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Thread: Electrical advice - AC circuits

  1. #1
    Member KC55's Avatar
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    Electrical advice - AC circuits

    Hello,

    I did a search on AC circuit breakers here on the forum and also looked on the www but couldn't find what I was looking for, so here's my question. I am looking for the correct setup for my AC main/breaker panel and want to know what specific model/brand I should look at. I have found some stuff but it seems to be leaning towards the DC side of the fence. I get the drift that a residential breaker box is not the correct way to go. That is what is installed in my Kingscraft Houseboat (from the factory I think). Is a residential setup legal? If it is kosher I would not mind going back with residential, but if I am going to the expense and trouble of putting in a new system I want to do it right.

    I believe what I want is a dual 50 Amp main with at least 6 circuits per side. I would like to have the DC side of the system in the same box (if this is legal). I just don't know what is out there, what is legal, and what is the best investment. I don't want to spend any more than I have to (have you ever heard anybody say, "Yea, I want to put more into this system than I need to, money is nothing! I haven't), but I want to have a safe, lasting, low maintenance electrical system.

    I would appreciate any comments (AC or DC) with specific recommendations.

    KC55
    1974 Kingscraft 55x15
    1987 Ebbtide 190 Catalina Open Bow w/Mercruiser V8


    http://www.kingscrafthouseboats.com

  2. #2
    Junior Member captrsimon's Avatar
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    Go to http://bluesea.com/ they will have what you are looking for. Find the part # and do a search on the net for the best price. It will be a little pricey, but if you want to do it right and look good. Also the best price on boat wire I have found out there hands down is http://genuinedealz.com/ I have used them more than once, 4 years ago when I did a complete rewire of our 72 Stardust and last summer when I upgraded our 88 Liberty Bells electrical to put in air.
    Last edited by captrsimon; 02-04-2013 at 08:23 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bamby's Avatar
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    Their are some important differences between ac wiring in the home and a boat. In looking at a photo in your blog it really doesn't appear to a home panel or an appropriate boat panel either. The mains need to be and are required to be isolated from the other breakers feeding circuits throughout the boat. As far as spark or ignition protection requirement of a marine breaker, in your case since the panel is located far from the engine compartment and ignition fumes read fuel you actually could get by safely with common AC breakers, but it would still be lacking the required code requirements.

    Ike who is a member here has a pretty extensive post on boat code and electrical requirements on his site. It starts here with "Basic Electricity - DC Circuits" and continues on to AC at page 7 on a fourteen page post on the topic. Their are also a lot of included links in the pages leading to references of the topic also included.

    You may also find this link "Electrical Systems Planning" useful.

    I know I found the information extremely useful when rewiring our boat.
    Last edited by Bamby; 02-04-2013 at 05:39 AM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Endurance's Avatar
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    I have no ties to Blue Sea Systems, but I'm with Cap't Simon in saying if you can replace a residential panel with matching AC and DC panels, you're smart to do it. Some of the residential panels are legal. But as you pointed out, most everyone views them as cheesy. I looked at a lot of options for my boat, including fabricating panels from aluminum an adding components. I found that when I added up the cost of a panel, individual breakers, meters, and the like, a bluesea panel isn't even that expensive and they make an outstanding product.

    If you want specific recommendations, you could give us a little more to go on. For example, dual 50 amp mains could mean the two hot legs of a 220v main or two separate 110v mains. If you have a generator that makes 220 volts, there are pros and cons to wiring it at 220v or 110v. If you don't have any metering, now is a good time to think about it. At very least, you will want to know voltage for your DC system. Your metering needs will help decide on panels.

  5. #5
    Junior Member captrsimon's Avatar
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    After looking at your pics I have a question. Do you have two shore power cords coming into the boat? If so are they 30 or 50 amps? If they are 30 and you are thinking you need 50 amps I would really look into the added cost of upgrading. Cord set alone could be very $$$ 50 amp 3 wire run 450-500 each while 30 amp run 50-100 each. Also you will need to upgrade the main wiring from shore power to main breaker to 8 AGW and so on and on..... I just went through this last summer, when I upgraded our electrical system to accommodate air. I decided to go with wiring it for 50 amp but only using 30 breaker and cords. I wasn't sure 30 amps would be big enough to handle two roof airs. 1-30 amp service works for us due to gas range, water heater and gas/elec refrigerator.

  6. #6
    Member KC55's Avatar
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    My shore power is currently 2 -30Amp service. I did not realize the additional expense of an amperage upgrade. The links to Ike's site are awesome, I will be reading and learning. This is the stuff I needed. I'll keep you up on what I decide.
    Last edited by KC55; 02-05-2013 at 06:06 PM.
    1974 Kingscraft 55x15
    1987 Ebbtide 190 Catalina Open Bow w/Mercruiser V8


    http://www.kingscrafthouseboats.com

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    I rewired mine with the blue sea panel. Top quality.

  8. #8
    Member Frantically Relaxing's Avatar
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    Couple of things: First, I'm not sure how or why a residential electrical panel designed to supply power to the home you live in would be considered "cheesy"? Because it doesn't look flashy or expensive? Then give it a fancy paint job, or hide it in the closet or under the helm like mine...

    Second-- Since what you plug your boat into should have a properly functioning GFI main breaker, is the expense and redundancy of another main in the boat necessary?
    1988 SkipperLiner 53x14
    1995 Tracker Party Cruiser 32 *for sale*
    2003 Chaparral 260 SSI
    2000 Allegro Bus 40' DP

  9. #9
    Member KC55's Avatar
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    Cheese :)

    I am still looking into this. Just for clarification, I didn't use the term "Cheesy", I am concerned about meeting code and safety. I still have research to do before I make this purchase. I still have reading to do (as suggested in this thread), I want to look at current houseboat manufacturers and see what they are using, and balance everything with the almighty dollar. I would prefer to be buying pepperjack or swiss and have crackers and beer.

    I am in the middle of the electrical tear-out/assessment. 38 years is a long time for people to make changes and additions and leave abandoned circuits in place. I'll try to take some pics and post them today. Thank goodness we bought an aluminum boat, I would consider being discouraged if we had to deal with rot and structural damage.

    It would be easy to cover problems up and slap some paneling and paint on it and go on. I just wouldn't be happy. My goal is to have a boat to enjoy, not to keep fixing.

    KC55
    1974 Kingscraft 55x15
    1987 Ebbtide 190 Catalina Open Bow w/Mercruiser V8


    http://www.kingscrafthouseboats.com

  10. #10
    Member boatlover's Avatar
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    I agree with Frantically. There is nothing wrong with a properly wired household panel. There is nothing special about a Blue Seas breaker except it is designed to be on display. I would spend any extra I had on a Isolation transformer instead of a panel for display.

    Here a pic of the panel in my boat.



    On the left one of 2 C Power Isolation transformers, Center main panel, Right HVAC panel. Boat has 2 50a 125/250 inlets. One for main and one for HVAC.
    1991 Pluckebaum 70'
    13' Boston Whaler, 40hp Yamaha
    10' AB rib, 25hp Suzuki (for sale)

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