AnotherSailor

DC Panel replacement

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My DC panel consists of 2 times 6 switch panels, fuse-style, old style. It is functional (largely) but some switches are bend, or miss a bolt. I am replacing the ugly plywood panel in which it is housed (along with some holes in which some kind of piece of equipment was once housed) and so I am thinking let's replace the old DC panel as well.

So, I have heard of BlueSea as a reliable company and I am experiencing some sticker shock (not really, I have owned boats way too long to be really shocked).

Then you have a lot of cheap panels. Some have LED, USB chargers and volt meters, which is all nice, but I dislike those blue lights and there is too much potential for stuff to break. 

Here is one that looks straightforward: https://www.five-oceans.com/collections/switches/products/marine-push-button-panel-bc-3737

including shipping I can have two of these for $50. Of course my question: is that too cheap? Is this a piece of shit that needs to be replaced in a year? My electrical systems are simple: running, steam, anchor, spreader, and cabin lights, voltmeter, VHF, AIS, and what am I forgetting? Blige pump is separate and works/looks fine. Existing panel is simple, I would like to keep it that way.

Thanks for your thoughts. I am not big on electrical stuff (I just hate working with the damn small wires and screws - gotten better over the years, but still if I were not so cheap I would hire someone to do the work for me).

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That's just a switch panel. Stuff like Blue Sea are breaker panels.

Huge difference.....HUGE.

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Its not a huge difference, circuit breakers are cheap.

If you want to look at reducing costs and believe you can wire up your own panel, give Front Panel Express a look.

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1 hour ago, SloopJonB said:

That's just a switch panel. Stuff like Blue Sea are breaker panels.

Huge difference.....HUGE.

The fine print says it has "non-fuse breakers", from 5-15 A.  The buttons on the left look like standard breakers where the button pops out - push to reset.  It doesn't say how you select the current at which it will trip.  The BlueSea panels come with 15 A breakers standard.  I'm guessing the cheaper panel has breakers too, perhaps not as bullet-proof as the BlueSea ones.

Are these safe?  The AC/DC power supplies used by my high school students - and they get up to all kinds of mischief - have the same type of breaker.  I don't think there is anything inherently unsafe about that type of breaker.  It is a bit harder to see when they are tripped, that's all. 

I redid the electrical panel in my boat years ago with one of these and it has given good service - no evidence of corrosion or problems after 15 years or so.

5053?width=380&height=380

http://www.sea-dog.com/groups/701-aluminum-breaker-panel

A note for the OP:  many people wire their VHF radio directly to the battery switch with larger gauge wire and an in-line fuse rated exactly at the right amperage for the radio.  You don't want a fault in the electrical panel to put you out of communication at a bad moment.  Don't forget to get a spare fuse and tape it to the fuse holder.

 

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21 hours ago, dash34 said:

The fine print says it has "non-fuse breakers", from 5-15 A.  The buttons on the left look like standard breakers where the button pops out - push to reset.  It doesn't say how you select the current at which it will trip.  The BlueSea panels come with 15 A breakers standard.  I'm guessing the cheaper panel has breakers too, perhaps not as bullet-proof as the BlueSea ones.

Are these safe?  The AC/DC power supplies used by my high school students - and they get up to all kinds of mischief - have the same type of breaker.  I don't think there is anything inherently unsafe about that type of breaker.  It is a bit harder to see when they are tripped, that's all. 

I redid the electrical panel in my boat years ago with one of these and it has given good service - no evidence of corrosion or problems after 15 years or so.

5053?width=380&height=380

http://www.sea-dog.com/groups/701-aluminum-breaker-panel

A note for the OP:  many people wire their VHF radio directly to the battery switch with larger gauge wire and an in-line fuse rated exactly at the right amperage for the radio.  You don't want a fault in the electrical panel to put you out of communication at a bad moment.  Don't forget to get a spare fuse and tape it to the fuse holder.

 

Thanks for that suggestion, simple and easy on the eyes!!

Yes, the fine-print indeed does indicated that it has non-fuse breakers, but the documentation is rather limited, so I would rather go for something like the sea-dog panel. 

My VHF does have a separate fuse AND a fuse at the panel, which I was wondering about, so perhaps I should take that off and go direct as you suggest. 

Thanks all!

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The Sea-Dog panels come with an assortment of breaker sizes.  IIRC, its 2 each of 5 amp, 10 amp, and 15 amp.  And you can order others to suit your needs. These panels are OK budget panels (I have three of them ganged to a common bus) for lights and stuff, but I wouldn't use them for any significant total loads.  At least not without modification.  I.e. the hot leads are all just crimped together to a single 12 gauge wire. One of these days, I'll cut off the crimp and run each lead independently to the hot bus.  Or just save up my shekels for a Blue Seas panel.

I sprang for the Blue Seas panel for the AC circuits.  If you look at the two side by side, they're just not even in the same league. Maybe not in the same sport.  But still, the S-D is better than what the boat had to begin with!  

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On 1/21/2019 at 9:02 PM, AnotherSailor said:

Thanks for that suggestion, simple and easy on the eyes!!

Yes, the fine-print indeed does indicated that it has non-fuse breakers, but the documentation is rather limited, so I would rather go for something like the sea-dog panel. 

My VHF does have a separate fuse AND a fuse at the panel, which I was wondering about, so perhaps I should take that off and go direct as you suggest. 

Thanks all!

Maybe this is obvious and I am just mis-interpreting some of these posts, but...  A couple of key points, very briefly:

The fuse on your radio is to protect the radio circuits.  The fuse at the panel is to protect the wire that runs to the radio, which could otherwise short out and burn up your boat.  They may be different sizes.

Your boat's wiring needs to match your breakers or fuses (e.g. for 15-amp  breakers, all wiring must be 14-gauge or bigger.) 

However, many devices have specific requirements for smaller fuses or breakers (because of their internal circuits.) E.g. SeaTalk instruments require something like (IIRC) maximum 3 amp breaker.  For these, you need to either get smaller breakers in the panel or install additional fuses at the point where the device is connected.

Likewise, you need a big "main" fuse (or breaker) at the battery that matches the total rating of your panel and the size of wire between the battery and panel.  

If this doesn't make sense, a book that explains it at length might be a good investment.

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2 hours ago, toddster said:

If this doesn't make sense, a book that explains it at length might be a good investment.

Thanks for the explanations. Funny that you mention buying a book: with the order, I also got a copy of Casey's boat electronics book. 

I am actually interested in electronics and want to know more, but I hate working with those tiny little screws and wires that never seem to want to do what I want them to do. Anything electrical is my least favorite job.

 

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Interesting... it looks like some of my old “photobucket”-hosted pics have come back to life, after I refused to pay the ransom they demanded a couple of years ago.  Anyway, FWIW just one way to do it:

Sea-Dog Panels:

panels.jpg

Back of Sea-Dog Panels:

backpanel.jpg

Main Panel at Batteries:

attachment.php?attachmentid=19884&stc=1

 

 

attachment.php?attachmentid=19883&stc=1

(Main grounding bus just below in engine compartment. Batteries -with terminal fuses - under lid on left, engine under lid on right.)

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