Sunday, November 2, 2014

New Distribution Panels

Another project that I did last winter in my shed.

Part of the re-wiring project involved all new distribution panels for the navigation station. As I had mentioned earlier, the original panels were really showing their age. Not enough breakers for what I envisioned and even with the minimal items that we had there were several case of one breaker being used to service two or more loads. Not ideal.

The wiring was pulled and labeled and ready for the new panels. I chose Blue Sea Systems panels, specifically what they now refer to as their “Traditional Metal Panels.” When I bought them, the new “360” Panels were just being produced and were roughly twice the price. Sexier and a bit smaller but the traditional was fine by me.

The original factory distribution layout was composed of one 120V AC panel with AC Main and 3 positions. Functionally this panel was fine because it was only being used for the hot water heater and the cabin 120V AC outlets. The new panel will be have a Main and 6 positions but the bottom 3 will be for future use. Future use meaning if the new owners of the boat want to add a microwave or hot-tub...

On the DC side of the equation, the original setup had two panels of 6 positions each. Not quite enough and I had used single breakers to power dual devices in a few cases. I needed a few more positions so I opted for 3 panels of 6 positions each. Based on original plans for devices almost all of the breakers will be used.

Old “Temporary” panel:

IMG 0876

Newer mockup distribution panel:

Photo 1

With a basic setup in mind I purchased some cheap 1/2” plywood from Lowes and ordered some, well, actually a half-sheet of Wilsonart kitchen countertop laminate in a interesting dark color and pattern.

With the mockup fitted to the space I cut the plywood and traced the cutout template. Using a hole saw and my trusty Bosch jigsaw I did the cutouts. With that done I spread on the contact cement and rolled on the laminate. After a day of letting the contact cement set up, I routed out the openings in the laminate.

IMG 3711

The panels were arranged and screwed into place along with base for the Link 20 and the Raymarine ST60 Multi repeater. Just to the right of the Multi readout I cut two holes for a basic 12V DC cigarette outlet and a dual USB outlet, both from Blue Sea Systems.

Panel under construction:

IMG 3727

IMG 3729

For this iteration I did not use the piano hinge that was on the temporary mockup because I’m not sure that this panel I was working will actually go into the boat. In all likelyhood on the final panel I will use a marine plywood and add the piano hinge on the bottom. The original panel installed by C&C required that each distribution panel be unscrewed and pulled out in order to get at the wiring. This was inconvenient and frustrating.

Semi-final distribution panel (with original hacked up melamine panel in front):

IMG 3831

First cut at assigning devices to breakers:

12VDC Layout Screenshot

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