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Unpaid Intern
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Discussion Starter #1
OK, this is really basic electrical, but since I'm new to boat electrical stuff, please bear with me.

Our 1984 Sabre 34 has no 12v outlets--none whatsoever. As a temporary solution, we have a portable outlet connected to a battery, but we need to install permanent outlets.

For now, I'm planning on interior-only near our nav station (no cockpit plug at this time).

So to my question(s): First, how are 12v outlets typically wired into the DC system--by this I mean, do they go through the DC breaker panel? If so, on what circuit would they typically go? On their own "Outlets" circuit, along with "Cabin Lights", other?

I realize this might be personal preference, but I'd like to know what typical is before I do something different--at least I have a frame of reference.

Below is my current breaker panel, so I'm open to suggestions as to how best to incorporate. Note there are two "Cabin Lights" breakers (one forward half of boat, other aft half)--I could combine those maybe and free up something new?

Anyway, please let me know what's typical with 12v outlets, if there is such a "typical" treatment.
Thanks!
-J
 

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Irrationally Exuberant
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We have only one 12v outlet--one of those round cigarette lighter types--it has its own breaker on the 12v panel.
 

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I installed three 12v outlets. They are wired into the "cabin lights" breaker. We have a rule...nothing more powerful than a laptop on those outlets. So no TV, coffe makers etc via inverter. Just the laptop, cell phone chargers and other lower draw devices.

I've ordered a new Paneltronics panels (both AC & DC) since the ones from the Benetau factory are a bit weak. Once those panels are installed, I'll run the 12 v on their own circuit, putting one on a stronger circuit with heavier duty wiring for high draw items.
 

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Telstar 28
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Joz—

Looks like you can add a breaker at the bottom of the panel to dedicate to the 12 VDC outlets.
 

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Unpaid Intern
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks night0wl and arf145 for the the info.

SD, I can probably use that spot for a 12v outlet breaker, but I'm also going to be adding refrigeration, so that'll need its own breaker too. While I may eventually replace the panels, like night0wl was talking about, I'm probably not doing that for a while.

However, sounds like most people either have the 12v outlets on a cabin lights circuit or on its own. Ideally, I'd have them on their own, but it might be cabin lights "aft" for now.

-J
 

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you could also combine the compass light with the running lights, thats how it is on my boat, not saying my boat is right thou.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
you could also combine the compass light with the running lights, thats how it is on my boat, not saying my boat is right thou.
That's not a bad idea, actually. Every time I've used my running lights, I've used my compass light too. Good idea scottyt!
 

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I use a single 15 Amp breaker for my navigation lights (bow bicolor, stern light, steaming light, anchor light, tricolor light and foredeck light,) and the compass light. Since all of the fixtures are 25 watt or smaller, the total they could draw is less than 15 amps combined. I have a single wire coming off the panel to a six-switch fused panel, which gives the individual fixtures protection as required.

This would allow you to combine five of your existing breakers into a single breaker—compass light, running lights, masthead light, anchor light, and foredeck light—freeing up four breakers for you.

The switch panel I use is a Blue Sea WeatherDeck panel, which uses the mini-blade fuses.

Thanks night0wl and arf145 for the the info.

SD, I can probably use that spot for a 12v outlet breaker, but I'm also going to be adding refrigeration, so that'll need its own breaker too. While I may eventually replace the panels, like night0wl was talking about, I'm probably not doing that for a while.

However, sounds like most people either have the 12v outlets on a cabin lights circuit or on its own. Ideally, I'd have them on their own, but it might be cabin lights "aft" for now.

-J
 

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Unpaid Intern
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Discussion Starter #9
I use a single 15 Amp breaker for my navigation lights (bow bicolor, stern light, steaming light, anchor light, tricolor light and foredeck light,) and the compass light. Since all of the fixtures are 25 watt or smaller, the total they could draw is less than 15 amps combined. I have a single wire coming off the panel to a six-switch fused panel, which gives the individual fixtures protection as required.

This would allow you to combine five of your existing breakers into a single breaker—compass light, running lights, masthead light, anchor light, and foredeck light—freeing up four breakers for you.

