Adding a 2nd dc breaker panel? - SailNet Community

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Old 09-16-2012
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Adding a 2nd dc breaker panel?

I have a 6-switch breaker panel, and two of these switches are doing double-duty. One goes to both the cabin lights (rarely used) and the stereo system, and another switches on all the instruments (e7D chartplotter as well as speedo and depth). I'm adding a tiller pilot (Raymarine ST-2000) and would prefer to have it on it's own dedicated switch. There doesn't seem to be too many options for a panel with more than 6 switches, unless I buy something from BlueSea, which gets expensive quickly. West Marine sells a cheap (plastic) 6-switch panel that looks like it would be perfect, but how do you add a second panel? Can I just take the connections from the battery going to the first panel and add a cable bridging to the new panel? I can't easily locate a diagram of what I'm thinking online anywhere, and I'm not finding anything that describes what I'm trying to do... but I would bet it's not all that difficult. I have a simple system- nav lights, one cabin light, vhf radio, stereo, and I'm adding the autopilot. Currently, I have one 75 ah battery, and a 95 ah spare that I alternate after trickle charging every other time we go out for a sail. Both batteries are on opposite sides of the boat as they are relatively massive compared to the displacement of my boat (Olson 30), so it's critical they remain where they are- I could put one panel on either side of the boat, but as a last option if I can't wire these two panels together in the nav station area where the original is located.

Any help/tips would be greatly appreciated!

Ray

Last edited by Irunbird; 09-16-2012 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 09-16-2012
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Re: Adding a 2nd dc breaker panel?

Buying from Blue Sea is MONEY WELL SPENT. Their panels are head and shoulders above the "cheapies" and very, very well constructed, as are all their products..

There is no problem doubling up breakers for such items as stereo and cabin lighting providing the breaker & wires are properly sized to handle the loads.
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Old 09-16-2012
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Re: Adding a 2nd dc breaker panel?

Even the autopilot? I could wire that to the vhf switch... The wiring and breakers are well within limits. In fact, they are oversized for the range of amperage anticipated (14 ga wire and 15 amp breakers).
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Old 09-19-2012
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Re: Adding a 2nd dc breaker panel?

I spent a good amount of time browsing panels and came away a bit frustrated by how large they are. I ended up buying the components (nearly all blue-sea, I second that) individually and mounting them myself in a wood panel. I'm much happier with this than I would have been with any off the shelf panel however it ended up being more work than I anticipated.

That space is roughly the same as the bluesea weather deck 6 circuit for example (if I remember correctly) yet includes a lighter outlet and voltage gauge. The fuse block is a separate blue-sea part mounted behind the panel.

So as an alternative to a new panel you could consider doing this in the same space as your existing one.

Blue Sea Systems WeatherDeck Toggle Switch
Blue Sea Systems ST Blade Fuse Block With Cover
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Last edited by asdf38; 09-19-2012 at 09:50 PM.
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Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Adding a 2nd dc breaker panel?

Thanks, asdf- that's a nice system you built. I decided to just double up on my vhf/radio switch with the autopilot (as suggested by mainesail). My panel is even smaller than yours, but if I need to add one more thing, I may do something similar...
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Old 09-20-2012
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Re: Adding a 2nd dc breaker panel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irunbird View Post
Thanks, asdf- that's a nice system you built. I decided to just double up on my vhf/radio switch with the autopilot (as suggested by mainesail). My panel is even smaller than yours, but if I need to add one more thing, I may do something similar...
Definitely the easier choice.
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Old 09-23-2012
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Re: Adding a 2nd dc breaker panel?

One word of caution when having breakers do double duty:
Make sure the individual circuits attached to each breaker are capable of handling the current the breaker is rated for. Or make sure each branch is appropriately fused.

Best regards,
KG
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