Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Washington, DC
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AC Electrical Panel
Let me start by saying that I've searched the forums, read the recent thread on shore power, and looked over Mainsail's website. I have Calder's book, but I forgot it on the boat this weekend and I'd like to order the necessary parts to complete our project next weekend. That said, here is our current AC system:
30A shore power to standard panel with 30A main breaker (includes reverse polarity indicator) and two 15A branch circuits. Currently, one branch serves the three AC outlets in the boat (on GFI in galley, with one in the head and one in the main cabin, all protected by the first GFI in the circuit); and the second branch serves the hot water heater. This is it for the current AC system. There is no room to add an additional branch circuit on the current panel.
This weekend I as wiring up our new battery charger (boat didn't have one) and realized that we may need to upgrade the panel. It seems that the charger should be on its own branch/breaker, which means we need a panel with at least three branch circuits (outlets, charger and water heater). However, we are also adding air-conditioning, which I’m assuming should also have its own circuit.
So here is the dilemma - upgrade to a new panel with at least four branches? Blue Sea makes a 4 branch panel, but due to the shape (horizontal install approx. 10.5 inches wide) it won't work in the existing space. If we go with a 6 branch Blue Sea panel, it is orientated vertically and we have space in that direction. But, 6 branch circuits is overkill for us on a 30ft. boat. The other option is a 3 branch panel (from either Blue Sea or Sailor Solutions), but that means doubling up at least two items on one branch (remember, outlets, charger, air-conditioning, and hot water).
So, is it OK to double up on a 3 branch panel, or do we need to go with the larger 6 branch to keep each circuit on its own breaker? Also, please let us know if any of you have come across a manufacturer for a 4 branch AC panel that is approximately 5.25 in. wide.
PS - I've seen Mainsail's comments on adding ELCI protection as per new ABYC standards, but the panel offerings are pretty limited as of right now. That said, I think it would be a worthy upgrade in the future.