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Old 10-12-2018, 21:20   #1
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One panel to control them all? Or two?

I'm working to replace a lot of things on my new boat. One thing on that list is the power panel.

Currently, the boat has two separate panels, one DC with 16 breakers and one AC with 4 breakers. The DC panel has a battery select switch and the AC panel has a master power switch. The DC side has an analog battery test meter.

As far as I know the panels are original to the boat: 1978.

I'd also like to add some additional circuits for new equipment. So, I've found a few new panels that fit the bill.

But the question is whether it's better to have both DC and AC on the same panel or to keep them separate? Also, what is the consensus on integrated meters?

Some panels have battery testers as well as load indicators.



Others do not:



My concern is: if the meter(s) is(are) built in what happens when they fail? Would it just be better to have separate meters that you can swap out easily in the future?
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Old 10-12-2018, 22:10   #2
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

All I can say is that if I had AC and DC on the same panel, even knowing the danger and paying attention to what I am doing, I would be dead by now, several times over. A split second of inattention and ZAP.

Pretty certain I read standards require separate panels. DC panel can be made easy to open, AC panel must require tools to access.

Can't remember where I read it. Possibly one of N. Calder's books?
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Old 10-12-2018, 22:15   #3
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Two panels.
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Old 10-12-2018, 22:30   #4
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

ABYC .... If both AC & DC are on the same panel, the AC (backside) must require tools to open.

Much safer to have separate panels. but don't forget the AC ground and DC negative must be bonded.
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Old 10-12-2018, 23:29   #5
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Re the meters: the ammeter may be good enough for most usage, but analogue voltmeters lack the resolution needed for good battery husbandry. Hence, I'd go for separate panel meters and they should be digital and for the voltmeter resolve at least .01 volts.

And with no expertise on my part, i'd say separate panels must be inherently safer, especially if the DC panel is easier to get at than the AC one!

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Old 11-12-2018, 05:03   #6
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

I’m with Jim. Separate meters. I have analog ammeters for each of the charging sources and a digital BMS for voltage and battery state.
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Old 11-12-2018, 05:19   #7
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
ABYC .... If both AC & DC are on the same panel, the AC (backside) must require tools to open.

Much safer to have separate panels. but don't forget the AC ground and DC negative must be bonded.

Wallace:
Is this rule unchanged since 2008?

ABYC 11.9.1.1 (2008)
Boats equipped with AC and DC systems may have their distribution panel boards, separate or combined, and constructed such that access to the DC system does not allow access to energized AC parts without further use of tools.
From ➥ http://www.blackfinforums.com/sites/.../abyc-e-11.pdf
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Old 11-12-2018, 05:53   #8
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Wallace:
Is this rule unchanged since 2008?

ABYC 11.9.1.1 (2008)
Boats equipped with AC and DC systems may have their distribution panel boards, separate or combined, and constructed such that access to the DC system does not allow access to energized AC parts without further use of tools.
From ➥ http://www.blackfinforums.com/sites/.../abyc-e-11.pdf
Gord, that is still valid. Perhaps my paraphrasing was inadequate.
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Old 11-12-2018, 08:31   #9
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Looks like two panels wins.
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Old 11-12-2018, 10:04   #10
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Not a reco but, just to provide a counter example,

There are RV "converters" (read: chargers) that have both AC and DC panels / CP built in.

Limited quantities of course, but I'm sure the quality makers have the "don't kill customers" bit solved.

Thinking Progressive Dynamics or PowerMax? Maybe Iota?
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Old 11-12-2018, 10:13   #11
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

The meters will be off the shelf product, maybe private labeled by meter manufacture if the panel company does enough volume/pays the upgrade price, but rest assured the panel manufacturer is not in the meter manufacture business. If they fail look to reputable generic manufacturer for matching replacement.
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Old 11-12-2018, 10:15   #12
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Not a reco but, just to provide a counter example,

There are RV "converters" (read: chargers) that have both AC and DC panels / CP built in.

Limited quantities of course, but I'm sure the quality makers have the "don't kill customers" bit solved.

Thinking Progressive Dynamics or PowerMax? Maybe Iota?
I think so to modern breakers or RCD units are designed to break the circuit faster than the electricity can zap you , but ofc if you have not upgraded your boat you might get ZAPPED
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Old 11-12-2018, 11:02   #13
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

I believe the idea of the rule for separate panels is that they are not side by side on the same access door. The separate panel idea is so you do not have access to the backside of the other panel when you open one.
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Old 11-12-2018, 11:07   #14
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Not a reco but, just to provide a counter example,

There are RV "converters" (read: chargers) that have both AC and DC panels / CP built in.

Limited quantities of course, but I'm sure the quality makers have the "don't kill customers" bit solved.

Thinking Progressive Dynamics or PowerMax? Maybe Iota?
Don't know a thing about RV chargers AC/DC isolation,grounding and bonding but since they are not in a tub floating in water, they may not meet UL requirements for marine chargers which is the spec ABYC and NFPA require.
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Old 11-12-2018, 11:17   #15
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Re: One panel to control them all? Or two?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
Much safer to have separate panels. but don't forget the AC ground and DC negative must be bonded.
Even if there's no shore power ie the ground wire goes nowhere?
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