Design, installation and troubleshooting of marine electrical systems            PETER KENNEDY YACHT SERVICES
                   Marine Electrical Systems



Standards, Tables, International Equivalents 


ABYC Standards
The American Boat and Yacht Council is an industry based body which publishes a set of voluntary standards for all aspects of boat design and construction.  The "Standards and Recommended Practices for Small Craft" is the industry bible for surveyors, boat builders and repairers.  ABYC also also offers certification for professionals working in various fields.  Technical questions from boat owners as well as from professionals are welcomed at the ABYC offices.  Individual standards are available for purchase online for $65 each.  Recommended for Electrical Systems is E.11 AC & DC ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS ON BOATS

American Boat and Yacht Council
613 Third Street, Suite 10
Annapolis, MD 21403
Phone: (410) 990-4460
Fax: (410) 990-4466


US Coast Guard Standards
Coast Guard standards are available free online. Here are some of the main sections . However, because they are lengthy I recommend the ABYC digests of the various standards. The Electrical compliance guideline is available for $25 from the ABYC

46 CFR 110 General provisions

46 CFR 111 Electric systems--general requirements

46 CFR 112 Emergency lighting and power systems

46 CFR 113 Communication and alarm systems and equipment

46 CFR 120 Electrical installation (Subchapter K, small passenger vessels)

46 CFR 129 Electrical installations (Subchapter L, offshore supply vessels)

46 CFR 161 Electrical Equipment (Subchapter Q, Items requiring Coast Guard Approval)

46 CFR 183 Electrical installation (Subchapter T, small passenger vessels)

33 CFR 183 Boat and Associated Equipment (recreational boats)


UL Standards
UL marine standard.


Wire Size and Color

AC wiring color codes

Conductor US 115v AC US 230v AC Europe 240v AC
Ground Green Green Green and yellow
Neutral White White Light blue
Hot Black Black Brown
Hot   Red  


From Table IV of ABYC E11
For wire with 105 C insulation rating

Allowable Amperage of conductors for systems under 50 volts 

Conductor size AWG

Outside Engine Spaces 

Inside Engine Spaces

18 20 17.0
16 25 21.3
14 35 29.8
12 45 38.3
10 60 51.0
8 80 68.0
6 120 102
4 160 136
2 210 178
1 245 208
1/0 285 242
2/0 330 280
3/0 385 327
4/0 445 378





Order these wires online.
Yellow w/red stripe (YR) Starting circuit  Starting switch to solenoid 
Brown/yellow stripe (BY) or
Yellow (Y) - see note
Bilge blowers Fuse or switch to blowers 
Dark gray (Gy) Navigation lights
Fuse or switch to lights
Tachometer sender to gauge 
Brown (Br)  Generator armature 
Alternator charge light
Generator armature to regulator 
Auxiliary terminal to light to regulator
Fuse or switch to pumps 
Orange (O)  Accessory feed  Ammeter to alternator or generator output and accessory fuses or switches. 
Distribution panel to accessory switch 
Purple (Pu)  Ignition 
Instrument feed
Ignition switch to coil and electrical instruments. 
  Distribution panel to electric instruments 
Dark blue  Cabin and instrument lights  Fuse or switch to lights 
Light blue (Lt Bl)  Oil pressure  Oil pressure sender to gauge 
Tan  Water temperature  Water temperature sender to gauge 
Pink (Pk)  Fuel gauge  Fuel gauge sender to gauge 
Green/stripe (G/x)
(Except G/Y) 
Tilt down and/or trim in 
Tilt and/or trim circuits 
Tilt and/or trim circuits 
Blue/stripe (Bl/x)  Tilt up and/or trim out 
Tilt and/or trim circuits 
Tilt and/or trim circuits 
Order these wires online.


Electrical Formulae

Ohms law:  Volts = Amps x Resistance

DC Power:  Watts = Volts x Amps

Voltage Drop in DC circuits:  CM = 10.75 X  x L / E    

Where CM is cross section of wire in circular mils
I is the current in Amps
L is the round trip in feet
E is the voltage drop in volts

More formulae than you ever wanted to know...



ABYC Certified Marine Electrical Technician


Peter Kennedy Yacht Services
    Marine Electrical Systems

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Tags:       Peter Kennedy Yacht Services             marine electrical systems   engine wiring color code   allowable amperage  abyc   ac wiring uscg   coastguard standards  cfr voltage drop ohms law dc power