Installing a Boat Ignition Switch

  • 2-5 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 20-50
What You'll Need
Drill and drill bits
Ignition switch
Wire strippers
Wire cutter
Ring terminal kit
Terminal crimper
Socket or nutdriver

Your boat ignition switch is an important part of the starting process. It is connected to the starter through the boat's 12V system. When it is turned on the switch completes the circuit connecting the solenoid to the battery. This then enables the starter to turn over the engine so that it will run. Installing a boat ignition switch is an easy process that requires a few simple hand tools and a few hours of your time. Here are the steps to install a new ignition switch on your boat.

Step 1 - Determine Location for Ignition Switch

Determine the best location for it on your control panel. Find a place where there are not steering components or other wires that you will be drilling in to.

Step 2 - Drill Hole for Switch

Lay the ignition switch cylinder onto the surface where you are going to position it. Mark the console and then drill out the hole that will accept the ignition switch. Do not make the hole too big of the retaining clamp will slide through the hole.

Step 3 - Install Ignition Switch

Place the ignition switch in the hole and screw the retaining clamp onto the underside of it. Tighten the nut so that the ignition switch is solid on the control panel.

Step 4 - Connect Wires

For this step you will need to have a little pre-planning. You will need to take several wires and crimp them onto a ring terminal. These wires should include the hot wire from the battery, the wire to the solenoid, and any other accessories that you want to run when the ignition is set to on. Think about which different accessories you want powered by the ignition and make sure the appropriate wires are there. If not, then you will need to run some wires from the particular accessory to the ignition switch. Set these wires aside and crimp separate ring terminals on all the positive wires. One for the battery, one for the solenoid, and one for the accessories.

Step 5 - Install Positive Battery Cable to Switch

Take the positive battery wire and connect it to the positive terminal on the ignition switch. Use a nutdriver, or a small socket wrench to tighten the set screws to hold the cable in place.

Step 6 - Connect Accessory Wires

Using the same procedure as connecting the battery cable to the boat ignition switch, you should now connect the positive wires from the accessories. Connect the ring terminal on the appropriate post for accessories and tighten with a nutdriver or small socket wrench.

Step 7 - Connect Solenoid Wire

Take the solenoid wire and connect it to the portion of the boat ignition switch that says "Start". This will complete all of the connections that need to be made to install your new ignition switch.

Step 8 - Start Engine

Once you have everything connected on your ignition switch, slide the key into the key slot and turn it to "On". The different accessories that you wanted to run should be doing so. Then turn the key to start and listen to your engine run.