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Marine Amp Wiring & Installation Products: The Ultimate Guide


Overview
Wet Sounds is probably known as the leader for marine wiring, power, and accessories when it comes to audio. Stinger has built their business on audio wire and accessories and they launched some very cool products in the past couple years, specifically targeted for the marine industry. We are going to break down the kits by the wire specs, what is in included, and the prices.
Amp Wiring Kits

Marine amp wiring kits are not the same as the amp wiring kits used for cars. On your boat, you cant quickly and easily find a metal surface for ground. Instead, you need to run your ground wires all the way to the negative terminal on your battery. Instead of only needing 3' for ground wire, on a boat you need your ground wire to be the same length as your power wire. In addition to the length, the power wire for marine amp wiring kits needs to be tinned to resist corrosion. Most power wire for cars is not tinned and instead it is just copper. All marine power wire also needs to be pure OFC copper. You will see low cost amp power kits for cars. These typically use copper coated aluminum and not pure, oxygen-free copper. Copper coated aluminum is exteremely dangerous on a boat. It does not have the same current carrying capacity and it can overheat and start a fire. Finally, the color on most marine amp wiring kits, outside of the Wet Sounds products, use red for power and yellow for ground. On boats, yellow is the preferred color for ground. You can also use black, but to keep things consistant across the marine industry, yellow is used for ground on DC systems. Black is usually the color used for ground on AC systems. On larger sport yachts and boats that have both AC and DC electrical systems, it is important to keep them separate.

Wet Sounds Amp Wiring Kits
Wet Sounds has the largest selection of marine amp wiring kits and they are sold and packaged in such a way that is really easy for the customer. Wet Sounds marine amp wiring kits come in single amp, dual amp, and 4 amp setups. The two and 4 amp marine wiring kits come in two different lengths, a 10' and a 20'. Measure to figure out how far you need to run your wire and you are good to go. The one thing to notice with Wet Sounds is that the use 1/0 AWG cable along with a 300 amp fuse and a distribution block for their dual amp kits instead of doing a separate 4 AWG run to the battery for each amplifier. Wet Sounds also does not offer a circuit breaker which is usually wired, 1 for each amplifier. Do you want a wire carrying up to 300 amps of current on your boat? Is it convenient and is that the way it is done for cars? Yes. Is it safer to use a separate 4 AWG run to the battery for each amplifier and use a circuit breaker? Yes.

Wet Sounds offers the following:
  • A Single amp kit 15 Feet of 4 AWG power & ground Wire
  • A Dual amp kit with 10 Feet of 1/0 AWG Power and Ground Cable and 10 Feet of 4AWG Power and Ground Cable.
  • A Dual amp kit with 20 Feet of 1/0 AWG Power and Ground Cable and 10 Feet of 4AWG Power and Ground Cable.
  • A 4 amp kit with 10 Feet of Power and Ground Cable and 10 Feet of 4 AWG Power and Ground Cable
  • A 4 amp kit with 20 Feet of Power and Ground Cable and 10 Feet of 4 AWG Power and Ground Cable
  • A High Power Amp Kit With 40 Feet of 1/0 AWG Power and Ground Cable and 20' of 4 gauge AWG Power Cable

Stinger Amp Wiring Kits

Stinger has come out with an industry first with their siamese marine power wire. This is 8AWG or 4 AWG wire that is jacketed together like speaker wire. The Stinger kits are nice because they use the traditional marine color coatings for both positive and negative DC wires in order to keep them correctly color coded and separately from AC wires. The Stinger marine kits are very affordable, meet UL specs, and perfect for most boat applications.

