How to Wire a Toggle Switch for Lights on a Boat


If you plan to add additional deck lights to your boat, you'll need to turn them off when you get underway. If you don't need more deck lighting, but you want to be able to turn off your boat's navigational lights during times when they're neither required nor needed, you need a switch other than your general light switch. The easiest solution to the need for more switches to handle your special lighting needs is a toggle switch for each, installed on your boat's dash.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Toggle switch
  • Red electrical wire
  • Green electrical wire
  • In-line fuse holder and fuse
  • Liquid vinyl electrical sealant
  • Drill a hole in your dash to mount the toggle switch. Pay attention to what's behind the location where you are drilling so that you don't cause "collateral damage" to other controls.

  • Remove the mounting ring from the threaded collar of the toggle switch by turning it counterclockwise to unscrew it. Push the toggle switch up through the hole you drilled in the dash. Screw the mounting ring back on to the threaded collar.

  • Connect the red wire that will be attached to the power supply to the longer prong on the toggle switch. Connect the common grounding bus and the shorter prong on the toggle switch with green wire.

  • Attach one wire of the in-line fuse holder to the middle post of the toggle switch.

  • Connect the wire from the lights to the remaining wire of the in-line fuse holder.

  • Attach the power supply wire to the circuit breaker panel of your boat.

  • Open the in-line fuse holder and insert a fuse of the correct size. Close the in-line fuse holder.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before inserting the fuse in the fuse holder, coat the connections to the toggle switch and the connection between the in-line fuse holder and the wire from the lights with a liquid vinyl electrical sealant.
  • This project involves working with electrical systems. Appropriate caution is advised.

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  • This Old Boat; Don Casey; McGraw-Hill Professional, 1991; p. 282 ff
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