Cruising-Sailing-Yacht Electrical Wiring Rules


Are you confused about wiring rules? Don’t worry even many professionals are also confused. They can be often vague, complex or unintelligible if you are not a professional. Boat electrical and electronic systems should be installed as far as practicable to comply with one of the principal rules, standards or recommendations in use, and most standards are generally similar.

Many boaters choose not to spend the quite considerable sums of money purchasing copies of recommendations or wiring-rules as they are relatively expensive.

In general, the many sets of cruising-sailing-yacht wiring-rules and recommendations intimidate boaters as well as professionals. They often appear complex and are difficult to interpret; are not written in plain language; are full of jargon and often assume considerable electrical knowledge.


The following are the most recognizable Wiring Rules and Recommendations currently in use around the world. When a sailing or motor vessel must comply to Class Society requirements (Lloyd's, DNV, Bureau Veritas, ABS) survey, or other requirements and provisions such as the USCG in the United States; the USL (Uniform Shipping Law) in Australia; the Rules should be obtained and referenced for the particular Cruising-Sailing-Yacht installation.


American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) . Standards and Recommended Practices for Small Craft. E-8 AC Electrical Systems E-9 DC Electrical Systems. These are voluntary standards and recommendations that are widely used by many US sailing and power boat builders and electrical professionals. They cover all areas of boat construction and systems.

The United States Coast Guard. Title 33, CFR 183 These contain mandatory requirements for electrical systems on boats.

NFPA 302, Fire Protection Standard for Pleasure and Commercial Motor Craft, 1994 Edition. This standard is approved by the American National Standards Institute and is applicable to motorboat installations. The technical committee includes representatives from ABYC, USCG, Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and others such as the National Association of Marine Surveyors.

NMEA Installation Standards This is a new set of wiring recommendations recently released by the NMEA that are stated as complimentary to the ABYC Recommendations, with an electronics installation bias. These apply to sailing and motor boats.

NFPA 70 National Electrical Code (NEC)


Transport Canada TP1332 E - Construction Standards for Small Vessels - Section 8 Electrical Systems. This is a comprehensive set of standards for Pleasure vessels


European Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) These RCD standards are now virtually mandatory on new construction sailing and power boats in European Union countries and include the following ISO (International Standards Organization) standards: ISO 10133. Small Craft - Electrical systems - Extra-low-voltage d.c. 2000; ISO 13297. Small Craft - Electrical systems - a.c, 2000. ISO 8846: 1990 Small Craft Electrical devices - Protection against ignition of surrounding flammable gas; ISO 10240: 1995 Small Craft - Owner's Manual

Institution of Electrical Engineers Regulations for the electrical and electronic equipment of ships BS7671:2001. These Rules generally apply to AC systems on boats.

Lloyd's Register. Rules and Regulations for the Classification of Yachts and Small CraftThe Rules are used when a boat is to be built to Lloyd's Register (LR) Class rules. It serves as a recognized and very high standard. Commercial vessels, trawlers and large super yachts may fall under other Lloyds ship Rules.

BMEA (British Marine Electronics Association) Code of Practice for Electrical and Electronic Installations in Small Craft 4th Edition. These recommendations are used by various members of the BMEA. They essentially are based on enhanced RCD and ISO requirements and suit sailing and power boats.


Uniform Shipping Law (USL) Code. Section 9 These rules are used for commercial boats being built in survey, usually for charter, fishing, passenger and work boats.


Coming Soon – A set of FREE Rules and Recommendations that you can understand! They will suit Cruising-Sailing-Yacht and Motor Boats

The International Recommendations for Boat Electrical Systems. 2004) These are a set of wiring-rules and recommendations that I have written to incorporate most of the provisions in the various other recommendations and standards. They are generic recommendations and incorporate best installation practice. They will offer a concise and clear set of directions for those installing electrical wiring and equipment.


When you have the Cruising-Sailing-Yacht wiring-rules worked out, and you have prepared your plan for installation, and then decided on what equipment you want to install, then it is time to find a good equipment supplier. I generally use West Marine and simply go online shopping for everything in one package. My books also will help you get your wiring installation and equipment correct. All my books are available through WestMarine and Cruising-Sailing-Yacht Electrical Wiring Rules