Stinger Offers:
  • A Single Amp Kit w/ 9.8 Feet (3m) of 8 AWG Power & ground Cable. (1) 40 A Fuse
  • A Single Amp Kit w/ 22 Feet (7m) of 8 AWG Power & ground Cable. (1) 40 A Fuse
  • A Single Amp Kit w/ 9.8 Feet (3m) of 4 AWG Power & ground Cable. (1) 80 A Fuse
  • A Single Amp Kit w/ 22 Feet (7m) of 4 AWG Power & ground Cable. (1) 80 A Fuse

Stinger offers both 100A and 150A circuit breakers. While the Stinger marine amp wiring kits include fuses, we recommend using 1 circuit breaker for each amplifier. You typically want to use 150% of the current capacity for the circuit breaker. So if your 4 AWG wire is rated to 100A, you want to use an inline circuit breaker that is rated to 150 amps.


Kicker Amp Wiring Kits

Kicker released their marine amp wiring kits in 2020. Like Stinger, the Kicker kits use the standard colors for marine wire with red power cable and yellow ground cable. The unique aspect of the Kicker kits is that they include the MRBF marine fuse. The fuse and fuse holder work as one and connect direclty to the battery terminal for easy access and installation. The Kicker kits are 20' in length and have equal length power and ground wires so that you can easily make your runs to both positive and negative on your battery.

Kicker offers:
  • Single Amp Kit (4 AWG with 20' of 4" Wire)
  • Single Amp kit (8 AWG with 20' of 8 AWG Wire)

JL Audio Amp Wiring Kits

JL Audio's marine amp power kits use either 9 AWG or 6 AWG wire. Like the Stinger and Kicker products, the JL Audio marine amp wiring kits use red for power and yellow for ground. The power and ground wires are the same length so that you can run your ground wire back to the negative terminal on the battery. What makes the JL Audio kits slightly different is they include a circuit breaker whereas all of the other kits include a fuse. JL Audio offers:

  • Single Amp Kit (9 AWG with 20' of 4" Wire)
  • Single Amp kit (6 AWG with 10' of 6 AWG Wire)
  • Single Amp kit (6 AWG with 10' of 6 AWG Wire)

Takeaways

Wet Sounds offers complete solutions for amp powering. If you have 2 or more amplifiers, they make it super easy to buy 1 product and you can be done. But, they do it with big wire and big fuses. On a boat, they are using 300 amp fuses. The question becomes whether or not you want fuses and whether or not you want, possibly 300 amps of current going through 1, albeit very large wire on your boat. The more conventional way to power your boat's amplifiers is to make separate runs to the battery for each amplifier and use a circuit breaker for each one. What is the difference? If a fuse blows, your whole stereo system is off until you get a new one. When replacing the fuse, you need to disconnect the battery. These large fuses are not something that you can just pop in. You need a screw driver and you have to have another 300 amp fuse available and be able to find it.

Outside of the Wet Sounds kits, it is pretty straightforward. Calculate the distance from your amplifier to your battery. If you have 1 amp, you only need 1 amp kit. If you have 3 amps, buy 3 amp kits. Buy a circuit breaker for each amp kit, and you should be good to go for power. With the circuit breakers, if you get a short or pull too much current, the breaker trips, the system shuts off and you probably say a couple 4 letter words. You go to the breaker, flip it back, and your stereo is good to go again and we are still partying. You can still use Wet Sounds wire and do it this way by purchasing the Wet Sounds Single Amp Installation kit for each amplifier that you need and then purchasing a circuit breaker separately.

Marine RCA Cables

RCA cables are typically used to take the audio signal out of your marine radio or head unit and into your marine amplifier. These outputs on your head unit are called, "Low-level," inputs because the signal is not amplified by the internal amplifier of the radio. The output voltage on the pre-outs is typically between 2-5 volts. Depending on your amplifier and your hread, you might not need RCA cables and instead you can use the speaker wire leads on your radio. These are called, "High-Level," inputs and the voltage is typically around 9-10 volts. Some amplifiers are designed to accept the speaker wire inputs, others will require speaker wire to RCA adapters. Using the low level inputs is more common for boats espeically because multi-zone head units use RCA pre-outs for each zone.

