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Old 20-11-2022, 07:13   #1
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What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

Since I got the new lithium batteries, I have to do some electrical work. I have a temporary construction electrical system installed currently. It has actually been installed for many years now and has worked fine. Oddly enough. Although talk about tinned copper wire, I just used Home Depot crap for a temporary installation during the construction phase and it didn’t corrode. Go figure. I’ll take some pictures of pulling it apart when I do this new wiring.

Looking at things in general, with an open mind and not from a Boat perspective, I am thinking of a solution that might be more elegant. I’m wondering what people think.

What about switches at the point of use?

It’s kind of annoying to always have to go over to the electrical panel. Especially on my boat now because it’s a pretty long walk.

But I can think of all the boats that I have ever owned and having to always go to that electrical panel to turn things on and off. Be it the anchor light, a refrigerator, a wash down pump or whatever.

Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to have the switch at the point of use?

So if I want to turn on my anchor light, I don’t go back to the electrical panel and flip a breaker. At the helm I just turn the anchor light on.

What about just having a set of fuses and then having the switching function at the point of use?

This means the wiring would always be live to the switch. But it’s also properly fused so if they were a problem the fuse would blow.

I’m not the type of person who would just keep resetting a breaker and trying to use the circuit. I don’t think that’s a good idea ever. It needs a rewiring or some kind of fix if it’s blowing breakers. So once a fuse blows, I would fix anything that’s wrong and then put in the new fuse.

But I’m wondering why boats aren’t set up like this typically.

From an ease-of-use perspective it makes more sense.

You could use something like this.




And have nice looking engraved switches around in different places where they are used.

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Old 20-11-2022, 07:23   #2
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

For instance, I have a fuel pump that I have to turn on manually.

Right next to the Morse controls, I certainly would rather have a little button there that I can press that lights up. It would also remind me to turn the thing off. Because it’s lit up when on.

Turning that thing on at the breaker panel just seems less elegant.

Kind of like when you turn on a shower drain evacuation pump. You want the button right next to you.

Now, this assumes no branching in my DC circuits. Each fuse would go directly to a switch/load. There would not be any Y branches or other poor wiring techniques.
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Old 20-11-2022, 07:43   #3
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chotu View Post
Since I got the new lithium batteries, I have to do some electrical work. I have a temporary construction electrical system installed currently. It has actually been installed for many years now and has worked fine. Oddly enough. Although talk about tinned copper wire, I just used Home Depot crap for a temporary installation during the construction phase and it didnít corrode. Go figure. Iíll take some pictures of pulling it apart when I do this new wiring.

Looking at things in general, with an open mind and not from a Boat perspective, I am thinking of a solution that might be more elegant. Iím wondering what people think.

What about switches at the point of use?

Itís kind of annoying to always have to go over to the electrical panel. Especially on my boat now because itís a pretty long walk.

But I can think of all the boats that I have ever owned and having to always go to that electrical panel to turn things on and off. Be it the anchor light, a refrigerator, a wash down pump or whatever.

Wouldnít it make a lot more sense to have the switch at the point of use?

So if I want to turn on my anchor light, I donít go back to the electrical panel and flip a breaker. At the helm I just turn the anchor light on.

What about just having a set of fuses and then having the switching function at the point of use?

This means the wiring would always be live to the switch. But itís also properly fused so if they were a problem the fuse would blow.

Iím not the type of person who would just keep resetting a breaker and trying to use the circuit. I donít think thatís a good idea ever. It needs a rewiring or some kind of fix if itís blowing breakers. So once a fuse blows, I would fix anything thatís wrong and then put in the new fuse.

But Iím wondering why boats arenít set up like this typically.

From an ease-of-use perspective it makes more sense.

You could use something like this.




And have nice looking engraved switches around in different places where they are used.

This is done all the time, just not to the extent you're talking about. There are switches on cabin lights, the foredeck light on my boat is closer to the helm, shower drain pumps, etc.

I put that subpanel near the vberth to handle loads around the front of the boat so I had one pair of larger gauge wire going to it.
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Old 20-11-2022, 07:44   #4
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

I'm not an expert, but I have heard this discussed before, including here on CF and I believe it is a viable plan.

But WRT this - I hate to pick nits but...

"So if I want to turn on my anchor light, I don’t go back to the electrical panel and flip a breaker. At the helm I just turn the anchor light on."

Not sure about you, I (almost) always anchor during daylight. By the time the sun sets and it's time to turn on the anchor light, I am not near the helm, so I like having switches (for the lights anyway) consolidated on one panel, down below (ie. bow lights, anchor lights, deck lights, spreader lights, etc.).

Other advantages of having a consolidated breaker panel, which is where most have their battery monitoring devices, is being able to see and control power draw throughout the boat.
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Old 20-11-2022, 07:47   #5
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

In the past, this approach has not been popular with boat builders (amatuers or professionals) because it involves a LOT more wiring, and wire--both to buy and to install--is expensive. However, other than the complexity of the wiring harness, and the extra weight, which can be significant, there is no reason not to have a switch everywhere you want to control a circuit.

