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    Need Help With Lights-gctid388344

    Hello All, I have a 2002 Maxum 2700 SCR and would like to install some LED rope lights topside. I have what appears to be buss bars in the bilge and tested them, but they don't show power. I would like to connect the lights to a switch (which I will purchase) and run them to the battery (fused). How do I do this? I'm not sure how to connect the switch, lights and battery. I have limited electrical ability.


    To really answer your question we need a little more information-

    Are you trying to install 110 volt rope lights or 12 volt rope lights?


      Try to avoid adding direct battery connections..... fused or not fused! :thumb

      There will be a more suited location to pick up fused power and to supply the negative.

      Rick E. (aka RicardoMarine) Gresham, Oregon
      2850 Bounty Sedan Flybridge model
      Twin 280 HP 5.7's w/ Closed Cooling
      Volvo Penta DuoProp Drives
      Kohler 4 CZ Gen Set

      Please, no PMs. Ask your questions on forum.


        I realize that you are here to seek help and advice, and you may not like this answers, but you should consider that maybe you're not qualified to do this and should use an expert. Accessories should never direct-connect to the battery. You need a fuse block and ground bar. Some boats may already have accessory fuses and ground locations available, some don't. There is a lot more you need to keep in mind for proper marine electrical connections, and doing it wrong can be a real danger.

        Here are the lights I have on my RADAR arch, they look great, and the included remote control means you don't have to add a switch:


          I agree with the other guys. I'm an electrician with 30 years experience. There are lots of safety concerns with your idea. If they are 120 volt, don't even think of doing this yourself. If they are 12V, there are still many concerns. The ABYC rules cover all wiring on boats, both 120 and 12 volt. There is a right way to do things, and I think you might be better off hiring a professional.


            I don't believe this to be brain surgery, but was looking for general guidance. I will research this further and "get er done" without paying someone to install 2 - 12 inch sections of 12 volt LED lights.



              12 Volt- OK

              There are many what if's and don'ts but I can get you through the basics but mistakes are your fault!

              LED lights shouldn't take too much current so you might be able to splice into the two wires that feed your cigarette lighter (12volt outlet).

              One wire will be a positive and one a negative. You can't go by color so you'll need what is called a multimeter. You can get a simple one at Harbor Freight for $5 or less. Put the red lead from the multimeter on one wire from the back of the lighter and the black lead on the other. If the meter shows a positive 12 volts (+12) you've found a positive and a negative so label them + and -. If the meter reads negative 12 volts (-12) then switch the test leads and label. Make sense?

              Next... we splice into the wires or you might be able to install a double push connector. While the lighter outlet is probably fused, to be safe, add an inline fuse to the positive wire tap. You can get inline fuses at Radio Shack pretty cheap. The positive wire goes from the splice to the inline fuse to whatever switch you want to use to turn the lights on and off and then to the led lights. The negative wire goes straight to the LED lights. If your LED strips are of the automotive variety, they might be designed to use the car body as the negative connection and that won't work on a fiberglass boat. Not a big deal, you just need to hook the negative wire to where the lights establish their ground. Hook the positive wire from the switch to the positive in on the LEDs. Flip the switch and things should light up.

              Splicing... Here is my tried and true method for correctly splicing wires in the automotive/marine environment. You'll need wire cutters, a soldering iron, solder and heat shrink tubing. People do not like to cut into wiring harnesses and I don't recommend it but if there is no other option, this is a good way to do it. Cut the wire you are splicing into in and strip off the insulation. Strip off the wire you are adding about the same length. Cut a length of heat shrink tubing and slide it up the wire you are tapping into. Twist the three wires together, solder them together, slide the heat shrink tubing over the splice and heat it to shrink.

              When choosing your wire size, switch and fuse, you'll need to figure out the current draw of the lights and buy the items big enough to handle the power requirements.

              Take it slow, ask questions and don't butcher your electrical system.



                Well Dave, thats why we didn't want to give advice. Soldering alone is not alowed per ABYC rules. It might work fine in your automotive experience, but there are specific ways to do things that meet all applicable regulations. You failed to mention that the wire should be "boat cable" not simple automotive wire, and that the size of the fuse should be correct for the size of the wire used.

