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View Poll Results: Do You Prefer a Distributed DC System or Traditional?
Distributed DC System 13 46.43%
Traditional DC System 15 53.57%
Voters: 28. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 20-01-2021, 19:51   #61
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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Originally Posted by Chotu View Post

Traditional system: A huge distribution panel is near the batteries and wires are run from all the breakers on the panel to all the individual components one at a time.
I don't think this is an accurate description of a traditional system which actually uses subpanels and subcircuits and is distributed (like tree branches.) So for example the fans on the portside can be on a subcircuit and the cabin lights on another subcircuit, and these to are combined (maybe along with a few more circuits) on a (fused) terminal block, which goes to the panel breaker. The terminal blocks may be distributed all over the boat. So not "every component" goes to the panel
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Old 20-01-2021, 19:53   #62
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

A remote solenoid relay panel doesn't constitute "electronics" IMO. There's no integrated circuits, no 'data' connections and you don't need anything "smart" (though it would allow smart switching, which could be add latter if you want). You can simply put the relay panel(s) in any out of the way convenient place and run low current wire to a switch to activate the relay, vice manually switching it. This is not complex and prevents running high current wires and/or having small breaker panels all over the boat... arguably safer. You can even have a big "breaker" panel like the old days, but not have any significant current running through the panel since the panel is actually switches, not breakers... plus it is SO much easier to install! you can run 1 CAT 6 cable to operate a half dozen circuits! What's easier 6 manual breakers with a 12 gauge wire pair for each circuit or 6 switches with 1 cat 6 cable?

No NMEA2000, No Apps, Nothing "smart" needed... remote solenoid relays (like on a DIN rail) is a no-brainer IMO.
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Old 20-01-2021, 19:57   #63
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

Timely discussion for me as we are just starting to design our new DC system in an older boat.
See first sketch attached
High loads , Frig, AP, Windlass directly to
engine room buss bars
A clean feed from same buss bars to
DC panel for smaller loads and runs to
Aft cabin, Vberth and Salon fuse blocks
for local courtesy loads.
Single engine two alternators
Start and house Bank
Start bat has on/off switch
House bat as on/off
ACR with buss bars on both sides with an
emergency manual interconnect
Fuses are not shown yet as well as
connection to starter motors
AC not even started
What do you all think
It’s a hybrid of direct and distributed
Oops the alt on the right , above solar
should have been drawn to go
directly to house bank positive (?)
Cheers
Neil
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Old 20-01-2021, 20:04   #64
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

why not have hi loads go through the main panel? The breaker provides safety and also acts as a switch. There is barely any voltage drop unless the main panel is quite distant from battery and alt. which isn't supposed to be the case anyway
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Old 20-01-2021, 20:50   #65
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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But I am not a fan of connecting everything on my yacht on that data bus because I am creating a single point failure affecting many almost essential systems.
Both traditional and switching systems have a single point of failure in their ground. Lightning has the capability of taking out everything connected to it.

However, with digital switching, you can added redundancy by wiring your remote switching module in parallel with a switch panel. If the switches in the switch panel are single pole single throw you can force a device on even with a bad remote switching module. With double pole triple throw switches you can completely bypass the switching module and have either full on/off manual control or digital control. It's the best of both worlds.
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Old 20-01-2021, 21:08   #66
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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Originally Posted by Cyrus Safdari View Post
why not have hi loads go through the main panel? The breaker provides safety and also acts as a switch. There is barely any voltage drop unless the main panel is quite distant from battery and alt. which isn't supposed to be the case anyway
High loads require thick wire. Routing a thick wire to a panel that probably hinges open puts a strain on the connections. It is easier to fuse/circuit breaker the high load circuits close to the battery bank and then run the heavy wire directly to the device.

Large current circuit breakers won't fit in a traditional panel. Can you get a 150 amp breaker in the common size? Could you fit 2/0 wire in with adjacent breakers?

