Electrical Advice: Am I Legal?

Published in the May 2013 Issue May 2013

There’s a variety of technical and lifestyle information available on our forums. If you need to know, the regulars probably have an answer for you!

KC55 wanted to know: 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 don’t want to spend any more than I have to, but I want to have a safe, lasting, low-maintenance electrical system.

Senior member Bamby jumped in: There are some important differences between AC wiring in the home and on a boat. 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.

Endurance, also a senior member, offered this: 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 and adding components.

It kept going after this! If you want to see what KC55 decided on, head over to www.houseboatmagazine.com/forum and search for Electrical advice—AC circuits.

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