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Barquito 10-15-2012 12:36 PM

Simple electrical panel
I am thinking of re-doing my electrical panel. My system is very simple, but, I want a little bigger panel, and maybe a battery meter. The panels I find for sale are rather pricey for my budget. How much luck do you think I would have making my own panel out of Radio Shack parts? Are the switches and fuses in marine panels any different? Also, any ideas for making the panel itself? (labels etc.)

kd3pc 10-15-2012 01:30 PM

Re: Simple electrical panel
some of the components in the marine panel industry are much better quality than those you get at RS...I have had good luck with their basic components, not so much with meters, lcd panels, and the like.

if installed and insulated correctly, you can get a decent outcome, but I would personally go for something by Blue Seas, even from the auction sites where they are reduced price.

PBzeer 10-15-2012 02:38 PM

Re: Simple electrical panel
While the Blue Seas panels aren't cheap, I think in the long run they are a good value.

asdf38 10-16-2012 04:12 PM

Re: Simple electrical panel
I did my own panel (and the entire rest of the boat) from scratch this spring and was generally thrilled with the results. But I don't think cost is the right reason to do it. Doing the work is just too time consuming to skimp on the components and when you add things up the expensive panels you see in stores aren't bad at all (annoyingly, this seems to be true for most marine things).

I made my own panel because my space was too small, I wanted 8 switches, a lighter outlet, a gauge, and indicator LED's for everything in a small space. I had to make my own to do it. I bought all Blue-Sea stuff, including a $60 fuse/distribution block to go behind the panel.

That said I'll try to make another post tonight with some tips/parts. Blue-sea re-sells carling toggle switches and generally the electrical components can be had for cheaper if you want to look. Forget radio shack - think Digi-Key and McMaster.

asdf38 10-16-2012 06:22 PM

Re: Simple electrical panel
1 Attachment(s)
I did a bit more digging and don't see a lot of savings to be had. Bluesea sells toggle switches, available from defender for $6.69 each. On digi-key I can find similar switches, rated for 15A for about $5.50. Not a great savings. Bluesea sells indicator Led's for $3, they're $2 on digikey.

As for labels I used these and would reccomend them.
BLUE SEA SYSTEMS Label Kit at West Marine

I also attached some pictures of my panel. And here are links to the parts I mentioned
S301F/U NKK Switches | S301F/U-ND | DigiKey
Blue Sea Systems WeatherDeck Toggle Switch
Blue Sea Systems LED Indicator Light

EDIT: For completeness I'll add that mcmaster also has an entire selection of toggle switches as well for good prices including "Harsh Environment" and miniature.

McMaster is also a convenient place to get crimp terminals including adhesive lined heat shrink.

Waltthesalt 10-18-2012 09:39 PM

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.

Sumner10 10-19-2012 12:54 PM

Re: Simple electrical panel


Originally Posted by asdf38 (Post 934477)
..I also attached some pictures of my panel. [/url]

That is a nice looking panel. Do you have a close-up of how you labeled the switches or could you describe that area.

I've done some switch panels ....

....for our Mac and I'm going to replace...

...the one above on the Endeavour with a new one next to the nav. station. I'll leave the old one there since I like how it looks, but it will be non-functional.

I rewired most of the Mac.....

Macgregor 26S Inside Mods page 30

I've used some surplus switches on the Mac with no problems so far, but will go with the Blue Sea switches and LED'S on the Endeavour panel. They might be the same, but for just a couple dollars more for a one time purchase I'll go with them. I've been getting them from Defender.

Thanks for the info on the panel and the links,



Our 37 Endeavour --- Our 26 MacGregor --- Trips With Both

chef2sail 10-19-2012 01:04 PM

Re: Simple electrical panel
I reworked our boat completely last winter. Blue Sea panels are simple and well constructed and many of the llarger ones are semi prewired. A long with getting rid of the previous spaghetti wiring , lamp wire, wires wired to apparently no where anymore, the panel gave a nice professional finished look when completed.


Sumner10 10-19-2012 01:19 PM

Re: Simple electrical panel
I can't find just switch panels and called Blue Seas and another place and no one seems to make them. They all have fuses or breakers with each switch and a lot of times still incandescent indicator lighting.

I used the....

...Blue Sea fuse blocks like above in the Mac and I'm also using them in the Endeavour. I basically have each circuit fused with the fuse blocks (12 circuits on the one boat and 18 on the other).

I think it is redundant to go from them to a switch panel that then has another fuse or breaker associated with each switch. I also want LED indicator lights. This means make my own switch panels unless someone can give me a link to reasonably priced switch panels with LED indicators and no breakers/fuses in them.

Of course then the other problem is the common buss bar in them :(,



Our 37 Endeavour --- Our 26 MacGregor --- Trips With Both

asdf38 10-19-2012 07:53 PM

Re: Simple electrical panel
2 Attachment(s)
Yeah, here are a couple more shots where you should be able to see everything. The labels are Cabin Lights, VHF, Depth Sounder, Accessory (lighter plugs), Unused, Spreader Lights, Anchor light (masthead) if you can't.

The nav/steaming lights are on a DPDT switch so one way just the nav lights come on, the other way both come on. This saves a switch for the steaming lights which I don't need to operate by itself anyway.

As you can see every switch has an indicator LED which is after the fuse. The 12V LED indicates that the panel is powered and the amber charge LED is driven by the bluesea ACR relay (I don't have a shore charger).

I like the panel a lot especially the indicator LED's which are just the right brightness - enough to see during the day but not too bright at night. It's nice having the gauge although it's hard to read accurately where it's positioned on the boat. A digital gauge would have been more practical although I like the look of the analog one. The backlight for the analog gauge and compass are wired to the nav lights. The panel itself is solid stained oak.

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