How to Install an Hour Meter

boat in ocean
  • 3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 125
What You'll Need
A waterproof 12-volt ground-engine hour meter
Electric drill
Hole saw
Crimp-on terminals

While an hour meter isn’t a necessary part for your boat, it can help you track how many hours you put on your outboard motor. Although newer engines often come with display gauges, older ones leave you in the dark. Install an hour meter in just a few steps.

Step 1 – Selecting an Hour Meter Model

First, you must select an hour-meter model. Choose your model based on its ruggedness and apparent ease of installation. Having a waterproof hour meter is a plus.

The most popular mail-order marine catalogs offer hour meters manufactured by companies like Airguide, VDO, Medallion, SeaStar Solutions, and Datcon, and they come in different styles for different prices, from about $35-$100.

For smaller-size installations, purchase a 12-volt ground-engine hour meter to work on systems 4-40 volts DC.

Step 2 – Deciding on an Installation Spot

The second step is to decide on the right place to install the hour meter. Usually, the meter is installed somewhere that doesn’t waste too much space.

Step 3 – Making the Right-Sized Hole

Next, drill a hole to mount the hour meter. Usually, a 2-inch hole made with a hole saw is a good approximate size. Then, mount the meter in the hole.

Step 4 – Securing the Hour Meter

Once the hour meter is mounted in the hole, you should make sure that the meter fits properly and is tightly secured. Generally, there are three stainless-steel screws that secure the hour meter in position. Tighten these if your meter comes with them.

Step 5 – Connecting the Leads

With most hour meters, you need to connect two electrical leads that come out from the device. Connect these leads to the portion of the wiring system that’s energized whenever the ignition key is turned “on” in your boat. Most commonly, people connect the leads coming out of the hour meter to the electric fuel pump, which is designed to supply enough fuel to the injector pump. Attach the other lead of the meter to a negative terminal, usually located close by.

Step 6 - Making Wire Splices

Next, you will need to splice some of the wires to the hour meter, depending on your model. Use the hour meter’s directions for specifics. Make the splices with the help of a set of crimp-on terminals. Then, create a connection using the soldered splice.

Step 7 – Finishing the Job

After the meter is installed, you should contact your engine’s manufacturer to acquire the correct maintenance schedule for the boat, like how often you should flush the engine. Whenever someone services your boat's engine or inspects it for any faults, you should write down the engine hour reading in the maintenance log to keep track of your engine's performance.