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Old 21-03-2019, 14:07   #1
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DIN rail stuff

I've worked with it plenty in industry, though never from a design perspective (chemical, not electrical engineer), only troubleshooting. The environment is generally reasonably dry, and I couldn't rate the repair rate as more of less. I find it compact, sometimes to the point of hard to work on, but not worse that some of the tangled messes you can create with standard terminal blocks. I'm sure it is faster to build in the factory.



My question is durability on boats. We're seeing more and more. Benteau and Lagoon, at least, and certainly more. I would rather say I do not have an opinion and just open the discussion.
  • Corrosion resistance. Are some more "marine grade" than others? In know we've learned to spec aluminum rail in many areas. How wet an area? There is no way it can match a tin/copper bar and sealed heat shrinks.
  • Ease of repair. Certainly labeling and documentation are easier.
  • Ease of expansion. Some of the bus bar creations seem a little goofy and maybe flimsy.
  • Other?
And any good design guides for the advanced DIY?
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Old 21-03-2019, 14:46   #2
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Re: DIN rail stuff

DIN rail circuit breakers are a good alternative to the more standard marine panels. The main advantage is ease of replacement. Switching DC is not easy so circuit breaker failure is reasonably common. DIN rail circuit breakers are made by many companies in compatible sizes so replacements will always be available.

The main drawback is they can look a little “industrial”, but KM did a great job of constructing our main electrical panel.
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Old 21-03-2019, 15:18   #3
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Re: DIN rail stuff

I have some Din rail stuff on the Outremer (2003) they are corrosion free . I like it for ease of use
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Old 21-03-2019, 21:40   #4
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Re: DIN rail stuff

Noelex:


On most boats, breakers are used as switches, or at least many are. For example, that is typically the only way to turn on running lights or the anchor light. That's not really what breakers are for, but that is what is commonly done.



While a DIN rail mount is neat, in industry they are always in cabinets, to keep untrained fingers out, and the switches are elsewhere. Is that the case for you?
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Old 21-03-2019, 22:12   #5
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Re: DIN rail stuff

I’ll start by saying that we have mostly DIN mount components in our panel. Not as big but similar to Noelex’s photo. We have a dead front that allows us to switch the devices without opening a door (many/most of these types of devices have shoulders to allow that).

A couple of caveats - using US definitions which are a little different than much of the world.
  1. Breaker vs. Supplementary Circuit Protector - most of what you will find in this category are UL 1077 supplementary circuit protectors (SP) rather than UL 489 circuit breakers (there is a similar distinction in EU/IEC standards). SPs are not designed or tested to clear a dead short, they rely on a fuse or circuit breaker upstream to serve that purpose. SPs may be damaged in a dead short occurrence if not protected. This may or may not matter on a boat system depending on battery bank capacity and chemistry. Check the SP’s interrupting rating and compare that with your available fault current from the battery to decide if you need a current limiting device at the head of the system (you probably have one anyway in a fuse at the battery terminal).
  2. Switching Duty - SPs labeled ‘SWD’ are rated for switching duty and are a better match for regular on/off operation.
  3. DC Rated - make sure the SPs are DC rated at an appropriate voltage. Many, but certainly not all are dual-rated AC and DC.

There’s a whole host of design considerations, but those are the three big ‘gotchas’ that seem to come up over and over again in industrial designs and backup power installations.
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Old 22-03-2019, 01:29   #6
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Re: DIN rail stuff

Quote:
Originally Posted by thinwater View Post
Noelex:


On most boats, breakers are used as switches, or at least many are. For example, that is typically the only way to turn on running lights or the anchor light. That's not really what breakers are for, but that is what is commonly done.



While a DIN rail mount is neat, in industry they are always in cabinets, to keep untrained fingers out, and the switches are elsewhere. Is that the case for you?
Switching DC is difficult. In simple terms, a small spark is created when the circuit is broken. This erodes the contact surfaces of the device (circuit breaker or switch) that is responsible for breaking the circuit. Switching AC (alternating current) is actually much easier, as the spark is naturally extinguished when the voltage passes through zero.

The low voltage of marine systems helps reduce the spark size, but also means any slight deterioration of the contact surfaces caused by the arching will result in more resistance causing a higher percentage voltage drop. This is one of the common reasons why pleasure boat marine electronics tends to produce so many problems. At 12v all contacts have to be close to perfect.

Switches are much cheaper than circuit breakers. The common pleasure boat marine solution especially in recent years is to use a small number of circuit breakers and a large number of switches. The switch and associated wiring introduces additional failure points and reduces redundancy (because a single circuit breaker failure or fault that trips the circuit breaker will take out multiple systems). Even worse, some of these switch panels use proprietary breakers that are very hard to replace, even assuming you can still find the identical breaker in future years.

