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  #1  
Old 11-01-2012
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Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

I am contemplating putting a new Blue Sea distribution panel


into my boat to replace the old panel



and would love to hear from anyone else that has either gone this route and just swapped out an old panel for a complete new one or swapped out the individual breakers, meters and switches on an old panel.

The old breakers, battery switch, and meters are shot. It looks like I can do the individual replacements for about 2/3 the cost of the replacement panel, but going that route I'll need to figure out how to refurb the face plate and find a new location for the battery switch because I haven't been able to find a switch that will fit into the existing spot.

(The project also involves revising the battery and charging setup so that I have a house bank charged from the alternator and on board AC charger and a dedicated start battery that is completely separate from the house bank and charged with an Echo charger. That's not the can of worms I'm actively looking for feedback on right now but figured somebody was gonna ask so there it is..... ....and I'm replacing about 942 miles of old wire and battery cable along the way).

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thanks.
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Old 11-01-2012
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

I must say that new panel looks great. There is a lot to be said for keeping the original panel but in your shoes I'd go with new one.

I've gone both routes, replacing individual components and entire panel. Individual components can be a bit more cost effective, but not always. In your case Keeping the original panel means some refurb work, possibly cheesey stick-on labels and some sort of batt switch shoe horned in there. I think it's a no brainier, that new panel is my vote.
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Old 11-01-2012
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

I'm guessing that your panel is right under the main companionway. If that's the case, the new stuff will suffer the same fate unless you protect it with a plastic cover plate or something similar, or move it elsewhere to a more protected location.

That Blue Sea stuff is very nice but $$$$. If you have the skill, making your own is a good way to go. I'd use tinted plexi or something similar for the panel surface.
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

I custom made a new panel for my 85 Pearson 34 with Blue Sea panels. I'm real happy with result. I can send photos if you give me your email. I have never had luck uploading photos on Sailnet. Resize to 800x600 but no luck.
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Old 11-02-2012
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

I used these panels when replacing Haleakulas Panels last year when I rewired the entire boat. Yes they are a little expemsive, but way worth it. I didnt feel the need for an AC meter and got the analogue meters (2) for the starting and house bank on the DC side. The didgital were more exoensive but I added a Victon battery meter which was digital.

Also you only have 12 DC switches, 1/2 of which are lights. I am thinking you have more than 1 electronics on that switch. I have radar seperated from chartplotter from sailing instruments ( depth, knot,wind) from autopliot. Even though Seatalk system is activate by chartplotter, I can run instruments independently. We also have pumps seperated. Washdown, Fresh water, Bilge, Mascerator and shower sump. Propane sniffer, AC i would sperate the outlets on port and starboard.
You may want to add some later and with 12 you cant expand. I would up relocating my panel and installing it in a large piece of teak on the bulkhead which pulled down easily to be able to work on it.


DC 18 Position - PN 8378 - Blue Sea Systems
AC 8 Position - PN 8059 - Blue Sea Systems

Quote:
I'm guessing that your panel is right under the main companionway. If that's the case, the new stuff will suffer the same fate unless you protect it with a plastic cover plate or something similar, or move it elsewhere to a more protected location.-SloopJohnB
I agree it looks like its above the steps under the campanionway, not a good place for a panel in terms of water as well as being kicked. I would relocate.

Dave
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Old 11-02-2012
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

Thanks for the feedback, guys.

Shortman - my e-mail is bigdogandy at earthlink do net, and I'd love to see pictures of your new panel. Whether I go with the complete panel or just replace the individual components it seems that the Blue Seas products are very good quality.

Chef - you make some good points about making room for spare breakers so that I could add items in the future, and I may opt for taking the battery switch off the panel to make room for some additional DC breakers and maybe taking the ammeter out to make room for some additional AC breakers. But - I'm not not that interested in electronic gear. I have a nice little chartplotter and a fixed mount VHF radio with a remote mic at the binnacle, but don't have wind instruments or that much interest in them, and radar isn't something I'm likely to add. I use the boat mostly for daysailing and some overnight trips but you never know when the urge may hit to upgrade to some modern technology. And you and SloopJonB make good points about the existing location not being ideal, I'm just not sure where I could move it where it would be in a readily accessable spot without sacrificing the space it would move into. I'll be on the boat this weekend, though, and will study on that.

Thanks again for your help guys.
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Old 11-02-2012
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

Which ever way you go, I would recommend having breakers on the main panel for major circuits, then having a sub panel for individual components.

For instance, on my boat I have a breaker on the main panel labeled "Nav Station," instead of a breaker for VHF, GPS, 12V outlet (at Nav station). I also plan to have one breaker for "Nav Lights" (saving two or three breaker spots), and add a waterproof sub panel somewhere in the cockpit for Running Lights, Steaming Light, Anchor Light, Foredeck Light.
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

Also, while you are at it, I suggest having separate "Port Cabin Lights" and "Stbd Cabin Lights" breakers. That way if you trip one, you won't be completely in the dark.
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Old 11-02-2012
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

Blue sea panels are great. You probably already know this, but use the correct crimper (Compass Marine's Photo Galleries at pbase.com ), and a quality wire stripper was also a huge help and timesaver.

I replaced a sub panel with Blue Sea and really love it, especially the the backlit labels, which are so good I may also replace my main panel. The entire look and feel is vastly superior. It also provided a great opportunity to replace spaghetti with neater more rational wiring. I used a lot of the cheap plastic "spiral wrap" (as well as the usual hanging and regular ties) to hold bundles of wires together.

The only surprise in the project was was the number - and cost - of connector used. Especially is you use the heat-shrink variety. That blew my budget. In some places, due to differences in wire length or organization, I ran a set of wires from the panel to a terminal block - double the number of connectors, and a block!

Like eherlihy's, I also consolidated the nav circuits; I put in a small fusebox to protect individual circuits.

My biggest timesink was dropping those fiddly screws - especially for the ground bus and the terminal blocks - into the bilge.

Enjoy! It's a fun project, and you'll never look back.....

Last edited by paul323; 11-02-2012 at 04:34 PM. Reason: fixed link
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Old 11-02-2012
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Re: Blue Sea custom electrical panel opinions

Fiddly screws. That berough back flashbacks..I can relate todropping a few of them. I found a magnetic screwdriver helped.

Wouldnt it be better to have the nav stuff on different circuts in case one was out or you wanted to save energy and not run certain instruments all the time.

Dave
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