Best way to Label Boat Wires

It's "Maintenance Monday" and today we're discussing the best way to label the wiring on your boat. The attached photo shows one vessel owner's take on this - use a sharpie and write on the wire insulation to identify the item being powered. This is something we see fairly often on new boats from the factory, and of course this meets the ABYC E-11 standard. But, I would suggest that this may not also be the best approach. First, its pretty hard to write clearly on a piece of 14 AWG wire in a legible fashion, and second, if the wire ever gets re-terminated, part of the description will probably end up going missing. As you can see in the attached photo, the writing is right next to the crimp connector on many of the wires shown. My personal preference on new boats are printed heat shrink labels. These get purchased in sheets at an office supply store, and are run through your computer printer. As long as they don’t get shrunk into place too close to the terminal, re-termination will not impact the label. I’ve seen paper labels used too, but they simply don’t hold up in a harsh marine environment. 3M also makes paper labels that get sealed with a transparent plastic overlay once you write what you what on the label. Again, as long as the label isn’t too close to the end, all is well. Pre-printed numbers on heat shrink tubes are also a good choice. Just make sure to keep a decoder chart that tells what wire # 23 powers, etc. Just remember, ABYC E-11 offers broad latitude for identifying the function of DC conductors. For AC wiring, it’s best to strictly follow the internationally accepted colors, black or red for “hot” wires, white for neutral and green or green with a yellow stripe for grounding or “earthing” conductors. If you need help in "decoding" your vessel's electrical issues, give us a call today at#MarinerServicesInc. at (239)776-4253 for a free initial consultation!

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