Are Marine Battery Cables Any Different From Regular Cables?

Properly wiring a vehicle is the best way to keep its lights on, and be sure that it will start right when you need it without a cough. The same principle applies to boats and marine battery cables. A faulty or low-quality wire can get you in a lot of trouble if you are out in the open sea, so you better get a resistant, flexible, and durable marine battery cable.

You might be wondering what makes marine cables different from regular copper cables used in vehicles.

Well, the sea is a harsh mistress. Sailing is one of the most fulfilling activities in the world and provides a lot of challenges and satisfaction, but only if you know what you´re doing and if you have the right equipment. Moist and salt create an extremely unforgiving environment that can eat through almost anything you bring on board, and that includes your boat’s electrical system.

Wires are typically made of copper as it is an excellent conductor for all intents and purposes. However, copper has a weird relationship with oxygen that causes it to form a Statue-Of-Liberty green patina on the surface which makes it lose many of its amazing current-carrying properties.

One way around this is to coat your copper wire with solder or tin. This creates a protective barrier that protects it from tarnishing and extends the useful life of your marine battery cables up to ten times. Marine-grade cables are also more robust as they contain more copper than your regular car wires so they carry a lot more current than regular wires. This is not achieved by packing a thicker copper thread, however. Copper cables are made of very thin strands of tinned copper. The higher the strand count, the higher the current carrying capacity and flexibility.

For added environmental protection, marine wires are wrapped in a pliable PVC jacket that serves as insulation yet offers added flexibility. Given the limited space available inside a marine vessel, having long and flexible cables onboard is a must. You can run them through tight recesses, or have them navigate your boat´s turns and spaces without fear of breaking the wire.

The PVC jacket also protects your conductor from certain elements that tend to find their way inside a boat more often than we would like. Wires within the reach of batteries are likely to be exposed to acid or alkali agents. Portions of wire that are closer to engines and machines, will inevitably come in contact with gasoline and oil from spillage or just by being too close to the oily rag you know you keep handy for quick cleanup tasks. Your regular plastic cable jacket is soluble in most of these elements, while marine battery cables are virtually impervious to them, making them ideal for extreme conditions like those you are likely to face in the open sea.

One more cool feature marine wires share is their color-coded conventions for easier installation and repair tasks. As usual, red and black mean positive and negative conductors respectively for your battery mains. There are many other color codes for other applications besides marine battery cables. For example, a cable for your starting circuit, usually to the solenoid, will be yellow with a red stripe. There are many other color codes related to other vital functions.

If you want to learn more about high-grade marine battery cables, visit and browse through our wide variety of incredibly resistant and durable cables for boats and other demanding applications, or give us a call at 800-262-1598 for more personalized attention.

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