Marinization Techniques and Installation Tips
Revised by BoatUS editors in April 2012
Truly marinized stereos and speakers have protective components that help them withstand elements like water, humidity, ultraviolet rays, and salt corrosion which can occur merely from a salty environment even though the unit hasn't been splashed.
Following are some examples of the steps that help to make a stereo or other electronic device suitable for use in a marine environment:
- The circuit boards should be coated with a material to prevent corrosion.
- Power supplies should be stable enough to withstand the fluctuating currents that commonly occur in boats. The unit should be able to remain stable at voltages as low as 11 and as high as 16. The unit should turn off rather than be damaged should power supply exceed design parameters.
- Moisture and salt air can seep into holes on an electronic unit and can corrode your system, so an additional plastic cover on the outside of the unit helps.
- Additional marinizing techniques include:
- A plastic cover on the circuit board itself.
- Galvanized, stainless or specially plated chassis to ward off corrosion.
A marinized speaker should include the following specifications:
- There should be no visible metal on the front or back of the speaker, except for the treated jumpers that extend from the cone to the terminals.
- The cone should be constructed of a waterproof material and be robust enough to withstand heavy vibration and jarring.
- The speaker basket and grille should be made of a noncorrosive material such as ABS plastic.
- All connecting hardware should be stainless steel.
Marine electronics manufacturers say that the most common complaint they receive is that their unit suffered from water damage. To ensure that your unit doesn't fall into this trap keep in mind the following guidelines:
- Install the unit in an area where it is least likely to get wet, from above as well as from the front.
- Covers are a great preventative maintenance device.
- Gasketing and other steps should be utilized to prevent leaks that might affect the unit.
If your device is under a console, be sure that the gauges and other instruments don't allow leakage and keep the console covered when not in use.
Shock and Vibration Damage
Marine equipment should be fortified to handle pounding on rough water and vibration from the engine. This usually involves special housing, mounting and heavy duty material.