If you’re looking to upgrade or replace your marine instrumentation, you’ll want to be familiar with the NMEA 2000 network. The National Marine Electronics Association’s (NMEA) communications protocol is the industry standard for marine electronic equipment. Here are some of the most significant benefits of using NMEA 2000 certified products on your vessel.

A Brief Background on NMEA 2000

Since 1957, the National Marine Electronics Association has focused on creating a better experience for maritime electronics users. The NMEA 2000 standard (also known as NMEA2k or N2K) was designed to replace NMEA 0183 and allows all devices that use the standard to communicate with one another regardless of the original equipment manufacturer. 

While NMEA 0183 remains the most frequently used standard in commercial shipping vessels, recreational boaters and other maritime vessels are quickly adopting the newer NMEA 2000 standard. For a more in-depth look at how NMEA 2000 allows devices to communicate with one another, check out our quick guide to NMEA 2000.

Benefits of NMEA 2000 Products

NMEA products offer a plug-and-play communications solution for your marine electronic equipment. There are a number of ways this protocol improves upon previous standards. If you’re looking to upgrade your boat console, here are some of the biggest differences you’ll notice.

Easy Installation

Unlike previous communications standards which often used varying lengths of wire, third-party connectors, and other inconsistent components, NMEA 2000 networks rely on the DeviceNet cabling standard. This standard covers “Mini” and “Micro” sizes and defines operational requirements such as weather resistance, cable flexibility, and shielding.

With NMEA 2000, one thick “backbone” wire allows for easy connection to installed devices. Additionally, standardized “T” connectors create more secure connections than previously used electrical plugs and outlets.

Improved Device Performance

Along with better defined cabling standards, NMEA 2000 allows for enhanced device communication. Previously, using multiple devices could result in poor or lost data signals, causing incomplete or missing readings.

A switch from NMEA 0183 to NMEA 2000 also results in more efficient power consumption. The system uses less battery power overall due to the efficiencies gained by using modern electrical technology and streamlined cabling. Moreover, by removing excess connections and the need for third-party equipment, NMEA 2000 reduces the risk of electrical issues caused by unregulated voltages or short circuits.

Faster, More Centralized Data

While NMEA 0183 offered a workable solution for device communication, older systems only allowed for short messages in one direction between a sending device and a receiving device. In contrast, NMEA 2000 allows multidirectional conversation amongst multiple devices at the same time, allowing for faster information exchange and greater control from centralized locations.

This improved data transfer offers more than just increased speed. By connecting all devices to a central monitoring system, NMEA 2000 creates a more cohesive picture of all onboard systems and simplifies the troubleshooting process in the event of electrical failure.

Future Improvements and NMEA OneNet

The NMEA 2000 standard was developed in the 1990s and has been updated several times since then. However, the newest standard, NMEA OneNet, offers additional enhancements to the maritime electronics space. This new standard aims to utilize standard IP network infrastructure, create extendable and scalable network architecture, and support higher-bandwidth applications like audio and video data.

Rather than replacing NMEA 2000, NMEA OneNet will complement existing NMEA 2000 networks by using the same network message database. This design allows OneNet devices to share information with NMEA devices in a common format, allowing for cross-standard compatibility.

Find the Right NMEA 2000 Certified Products by KUS

KUS offers a full line of NMEA 2000 certified products to enhance the performance of your vessel. Our products can be found in everything from small consumer boats to world-class yachts. All of our products are built to the highest standards.