Wet Sounds Marine RCA Cables

Wet Sounds makes 2 channel, 4 channel, and 6 channel marine RCA cables. Wet Sounds RCA cables use pure OFC copper that is tinned for the marine environment. The cable is quad shielded to minimize interference and the barrel connectors are corrosion resistant. The big advantage of the 4-channel and 6-channel cables is that you only have to pull 1 cable and both ends are color coded for easy zone mapping. Instead of having 3 reds and 3 whites at the end of your cable and trying to decide which cable goes where, you have a black, red, orange, green, yellow, and white. You could of course take the time and label your ends before running cable, but the color just makes it that much easier and much more visible, assuming you aren't color blind of course.


Stinger

Stinger makes 2 channel marine RCA cables in 6, 4, 2, and .5 meter lengths. The Stinger RCA cables use OFC copper conductors that are assemblied in a high rate twisted pair configuration for noise rejection. The outer jacket of the cables are flexible for easy routing and the connectors are machined with nickel-plated brass contacts for superior connection integrity.


Kicker Marine RCA Cables

Kicker makes 2 channel marine RCA cables in 1, 3, 7, and 10-meter lengths. The Kicker marine RCA cables use split pin connections and use pure OFC copper for optimal signal clarity. The PFC jacket on the connection covers the entire ground ring for a better seal and better environmetal protection.


JL Audio Marine RCA Cables

JL Audio makes both 2 and 4 channel marine RCA cables. Both the 2 and 4 channel cables come in 3, 6, 12, and 25 foot lengths. The JL Audio marine RCA cables have a whtie jacket and use pure OFC copper conductors in a twisted pair construction to reject noise. The connector bodies themsevles are made of machined brass and plated to resist corrosion.


Takeaways

Wet Sounds makes a 6 channel RCA cable which is ideal if you are using a 5 or 6 channel marine amp. Both Wet Sounds and JL Audio make 4 channel RCA cables which are perfect for 4 channel amplifiers. When it comes to the 2 channel RCA's, there isn't that much difference that you are going to be able to hear. All 4 of these companies make very nice products. We recommend matching the RCAs to the amp kit that you bought, unless you want to use a 4 or 6 channel RCA cable from JL or Wet Sounds. There isn't much to this so don't over think it. Get the shortest cable you need to go from your radio to your amp, but don't be too short. If you are too short, you need to get a longer cable or you need to use some extension adapters. We are against using extension adapters because it brings more noise into the system that doesn't need to be there.

Marine Circuit Breakers vs. Fuses

Outside of the JL Audio kits, most marine amplifier wiring kits come with fuses. Fuses are great because they are cheap and the react quickly. However, once a fuse blows, it needs to be replaced. You can't just reset a fuse. A circuit breaker isn't as quick to react, but it is resettable. If you are out on the water and something happens, you can go back and re-set the breaker. It is doesn't require tools and overall it is just a better option on a boat. The downside is that circuit brakers are more expensive than fuses.

Wet Sounds Circuit Breakers, Fuses, and Distribution Blocks

Wet Sounds offers a 4 position, fused, power and ground combination block, a single ANL fuse holder, and an 8 AWG ATC inline fuse holder block. To go with this, Wet Sounds also offers a full line of ANL fuses to go in their distribution products. Wet Sounds does not offer any circuit breakers for marine amplifier installation.

Fuses:
  • 200A ANL
  • 250A ANL
  • 300A ANL
  • 25AMini ANL
  • 60A Mini ANL
  • 100A Mini ANL
  • 150A Mini ANL
Fuse Holders:
  • 4 Position Fuse/Power/Ground Combo Block
  • Single ANL Fuse holder
  • 8 AWG ATC inline Fuse holder block
Stinger Circuit Breakers, Fuses, and Distribution Blocks

When it comes to marine installation accessories, nobody has a larger product offering than Stinger. This applies to both marine specific products as well as general use audio installation products that crossover into the marine space, like fuses. Stinger makes both 100 amp and 150 amp circuit breakers for amplifier installation. These are our go-to's if you are going to install your amplifier(s) using circuit breakers. When it comes to fuse holders, Stinger makes sealed fuse holders that are shielded from the elements. These aren't just fuse holders that use a coating to resist corrosion. There are literally too many distribution blocks and fuse options. You can see what is available below and see for yourself that Stinger is the leader in mobile and marine audio installation accessories.