Inverters and Windlasses can easily require 150 amp or even larger circuit breakers.
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Old 21-01-2021, 00:02   #67
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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High loads require thick wire. Routing a thick wire to a panel that probably hinges open puts a strain on the connections. It is easier to fuse/circuit breaker the high load circuits close to the battery bank and then run the heavy wire directly to the device.

Large current circuit breakers won't fit in a traditional panel. Can you get a 150 amp breaker in the common size? Could you fit 2/0 wire in with adjacent breakers?

Inverters and Windlasses can easily require 150 amp or even larger circuit breakers.


Precisely!
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Old 24-01-2021, 05:33   #68
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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Originally Posted by NPCampbell View Post
Both traditional and switching systems have a single point of failure in their ground. Lightning has the capability of taking out everything connected to it.

However, with digital switching, you can added redundancy by wiring your remote switching module in parallel with a switch panel. If the switches in the switch panel are single pole single throw you can force a device on even with a bad remote switching module. With double pole triple throw switches you can completely bypass the switching module and have either full on/off manual control or digital control. It's the best of both worlds.
Correctomundo

A well designed digital switching system will be more fault tolerant and reliable then a traditional panel , and will promote efficient wire runs and proper breaker positioning
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Old 24-01-2021, 05:53   #69
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

Addressing the off topic topic, I can’t see why I’d go through all the trouble, wiring and complexity involved with digital switching after having googled it out of curiosity.

I’m already having misgivings about my digital shower control.

I am using one of the temperature controlled mixers that puts out a given temperature you select. It’s mechanical but is precise.

I need to turn on both the hot and cold water to flow to this mixer and pause it during a shower to save water.

However, there is no good looking mechanical valve system I can use in the shower for this.

I’m left with building an electronic control panel and solenoid valves. I also have a momentary electrical switch to use to pump out the shower drain.

There is no other option available that looks good. So I forced to use all this electronic stuff. I’m not looking forward to fixing it all as it breaks. It’s also a lot of time consuming crap to install. Seems like the digital switching is similar to the digital shower I have going on
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Old 24-01-2021, 05:55   #70
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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Addressing the off topic topic, I canít see why Iíd go through all the trouble, wiring and complexity involved with digital switching after having googled it out of curiosity.

Iím already having misgivings about my digital shower control.

I am using one of the temperature controlled mixers that puts out a given temperature you select. Itís mechanical but is precise.

I need to turn on both the hot and cold water to flow to this mixer and pause it during a shower to save water.

However, there is no good looking mechanical valve system I can use in the shower for this.

Iím left with building an electronic control panel and solenoid valves. I also have a momentary electrical switch to use to pump out the shower drain.

There is no other option available that looks good. So I forced to use all this electronic stuff. Iím not looking forward to fixing it all as it breaks.
Build it right , youíll break ! Before the electronics does
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Old 24-01-2021, 06:07   #71
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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Build it right , you’ll break ! Before the electronics does
This is a serious comment. Has something changed in the last 10 years? Because in my experience, it’s always the electronics that breaks. In cars, in refrigerators, in my Macbooks and iPhones. Anytime something stops working, it is the circuit board that goes bad.

In vehicles, it’s always the sensor or the sensor wire. Or some thing accumulated on the sensor. Engine runs just fine. Vehicle runs just fine. But it screws up because of the electronics. In propane refrigerators, people are constantly swapping out the board for a new one because they don’t work. If it didn’t have the electronic controller, it would be working just fine. Currently the automatic transfer power switch in my RV. The board went out on that also. It’s just a simple switch and a solenoid. That all works fine. But the electronics went bad. On my last iPhone. I have a brand new one now because the last one went bad electronically. My last MacBook stopped working. Why? The motherboard fried.

Why do you have so much confidence in this stuff when it shows a history of not working? It’s literally the weakest link in every system.