                For someone that states he has " limited electrical ability", there are lots of things that can go wrong, cause a fire, burn up the boat, or anything in between.


                  soldering the wrong way is also a no-no in automotive! The reason is that the solder will penetrate into the stranded wire and if it flexes it will break at the point where the solder penetrated to. There has to be a heat-shrink tube (I recommend the one which is filled with glue) over the joint. The length depends on the wire gauge. For a typical AWG 16 it should go around 1/2" over the wire insulation. It is also a good idea to support the wire on both sides of the joint.

                  A simpler solution are the butt splice connectors with the heat shrink outer insulation. No need to learn soldering.......

                  For an add on LED light which doesn't have to fulfill a safety function a bit of DIY is fine if nothing crucial gets touched. Connecting to the cigarette lighter is a good way to avoid trouble.


                    Get your self a copy of the "12V Bible for boats". That will give you a good basis to work from now and in the future.
                    Jim McNeely
                    New Hope a 2004 Bayliner 305 Sunbridge Express Cruiser
                    Twin 5.7s with Bravo2 drives
                    Brighton, Michigan USA
                    MMSI # 367393410


                      Solder should not be used at all on a boat. It adds NOTHING to the connection, and may cause a stress point. This is why ABYC recommends mechanical fasteners alone. When you use a proper heat-sealing crimp connector on a boat, the electrical and mechanical connectivity is as good as you need.


                        Not to get into too much of an argument but the opinions on the use of solder do vary- Based on this article, soldering splices is well accepted for cars, boats, and... space ships. Not my article... it just supports the advice I gave to someone asking.

                        Marine Electrical Splice - Boat Wiring That Lasts

                        Boating and Sailing News 27 Oct 2010

                        As they say, fast cheap and good, choose any two. Installers and manufacturers know that customers don't like to pay for painstaking, some say "anal-retentive" work. We don't often opt for the item that will last generations if it costs five times as much as the one that will last until we sell it in a few years, and that includes boats. In the case of electrical connections aboard, this issue of fast and cheap often manifests itself in the use of crimp-on butt connectors (quit your giggling) instead of a good quality electrical splice. The butt connector takes five seconds, while the proper splice takes five minutes, so, as you can imagine, with most people's eyes on the bottom line, the butt connector is going to win out, even when they are almost predictably prone to failure in the marine environment. So, who does a sailor turn to? Why cowboys and astronauts, of course.

                        Not to put too fine a point on it, but the basis of this problem is that copper wire corrodes. As most know, we use multi-stranded, tinned copper wire on boats that has heavy duty insulation, or at least that's what we should be using (pop open many "marine" electrics and electronics, and that's not the case). The 'multi-strand' means that the wires can take more flexing and vibration, and the 'tinned' bit means that each of the multiple strands is individually coated with something much like solder, which helps protect the copper wire inside. This so called "boat wire" is great stuff, but it's certainly not perfect by any means, and it can and will corrode quickly and permanently if not installed properly.

                        The problem with even "marine grade" barrel type butt connectors is that they just crimp down on the wire, usually along a line, and then don't seal it. If the wire moves due to boat vibrations, it can work along that one line where it was crimped, and eventually break. If any salt or moisture is present (imagine that on a boat!), then given time it can and will wick up the unsealed wire ends and corrode the entire length of wire. There are steps to be taken which will help with these issues, like putting dialectric grease on the wire ends and shrink-tubing over the whole connection. However, if you're going to go to that trouble anyway, why not just do a proper job of it, and get rid of the butt connector entirely?

                        Fair warning: There are plenty of people who will tell you the method described below is over the top, and it probably is. After all, this is a double-redundant electrical splice that is suitable for space travel (more on that in a minute). However, if you've ever spent hours chasing a bad circuit through a boat's bilge, or an engine room, or had to pull off a headliner to get to a rotten connection, you probably have said to yourself (and everyone within earshot) that you never, ever want to do that again. Well, in that case, something "over the top" may be just what you're looking for.

                        As usual, we like to turn to the wisdom of experts when it comes to these things, and in doing so we find more often than not that the old craftsmen got it right long ago, and the new techies need to learn it all over again. In this case, however, the old craftsmen and the highest of high tech engineers agree, and it's only us "regular people" (I do use that term loosely) who are in the dark. Since a boat is an inhospitable environment, let's look to other inhospitable environments, and see what others have done to conquer them. For this example, let's look at the American West of the late 1800's, and, oh I don't know, outer space?

