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Old 14-09-2014, 22:20   #1
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Electrical panel placement

I'm new to sailing, but not electronics. I'm in the position of needing to mostly rewire my boat. It seems really common to have the electrical/switch panel under the companionway. I understand the proximity the the cockpit and batteries. what I don't get is the fact that this seems to be the most likely place for water to unintentionally hit these electronics. Am I off base here? Is there a waterproofing technique I'm missing?


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Old 14-09-2014, 23:29   #2
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Re: Electrical panel placement

No Sir, your observations are spot on. At least regarding the companionway thing. I don't know your boat's layout, which makes it tough to tell you where, specifically, to put it. However, a real popular spot's anywhere that the Navigator can reach from his/her perch while working out a fix, or perusing a cruising guide.

The caveat to panels & H2O resistance, which sadly you rarely see, is to either build a small raised (wooden) frame around it, & install a thin piece of acrylic on hinges to semi-seal into the frame. Possibly even adding a barrel bolt or two to hold it shut in rough weather.

Or, screw in a length of boltrope track above the panel & Velcro around it's sides. Then have a canvas worker or sailmaker make you a piece of plastic as is found in dodger windows, with canvas around all 4 sides. And have'em add a bolt rope up top, plus Velcro (the other half) around the sides.

That way, you've got a layer of splash protection over things. And it's easy enough to remove or roll/hinge up said protection out of the way when you truly don't need it.
Come to think of it, there are snap apart hinges that'd do nicely for that.

And as to some true wisdom on the matter (wiring, electronics, & such), peruse Nigel Calder's book(s) on the matter.
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Old 15-09-2014, 04:34   #3
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Re: Electrical panel placement

Drowned a panel once after a knockdown. Over the next 2 days all the switches failed. We wrapped fuse around the switch terminals to hard wire them on and just removed the fuses to switch circuts on and off. Made me wonder why we bother with individual switches for every circuit. I'm going to just use blade fuses for most of my circuts and split them into a couple of sub panels that are switched to simplify and help splashproof the panels.
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Old 15-09-2014, 05:24   #4
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Re: Electrical panel placement

Quote:
Originally Posted by racerrob2002 View Post
I'm new to sailing, but not electronics. I'm in the position of needing to mostly rewire my boat. It seems really common to have the electrical/switch panel under the companionway. I understand the proximity the the cockpit and batteries. what I don't get is the fact that this seems to be the most likely place for water to unintentionally hit these electronics. Am I off base here? Is there a waterproofing technique I'm missing?


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I have a poor opinion of most "marine" grade switches although I accept there are some good ones.

However, when I rewired the boat and built my own switch panel, I chose Eaton toggle switches, series 85xx which are MIL-S-3950 rated. These are very robust and the environmental sealing is second to none, IMO.

Here is one source Eaton / Military Grade Switches - 8500K2 - Switches - Toggle - Allied Electronics
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Old 15-09-2014, 22:16   #5
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Re: Electrical panel placement

Yeah, there is a lot of garbage out there with "marine" labels. I bought a "marine" USB outlet for my motorcycle to charge gps, phone, camera, etc. It was junk after the first ride. Never got wet, but the vibration killed it....


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Old 15-09-2014, 22:21   #6
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Re: Electrical panel placement

For my A/C power, I'm just going to use a small electrical panel with on master breaker and one small breaker for now (4 lights and 4 outlets). I'll get a box big enough to expand if I ever add electric over or air conditioning or something. I plan to mount it way up towards a corner with the thought being I don't need ready access to it. The DC has me with a lot more "what ifs". It seems that the DC panel needs to be much more accessible.


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Old 16-09-2014, 21:24   #7
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Re: Electrical panel placement

I can't say as to I've tried it much on electronics, but with dunked electrical items, I do the following to bring'em back to life.
First, a good rinsing with fresh water. I suppose distilled would be the best if you've got it.
Then I wash out everything with rubbing alcohol, to flush out the water. A pint or two at least, depends on the size (and value) of the item.
After which I set it somewhere, like say on some newspaper on top of an angled board/resting at an angle(s) where it'll drain best... with a fan, or space heater set on low, pointed at it.

In theory, at least, the alcohol will flush out the fresh water. Which itself, has gotten rid of the salt. And it being "clean" alcohol, when it evaporates there's not much residue. As denoted when you use it on your skin.

'course some folks swear by baking dunked items, or putting them in bags/bowls of rice. Just other ways of getting out the moisture I suppose. And one, or all of these might even work on some electrical panels in a pinch. Assuming that your wiring's properly labeled, & won't get to arcing & sparking off of itself if you have it hanging loose, sans panel.
Disconnect main power at the battery temporarily perhaps, while the panel's undergoing Frankensteinish experiments to revive it.

Thoughts?
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Old 16-09-2014, 22:39   #8
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Re: Electrical panel placement

I'm new to boats, but not electronics. As a phone man I've worked in the worst conditions and gotten very valuable equipment soaked. The most important thing when trying to salvage some wet equipment is to kill the power first. Not just safety, but to slow the corrosion inside the equipment. Then there are a million other things, warming it, drying with rice or desiccant (we had tons of desiccant at the phone company). Personally, with small electronics like cell phone or hand held radios, I use the bag of rice trick after I pull the battery (or at least turn off the iPhone). Salt water adds a new aspect to these theory, but I still think número uno is to kill the power...


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