With modern remote switching, like C-Zone, the need for miles of extra wiring are going away, and more and more point of use switching is showing up.

I just installed a bunch of remote switches on my boat using Shelly wireless automation devices. It has made life a lot more convenient.
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Old 20-11-2022, 08:02   #6
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

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Originally Posted by jordanbigel View Post
I'm not an expert, but I have heard this discussed before, including here on CF and I believe it is a viable plan.

But WRT this - I hate to pick nits but...

"So if I want to turn on my anchor light, I don’t go back to the electrical panel and flip a breaker. At the helm I just turn the anchor light on."

Not sure about you, I (almost) always anchor during daylight. By the time the sun sets and it's time to turn on the anchor light, I am not near the helm, so I like having switches (for the lights anyway) consolidated on one panel, down below (ie. bow lights, anchor lights, deck lights, spreader lights, etc.).

Other advantages of having a consolidated breaker panel, which is where most have their battery monitoring devices, is being able to see and control power draw throughout the boat.

We have different boats that’s why you are picturing it differently than I am. That’s all.

My helm is in the main salon. So that’s likely where I am as the sun is going down. If not out on the deck.

But yes. I also like that idea of having a separate distributed panel with a larger DC trunk running to it.

In my case, the batteries and the major electrical components will be in the aft starboard hull. You have to walk down some stairs, all the way to the aft of the boat.

My helm is on the starboard side but is up on the bridgedeck level.

So, the more the controls they have up at the helm and in the places they are used, the better really.
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Old 20-11-2022, 08:04   #7
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

Needing to walk to the panel is a common lazy design. I see it all the time on sailboats, but much less on powerboats. On my boat, everything is wired with breakers, etc. as is typical. But pretty much everything has switches at the point of use, so the breakers just stay on and aren't used as a switch. They're still preferable to fuses in many applications (in my mind at least).

I do have some fuses under the helm for electronics (there are 2 electronics breakers feeding a pair of fuse boxes under the helm). But things like nav lights, etc. have their own breakers on the panel. That stuff all runs to the helm, however, as there are switches at the helm to turn them on and off (instead of having to go down below and flip the breaker on the panel).

Nothing prevents you from having a switch wired in line after a breaker (leaving the breaker as circuit protection and using the switch as the normal way to turn the device on and off). Switch can be whatever type you prefer, with lights, etc.
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Old 20-11-2022, 08:04   #8
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

Of course this is the way household electrical systems are wired, or seem to be that way to me. Makes some sense.

I have thought about going one step further: why not just run a larger size wire around the boat with tees-breakers-switches where the appliance/load is located. This would eliminate the forearm sized bundles of wires we have going off in several directions from the DC panel. And for even further fantasizing, why not make the switches/breakers smart devices, which can be controlled locally or centrally (Bluetooth?) with sensors to indicate back to the DC panel such things as on/off, current draw, open (blown bulb) etc.

Well now, that's high tech and costly. Maybe not worth considering for your project.

But I'd be interested in hearing from others about the pros/cons of your proposal.
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Old 20-11-2022, 08:08   #9
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ItDepends View Post
In the past, this approach has not been popular with boat builders (amatuers or professionals) because it involves a LOT more wiring, and wire--both to buy and to install--is expensive. However, other than the complexity of the wiring harness, and the extra weight, which can be significant, there is no reason not to have a switch everywhere you want to control a circuit.

With modern remote switching, like C-Zone, the need for miles of extra wiring are going away, and more and more point of use switching is showing up.

I just installed a bunch of remote switches on my boat using Shelly wireless automation devices. It has made life a lot more convenient.
Iím trying to picture the extra wiring involved. Possibly a large trunk and a distributed system would weigh less, but wouldnít this be the same as a standard panel?

You have main wires from the batteries to the panel or the fuse box. Then you have a branch wire from the breaker or from the fuse up to the point of use. If you put a switch into that wire, wouldnít the only excess weight be the switch? And whatever connectors you need to put it into that wire?

It would be really cool if they had a type of software you could use that would minimize wiring runs. They are hard to picture conceptually.
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Old 20-11-2022, 08:11   #10
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

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Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
Of course this is the way household electrical systems are wired, or seem to be that way to me. Makes some sense.

I have thought about going one step further: why not just run a larger size wire around the boat with tees-breakers-switches where the appliance/load is located. This would eliminate the forearm sized bundles of wires we have going off in several directions from the DC panel. And for even further fantasizing, why not make the switches/breakers smart devices, which can be controlled locally or centrally (Bluetooth?) with sensors to indicate back to the DC panel such things as on/off, current draw, open (blown bulb) etc.

Well now, that's high tech and costly. Maybe not worth considering for your project.

But I'd be interested in hearing from others about the pros/cons of your proposal.
This is also a very cool idea. What about that?

I really like this idea. A set of main DC trunks going around the boat and tapping into it as needed for sub panels or loads.

