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Old 03-20-2013, 06:23 PM   #1
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Multiple electrical panels

Just curious - but for wiring convenience, could you not send your primary DC electrical power feed to different points in the boat - like fore, aft, and fly bridge have multiple small panels instead of one large one?

Are there advantages to this?

I thought to put a panel on the fly bridge for electronics since 90% of my piloting is from there and run the power up there rather than wiring to the main panel in the pilot house. Am I crazy to want to do is? Why shouldn't I?
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Old 03-20-2013, 07:12 PM   #2
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Breakers protect wiring. While you CAN have many subpanels, you will still need a main panel to feed the subs. I'm not sure what the advantage would be. Local power switches? Sea Rays have dashboards full of switches, however, all of those wires are fed from the main panel.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:37 PM   #3
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Hatteras used(s) several sub-panels closer to the circuits, fed off the main panel. I have three main sub-panels on my boat for AC and two for DC. In turn there are some fuse panels closer to the items themselves, depending on equipment manufacturer's specs. It sounds like you are talking about DC. Without seeing your boat, it is hard to say whether this is a useful approach for you or not. Many equipment manufacturer's specify an in line fuse somewhere before the equipment, so it can be convenient that if you have a cluster of equipment in one remote spot, to have all their in-line fuses on one panel nearby, rather than a variety of spliced-in fuse holders scattered willy-nilly on wiring runs.
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Old 03-20-2013, 11:25 PM   #4
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I'd say one panel is more convenient. No need to run around the boat to turn on the circuits. Best to have it in the pilothouse where it is readily accessible and protected from the exterior world.

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Old 03-20-2013, 11:30 PM   #5
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I don't trust todays CBs so I am rewiring my boat to feed 7 fuse panels throughot the boat. Forward cabin, galley/fwd head, main steering station, flybridge steering station, main salon, aft cabin, engine room.

Each CB panel will be fed from a CB on the main panel. I think overall it will simplify wiring and most of all trouble shooting when something is wrong.

It never made sense to me to run lighting circuits all the way through a boat back to a main CB panel when each circuit and each fixture had it's own ON/Off switch.
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Old 03-20-2013, 11:53 PM   #6
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It never made sense to me to run lighting circuits all the way through a boat back to a main CB panel when each circuit and each fixture had it's own ON/Off switch.
All electrical power sources on my boat come from a central location: the engine compartment, where alternator, batteries, and inverter are located. Since the power source comes from one location, having a central electrical panel is logical and doesn't increase the length of any circuit significantly.

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Old 03-21-2013, 12:10 AM   #7
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I've used the sub panel concept and will continue to do so.

The main advantage is that you have shorter, easier to install wire runs.

Pulling wire for a new gadget from my helm to my DC distribution panel is a real PITA. So I have two sub panels for my electronics. Port and Starboard.

That way I do not have a single point of failure that could in this example take down my nav-com system.
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Old 03-21-2013, 12:27 AM   #8
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I'd say one panel is more convenient. No need to run around the boat to turn on the circuits. Best to have it in the pilothouse where it is readily accessible and protected from the exterior world.

I happen to agree with you Mark and love your panel! I like mine too but it's not as pretty as yours.
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Old 03-21-2013, 12:39 AM   #9
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Walt, we do have some nice woodwork!
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:13 AM   #10
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All electrical power sources on my boat come from a central location: the engine compartment, where alternator, batteries, and inverter are located. Since the power source comes from one location, having a central electrical panel is logical and doesn't increase the length of any circuit significantly.

Where is your CB panel located? If it is not right next to every fixture on your boat, many circuits possibly are lengthened quite a bit over what they need to be.

Now granted I have no idea how Coot is wired...but if like many boats...every circuit in the boat usually comes to a jucntion block usually some place behind the CB panel or near it.

True I'll be doing the same concept with the major runs, But I'd rather feed just one duplex wire through my engine rooon and aft head to get to the aft stateroom fuse panel rather than to 20 plus wre bundle that's there now (and usually in many boats)

With the fuse panel in the aft stateroom (and other sub panel locations)...if something goes wrong with a light or other 12v issue...I just have to check there and not trace all the way back through to the main CB panel.
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:25 AM   #11
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Admittedly I have a relatively large and complex boat, so my experience is not entirely relevant to others here. One other thing Hatteras did in addition to the sub panels, is they installed a variety of covered junction boxes through out the boat for various circuits, so adding a new item to that circuit doesn't require long home runs back to the respective circuit breaker panel. It also helps immensely that they provide very detailed schematics and number all the cables.
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Old 03-21-2013, 07:34 AM   #12
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Admittedly I have a relatively large and complex boat, so my experience is not entirely relevant to others here. One other thing Hatteras did in addition to the sub panels, is they installed a variety of covered junction boxes through out the boat for various circuits, so adding a new item to that circuit doesn't require long home runs back to the respective circuit breaker panel. It also helps immensely that they provide very detailed schematics and number all the cables.
True...on all...usually all luxuries many of us who are 2nd or more owners of these 50 and under 80's vintage boats don't have.

I would kill for a decent wiring diagram and I don't mean one of those wimpy quick schetch schematics. It would be nice to know where the wire actually is in the boat. Many runs of wire bundles wound up between the cabin sole and engine room overhead and along the hull.

With limited access into that dead space and lots of tanks/equipment in the way....I see myself (even when I do replace the fuel tanks...just snipping and pulling it all out. I'll just run one main DC and one main AC lines all the way up and down the backbone and branch off from there.
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:54 AM   #13
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Just curious - but for wiring convenience, could you not send your primary DC electrical power feed to different points in the boat - like fore, aft, and fly bridge have multiple small panels instead of one large one?

Are there advantages to this?

I thought to put a panel on the fly bridge for electronics since 90% of my piloting is from there and run the power up there rather than wiring to the main panel in the pilot house. Am I crazy to want to do is? Why shouldn't I?
If done correctly, there's no reason you can't have sub panels at different locations on the boat. Just make sure you have a "main" panel that contains breakers for each sub panel. Good practice would be to have a main breaker controlling all DC power as well. If you wish, you can substitute the word "fuse" for "breaker" in the above statement. Either one is acceptable.

On my boat, there is a main DC panel protecting all the circuits, but one of the breakers controls power to a fuse block behind the helm that contains fuses for the electronics and a couple other circuits. It was built that way.
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:12 AM   #14
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Admittedly I have a relatively large and complex boat.
I've talked to a Hatteras owner about his 32v system and all the unique parts that go with it. You ain't lyin'. My situation much simpler in my little MT. Mostly envisioning a sub panel for fly bridge nav, radio, and music stuff so as to have less wiring down the access chute.
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Old 03-21-2013, 11:27 AM   #15
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I've talked to a Hatteras owner about his 32v system and all the unique parts that go with it. You ain't lyin'. My situation much simpler in my little MT. Mostly envisioning a sub panel for fly bridge nav, radio, and music stuff so as to have less wiring down the access chute.
I'm putting a 12 position fuse block in my overhead at the lower station and one up in the flybridge to do just what you are suggesting..and maybe a little more.

Just don't underestimate your future needs so go heavy early...
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Old 03-21-2013, 08:53 PM   #16
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The sub panel system is similar to the BEP Czone, Capi2 and other systems, where a large power cable feeds sub panels. The benefits are less installation time, easier trouble shooting, less cable weight, less complicated...
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