The switch panel I use is a Blue Sea WeatherDeck panel, which uses the mini-blade fuses.
Hey now I kind of like that idea. I could use some free "slots", and at least having all those lights on a separate panel would have some logic to it. Thanks for the food for thought!

Opening up would mean a slot for 12v outlets, refrigerations, and I could break out my stereo from the radar, gps, and VHF, which bugs me.

Thanks again!
-J
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey sailingdog, now that I think about it, although I see how the Bluesea fuse panel is sufficient for the job, why would I not just add a regular circuit breaker panel instead? I mean, my panels are not above decks, so I don't need the waterproofing. It would be only a little bit more $ for a Microlog panel, no?

Just thinking out loud...
-J
 

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COST. A Bluesea 6-position Circuit breaker panel costs about $270. A fused 6-position BlueSea WeatherDeck switch panel costs about $110.

Flexibility. Circuit breaker panels usually come with 15 amp breakers stock. Replacing them with properly sized 1, 2.5 and 5 amp breakers is very expensive and hard to do. The Blue Sea fused panel uses fuses that are cheap and readily available. The WeatherDeck panels can also be mounted in the cockpit so that at the beginning of a long voyage you can turn on the breaker, and then turn the actual lights on and off in the cockpit as necessary.

Space.
The BlueSea 6-position circuit breaker panel is about 10.5" x 3.75" and can only be mounted horizontally. The BlueSea WeatherDeck panel is only 3.88" x 6", and can be mounted horizontally or vertically.

Safety. The BlueSea circuit breakers aren't protected from accidental shut off... the switches on the BlueSea WeatherDeck are.

Any questions???

Hey sailingdog, now that I think about it, although I see how the Bluesea fuse panel is sufficient for the job, why would I not just add a regular circuit breaker panel instead? I mean, my panels are not above decks, so I don't need the waterproofing. It would be only a little bit more $ for a Microlog panel, no?

Just thinking out loud...
-J
 

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My solution is less expensive and far more flexible. For instance, on my boat, I can use the anchor light as an all-around when motoring off shore and want to be seen at a greater distance—or as a substitute if the stern light or steaming light burn out.
I really like this nav light panel: navltindhome

It even has indicators to warn you when nav light goes out, though it is a bit pricey.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think for me it will come down to whether or not I feel like I need additional circuit breakers for other uses, or a different configuration. If I simply add on to what I have, I think that SD's recommendation is a good one. If I start replacing what I have (which I was originally eliminating as a possibility), then I might use circuit breakers.

My set up currently has a separate panel, mounter lower down than the one in my original post that has just a volt meter on it and switch to view voltage on each bank.

However, that panel is large enough for a microlog DC panel with digital volt/ammeter plus 6 breakers. Might be worth replacing that panel so I'd have a better meter, plus 6 new breakers. Of course, that's not the cheaper way to go.

Thanks for the input everyone--I gained some valuable info, as usual.
-J
 

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I went the Blue Sea route and bought 8 AC/ 16DC panel and an additional 8dc Blue sea panel to rewire everything. When Boaters World went upside down I got them for about 1/3 price but would go this route anyway. The nice thing about these panels is they are prewired and well designed. I am replacing all my original C&C panels in the fall with these on a piano hinge so I have easier acccess than having to unscrew and lift out a whole panel.

My suggestion to youjoz is to look into the future when adding your panel. If in the next few years you will rewire and get things on seperate circuits which I recommend, buy an extra panel now and start. Each year you can add something similar to improve your whole system, like next year a similar brand panel with the battery meters and over a couple years upgrade the whole panel to new and have it uniform. Doing things piecemeal as opposed to a plan will make you wish you had later on. If you have original panels like mine you will want to replace them eventually.

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #16
...My suggestion to youjoz is to look into the future when adding your panel. If in the next few years you will rewire and get things on seperate circuits which I recommend, buy an extra panel now and start. Each year you can add something similar to improve your whole system, like next year a similar brand panel with the battery meters and over a couple years upgrade the whole panel to new and have it uniform. Doing things piecemeal as opposed to a plan will make you wish you had later on....
I agree chef2sail. I'm definitely trying to plan ahead now for what I'll be doing over the next few years.
Thanks
-J
 
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