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Old 25-04-2020, 14:42   #1
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Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

Hey all,

I am looking at either building a new breaker panel or having Blue Seas make one up for me. I'm going to be relocating the panel to a new location(from under companion way to nav station) and as such I'm curious how everyone has organized their breakers.

Photos do justice if you've got them
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Old 25-04-2020, 15:17   #2
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

I haven't had the opportunity to organize a panel, having had to deal with other peoples' choices in that matter. IMO unless you do a horrible job it won't matter too much. Pretty quickly you memorize the position of everything you use with any regularity, which seems to be pretty much everything anyway if you are out cruising.
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Old 25-04-2020, 16:17   #3
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

Thanks! That's kinda what I had thought. I figured I'd see how people organized it since I have the opportunity to organize it.

My big thing was do I break out nav lights? What about breaking out interior lights like aft cabin/saloon/vbirth? Do I break out instruments for nav station and helm?
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I haven't had the opportunity to organize a panel, having had to deal with other peoples' choices in that matter. IMO unless you do a horrible job it won't matter too much. Pretty quickly you memorize the position of everything you use with any regularity, which seems to be pretty much everything anyway if you are out cruising.
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Old 25-04-2020, 16:44   #4
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

Group all of your nav lights together. Group your sailing instruments and autopilot together. Put green indicator lights on anything that is normally on when underway. Put red indicators on anything that is abnormal to have on such as: bilge pumps, fresh water pumps, emergency strobe. wire the pump lights so they are only on when the pump is actually running. I also put an audible alarm on the bilge pump so I am aware if it is cycling. Anything that is always on should not have an indicator light. This way you can tell at a glance if something is unusual and you can also tell if you have turned everything off that you should before leaving the boat.

If your new panel is in a place where it could be bumped put guards on all the circuit breakers. Blue Seas makes neat little switch guards with a flip open cover. I remove the covers from frequently used circuit breakers and leave the covers on anything that in always on. The base part of these guards prevent unintentional switch operation. My panel is down low and it is easy for the circuit breakers to be toggled by accident when entering or leaving the nav station and adding these guards has been a great improvement
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Old 25-04-2020, 17:01   #5
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chowdan View Post
...
My big thing was do I break out nav lights? .........
I have always considered it best practice to have three breakers for the nav lights (Port/Stbd/Stern) and a single three pole Nav Light switch.

It is requirement for some commercial operators and a good practice for the rest of us (IMO).

Doesn't work if you have masthead tricolour though
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Old 26-04-2020, 08:07   #6
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

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Originally Posted by chowdan View Post
Thanks! That's kinda what I had thought. I figured I'd see how people organized it since I have the opportunity to organize it.

My big thing was do I break out nav lights? What about breaking out interior lights like aft cabin/saloon/vbirth? Do I break out instruments for nav station and helm?
Do you mean breaking out as putting on separate breakers or as grouping together? If the latter, definitely. If the former then I think it becomes a question of balancing convenience in normal situations against inconvenience when a problem occurs. For example it would be very convenient to have all interior lights on one breaker so that you can shut all off with one action when leaving the boat but it would be a PITA to have all of your interior lights inoperative while you try to track down the one light or wire run causing the breaker to trip. I think all interiors on one breaker would be taking the convenience too far, and also maybe exaggerating the point as on our boat, a cat, it is also nice to be able to shut all the port hull and salon lights down while leaving the starboard hull lights on.

For anything safety related you do not want to group things on a breaker where if one becomes inoperative it is a big problem for the others to become inoperative.
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Old 26-04-2020, 08:24   #7
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

I put in a 24 Circuit Breaker panel from Blue Seas. The left most column is for lights beginning with interior lights. Then nav lights. The middle column is mechanical mostly pumps & radios, refrig, SSB, VHF's, bilge pump 1, bilge pump 2, maceraror etc, 3rd colum is navigational & sailing Instruments, alarms.
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Old 26-04-2020, 08:55   #8
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

A good source for ideas, are the pictures on 'yachtworld.com', that plus here of course.