                        In the case of the American West, a company called Western Union needed to stretch telegraph cable all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The wire came in spools, and the end of each spool had to be connected to the beginning of the next via a splice. So, over thousands of miles, the guys making the splices got pretty good. Then, over time, the wire would break (or be cut by outlaws!) and repairs were made by, you guessed it, splicing. So, when a telegraph message was transmitted (with very low power), it was transmitted over many, many splices, so they had to be both very strong, and very conductive. The resulting splice became known as the "Western Union splice" for obvious reasons.

                        NASA has some of the strictest policies around when it comes to its contractors. A close eye on materials, manufacturing methods, precise specifications and minuscule tolerances is what it takes to put someone into space, and if even the slightest thing is overlooked (such as the materials in an O-ring), it can end in disaster. NASA scientists examine and deliberate over every little bit of every little bit, and when it comes to splicing wires, the specifications are very exacting. Thus, many are surprised to learn that one of the few acceptable splices for those planning on space travel is, drumroll please: The Western Union splice!

                        Take two wires, cross them at a right angle, wrap one wire around the shaft of the other, and then repeat with the second wire. This is the famous Western Union splice. You'll notice that the splice tightens as you pull on it, and this means that the physical connection between the wires gets better with tension. This is a great splice, and if you were working on a car, you could probably just wrap a little tape around it and never think about it again, but you're not working on a car, so this is just step one, or actually, step three.

                        Connecting Wires on a Boat (see top photo):

                        1. Strip the insulation from a couple of inches of each wire, and twist the wire to make it easier to deal with.

                        2. Slide an adequate length* of self-adhesive shrink tubing down one of the wires. If you forget this step, you'll regret it.

                        3. Join the two wires using the Western Union method.

                        4. Solder the connection by heating the wire with a soldering iron until the wire melts the solder and wicks it into the connection.

                        5. OPTIONAL: Coat the connection and the last 1/4 inch of insulation with liquid vinyl "electrical tape" and let dry. This will seal the connection even if the shrink tubing fails.

                        6. Slide the length of shrink tubing over the connection and shrink it with a heat gun.

                        *The shrink tubing should completely cover the liquid vinyl and extend at least 1/2" up the insulation of each wire. For an ├╝ber-ultimate splice, use two lengths of adhesive shrink tubing, one longer than the other. Apply the shorter over the connection, and then the longer.

                        You may wish to reserve this connection for the worst environments on your boat: The bilge, the engine room, inside rails and pulpits, etc. Or, you may wish to use this only after a crimped-on connector has failed (which is less likely if you use adhesive shrink tubing over such connections). After all, many crimped connections are just fine for years, and you may sell your boat long before the next one goes bad. On the other hand, if you plan on going into situations where you have to rely on your boat (and who doesn't?), you may just want to be proactive. An ounce of prevention, or a stitch in time, or however you put it - it's usually better to do a little extra work up front than pay for it later.


                          Sorry Dave, thats the opinion of "by Brad Hampton for", it contradicts the standards set forth by:

                          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.

                          Do you always believe what you read on the internet?


                            Even if we could PROVE that it does no harm, it also does absolutely no good. So it takes longer, might or might not cause harm, and doesn't help. Why do it???


                              bmetros wrote:
                              Hello All, I have a 2002 Maxum 2700 SCR and would like to install some LED rope lights topside. I have what appears to be buss bars in the bilge and tested them, but they don't show power. I would like to connect the lights to a switch (which I will purchase) and run them to the battery (fused). How do I do this? I'm not sure how to connect the switch, lights and battery. I have limited electrical ability.

                              The "buss bars" could be +/- bus bars, but may only be negative.

                              Where is your plan to install the switch?

                              The best way of doing this would be on the helm switch panel, which may even have an accessory breaker and switch wired up and waiting for you to add something to it. Your first steps would be to identify where you want the switch, and whether or not there is an available breaker. My helm had 2-3 accessory switches and breakers which were unused, and a negative bus bar... the ideal places to add mood lighting.

                              At the very least, you will need a basic wire stripper, a crimper (preferably a decent one https://" /> like this for $7, ignore the reviews it is a fine crimper for blue/red crimps), and some terminals - probably red quick connects and some red ring terminals for the negative bus (unless it is also 1/4 quicks)

                              Let's start with the basics first - do you have a plan for getting the wires to the lights, and can you get them all the way to the helm? Do you have basic tools like a wire stripper and multimeter? Do you have circuit breakers or fuses, and are there unused "accessory" fuses or breakers available to you? (Bayliner does not put wires on them if they're unused.)