If you have one of these systems you need to be careful about switching devices off and on under load using the circuit breakers, although it not always possible to avoid this. Using a switch means the contact surface damage is transferred to the switch itself, but at least switches are (usually) more easily replaced and you are likely to be able to find a similar replacement when the time comes.

The Blue Seas switch panels are better. It is fiddly, but the circuit breakers can be unscrewed and replaced. Their popularity helps ensure replacement parts will be available in the future.

The DIN rail circuit breakers are better again. They are very easy and quick to replace (it only takes a couple of minutes). Replacements will always be available as identical products are made by multiple manufacturers. So I have no concerns about using them as a switch. This simplifies the circuit and reduces the number of failure points, especially when the associated interconnecting wires and contacts between the circuit breaker and switch are taken into account. The industrial circuit breakers are ruggedly constructed with large contact surfaces (this does make them physically large, which is a drawback given the limited space allocated for most switch panels). They should endure switching under load better than marine switches. The extra cost of multiple circuit breakers is not insignificant, but reliable electronics is tough to achieve in the marine environment, so I feel the extra cost is justified.
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Old 22-03-2019, 02:10   #7
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Re: DIN rail stuff

On many marine electrical installations it is helpful to have some additional circuit switching boxes or sub panels. This is often the best way for wiring things such as solar panels and bilge pumps. These devices need circuit protection, but only occasional switching so it is sensible to locate the protection and switching at a spot that minimises the length of wiring run rather than leading everything back to main switch panel.

DIN rail circuit breakers are ideal for this application. There are a number of plastic boxes (some that are waterproof or at least splash/drip sealed) available in different sizes that makes wiring and fitting these circuit breakers much easier than the marine equivalent. The plastic boxes are not the most attractive solution so are not ideal for mounting on display in the yacht interior, but these sub panels are normally tucked away.

These are the sub panels for my solar panels (one side is the 60v input the other is 24v output), as an example. These are mounted on the wall of the workshop/technical room. The industrial look is not out of place in this location and the exposed wiring makes checking contacts and troubleshooting much easier than tucking everything out of sight as well as providing plenty of ventilation for the solar controllers.
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Old 22-03-2019, 04:23   #8
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Re: DIN rail stuff

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
DIN rail circuit breakers are a good alternative to the more standard marine panels. The main advantage is ease of replacement. Switching DC is not easy so circuit breaker failure is reasonably common. DIN rail circuit breakers are made by many companies in compatible sizes so replacements will always be available.

The main drawback is they can look a little “industrial”, but KM did a great job of constructing our main electrical panel.

Does yours use ferrules or does it rely on the stranded wire in a compression screw? I haven't seen ferrules used too often (are they using a type that doesn't have an insulator extending out the breaker?) and wonder if with the thin stranded wire used on boats, ring terminals on a breaker wouldn't be better.

What do aircraft use?

I really wanted to copy your DIN panel, but I already had a few Bluesea panels laying around and couldn't justify the additional cost. But man, they sure do look nice!

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Old 22-03-2019, 05:27   #9
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Re: DIN rail stuff

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Does yours use ferrules or does it rely on the stranded wire in a compression screw?
Mostly ferrules.One of the nice things about the DIN rail circuit breakers is that they will accept a large wire or ferule size. Even the smallest DIN rail micro circuit breakers will generally accept 25 mm squared (AWG 3 ) wire (or the equivalent sized ferrule) as standard. They also sometimes have a second terminal so a second wire or bus bar can be attached.

There are also insulated copper bus bars available with the correct spacing so they can just be cut to length and used to feed many breakers from single input wire.

The larger size, while in many ways a drawback, does help keep the wiring well spaced. This makes installation and troubleshooting easier. This is especially true with a double pole installation.

Feeding large gauge positive and negative wires to small marine circuit breakers can become very cramped and tight. There is a temptation to use smaller gauge wire than would be ideal just so everything fits. The physically larger DIN rail breakers are much easier, providing you have the room available to install the larger circuit breakers in the first place.
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Old 22-03-2019, 13:13   #10
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Re: DIN rail stuff

Quote:
Originally Posted by funjohnson View Post
Does yours use ferrules or does it rely on the stranded wire in a compression screw? I haven't seen ferrules used too often (are they using a type that doesn't have an insulator extending out the breaker?) and wonder if with the thin stranded wire used on boats, ring terminals on a breaker wouldn't be better.

What do aircraft use?

I really wanted to copy your DIN panel, but I already had a few Bluesea panels laying around and couldn't justify the additional cost. But man, they sure do look nice!

Matt
Aircraft mostly use crimp connectors. Attached pic is the back of a AW139 helicopter circuit breaker panel i've been working on recently, showing bus bars etc.Click image for larger version

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