Boat Lighting for Dummies

Discussion in 'Boating' started by turtle1173, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. turtle1173

    turtle1173 Member

    Messages:
    613
    State:
    Mayfield, KY
    OK, I am "electrically challenged" and struggle sometimes with how to hook up some devices. I'm having one such problem now that I hope you experienced electronic gurus can help me with.

    I am redoing the lighting on my boat and need "play-by-play" instructions in setting up the wiring.

    Alright, here's what I'm working with: I have the bow light (that's the red & green one), the transom light, a 3 way switch and a battery. I need to flip the switch one way to have both lights on and flip it the other way to have only the transom light on.

    I could randomly run wires to terminals but I thought I would be better off asking you all on here first :wink:

    Thank you for all the help.
     
  2. AwShucks

    AwShucks New Member

    Messages:
    4,532
    State:
    Guthrie, Oklaho
    You need the right 3 way switch. Some of them are on-off-on, with each of the on positions a single leg. The switch you need is an off-on-on. The first on position will be for your anchor light, and the second on position will run the anchor light and navigation lights. And, with the fish in your avatar, your not a dummy. LOL
     

  3. Katmandeux

    Katmandeux New Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    State:
    Checotah, Oklahoma
    Gotta have two wires going to each light...one is the ground, or negative, and comes straight from the neg terminal on your battery.

    The other is the hot, or positive wire. You'll come off of the pos term of your battery, and go to the lug on your switch marked "batt", and then run a wire from the switch lug marked "bow" to the bow light. The remaining lug is marked "anchor", or "stern"...run that wire, and you're done.

    If your switch isn't labeled, you probably will need some outside help.
     
  4. turtle1173

    turtle1173 Member

    Messages:
    613
    State:
    Mayfield, KY
    Do I need to go somewhere special to get this 3 way switch? I went to Wal-mart and a couple tractor supply places and couldn't find the one I thought I needed. It's the kind where you pull the knob out. No one seemed to carry this one. Perhaps an automotive place would have it. Ideas??

    From what I understand, all negative wires will ground on the negative battery terminal. Is that correct?

    Other than that, I just figure out which positive to hook up to which terminal on the switch, right? I guess my main problem is getting the right switch then.

    Thanks for the help guys!!
     
  5. Katmandeux

    Katmandeux New Member

    Messages:
    1,618
    State:
    Checotah, Oklahoma
    WalMart ought to have it, otherwise, go to a marine dealer...if the lugs aren't marked, they should be able to tell you what goes where.

    Yes, all negative wires go to the neg terminal.

    One other thing...you probably should put an inline fuse holder in the pos wire between the battery and the switch. If you plan on adding more accessories later, consider a small terminal board/fuse block, also available at the marine dealer.
     
  6. Catmaster

    Catmaster New Member

    Messages:
    391
    State:
    SE Kansas
    Alright, You take out a wod of bills, take out the wire strippers, cut the strap on the bills, wip out a couple 10s and hand them to a buddy so he can do it for you.
    :0a26::big_smile_2:


    And there you have it from the master electrician lol!!!
     
  7. Mark J

    Mark J New Member

    Messages:
    9,407
    State:
    Four Oaks, NC
    the setup I prefer for simplicity and cost is 2 seperate switches. One for navigation and one for anchor. The 3 position switch cant be found just anywhere anytime and they are expensive at some places. Thats why I go for 2 seperate switches.
     
  8. turtle1173

    turtle1173 Member

    Messages:
    613
    State:
    Mayfield, KY
    Thanks for all the input guys.

    I guess I will probably go with Mark's suggestion of two switches. I found some 3 way switches at the auto stores today but I don't know if they would work or not. I believe they are for some older vehicle's lights. It has a fuse on the bottom with 5 terminals. They are marked something like: head, tail, park, etc.

    Anyway, I don't know if it would work but I imagine two switches will be easier.

    Thanks again.
     
  9. Jammer

    Jammer New Member

    Messages:
    584
    State:
    Tennessee
    You could use a double pole/double throw switch with off in the center position. switch down for the anchor light and up for both anchor and navigation. Run ground wires to the neg post, run the fused wire from positive to both of center posts of the switch, wire to one and run a jumper to the other. Run the anchor light wire to one set of outside posts, wire to one post and run a jumper to the other post. Run the wire from the nav lights to the other bottom post only.
    Make sure the switch has a center off position. should be less than $3.
    Hope my picture makes some sense.

    .......six posts on switch
    1.................. l l-------anchor light

    2.................. l-l------------Fused hot wire

    3 Nav lights-----l l---------anchor light
     
  10. thunderchicken

    thunderchicken New Member

    Messages:
    769
    State:
    Yuma Az
    If you have an electronic parts place in town they will have the switches you need or you can always rely on the tried and true radio shack. Good luck.
    :cool2:
     
  11. turtle1173

    turtle1173 Member

    Messages:
    613
    State:
    Mayfield, KY
    Well I finished up this particular lighting project today. I ended up going with two individual illuminating switches. The switches actually interlock together, so it looks half-way good, LOL. Anyway, when you turn the switch "On", the switch itself lights up. So it turned out good.

    Thanks again for all the help.