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post #6 of Old 10-18-2012
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Kingston Washington
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Re: Simple electrical panel

I rewired my boat and built my own panels from Radio Shack project boxes. One thing was that the Blue Sea type panels were not only expensive but also just didn't fit my limited space I had on a smaller boat.
I'd get inexpensive boat fuse panels and then mounted them in the project box front. Sometimes I'd put a hinge on the major boxes so I could get inside easily. The box enabled me to have a wiring panel that was protected on the back side. This was a change to the ABYC standards that I though important. For the more complex circuits the fused circuit on the front of the panel would feed a internal panel with a number of fused circuits. e.g. the navigation fused circuit on the front would feed an panel mounted on the inside of the box. For example the nav fuse on the front fed an internal fuse panel with separately fused VHF, GPS, autohelm etc. The lighting fuse on the front would feed an internal circuit board with 2 separately fused circuits and a nighttime red circuit so that if one circuit blew I wouldn't lose all lighting. What was important was to make up a wiring diagram and use a label maker (got mine at office depot) to put label tags on each wire. I found that I often reduced the depth of the box by cutting it down so it would fit the tight space.
Besides the main panels I also had remote boxes for special purposes e.g. a battery monitoring box for amp meters, volt meter and amp hr. meter; a remote box with fused circuits for my demand water heater, CO sensor and shower water pump; a box fro engine power circuits and the generator regulator. etc.
Making up the boxes also allowed me to use the small Radio Shack colored lights to use for warnings e.g. bilge pump left off, battery banks left cross connected etc.
So maybe I overdid it. But using the project boxes worked for me and gave me a installation I wouldn't have been able to do with off the shelf Blue Sea products.

Walt Elliott
Kingston WA
Puget Sound
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