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Old 01-23-2012
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Electrical panel material suggestion

I'll be doing some electrical upgrades this year, and replacing a few of our AC and DC panels with new ones that are not the same size/configuration. The old ones are currently mounted in teak. I'll need to cover the original holes up and start anew for the new panels, so I was planning to use some sort of thin black material for this. Then I'll cut the appropriate holes and mount the new AC and DC panels in them.

Any suggestions for material? I was thinking black Starboard 1/4", but that's a little thicker than I'd prefer, and somewhat more flexible too. Any alternatives that are easy to acquire?

Thanks!
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Old 01-23-2012
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I took out one teak panel completely, and then used 1/4" oak for the facing for the new 12V panel. The new panel would have fit in the old hole, but the oak lightens it up dramatically.
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Old 01-24-2012
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Thanks for the suggestion. In our case, it won't be "framed", and it'll be an overlay on top of the existing teak. That's why I'm looking for a thin black material that's stiff. I'm sure there are lots of options--I'm just not that familiar with what's out there.
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Old 01-24-2012
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Matt finish laminate - Arborite or Formica - available in dozens of solid colors including black and multiple shades of white.
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Old 01-24-2012
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We used to use tinted acrylic/lexan (paint back side black to retain polished look). You'll need the right tools to avoid damage. The New Interstate Plastics has Starboard and other materials that are suitable for marine use. I used to built custom panels for commercial marine use with acrylic but I think there is more material variety available today. Printing has also come a long way in the last decade. Rather than labels you can design the face and have it printed right on the material for a real crisp professional look.

Last edited by rugosa; 01-24-2012 at 09:02 PM.
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Old 01-25-2012
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Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!
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Old 01-25-2012
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A carefull drawing and a local watejet cutting place will do a nice job on any material
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Old 02-10-2012
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rebuilt my electrical system. Because of space limitations off the shelf panels didn't work. So I used a black plastic from a marine electrics store for the panel fronts and project boxes from radio shack for the back. i used aluminium piano hinges for the front panel so it could open. To keep front switches etc manageable I built connection buses and fusing into the box behind the front panel. The box allowed me to do this. It also met ABYC requirements that there not be exposed connections behind the panels.
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Old 02-10-2012
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I redid mine, with a custom black anodized aluminum panel.

I used free software from Front Panel Express for the design, sending the work directly to Front Panel Express, and now and have a great looking panel (ok my judgement ). They also allow an option for doing lettering on the panel.

They can give such a 'good' deal, as you are the one doing the work laying out the panel, and you are responsible for any problems.... as they use your work to program their CNC machines....

Last edited by h20man; 02-10-2012 at 10:18 PM. Reason: edited to show that panel was produced by front panel express....
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Old 03-11-2012
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Re: Electrical panel material suggestion

If you want a truly professional result, check out Frontpanelexpress.com. They have a downloadable CAD software that is fairly simple. I laid out the panel the way I wanted it with the cutouts for the instruments I wanted. I then spec'd 3 mm black anodized aluminum. I got 2 panels made to order and delivered for $120. Install isn't complete yet, but when it is, I will post the pix. Gonna look great!
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