Multiple sonar units on fishing boats require maximum power and heavy gauge wiring. (Brad Wiegmann Photo)
Wiring for Power Hungry Electronics
by Brad Wiegmann
DIY anglers can purchase wiring bundles to replace faulty wiring on their vessels. The result is an easier installation and more reliable power for electronics.
Like it or not, it may be time to upgrade your boat’s wiring system. Most likely your power issues started when you added a second or third unit. Depending on the year your boat was built or the quality of the installed wiring system it’s most likely that it’s inadequate to supply clean, reliable power to your electronics.
The backbone of all solid electronic systems is wiring. Typically, if you are having marine electronic power issues like units blinking and turning off or poor image quality and the source isn’t the battery then most likely it’s the wiring.
Anglers have a couple of options for rewiring their boat. One is to hire a qualified marine electronics installer. The second option is to do it yourself. If you hire an installer they will have everything from bulk marine grade wiring, fuse connectors, heat shrink, and other required materials. DIY anglers will have to purchase all the products to complete the project.
Most installers can give you a ballpark figure on the cost of materials and installation over the phone. The cost of just a marine-grade wiring harness system kit can be found online or at your local marine boat dealer.
A new surge of marine-grade wiring harness systems like the ones by Sea Clear Power or Connect-Ease are now available for an installer or DIY angler to purchase. Wiring harnesses are designed to make replacing and installing easier on new or currently owned boats.
Wiring harness system kits will include 8 gauged sheathed marine grade wiring with fused connections that will be attached at the boat’s console. The number of connections depends on the kit purchased. In some kits, the angler can select the number of inline fuse holders. That’s an important option since most owners of multiple sonar/GPS units also need good, clean power for their Lowrance ActiveTarget or Garmin Sonar Module.
A second wire harness may be included in the kit otherwise it will have to be purchased separately. This wiring harness runs from the boat’s console to the bow of the boat. It’s similar to the wiring harness to the boat’s console to the battery except for normally a 30 amp fuse.
Connectors included in these kits will have 3- or 5-amp fuse connectors. These marine grade connectors with heat-shrinkable pre-crimped connections are waterproof, vibration and corrosion free resulting in a long-lasting product.
The cost of a wire harness system is based on the number of components and length of wiring required to install from the batteries up to the console and bow area. Multiple fused connections, heavy marine sheathed gauge wiring, and other components will quickly raise the cost of installing or replacing existing wiring.
(From Springdale, Arkansas, Brad Wiegmann is a professional photographer, videographer and outdoor writer published in dozens of print and electronic media outlets all across the nation. He is also a well-known guide, podcaster and social media influencer. Learn more about Wiegmann and his lengthy experience and expertise at BradWiegmann.com.)