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Old 12-16-2011, 05:47 PM   #1
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Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

In the event of an electrical fire while underway, it would seem prudent to deenergize all 12 volt systems (in my case) until the problem can be isolated and cured - both as a damage control measure as well as attempting to contain damage to the electrical system.* However, the way my Viking (I know, not a trawler - but there are a lot of sharp people on this board that I haven't found anywhere else) is set up, this entails dropping into the engine room, squeezing my chubby body between two red hot engines, and getting to the rear (most distant) bulkhead where the battery switches are mounted.* Oh yeah, did I mention the fire?

The cure would seem to be to relocate the switches topside with the attendant monster gage cable runs or to go with "remote" battery switches.* I've only found one remote battery switch setup by Blue Seas ($$$).* Anyone have any experience doing the relocation?* I've not seen it - maybe I'm conjouring a low probability problem that doesn't* concern the experienced hands.* Any thoughts appreciated.
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Old 12-16-2011, 06:26 PM   #2
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

If you relocate the switches, unless you also relocate the batteries you will then have a long run of cable that can't be de-energized.* That's an increased risk in my estimation.*

Any chance to access the switch by some alternate method from the other side of the bulkhead perhaps?

*
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Old 12-16-2011, 06:55 PM   #3
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

Quote:
sbu22 wrote:
*I've not seen it - maybe I'm conjouring a low probability problem that doesn't* concern the experienced hands.* Any thoughts appreciated.
*No, I think you are right.* Electrical fires are a real concern and having your battery switch on the rear bulk head inside the engine room is not a good situation.**Mine*would be the same*setup except the manufacture placed*the battery switch*on the other side of that bulkhead in the aft cabin closet.* If possible, you should relocate your switch as well.

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Old 12-16-2011, 07:00 PM   #4
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

William, I have master switches in the engine room (not accessible without opening a floor hatch) while switches for individual batteries are directly above in the pilothouse.* Are you talking about the master switch?
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Old 12-16-2011, 07:08 PM   #5
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

I agree that it would be best to have the switches readily available outside the ER. My house bank switch is on the electrical panel (main cabin), but I'm in the process of moving my genset start battery and engine start battery switches into the main cabin, or at least to lockers accessed easily from the main cabin. The new positions were selected with the existing cable length in mind. I'm able to reposition them just outside the ER but using the existing cables.

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Old 12-17-2011, 03:55 AM   #6
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

Very few switches have the ability to pass the amperage of starting a LARGE diesel.

What might work for a car or tractor marinization may not work for a large diesel engine.

The only switches I have found that will do this are used in the coach (bifgbus) industry.

These are large and heavy but easy enough to hook a pull rod or cable to for an EMERGENCT DISCONECT.

The USCG requires a remote fuel shut off on any boat that is licensed to carry more than 6 victims.

This might be a great idea for cruisers , located outside the engine room it would stop boat theft as well as have a possible safety use.
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:48 AM   #7
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Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

I tend to agree with bobofthenorth...what are the typical sources of 12 V fire in the engine room??* My guess is a chaffed, loose or melted wire on the engine (usually no big deal) or the starter remains engaged and smokes the bendix.* For that, a short run to the starter with a simple on/off switch located next to the battery should be fine as long as it's not inaccessable.

In a perfect world.*all cable*runs would be short and have switches out of the engine room.* Unfortunately long runs to good switch placement increases the chances of fire BECAUSE they are long runs...

A perko heavy duty switch is good up to 1200 amps for starting



-- Edited by psneeld on Saturday 17th of December 2011 06:49:20 AM


-- Edited by psneeld on Saturday 17th of December 2011 06:55:23 AM
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Old 12-17-2011, 09:05 PM   #8
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

During 2009, all 12VDC and most 120VAC systems were rewired.* In running new primary 12VDC wiring, it was possible to position the start battery switch outside the engine room, but not the house bank switch.* The best compromise with ABYC E11 guidelines positioned the master switch for the house bank just under the shaft ally hatch.* While we don't need to get into the engine compartment to reach it, lifting the hatch is probably not the preferred action if there is an engine room fire.

That is one reason why I placed several hi-temp sensors in the engine room space connected to an alarm system, so that we can get early indication of any hot stuff.* Put another one behind the circuit breaker panel.

These sensors (Aqualarm #204 NO) will close on rising temperature at 135F, long before the two automatic extinguishers go off at 175F.

Also, in reviewing the specs on*a number of*different battery*switches, ended up going with Blue Seas Series 3000 switches.* There were the best of the bunch at the time of my review in 2008:* 2750 cranking amps, 600 continuous amps, and probably the best chance of actually breaking the circuit at those ratings.
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:45 PM   #9
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

I had the same concerns after reading of a starter engaging when the owners were on the dock. A fried starter caused smoke and fire damage and couldn't be easily disconnected with the switches in the ER.

My boat was set up with just one off-1 all-2 switch located in the galley which required a long cable run from the batteries near for fwd ER door. I also didn't like that the alternator charge ran via small wire to the starter cables, then through the switch and then to the batteries.

When I rewired last spring, I was able to locate separate switches for the house and start loads forward of the fwd ER door near the steps with much shorter cable run. With proper fusing on the house loads, it seems to me that the start circuit presents the greatest risk. If you can relocate that switch to outside the ER, you will have improved the safety of your boat. Just don't skimp on the switches or cable.
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Old 12-18-2011, 05:59 AM   #10
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

or the starter remains engaged and smokes the bendix.

