There’s nothing like the thrill of being out on the water in your boat. However, boating needs to be approached with care. Saltwater can be hard on your vessel, causing damage that may compromise your safety. It’s important to make sure your boat is ready to face this challenge. When equipping your boat, you’ll have a choice to make: Should you go with automotive cable or marine-grade wire? As you might guess from its name, a marine-grade cable is made especially for boats, and it’s built to handle the perils and pitfalls that come with sailing. Here are some benefits of using marine-grade wire.
1. It Resists Corrosion in a Marine Environment
In many situations, copper offers some resistance to corrosion (also known as oxidation), and this is why it’s commonly used in cables. However, the story changes when copper is used in an environment that’s very wet or that has high humidity. In that scenario, copper will oxidize much faster than normal. Corrosion will weaken a copper cable and shorten its lifespan.
Fortunately, there’s a way to make a copper cable more resistant to corrosion: It can be tinned. This process is known as electroplating, and it involves adding a layer of tin to the copper wire to shield it from the elements. Tin resists corrosion, even in environments that are wet and humid.
Automotive wire is made with bare copper that hasn’t been tinned, and this makes it susceptible to oxidation in a marine environment. Marine-grade cable is tinned to ward off corrosion, so it’s an ideal choice if you’re looking for a cable durable enough to discourage rust on the open seas.
2. It Offers Superior Current-Carrying Capacity
A marine-grade wire carries more copper than an automotive cable of the same size. Typically, an automotive cable has about 10% to 15% less copper than an identically sized marine-grade cable. The more copper a cable has, the better its capacity for carrying current. For this reason, a marine-grade cable can handle more current than one made for automotive use.
Why is current-carrying capacity important? If you exceed a wire’s safe current load, this can cause overheating that could trigger an electrical fire. Since marine-grade cables can handle more current than automotive cables, they’re less likely to overheat.
3. It’s Designed to Be Flexible
The cables used on your boat have to run through some very tight spaces, such as those found in the hull. As a result, it’s crucial that these cables be pliable and flexible.
Flexibility is part of the package with a marine-grade wire, which comes with a special polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, jacket equipped with insulation that’s designed to be unusually pliable. Because of this feature, marine-grade wire is flexible enough to use on a boat.
Your boat is your most important ally when you’re out on the water, and it needs to be properly equipped to protect you from harm. The cable you choose can make a difference in boat safety. A wire made for marine use offers benefits that can make your oceanic adventures easier and safer.
Check out all the boating products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on marine-grade wire, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
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I'm a writer and editor who's a regular contributor with the New York Daily News and Carfax, and my content has appeared in over 20 publications. I've written content that covers industries such as automotive, medical, insurance, healthcare, real estate, plumbing, pest control, dental and hospitality.