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Old 03-12-2007, 08:31   #1
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AC / DC distribution panels

I am rewiring my boat and am considering an AC/DC distribution panel from Blue Sea AC Main + 6 Positions/DC Main + 15 Positions - PN 8084 - Blue Sea Systems . Is there an inherent safety / reliability issue to using a combination panel? Should I consider using seperate panels?

I am looking to redo all the electrical; however, I have not as yet figured out how to design a two battery, inverter / charger, battery distribution (Dual-Battery M-Series, Dual Circuit Plus - PN 8686 - Blue Sea Systems), AC / DC panel set up. My specific problem is that since I do not yet know much about electrical systems, I do not want to overlook some component, gauge, meter that once I do know about electrical system design, I would end up adding later.

I am thinking
3 batteries
Inverter / charger
AC / DC panel
Battery distribution circuit



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Old 03-12-2007, 08:45   #2
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AC/DC distribution panels are quite common and are actually 2 panels in one anyway.

When rewiring, be sure to use the proper color codes. I'm sure someone here can help you with a color code chart. Also, be sure to use "tinned" marine wire.

There is a lot of contreversy about soldering connections. I don't recommend it but I'm sure that will get flack. Soldered connections seem to suffer from electrolosys in my experience.

I used solderless wire connectors with built in shrink wrap. Never had a failure with one.

If you haven't already selected an inverter, don't waste your $ on anything under 2500W. You will later regret it, I can assure you. Also, get an inverter/charger if you go to marinas at all. If you don't, don't waste $ on the charger. I had a Heart 2500 w/o charger. It was great. I ran it 24/7 and it was like we had "Shore power" at all times.

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Old 03-12-2007, 08:49   #3
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The fella's here helped me design the electrical system for our boat. You can scan through the thread here...

There's a slightly older revision of the electrical drawing here....

I rewired our 25' express cruiser last year using the existing combined electrical panel. I didn't have any problems with it and no concerns about mixing AC & DC in one panel. I'm not familiar with that other panel you listed.
Yours Aye! Rick
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Old 03-12-2007, 09:00   #4
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I have built my own panels out of ABS plastic. There is no sense in being restricted to someone else's pre-built designs. I found that by designing my own panel that it was exactly what I wanted and I was able to get more into the same space.

At the very least you will want to measure:
For AC, shipboard voltage, shipboard amps, shorepower amps and volts.

For DC, start battery voltage, house voltage, house current and if you wish, I measure alternator output in amps. Your inverter/charger should have on its panel, DC voltage and amps and also AC voltage and amps.

There are other things you could measure but I think those are the very basics. That should give you a pretty good picture of what is going on with your electrical system.

A reverse polarity indicator for your AC is nice. You could also put LED's on your breaker panel as a reminder that something is on that draws a lot of current such as pumps, heaters and fans. I have yellow LED's for those things.

I prefer heat shrink crimp terminals. I have never had one fail or get hot. I also coat all my bare connectors with Tef-Gel. Tef-Gel does not affect plastic insulation. The Tef-Get stops any oxidation. The Coast Guard does not allow soldered terminals or soldered wire splices on inspected vessels because in theory it could melt, plus I think it is more or less a waste of time. Silicon grease also works but it does not hold up as long. Never use anything but silicon grease around rubber. Petroleum based greases will swell rubber. As already mentioned, use tinned wire, like Ancor wire. Use the marine grade heat shrink. I know that sounds stupid, but supposedly it is more resilient to water penetration in a high vibration environment.

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Old 03-12-2007, 09:03   #5
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A Combination AC/DC Panelboard MUST have a “dead front" AC section, so that there is no access to the “live” AC without tools.

The two sections must be separated by a barrier, and be appropriately labeled (120VAC or 12VDC).

I’m fairly certain that the Blue Sea Combination panel will be so constructed, as would similar panels from Paneltronics*.
* 3400 series, page 4 at: Paneltronics - Electrical power distribution panels and control systems

Solder-only terminations are not permitted, except on Battery Cables.
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Old 03-12-2007, 09:48   #6
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I found BASS Products, LLC | Electrical Control Panels and Accessories for the Marine and Specialty Vehicle Industries to very heplful on the phone and they have good diagrams of all thier panels on the web site. And you can design your panel and breaker choices as you like. Also if you have a good line of BS and or a tax ID they will sell wholesale to you
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Old 03-12-2007, 22:47   #7
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Appreciate the responses. I read that thread and looked at the diagram -- Whoa! Ok, I can see like all things great and small, it is one step at a time. At least I can buy just one distribution panel. At least something in there will look shiny new!

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