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Old 13-09-2011, 18:04   #1
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Difference Between Residential and Marine AC Circuit Panels ?

i have an alberg 30. I am redoing my ac circuit breaker panel since the old one is plastic and the breaker switches cracked out of it and its single pole. Sure i can zippi tie/tape it back together(again) but im looking for somthing nicer/safer. I was thinking about a normal small residential ac circuit panel. I havent even looked at marine panels as i have been googling about alternating current all day and how it works( im a newbi to it). Would the steel box be an issue on a boat?? Are the store sold marine circuit breaker boxes all some type of non conductive material? Thanks ahead for any advice
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Old 13-09-2011, 18:40   #2
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Re: Difference between residential and marine a/c circuit panel?

The metal box would not be a issue. The only way to get electricity to the box would be for the line to fall off the buss and touch the box. Where there is a problem is in the breakers themselves. Residential breakers are designed to be turned on and left on. Normally marine breakers are used as on and off switches and the residential breakers could fail fairly quickly when used as switches.
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Old 13-09-2011, 19:00   #3
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Re: Difference between residential and marine a/c circuit panel?

Albergsailor, The Alberg 30 has what? 3-5 AC circuts? Look at a Blue seas or Paneltronics stock panel. Do not complicate a simple system.
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Old 13-09-2011, 20:40   #4
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Re: Difference between residential and marine a/c circuit panel?

Circuit breakers are approved for particular load centers by qualifying agencies (such as UL) for particular load and environmental conditions. The same is for electrical load centers.

so what does that mean? Will a breaker for one manufacturer work in another's panel/load center? Probably if it fits mechanically. Many times breakers look the same but are physically different enough to not fit other unqualified panels/load centers.

If you use a residential load center on a boat, it is most likely UNQUALIFIED for that application. You are on your own! If an accident occurs...fire?? that load center's manufacturer is going to avoid any responsibility because the use/application was for an unqualified purpose.

Vyndance is correct where he states circuit breakers need switch ratings if they are intended for switch usage.

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Old 14-09-2011, 08:46   #5
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It is rare to use AC breakers on a boat for switching purposes. DC yes ( though it's a poor usage).

Certainly in Europe using conventional domestic breakers is not uncommon. Particulary on Dutch boats.

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Old 14-09-2011, 19:52   #6
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Re: Difference Between Residential and Marine AC Circuit Panels ?

I have a QO square d panel with 8 breakers.
factory install, but the boat is from 1970!
I recently went thru the whole system and repainted the metal box breaker box. Everything was in good shape. Their is an issue and that is the wire clamping, the wires when multistrand need to have the strands secured by a clamp action which does not cut the wires, my box is fine in that regard.

I suppose you could put a crimp on the wire end and secure that in a box using a screw clamp that simply bears down on the wire. Sometimes I have soldered the wire ends. I soldered all the wire ends for the outlets, then wrapped them round the screw heads. I used 12 gauge multistrand wire same as an extension cord. I have not noticed any wire troubles and few of my wires are marine tinned.

Much of the wire I recently changed was solid romex and that was in good shape regardless of what people will say, it was in good shape in a 40 year old installation.

Maybe your FG boats shake, sputter, vibrate but mine does not seem to vibrate or work harden 40 year old romex anywhere.
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Old 14-09-2011, 20:26   #7
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I've been wondering the same thing.
My boat has a household type breaker box inline with the 30amp receptical. There's two 15 amp breakers (this is inside the cockpit locker, fairly dry) each breaker feeds a single household gfi outlet inside the boat. The entire thing is wired with romex, and atleast 20 years old.

The thing is. I haven't tried to use it. The wire connecting the shirepower receptacle to the breaker box is spliced and not done very well. For that reason (alone?) it has failed two surveys in the last 10 years. Both surveys say to remove it or not use it, but they only quote 'residential wiring' and the poor splice (which I could easily fix).

So now what? If it all appears uncorroded, and the breakers work, and I fix the splice... Shouldn't it work just fine?
Surely it worked when or was installed?
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Old 21-09-2011, 13:13   #8
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Re: Difference Between Residential and Marine AC Circuit Panels ?

i have read that electrical components made for a marine environment are designed for a humid/salty atmosphere and as such will be more reliable and last considerably longer on the water than products designed for domestic use.

i will be rewiring my boat soon and intend to go with products designed for marine use for this reason. more expensive in the short run but a lot cheaper in the long run.

the last thing i want to worry about in 5 years time, while anchored somewhere beautiful and remote, is a faulty electrical connection caused by a corroded domestic electrical component!
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Old 21-09-2011, 13:56   #9
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Re: Difference Between Residential and Marine AC Circuit Panels ?

I rewired my boat with stock HD stuff and had an electrician do a lot of the work. The marine stuff is wildly more expensive.
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