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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 06-01-2009
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distribution panel

Hi everyone,

Thank you everyone for bearing with my beginner questions... I of course have another!

I'm looking at the fancy Blue Sea distribution panels. I've got the following circuits that will need breakers:

1. VHF
2. Depth finder
3. "Cigarette lighter" outlet
4. Nav lights (stern, side)
5. Steaming/masthead light
6. Anchor light
7. Forward deck light

So it looks like I'll need an 8-breaker panel: BLUE SEA 8385 BREAKER PANEL DC 8 POS

I have a couple of questions:

a. The Blue Sea page bluesea.com indicates that the panel comes with 6 15A breakers. The equipment won't be pulling anywhere near 15A though, should I get lower-amperage breakers? They cost $35 a piece though for 5A, and the Blue Sea documentation says that 15A is fantastic for all circuits

b. Is it typical to dedicate a switch to the "cigarette lighter" outlet? Or just fuse the outlet and always leave it powered on?
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Old 06-01-2009
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If you every plan on expanding your electrical capabilities, get a larger panel now. It will save you the headache later. You don't have to put breakers in all of the postions until you need them.

To answer your questions:

a) Yes, get properly sized breakers for your load on each circuit.

b) I have several "cigarette lighter" outlets on my boat and have them on a dedicated circut.

If you are looking for better pricing on Blue Sea stuff try out Peter Kennedy Yacht Services - Marine Electrical Systems. You will hear others on this board speak of them negatively. I did not have that experience nor have others I know who used them. Thier prices are great, which is why I purhcased my supplies there when I rewired my entire boat.
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Last edited by nickmerc; 08-18-2011 at 05:22 AM.
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Old 06-01-2009
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First, a lot of those can probably be combined..

For instance, on my boat, I have a single breaker called navigation lights, and it leads to a fused switch panel. The six-switch panel has individual switches for the tricolor, anchor light, foredeck light, steaming light, stern light and bicolor bow light. This allows me to use the anchor light as an all-around 360˚ white light when motorsailing further offshore, and increases the distance I can be seen at considerably.

The fused switch panel allows me to tailor the size of the fuses for what each circuit requires. It also lets me keep the back of the circuit breaker panel much neater, having only a single wire coming off a breaker instead of two or three, and simplifies trouble shooting.

I also have one called electronics, and the instruments, VHF and GPS chartplotter are located on a fused switch panel connected to that.

One other advantage of doing it this way is that the switches don't have to be at the main electrical panel, since that may not always be the best location for them. On a friend's boat we did much the same, but put the two switch panels in the bridgedeck, so that they're easily accessible from the cockpit—so she switches the breakers on when she gets on the boat, but nothing is live until she flips the switches for them in the cockpit—makes single handing her boat simpler for her.

The fused switch panels I have been using are the BlueSea WeatherDeck ones, which are water-resistant.


Leaving room for future expansion is a wise idea. Having a dedicated breaker for the 12 VDC outlets makes sense. However, if you're going to have more than one, it might be wise to run them all to a fused panel so you can trouble shoot them more easily like the switch panels allow you to do with the navigation lights.

As for Peter Kennedy Yacht Services.... you might want to read this: LINK.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 06-01-2009 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009
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Call Peter Kennedy, he is the man and will help you through the process. He's a real class act who is always willing to go the extra mile for a customer.
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Old 06-01-2009
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JT—

This is the $40 mounting bracket that Peter Kennedy charged me for...



It is a rough piece of aluminum stock that didn't even have finished edges, not even ground smooth... and it wasn't wide enough for the mounting screws for the masthead light to go through it, so the screws were "glued" into place using silicone sealant, as you can see in this photo:



Yeah, Peter Kennedy's a real class act. BTW, the bracket didn't even last for the trailer trip from Annapolis to New Bedford. If you look at the screws he used, you can see why:



The screws were held to the masthead truck by silicone sealant, not by tapping the holes...
This is the mounting bracket job he did on the GPS swing arm mount:



The circle is the outer perimeter of the delrin bushing that is the bearing surface for the platform, which he put one of the screws into... and he didn't even bother drilling and mounting all four screws for the GPS mount...just two... very classy, very professional. BTW, the distance between the screws would have easily cleared the bearing if he had taken the time to carefully measure and drill the holes.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.

Last edited by sailingdog; 06-01-2009 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 06-01-2009
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So something like this for the nav lights switch panel:

Navigation Lights Control Panel by Borel Manufacturing Inc.

And then I'd have a fuse panel with a fuse for each individual light?

What's the point of the distribution panel switch for nav lights if they are all individually fused & switched?
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Old 06-01-2009
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That'd work... if you've got the space for it. btw, your boat, cheers??, is down at burr brothers, right? if you need a hand, i'm down there fairly often.
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New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 06-01-2009
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So Dog are you trying to say this guy cant measure OR make parts that fit OR coluld just care less about quality ?
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both....he just did a really crappy job after assuring me it'd have his personal attention.

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Originally Posted by tommays View Post
So Dog are you trying to say this guy cant measure OR make parts that fit OR coluld just care less about quality ?
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Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

If you're new to the Sailnet Forums... please read this
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
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Old 06-01-2009
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OK, so let's say I go with something like this on the distribution panel:

1. VHF, depthfinder
2. Nav lights (port, stbd, stern, anchor, steaming)
3. Forward deck light
4. Cigarette lighter outlets

I get an 8-switch distribution panel, plenty of room for more circuits. I get the fancy little diagrammed nav light switch, or the equivalent, for the nav lights. Maybe I can find some switch panel that lets me have the fwd deck light switch on it too.

I then get this bad boy and individually fuse each piece of equipment:

BLUE SEA 5026 FUSE BLOCK SCREW TERM BLADE

9 of the 12 fuses go to the 5 nav lights, the cig lighter outlet, the fwd deck light, the VHF, and the depth finder. These are all fused appropriately.

Now - in this scenario, would I be required to downgrade the circuit breakers on the panel from 15A to 5A ? I'm guessing "yes! you can't cheap out on safety!" is the answer here...


Sailingdog - yes I would love whatever assistance you have to offer! Not sure when I'll be back down, maybe this weekend, maybe later - I don't want to order anything until I get estimates on repairs. I had a second survey done because I didn't trust the Canadian surveyor's survey, it unfortunately found more work. Once I get the estimates from Burr Bros I can figure out what I have them do, what I do myself, and what my budget is for buying new equipment. I'd just be looking for advice of course, not hours of hard labor
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