I have a pretty extensive background in electronics and computers. They are handy sometimes. But they are not robust in environments other than a clean room. LOL

It’s nice to have them for certain tasks. They definitely have improved some things. But where they fall short is when they are not a modular part of a system. When they are an integral part of a system. Because when they fail the entire system fails.
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Old 24-01-2021, 06:08   #72
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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Both traditional and switching systems have a single point of failure in their ground. Lightning has the capability of taking out everything connected to it.
Not if you have a dual pole distribution system, as we have . Admittedly these are not common, but this wiring system is fitted to most aluminium vessels.

Its main function is to reduce the chance of stray current corrosion, but it also has some significant advantages in reducing the fire risk. It does add some redudancy to the ground connection and slightly extra protection against lightning damage, but I think this is a very marginal benifit.

A bad lightning strike is still likely to take out all your electronics.
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Old 24-01-2021, 07:35   #73
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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Correctomundo

A well designed digital switching system will be more fault tolerant and reliable then a traditional panel , and will promote efficient wire runs and proper breaker positioning
However the points of failure is a traditional system are simple devices, robust and easily serviceable. The points of failure in an electronic system are integrated circuits on printed circuit boards that do not do well in a salt air environment.

More voluminous but less complex wiring is far more fault resistant.

A nearby lightning strike, not even a direct hit and you are back to the stone age. The mere fact that electronic switching has a bypass option built in to it is a demonstration of how vulnerable it is.

In 30 years of owning the same boat, live aboard for 19 years, and over 130,000 miles, IIRC I have had one circuit breaker fail.
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Old 24-01-2021, 07:48   #74
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Re: Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

Electronics can be a pain to keep working or can be extremely reliable. Depends on the equipment being used, the environment, etc. The drive towards smaller and cheaper for electronics does hurt reliability in a lot of cases. But look at something like an airplane. It's entirely possible to build a system that "just works" for the most part. It's just not cheap or cutting edge.



That said, I wouldn't go with electronic switching beyond maybe some relays with a remote switch to give more efficient wire routing for high current devices. But for the shower valve thing, a good, waterproof switch and a high quality solenoid valve should work for a long time.



For the shower drain pump, if you don't mind a slight increase in noise and power consumption, assuming you're using a diaphragm pump, just use an on/off switch. The pump can run dry safely, so you just turn it on when you get in the shower, turn it off when done. No need to fiddle with it in between (and the switch can be in a dryer location as you don't need to reach it from inside the shower).
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Old 24-01-2021, 10:10   #75
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Distributed Electrical Systems or Standard Panel? Which do you like?

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Not if you have a dual pole distribution system, as we have . Admittedly these are not common, but this wiring system is fitted to most aluminium vessels.



Its main function is to reduce the chance of stray current corrosion, but it also has some significant advantages in reducing the fire risk. It does add some redudancy to the ground connection and slightly extra protection against lightning damage, but I think this is a very marginal benifit.



A bad lightning strike is still likely to take out all your electronics.


The electronics on my last boat are working since the boat was built in 1988. ( the mechanical drive of the radar seized)

In fact almost every piece of electronics Iíve removed was working with the exception of the inverter in the fridge

Salt isnít an issue , you use gold plated pcbs and conformal coat them , you design in proper surge suppression , reverse battery protection and good esd etc

Now you have a decent piece of kit , but all this protection is expensive. I just finished a LIN bus node for my boat. About 50% of the components are dedicated to circuit survival these are in effect of no functional use to the day to day operation of the circuit. All the components are automotive qualified

Worrying about lightening is ridiculous. A bad strike could sink your boat , or burn out a proportion of your wiring etc etc. Itís a fault processes that could only be protected from by using extremely sophisticated ( ie very expensive ) systems

I just trashed my 20 year old pickup. It chassis rusted out. All, repeat all itís onboard electronics systems are original and working. The mechanicals are what failed.

My Sony tv is 15 years old still working

All my computers ( Apple ) are from 2012. Still working except for the mechanical drive.

My electronic breakers are easier to replace then a mechanical unit. Pull the cables . Replace the module , itís auto configures , your up and running

Having a manual fuse override , doesnít indicate un reliability no more then prepping suggests the world is ending. Itís a simple precaution.
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