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Old 05-20-2008
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Cockpit switch panel...relays?

I'm thinking of adding a waterproof switch panel in the cockpit for various lights etc. Currently, all my Nav lights are wired through the main switch panel in the nav station. I would like to move them to the switch panel in the cockpit, but don't want to introduce any longer cable runs than already exist. So, I thought about wiring them up to a relay, but I don't seem to find anything for the marine market except for the very high amp ones for a windlass and such. Should I just use automotive relays? This may not be necessary for most of them because I have switched to LED bulbs which draw ~0.1 amps @ 12v. but the spreader lights definitely pull around 15 amps. Any suggestions?
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Old 05-20-2008
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could use something like this

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Old 05-20-2008
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You'll be fine with automotive relays... just make sure the connectors are sealed, crimped well, and keep them lubricated every year to prevent excessive corrosion...I plan on doing the same thing myself....
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Old 05-21-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LifeWorthLivin View Post
I would like to move them to the switch panel in the cockpit, but don't want to introduce any longer cable runs than already exist. So, I thought about wiring them up to a relay
I'm missing something here.

I assume that you're talking about locating a relay around where the old switch was and then running a new wire to the new switch so that you can activate the relay?

With the loads that your nav lights are going to draw you really don't have to run any heavy duty wiring. The same wiring you would use to connect the relay to the switch will run your lights.

The only time one could logically justify a relay is when the draw is heavy and the wire to a switch would need to be large.Then it makes sense to run a light wire to a switch and use the relay to make the connection closer to the appliance. But nav lights? Not necessary.

I would simply run new wires to the new switch and join them into the circuit at the old switch.

Andre
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Old 05-21-2008
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I would go to great lengths to avoid using a relay in ANY critical application. Relays are 'electro-mechanical' devices...the 'electro' part does not make them in any way immune to the capricious nature that has always plagued a relay. Sooner or later (that's the fun part) they, all of them, regardless of application, fail. Period.
Howard Keiper
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As I said... It's probably not necessary for my nav lights which have LED bulbs and use little amperage. However, my spreader lights (which it would be very nice to be able to activate from the cockpit) draw between 15 and 20 amps. On a 47 footer, the switch panel where they are connected now is bit of a run from the back of the cockpit, I'd say around 25'. I'm not sure that the load would necessitate it either, looks like I would have to use 12 AWG wire to achieve less than 10% voltage drop for that length. I guess that's not too bad.
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Old 05-22-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LifeWorthLivin View Post
As I said... It's probably not necessary for my nav lights which have LED bulbs and use little amperage. However, my spreader lights (which it would be very nice to be able to activate from the cockpit) draw between 15 and 20 amps. On a 47 footer, the switch panel where they are connected now is bit of a run from the back of the cockpit, I'd say around 25'. I'm not sure that the load would necessitate it either, looks like I would have to use 12 AWG wire to achieve less than 10% voltage drop for that length. I guess that's not too bad.
I've just switched ALL my lights on. Running lights, steaming light, tricolour, deck lights, the works and my amp meter went from 2 to 10. And mine are all either incandescent or halogen, no LED's.

You should be able to get a nice tan under your spreader lights .

20 amps x 13 volts = 260 watts. Whew.

Andre
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Old 05-22-2008
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Here is a side note:

I did something similar on my boat. I did leave all the running lights, etc at the nav station but just wanted to have the ability to turn on/off cockpit lights so I could see at night in the cockpit.

You probably have enough power in your cockpit to run it. Pull off your panel where your start switch (and likely engine instruments are) and you will have 12v running there - likely from a 12ga or 10 ga wire (depending on your run length, etc).

LED's (which is what I would suggest) use very little power. You could probably get by with 16 ga.

I know this is not a direct answer to your question, and I guess you could use a relay, but the difficulty is pulling the wire - not the size of the wire. I would not install a relay for that purpose - I would just tie into the wire and pull it.

Also, be thoughtful on the location of the panel. For example, some friends of ours on a Panda got pooped. The water filled up their cockpit. Their engine panel was (like many boats) below the "seats" in the cockpit. THe water shorted out everything - including their starter. If you have all of your lights run there, my guess is that if you got pooped, you would lose all lighting. Depending on the circumstances, that could be dangerous.

Good luck with your project. Let us know how it turns out.

- CD
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Old 05-22-2008
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CD-

There are waterproof switch panels that would probably survive the cockpit being pooped.
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I wish you hadn't told me that

I do plan to use a waterproof switch panel for the lights. I hadn't even thought about the engine panel not being waterproof, mine is very low in the cockpit and would definitely get wet with a wave coming in. That would be a big job to move I would imagine...
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