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Thread: Bilge Pump Wiring

  1. #1

    Default Bilge Pump Wiring

    I am putting in a small bilge pump in my 20' flatbottom river boat.

    Currently there is no electronic stuff on the boat other than starting.

    Should I wire directly to the battery or put a bus under the console? I am adding navigation lights later (next winter probably).

    I was planning on going from battery to switch directly, but then was thinking it could get messy and I may larger wire. I planned on going from battery to switch with inline fuse then from switch to pump.

    This is about what I was planning:
    http://www.boatus.com/boattech/casey/14.htm

    If I connect directly to battery what gage wire should I use? I am assuming I would need to calculate length / current drop to determine wire size. As far as wiring I have the cold weather stuff from NAPA but do I need to get weather resistant? This stuff is pretty tough!

    Also, for the pump do I connect ground wires to negative for pump or to ground (Boat).

    Thanks for helping a newbie ! !

  2. #2
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    I crimp ring terminals to the wire on the pump and connect direct to the battery with no fuse. I ground to the battery. I've never had any electrical problems. Pumps wear out, but the wire has never failed. Your pump and battery should be close to each other so the wire on the pump should be long enough. Pick up some wire loom at NAPA or Lowes to protect the wire.

  3. #3
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Always run a fuse!!!!!!!! Your open boat would be really be no big deal till you short out a pump and the wire or pump strarts to burn sitting next to a fuel tank.

    I had it happen to a BRAND NEW JUST INSTALLED, bilge blower fan(I walked from the store to the boat, installed and 30 minutes after purchase I had smoke and that bad plastic burnt smell pouring from my bilge). This fan got hot enough to melt the plastic blower before blowing the fuse.

    The other thing if you are going to use crimp connectors use a male female setup so you can make a change later without having to cut your wiring. Also get some liquid electrical tape. Push this into both ends and coat the rest generously. This will seal out moisture and keep your wires from corroding from moisture intrusion.

    If you have future electrical plans run an electrical fuse box, like this one

    http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...classNum=11287

    Also run at least a #10 AWG FUSED power wire from Battery to the panel. Also instead of fused you could use a breaker in place of the fuse.

  4. #4

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    Don't use your hull for a ground it will cause problems that you don't want.

  5. #5
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    I run everything directly from the battery and always use a inline fuse, and get a good switch, i tried going the cheap route on a switch and have had to replace 2 of them. I have a open alweld 18/52 and the switch gets wet an assuming that is why 2of them have failed

  6. #6

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    Maybe this will help, if your not going to use the float switch just delete, fuse needs to be close to battery. Remember the the fuses job, (same as circuit breaker) to protect the wire, the devise (pump is not concidered) pump could be the problem but it's the heat in the wire that makes fuse blow. couldn't find my DC amp to wire size chart. AWG 14 should do fine!
    Attachment 38493

  7. #7
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dupont Spinner View Post
    Always run a fuse!!!!!!!!
    Yep! Always use a fuse or circuit breaker.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dupont Spinner View Post
    The other thing if you are going to use crimp connectors use a male female setup so you can make a change later without having to cut your wiring.
    I don't think I fully understand this statement, but maybe I'm misunderstanding you. As soon as you introduce extra connectors, you ruin the integrity of the wire and invite future electrical problems.

    Simply run a separate wire to each electrical device, and always use waterproof (heat shrink) connectors. When you install something else, run another wire to the new devise; don't splice into an existing circuit. Each device should have it's own circuit, and it's own fuse.

  8. #8
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in Alaska View Post
    Yep! Always use a fuse or circuit breaker.



    I don't think I fully understand this statement, but maybe I'm misunderstanding you. As soon as you introduce extra connectors, you ruin the integrity of the wire and invite future electrical problems.

    Simply run a separate wire to each electrical device, and always use waterproof (heat shrink) connectors. When you install something else, run another wire to the new devise; don't splice into an existing circuit. Each device should have it's own circuit, and it's own fuse.
    Use of male/female connector of similiar materials will pose little to no issues. You have to wire the device in some how, whether it be by soldering(the best choice in most cases) or crimp connectors (like a butt splice) or the male/female spades to allow future seperation if a replacement would be necessary.

