don't use my fish finder often but when I do fish lakes, I just grab the pod and my battery is contained in there.

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My wiring is pretty simple on my 10' yak but in other electrical projects, having the correct tools is important.I've acquired hydraulic crimpers, large lug manual crimpers and ratcheting crimpers. Other tools that are helpful are good cable cutters, and a heat gun with curved nozzle, I even have a thermal wire stripper (used in the aviation industry) for smaller gauge wires. Adhesive lined heat shrink, cobra style tie wraps, and braided sleeving make for a professional finish.

 

Use marine grade wire and Oxguard or dielectric grease where appropriate.

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On 2/11/2024 at 12:26 AM, casts_by_fly said:


I haven’t bothered. It works by saving a track, i.e. you have to navigate the track and then it will repeat it. The remote is a little clunky, so I don’t bother. What I find more useful is navigation with cruise control. If you’re just going down the bank, set a direction off in the distance that’s a cast length from shore and set a speed you want to go. Then just the occasional tap on the arrows will keep you on track.  That plus spot lock (jog if you have it) is really total boat control. The only thing I wish I had was a shallow water anchor for picking apart shallow grass. 

You don’t use the foot pedals and rudder to steer? Are you standing and fishing most of the time?

 

I agree that the remote is clunky. I use the lanyard and keep it around my neck.

 

Have you tried the i-Pilot app? It only has basic functions, but it might be a solution. I thought about uploading it to an old phone or small tablet and velcro it down by my side.

 

I could set the device so it was always on and plug it in to my Yak Power battery box so it always has power. 
 

But even though that would start looking like the helm on Star Trek, it would probably still be cumbersome as you would still have to turn and look. 

 

If I had a wish list, it might be an easy tactile panel at my side with buttons for motor on/off, speed up, speed down, and spot lock.

 

Or maybe I’ll just wait for the Elon Musk Neural Link and Minnkota interface package.

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5 hours ago, Koz said:

You don’t use the foot pedals and rudder to steer? Are you standing and fishing most of the time?

 

I agree that the remote is clunky. I use the lanyard and keep it around my neck.

 

Have you tried the i-Pilot app? It only has basic functions, but it might be a solution. I thought about uploading it to an old phone or small tablet and velcro it down by my side.

 

I could set the device so it was always on and plug it in to my Yak Power battery box so it always has power. 
 

But even though that would start looking like the helm on Star Trek, it would probably still be cumbersome as you would still have to turn and look. 

 

If I had a wish list, it might be an easy tactile panel at my side with buttons for motor on/off, speed up, speed down, and spot lock.

 

Or maybe I’ll just wait for the Elon Musk Neural Link and Minnkota interface package.

 

I stand to fish basically 100% of the time.  I use the rudders when I am sitting and running a distance.  I'll point the motor head at something on the bank where I'm aiming, lock heading, and then use the rudders to steer straight.  That lets me tie on a bait or send a text message while keeping on track.  Otherwise, I don't use the pedals when I'm fishing. I have the remote around my neck and I'm standing like in any other boat.

 

The app is good for backup, but not good enough to fish with on the water.  If having a backup is critical to you for staying on the water then get the mini remote.  For me, if my remote dies I'm going home and the app will get me there.  

 

If you're sitting to fish, what most guys seem to do it mount the remote in a fixed position, either clamped to the seat or the side handle of the boat.  Then its at arms reach when you want it, but not hanging on your neck.

 

Give it a couple trips and you'll have the buttons memorized by feel.  On/off is easy- its the round one under your thumb in the middle.  Up/down/left/right are right there also.  Spotlock is the only other one you'll need to find blind and that will come from muscle memory.  Navigation (classic mode, not advanced) is super useful for fishing down the bank, even if you're only using the motor on momentary.  It keeps the motor head pointed in the right direction for you, so you don't have to think about where its steering when you kick it on and off.  

 

and I wouldn't bet on that neural link.  They haven't put Ipilot link on it yet and that's known technology..