Circuit Breakers
  • 100A Circuit Breaker
  • 150A Circuit Breaker
Fuse Holders:
  • Mini-ANL Dual ATC Fuse Holder for 4 GA Power Wire
  • ATC (ATM) Fuse Holder for 16 GA Wire
  • Dual ATC Fuse Holder
Distribution Blocks:
  • Water Resistant ANL
  • Dual ANL
  • Dual Midi
  • 4 Position Midi
  • 4 Positin Maxi Fused
  • 0 GA In/Out Water Resistant ANL Fuse Holder
  • 2 Position Midi Fuse Holder
Fuses:
  • Midi:
    • 175A
    • 150A
    • 125A
    • 100A
    • 80A
    • 70A
    • 60A
    • 50A
    • 40A
    • 30A
  • ANL
    • 300A
    • 250A
    • 200A
    • 150A
    • 125A
    • 100A
    • 80A
    • 60A
  • Maxi
    • 100A
    • 80A
    • 70A
    • 60A
    • 50A
    • 40A
    • 30A
    • 20A
  • AGU
    • 80A
    • 60A
    • 50A
    • 40A
    • 30A
Kicker Circuit Breakers, Fuses, and Distribution Blocks

The big advantage Kicker has is their ABYC approved products that use the MRBF fuses. These fuses use a unique square shape and the master fuse holder is integrated into the battery terminal connection. Kicker's fused distribution blocks are separated for both power and ground for increased safety and have red and yellow dots on the top to designate power and ground. The power blocks are fused, the ground blocks are not. In addition to offering the fuse blocks, Kicker also offers virtually every size of MRBF fuse you might want.

  • Marine Master Fuse Holders ABYC approved and MRBF Fuses
  • Fused Distribution block using MRBF fuses . ABYC approved
  • Ground Distribution block using MRBF fuses . ABYC approved
  • Fuses:
    • 300A
    • 200A
    • 150A
    • 125A
    • 100A
    • 80A
    • 60A
    • 40A
    JL Audio Circuit Breakers, Fuses, and Distribution Blocks

    JL Audio offers the widest selection of circuit breakers among the marine audio manufacturers. In addition, JL also has Master Fuse blocks and both 2 and 4-way MAXI fused distrubtion blocks. JL Audio offers a full line of both ANL and MAXI fuses to go with the blocks and some are good to have as spares for the on-board fuse on your amplifier.

    Fuse & Distribution Blocks
    • 2-way MAXI Fused Distribution Block
    • 4-way MAXI Fused Distribution Block
    • Master MXI Fuse Block
    • Master ANL Fuse Block
    Circuit Breakers
    • 80A Circuit Breaker
    • 30A Circuit Breaker
    • 40A Circuit Breaker
    • 50A Circuit Breaker
    • 60A Circuit Breaker
    Fuses
    • ANL
      • 200A
      • 250A
      • 100A
      • 150A
    • MAXI
      • 40A
      • 50A
      • 60A
      • 80A
      • 100A
      • 30A
    Takeaways

    A fuse is a fuse, is a fuse. The Kicker MRBF fuses are nice because they are ABYC approved and they fit directly onto the battery terminal, but it's also just a fuse. We like circuit breakers better. Instead of using distribution blocks, we recommend doing separatel runs to the battery for each amplifier and putting a circuit breaker inline. JL Audio has the largest product offering of marine grade circuit breakers. Stinger has 100 and 150 amp circuit breakers which are higher current than anything JL offers. Kicker's distribution blocks are pretty neat. Wet Sounds distribution blocks are straightforwar