    Heat shrink is good if it is the right stuff for the wire size. Liquid electric tape on the other hand is easily removed if needed and provides a 100% water/air proof connection regarless of wire size or connector. Could also using it to coat various other items requiring protection from the elements.


    On Edit: after reading your post again.......I do not mean to add more electrical items to that circuit. The male/female connectors are to aid in replacement if the device goes bad in the future.

  9. #9
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dupont Spinner View Post
    On Edit: after reading your post again.......I do not mean to add more electrical items to that circuit. The male/female connectors are to aid in replacement if the device goes bad in the future.
    Got it, that makes more sense than the way I interpreted your original post. Thanks for clarifying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dupont Spinner View Post
    Heat shrink is good if it is the right stuff for the wire size. Liquid electric tape on the other hand is easily removed if needed and provides a 100% water/air proof connection regarless of wire size or connector. Could also using it to coat various other items requiring protection from the elements.
    I'm talking about the waterproof/heat shrink crimp on connectors, like these. They are great for connections that are certain to get wet, like trailer lights and bilge pumps. I've had them last for years on boat trailers without losing their integrity.

    I like the liquid electrical tape too, but I mainly use it to seal up the posts on switches and circuit breakers. It works better and lasts longer than electrical grease.

  10. #10
    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Default Some tips to consider

    Boat wiring 101... (I used to professionally wire salt water boats)

    Never use crimp-on butt connections for splicing. Not even the "waterproof" ones that cost $1.50 each, except during an emergency repair.

    Always use marine grade AWG wire, never automotive grade SAE junk. Buy tinned ANCOR marine wire rated for 105C. There is no other wire that should ever find its way into a boat.

    Always solder with rosin core, never acid.

    Always solder any wire splices and cover with adhesive-lined marine grade heat shrink. Heat shrink tube should be 3 times longer than the actual splice. ANCOR also makes the best marine heat shrink.

    Fuse block, switch, and bus terminal connections also need to be soldered with the joint covered in heat shrink tubing. Crimps simply don't last. An easy way is to get marine grade tinned terminals and pull the plastic insulator off. Lightly crimp the terminal to the wire and then solder it (don't forget to put your heat shrink on the wire before soldering).

    Never wire accessories directly to the battery. The battery should be connected directly to the motor and then have a 10 or 12 gauge drop to a fully shielded location for a fuse block (circuit breakers are also fine). The negative side of the battery should have a matching 10 or 12 gauge drop to a grounding bus bar. (If you're truly only going to have a single bilge pump and 3 navigation lights, then you can run 14g for the busses)

    Individually run power from a fuse on the fuse block to the device's switch. Then run a wire from the switch directly to the device. Then run a wire from the device directly to the negative bus.

    Wiring should never move. Secure it down twice as often as you think you should. Protect wiring in looms anywhere it is visible. Always rubber grommet any pass-through and never let wiring touch a corner on anything.

    Here is your wire gauge load ratings for ANCOR AWG wire...

    4g = 160A
    6g = 120A
    8g = 80A
    10g = 60A
    12g = 45A
    14g = 35A
    16g = 25A
    18g = 20A

    Note the above is much higher than SAE automotive wires that are only rated for 60-90C. If you decide to use cheap wire, you'll have to drop the load ratings by at least 1/4.

    Never use smaller than 18g wire on a boat. And the only thing you hook up with 18g is lighting. A small bilge pump should be 16g, but verify the current rating of the motor. For electric motors, I like to double the working load when figuring out what wire to use.

    You will not have voltage drop issues until your wire runs exceed 30 feet.

    If you follow the marine wiring color code, you'll run red wire from the battery to the fuse block, black wire from the battery to the negative bus, brown wire from the fuse to the switch to the pump, grey wire from the fuse to the switch to the navigation lights, and yellow (or black) wire for the returns from everything going back to the negative bus.