It is NOT the Bendix most folks worry about , a starter motor is DC and any DC motor that is turned becomes a DC generator.

Starters are very highly geared ,, Idle would be large starter RPM, so very high voltage in the entire electrical system.

Most bulbs don't like 100v , although some of today's toys are fairly immune .

Folks with electric controls and injection would loose the most.

On cars , when you engage the starter ,the radio, and many other items are cut off , no just for the load.
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:41 AM   #11
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

Like FlyWright, I've got a simple O1A2 setup. What I'm envisioning is something along the lines of Mark's Coot setup (very nice, BTW). After reflection, I think the concept of extended cable runs probably does invite more potential problems than it solves. As usual, y'all have sent me to the "books" with a new perspective.

Jay - you must be up north. Down here on the Gulf in the summer, with 90-95 air temp and 80-85 water temp, I think I'd have 135F engine room temp alarms continuously while underway. Never measured, but I'm guessing ....

Appreciate the help with this.
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Old 12-18-2011, 11:30 AM   #12
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Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

Quote:
sbu22 wrote:
Jay - you must be up north. Down here on the Gulf in the summer, with 90-95 air temp and 80-85 water temp, I think I'd have 135F engine room temp alarms continuously while underway. Never measured, but I'm guessing ....
Yep, up north.

Max temps in PNW can be 90-95F air temp, but only 60-65F water temp.*

Normal summer temps are:* 70-80F air, and 55-60F water.

Normal winter temps are:* 35-45F air, 45-50F water.

Most I've seen in the engine compartment is 120F, usually around 110F for sustained runs.

Pick up a digital garden thermometer that will record max/min temps, it is a cheap tool for the engine compartment.


-- Edited by Jay N on Sunday 18th of December 2011 12:34:35 PM
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:58 PM   #13
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

We have 2 8D's for house and 2 Group 27's for start; the master (Perko) switch is located in a locker at the aft end of the saloon and directly above the battery banks, which is close to ideal I think. Easy to access for emergencies, but also easy to access when switching between the banks, which is part of the routine depending on whether the engine is being started, sitting at anchor, or charging the batteries.*

The only improvement I can think of for our application would be to have the master switch out in the open to provide instant verification of the *position of the switch.

Last summer a book was inadvertently placed on a horizontally mounted cigarette lighter which of course soon resulted in a fire. Because the master switch was easily accessed, the power was cut and the fire doused.*

A secondary learning, of course, is to not have horizontally mounted cigarette lighters.
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Old 12-18-2011, 02:01 PM   #14
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

We had an electrical fire on a fifth wheel several years ago now so I'm very familiar with how powerful DC voltage can be.* I like FF's suggestion of knife-type bus disconnects - in fact I have a couple of them on our bus.* I can easily see how they could be set up as a catastrophic disconnect directly connected to the battery bank with a simple remote cable de-activation.* I think I might do exactly that on Gray Hawk this winter.
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Old 12-18-2011, 02:16 PM   #15
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

Blue seas remote battery switch. I can shut off all DC sources from this panel:
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:19 PM   #16
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

Quote:
millennium wrote:
Blue seas remote battery switch. I can shut off all DC sources from this panel:
Don't bet your boat on it.* It was a remote battery switch failure that set my fifth wheel on fire.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:11 AM   #17
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

"Blue seas remote battery switch. I can shut off all DC sources from this panel:"

During normal operation, good luck when a shorted batt bank is pumping 2000 to 5000A to a short.

Only a class T fuse ir knife switch has a chance.
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Old 12-19-2011, 05:50 AM   #18
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

Quote:
bobofthenorth wrote:
If you relocate the switches, unless you also relocate the batteries you will then have a long run of cable that can't be de-energized.* That's an increased risk in my estimation.*

If it's the "house circuit", it should have a fuse or circuit breaker at the batteries so that's not a serious problem.

The engine starting circuit is not protected and I agree with you, this would be an increased risk.

Depending on the wiring layout of the boat, it might be possible to install an additional disconnect switch in the house wiring that's more accessible.

But - if the boat is wired properly and properly maintained, there should be little risk of an electrical fire that doesn't activate the existing overcurrent protection.
*
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:02 PM   #19
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Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

We are required by the insurance company to install fuses on the house and start batteries, instead of changing the location of the switches on the house and start batteries.
*
True story.
*

The first week we owned the Eagle I learned the hard way.* Being a newbie, I know nothing about diesels, so when changing the filters I got air in the lines.* The engine started died as so got out of the marina.* So I cranked, and crank and crank until the fuse blew.* No knowing the boat, I did no know where the fuse was.* The wind was blowing us south down the lake straight for the SEATTLE POLICE dock.* Yep, we floated straight up against their dock, just like it as planned with 4 police standing on the dock ready to greet us!* Any way they had their mechanic bleed the engine, find the blown fuse, and get us OFF THEIR DOCK!* That was the first of several encounters with the Seattle police.***

*

*

*


-- Edited by Phil Fill on Monday 19th of December 2011 04:08:44 PM
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:36 PM   #20
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RE: Battery Switch Location and Emergencies

Quote:
Phil Fill wrote:*The wind was blowing use south down the lack straight for the SEATTLE POLICE dock.**

*

It sounds like it took out the compass too.
*
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