Yellow is the new black (for marine DC wiring)

LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaMember Posts: 5,175 ✭✭✭✭✭
Public service announcement.  The boating safety group ABYC recently started phasing in a change to its recommended wire color scheme for DC power wiring. 

Old:   red = 12V positive, BLACK = 12V negative
New:  red = 12V positive, YELLOW = 12V negative 

Historically, black wires were used for two purposes:  DC negative wires, and also AC hot wires (120V supply from shore power or generator).  Confusion between these types of power could be deadly, so ABYC now deems it safer to use yellow for DC negative. 

There's no need to rush out and rewire your entire boat.  But in repairs or new wiring projects, consider using yellow for DC negative wiring.  And if you add new components, don't be surprised if they have red/yellow power wiring instead of red/black.  

My favorite wire for DC power is ANCOR "safety duplex wire" which is red and yellow conductors in a white jacket.  It's a really nice product:  well-protected, flexible and easy to work with.


  • randy56randy56 Newburgh INMember Posts: 3,255 ✭✭✭✭✭
    That is going to be confusing. Assuming new model boat's going to be wired this way. When did they make the change?
    Boat Name : 

  • LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaMember Posts: 5,175 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 23
    I think within the past year or two.  [EDIT:  Some THT posts say ABYC was specifying "black or yellow" back in 2017, and BoaterEd mentioned it in 2014.]  Fortunately, veteran boaters like me who grew up on red/black will continue to get older and more forgetful, and eventually we'll think it was always red/yellow.  
    Post edited by LaRea on
  • TonyG13TonyG13 ChicagoMember Posts: 696 ✭✭✭
    edited February 23
    I see the point of trying not to confuse AC and DC, but why not have a black stripe on the yellow casing, like speaker wires have. At least that would give a better visual clue that it's the "new" DC negative.
  • LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaMember Posts: 5,175 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Just a guess -- probably using solid colors for the most common wires.  
  • YYZRCYYZRC Georgian BayMember Posts: 1,538 ✭✭✭
    I agree that ANCOR wire is delightful to work with, regardless of black/yellow racism. 

    How’s the metric system treating you holdouts?
    2008 330 EC on Georgian Bay
  • GrahamuGrahamu Port Credit, ON, CDAMember Posts: 108
    Yellow DC negative has been around for some time now. It tends to be in the smaller gauge wiring, I haven't seen it in the heavy gauge like battery cable.
  • TonyG13TonyG13 ChicagoMember Posts: 696 ✭✭✭
    Grahamu said:
    Yellow DC negative has been around for some time now. It tends to be in the smaller gauge wiring, I haven't seen it in the heavy gauge like battery cable.
    I was kinda thinking along those lines - will they also change the battery cable color? Would make sense. Otherwise where is the changeover (color-wise) from one system to the other when you're tracing lines? And will the terminal caps be yellow?
  • davidbrooksdavidbrooks GermantownMember Posts: 826 ✭✭✭
    I think i am gonna keep using classic black on mine. If i am fortunate enough to own something new then i will get used to it then.
    It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere!
  • LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaMember Posts: 5,175 ✭✭✭✭✭
    With battery cables, there's less risk of confusion.  Nobody will mistake a massive 1-AWG battery cable for a little 12-AWG AC supply wire.  But if you're gonna build a new boat, be consistent with wire colors.  

    I have not adopted red/yellow in my boat, and I didn't change any of the legacy wiring.  But I figured it would spark a conversation (pun intended)!  
  • Cableguy GregCableguy Greg Pittsburgh, PAMember Posts: 4,485 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I tried to install a 1500watt pure sine inverter on my boat a few years ago. When I purchased the wire that ran from the battery to the inverter, the only color that the company would sell me in 0 gauge wire was yellow. They didn't offer marine grade battery wire in black anymore.
    2008 280 Express Cruiser, 6.2MPI, B3, Pittsburgh, PA "Blue Ayes"
    Go Steelers!!!
  • LaReaLaRea Alexandria VirginiaMember Posts: 5,175 ✭✭✭✭✭
    How does this thread have 1300 views?  It's boring and has only been up for 3 days.   
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