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  11. #11
    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Thank you for a very helpful post JOAT! Apparently I'm quite a fan of yours cause it won't allow me to give you any rep points
    Oh I have one thing to add, don't squeeze your wire bundle to tight w/ zip ties, it actually robs restricts voltage

  12. #12
    Member Ryan B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    Boat wiring 101... (I used to professionally wire salt water boats)

    Never use crimp-on butt connections for splicing. Not even the "waterproof" ones that cost $1.50 each, except during an emergency repair.

    Always use marine grade AWG wire, never automotive grade SAE junk. Buy tinned ANCOR marine wire rated for 105C. There is no other wire that should ever find its way into a boat.

    Always solder with rosin core, never acid.

    Always solder any wire splices and cover with adhesive-lined marine grade heat shrink. Heat shrink tube should be 3 times longer than the actual splice. ANCOR also makes the best marine heat shrink.

    Fuse block, switch, and bus terminal connections also need to be soldered with the joint covered in heat shrink tubing. Crimps simply don't last. An easy way is to get marine grade tinned terminals and pull the plastic insulator off. Lightly crimp the terminal to the wire and then solder it (don't forget to put your heat shrink on the wire before soldering).

    Never wire accessories directly to the battery. The battery should be connected directly to the motor and then have a 10 or 12 gauge drop to a fully shielded location for a fuse block (circuit breakers are also fine). The negative side of the battery should have a matching 10 or 12 gauge drop to a grounding bus bar. (If you're truly only going to have a single bilge pump and 3 navigation lights, then you can run 14g for the busses)

    Individually run power from a fuse on the fuse block to the device's switch. Then run a wire from the switch directly to the device. Then run a wire from the device directly to the negative bus.

    Wiring should never move. Secure it down twice as often as you think you should. Protect wiring in looms anywhere it is visible. Always rubber grommet any pass-through and never let wiring touch a corner on anything.

    Here is your wire gauge load ratings for ANCOR AWG wire...

    4g = 160A
    6g = 120A
    8g = 80A
    10g = 60A
    12g = 45A
    14g = 35A
    16g = 25A
    18g = 20A

    Note the above is much higher than SAE automotive wires that are only rated for 60-90C. If you decide to use cheap wire, you'll have to drop the load ratings by at least 1/4.

    Never use smaller than 18g wire on a boat. And the only thing you hook up with 18g is lighting. A small bilge pump should be 16g, but verify the current rating of the motor. For electric motors, I like to double the working load when figuring out what wire to use.

    You will not have voltage drop issues until your wire runs exceed 30 feet.

    If you follow the marine wiring color code, you'll run red wire from the battery to the fuse block, black wire from the battery to the negative bus, brown wire from the fuse to the switch to the pump, grey wire from the fuse to the switch to the navigation lights, and yellow (or black) wire for the returns from everything going back to the negative bus.

    Thanks JOAT! That sums up just about everything!

  13. #13
    Member Maast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
    [B]Wiring should never move. Secure it down twice as often as you think you should. Protect wiring in looms anywhere it is visible. Always rubber grommet any pass-through and never let wiring touch a corner on anything.
    Great post JOAT

    I want to re-emphasize that your wiring should never move, WIRE THAT WIGGLES - BREAKS, no matter how many strands or how thick it is. Copper wire is annealed and is very soft, what happens when it wiggles it "work hardens" and gets brittle and will break.
    The best source of wire in Anchorage is Polar Wire, they have everything you could possibly want.

    Also, the absolute best connections in a marine environment like your open boat are soldered connections. The absolute worst are crimped connections using a pair of pliers.
    Use a good quality racheting crimper, dont use the "U" type crimpers, those are for indoor electric/electronics only that dont ever get wet.

    If you HAVE to use crimped connections, then coat each wire your crimping with vasoline, then crimp it. Crimping will force the vasoline out of the join but allow the copper (or aluminum) to make contact. The vasoline will protect the copper contact areas from crevice corrosion that will eventually open your circuit.

    Google vasoline and crimping and you'll see what I mean.
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