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Old 10-11-2009, 14:04   #1
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Switch Panels in Catamaran Cockpit

In need to rewire my boat since all the electrical systems are very old and pretty much a mess. The current electrical panel is tiny and there is no room to expand it in the current location.

I'm considering mounting a bank of switches in the cockpit, obviosly in a location that would not be susceptable to flooding, and a product that would be water tight. My thoughts are:

1. I hate having to go below to turn on nav lights, autopilot etc when I'm single handling in busy waters.
2. Simplfy the electrical system by distributing it about the boat (not all the wires have to come to one location.

However, most sailboats have a single electrical panel below decks. Why is this? Any thoughts or concerns?
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Old 10-11-2009, 14:20   #2
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1 concern; electrical panels need to be easy to open in case off malfunction and need to be in a dry location, think about in this scenario, you are sailing in rough to heavy conditions and the cockpit is wet and miserable, the autopilot breaker is not working anymore and you need to open the panel to find whats goin on! maybe is a good idea to have in the cockpit some swichtes , but the breakers and main panel is better to keep it inside , just my opinion , i have in my cockpit a swicht for the spreaders lights and compass and cockpit light.
The idea is not so bad, just wonder to me how to fix a malfunction swicht in nasty conditions.
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Old 10-11-2009, 14:47   #3
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Running a few water proof switches to operate the few items you mentioned is no problem. Keeping a distribution panel in one location is going to make servicing it a lot easier.
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Old 10-11-2009, 15:14   #4
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, brownhm1.

Ideally, Id prefer to wire everything to a single main distribution breaker panel, at an inside location; then feed a few circuits to a cockpit switch panel, where youd have the separate switches (or breakers) for the various Nav Lights, Autopilot, & whatever (that you wish to switch from the helm).
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Old 11-11-2009, 08:11   #5
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thanks everyone for your input. Yes the switch panel makes sense to be fed from the central breaker.
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Old 11-11-2009, 09:27   #6
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Breakers are much more moisture sensitive than switches.

That alone would argue against having them on-deck. I can't say whether sealed breakers are available, but I bet they would be $$$. You will still have to feed this sub-panel from a large breaker on the main panel.

Though we would all like switches at the helm, the reality is we are going to turn off the breakers after each trip anyway, and we will still forget to turn them on when we leave the dock the next time! The only switch I really like at the helm is for the windlass. It is on a separate pop-up breaker that is not in the main panel. It comes off the battery, after a fuse.
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Old 11-11-2009, 16:44   #7
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It is OK to have switches in the cockpit but you have to use the watertight switches. Perhaps more expensive.

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electrical panels, electrical system, switch panels

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