Cheers all
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Old 26-04-2020, 09:11   #9
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

Consider using some of the din rail circuit breakers. These are simple to install, can be replaced very easily (circuit breakers do degrade with time), so there is no concern about using them as switches.

Multiple manufacturers produce similar products so spares are always available.

This is a photo of the main switchboard, but there are several other smaller sub panels covering solar panels, AC input and the forward entertainment system as well as the main switches and fuses.
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Old 26-04-2020, 09:17   #10
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

This is a work-in-progress, but gives an idea of how splitting functions among circuit breakers. It doesn't include, however, a sub-panel where navigation lights and such would originate. While circuit breakers can be used as switches, my preference is to have separate switches. Multiple switches can obviously tie back to a single circuit breaker.


I do like the suggestion of separating each navigation light onto its own circuit breaker, as it does introduce a level of redundancy.



Allan.
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Old 26-04-2020, 10:14   #11
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

My personal preference is that a switch should always show on or off. It helps slightly to know if itís in the correct position rather than only if it shows a failure mode. Ymmv
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Old 26-04-2020, 11:00   #12
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

One other item to think of is to relocate the 120 volt breaker panel to another location.

I do not agree that the 120 volt panel needs to be next to the vessels 12 or 24 volt panels.

Especially when you have reduced volume behind some panels. Also makes it safer when you rewire or need to work on a vessel's 12 volt system.

I like to have the 120 volt panel as close to the shore power plug as l can find. I also use 10 gage wire from the shore plug to the main panel on 30 amp services.

Sometimes you have to build a new location for the 120 volt panel, but usually it is easy to find a new spot....

My two cents here, just what l like to do on my boats.

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Old 26-04-2020, 11:20   #13
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

Here's a photo of our new AC and DC breaker panels after re-fit of our 1985 Nauticat 43. As full time cruisers and liveaboards, we spent a lot of $$ to update our boat systems!

AC is on the left, and DC is on the right.

AC panel includes switches and indicator lights for inverter and AC charger controls.

DC switches are all digital, just push once for on and again for off.

All DC switches are programmable, here's two examples-
- We have a wifi booster and a cell booster that share one switch. If we're at a marina or anchored near shore with usable wifi we use the wifi booster, otherwise we use our cell booster.

- The navigation light switch is programmed to turn on turn bow lights, stern light, and mast mounted steaming light when the engine is on. If the engine is off, that means we're sailing, and that same switch turns on our mast mounted tricolor nav light.
Also on the right side DC panel you'll see an alarm light (with loud buzzer), USB outlet and generator controls. The USB outlet is not for charging (we have plenty of those sprinkled around the boat), it is for plugging in our laptop to monitor, control or program the electrical system.

We can also monitor and control our electrical system via CZone on our MFD. In the second photo you can see the digital switches for our navigation system expanded, just touch for on or off.

Boat electrical systems have come a long way and I love the new technology enabled by NMEA 2000 and the newer devices.
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Old 26-04-2020, 11:38   #14
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

Quote:
Originally Posted by chowdan View Post
Hey all,



I am looking at either building a new breaker panel or having Blue Seas make one up for me. I'm going to be relocating the panel to a new location(from under companion way to nav station) and as such I'm curious how everyone has organized their breakers.



Photos do justice if you've got them


If you go the blue seas route their configuration works well and will give you all the part numbers
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Old 26-04-2020, 11:38   #15
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Re: Breaker Panel Organization - Post your photo!

This is the panel I just installed, mostly keeping the same DC breakers, but organizing them by function. The switches in general are not easily tripped by accident, especially switches I want left on (bilge pumps). The AC is next to the DC, but in the back of the panel, the AC is completely covered with no chance of accidental contact.
https://panelwizard.bluesea.com/panel/printable/220437
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