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On 2/11/2024 at 8:36 AM, Crow Horse said:

My wiring is pretty simple on my 10' yak but in other electrical projects, having the correct tools is important.I've acquired hydraulic crimpers, large lug manual crimpers and ratcheting crimpers. Other tools that are helpful are good cable cutters, and a heat gun with curved nozzle, I even have a thermal wire stripper (used in the aviation industry) for smaller gauge wires. Adhesive lined heat shrink, cobra style tie wraps, and braided sleeving make for a professional finish.

 

Use marine grade wire and Oxguard or dielectric grease where appropriate.

Everyone's got their own preferred workflow.  So long as it works, it works.  


I rarely use crimpers.  I prefer to solder when possible.  I also rarely use wire strippers, relying on my pocketknife.  And I almost never use heat shrink, using liquid electrical tape instead.  And instead of dielectric grease, I use silicone grease.  

 

But within those, I am pretty picky about having good tools.  For instance, I use a specific blade on my pocketknife for stripping wire and keep it sharp, so I know how much pressure to use to cut the insulation without cutting the wire.  It's not just a random pocketknife.  

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5 hours ago, casts_by_fly said:

 

I stand to fish basically 100% of the time. 

 

I actually have not tried to stand and fish yet. As an older guy, my balance is not what it used to be. When the water is warm in the spring I'll give it a try, but I'm not keen on falling in when the water temp is only 53 degrees.

 

I do stand in it briefly when I embark from my dock, but I don't enjoy the wobble. Perhaps it's easier to stand when it's moving forward slowly.

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7 hours ago, Bankc said:

Everyone's got their own preferred workflow.  So long as it works, it works.  


I rarely use crimpers.  I prefer to solder when possible.  I also rarely use wire strippers, relying on my pocketknife.  And I almost never use heat shrink, using liquid electrical tape instead.  And instead of dielectric grease, I use silicone grease.  

 

But within those, I am pretty picky about having good tools.  For instance, I use a specific blade on my pocketknife for stripping wire and keep it sharp, so I know how much pressure to use to cut the insulation without cutting the wire.  It's not just a random pocketknife.  

This is good info, always wondered if that liquid tape was any good 

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I just used waterproof connectors and inline fuse from a boat store. The battery goes in a dry bag with the power line coming out the top. All the wires for the TD and head are tucked away, above board. Simple, but has worked for years. 

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3 hours ago, Koz said:

 

I actually have not tried to stand and fish yet. As an older guy, my balance is not what it used to be. When the water is warm in the spring I'll give it a try, but I'm not keen on falling in when the water temp is only 53 degrees.

 

I do stand in it briefly when I embark from my dock, but I don't enjoy the wobble. Perhaps it's easier to stand when it's moving forward slowly.


 

it’s no different at the dock or while fishing. You have to get used to the little bit of wobble when you shift your weight. It doesn’t take much to get used to it.

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On 2/12/2024 at 4:00 PM, Koz said:

 

I actually have not tried to stand and fish yet. As an older guy, my balance is not what it used to be. When the water is warm in the spring I'll give it a try, but I'm not keen on falling in when the water temp is only 53 degrees.

 

I do stand in it briefly when I embark from my dock, but I don't enjoy the wobble. Perhaps it's easier to stand when it's moving forward slowly.

I didn't stand in mine the first few months but now I'm standing before I even realize it haha.  Like @casts_by_fly said just have to get used to a little wobble it will come with time.  Now I stand to flip cover, throw jerkbaits, or anything else I want to do with no worries unless it's really windy and the spotlock is constantly adjusting.

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6 hours ago, Wprich said:

I didn't stand in mine the first few months but now I'm standing before I even realize it haha.  Like @casts_by_fly said just have to get used to a little wobble it will come with time.  Now I stand to flip cover, throw jerkbaits, or anything else I want to do with no worries unless it's really windy and the spotlock is constantly adjusting.

I hope I get to that point. I love pitching and skipping baits.

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