This would work exceptionally well on my boat. I have a salon in the center. And then all around the edges, in a huge square, I have my loads and places I need to get power to. If there were a big square of main DC trunk running around my boat, it would seem this is the most simple and lightweight solution.

You could fuse it and size it for 50 Amps. Or maybe your windlass load plus your house loads. I have a manual windlass so that has never been a concern but I may upgrade one day.

One of the real advantages of this would be the lack of voltage drop. You would have no voltage drop whatsoever for most loads. The capacity of the main trunks would almost never be in full use. And it would be a lot less weight than that arm size bundle of wires described above.

The other real bonus would be for the next owner. It would be so simple to understand the electrical system.

And with less complexity, when something doesn’t go wrong, you could figure it out very quickly.
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Old 20-11-2022, 08:19   #11
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

I see no reason not to do multiple DC panels. Probably 1 panel in each hull, 1 in the salon. That should actually simplify the wiring a bit (and it still doesn't prevent you from putting in switches for something at the helm, etc.). Just having 1 big power feed into each hull (excluding anything for the engines) should make things simpler.

I wouldn't want to run a high current DC run all the way around the boat just for fun though. You'd need pretty large wire to avoid voltage drop issues, and having longer runs of high current circuits (even with proper fusing) seems like an unnecessary risk to me (and I'm not convinced it would save weight either).

Ideally, I'd want to try to place panels, loads, batteries, etc. (within what doesn't cause weight distribution issues) to keep the battery to panel runs short, and then ideally have the highest power (largest / heaviest wire) devices fairly close to the panels. That way the long runs are mostly for stuff like nav lights, etc. that don't draw much power and use lightweight wire.
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Old 20-11-2022, 08:47   #12
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

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I see no reason not to do multiple DC panels. Probably 1 panel in each hull, 1 in the salon. That should actually simplify the wiring a bit (and it still doesn't prevent you from putting in switches for something at the helm, etc.). Just having 1 big power feed into each hull (excluding anything for the engines) should make things simpler.

I wouldn't want to run a high current DC run all the way around the boat just for fun though. You'd need pretty large wire to avoid voltage drop issues, and having longer runs of high current circuits (even with proper fusing) seems like an unnecessary risk to me (and I'm not convinced it would save weight either).

Ideally, I'd want to try to place panels, loads, batteries, etc. (within what doesn't cause weight distribution issues) to keep the battery to panel runs short, and then ideally have the highest power (largest / heaviest wire) devices fairly close to the panels. That way the long runs are mostly for stuff like nav lights, etc. that don't draw much power and use lightweight wire.
Yeah. Some good points here.

The biggest risk for my boat is fire. Not sinking.

Running high power DC lines all over the place might not be good. I was in creative mode not critical thinking mode.

But running some medium power DC lines to distributed panels does sound pretty good.

I guess there’s no overall strategy to use here. Rather, there’s a set of geometric constraints and a set of locations where power is needed.

I’m having to move the battery bank inside now to give it less temperature variation.

I have been focusing on putting the weight approximately where the dagger boards are. But I fear that I’m starting to get too much weight forward now. Pitch pole is in my head. I could potentially just locate the batteries and electrical up there by the helm.

However, in the event of catastrophic failure of the deck house or windows or something, the batteries will be protected from water if they are put into that starboard aft hull. There is a spot that is dry. No matter what. It’s up on the bridgedeck level but also in the aft starboard hull.
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Old 20-11-2022, 08:50   #13
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

I really donít think Iím going to be able to bang this one out before I have my appointment at the Riggers. So I guess I will just attach my LIFEPO4 batteries to the existing temporary electrical system. Itís unfortunate, because I have to do a complete re-wiring. Because Iím moving the location of the batteries. So I kind of wanted to just go for the final system. But itís going to take planning.
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Old 20-11-2022, 09:29   #14
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Re: What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

My 1973 Concorde 41 is wired pretty much as you propose, more like a dirt house than a boat. AC and DC breaker panels hidden in a closet and the breakers just left on most of the time. Each device or group of devices has it's own switch. Some devices also have their own fuse, example a chart plotter that calls for a 3 amp fuse but it's on 14 gauge wires from a 15 amp breaker or fuse. If it's a dedicated circuit just for the plotter you could put in a 3 amp breaker at the panel instead of the fuse at the device, but then you could not add more devices to the circuit. On mine all the electronics are on the same circuit so that wouldn't work. 15 amp breaker in the panel, each device gets the fuse it specifies. The panel breaker protects the wires, the fuse protects the device.
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Old 20-11-2022, 09:34   #15
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What about fuses with the switches at point of use?

Easy to put in set reset relay logic. This allows remote low current multiple push buttons , push to turn on push another to turn off. Place the push buttons where you like and multiple versions of them.

Cheap and easy I need for remote dc panels place the relays near the existing panel, toggle relays can also be used to allow a single push on push on to turn the relays sequentially on and off. But the are more expensive.

I agree with your general comment walking to Dc page is old tech. I have nav lights at my exterior console/helm ,anchor enable instrument enable etc. all at the helm. The dc breaker panel remains below.
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