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replacing a 12v DC breaker panel

Nov 20, 2020
3
Hunter Hunter 27 Quantico Marina
Can anyone tell me if I update my 12v DC accessory control panel if I need to have a reverse polarity switch when using shore power? I cannot find a control panel similar to the one I have to meet my needs. When the main switch is on, there seems to be a loose connection that I cannot access.
 

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Jan 22, 2008
7,846
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
Call it a breaker panel, and you might get better results. Tried Blue Sea yet? Is that bottom light a reverse polarity ight. Is there another panel for your shore power needs? These days, shore power and 12 v dc should not be on the same panel.
 

Ward H

.
Nov 7, 2011
2,729
Catalina 30 Mk II Barnegat, NJ
is that your AC / shore power breaker and reverse polarity light under your DC breakers? If so, you may need to buy two panels. One for the AC breaker and one for the DC breakers.
But the real question/issue is why do you think there is a loose connection? And why can’t you locate it and fix it?
If you can’t access it, how will a new panel fix it?

you can buy replacement breakers if it’s a bad breaker.
 
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Aug 7, 2018
138
Catalina 350 Great Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario
It looks like the panel has been wet at some point? Is there water intrusion?
 
Nov 20, 2020
3
Hunter Hunter 27 Quantico Marina
Ron,

Yes the panel was wet at some point which may be why the breaker is starting to malfunction.
is that your AC / shore power breaker and reverse polarity light under your DC breakers? If so, you may need to buy two panels. One for the AC breaker and one for the DC breakers.
But the real question/issue is why do you think there is a loose connection? And why can’t you locate it and fix it?
If you can’t access it, how will a new panel fix it?

you can buy replacement breakers if it’s a bad breaker.
Ron,

I recently bought the boat and am trying to figure out the electrical system. Thank you for the advice on separating the two panels. I checked the connections and they are tight. When the switch is in the on position, there is no power going to my internal lights and navigation electronics. When I push on the switch, the lights and navigation electronics turn on but when I stop pushing on the switch they lose power. This is why I think it's a bad breaker.
 
Nov 20, 2020
3
Hunter Hunter 27 Quantico Marina
It looks like the panel has been wet at some point? Is there water intrusion?

David,
Yes the boat took on water at some point before I recently purchased it. I'm not sure what caused water to come into the boat but since I've owned it and have checked all seacocks, hoses, and through hulls there is no issue with taking on water.
 
Mar 29, 2017
487
Hunter 30t 9805 littlecreek
I'd either just replace the 120volt 2pole blue seas breaker and hope that's it. especially if 12volt side works fine. Or move install a 120volt complete panel next to the 12volt panel and remove all 120 volt wires out existing panel move to new as there's less 120v wires
 

Johnb

.
Jan 22, 2008
1,234
Hunter 37-cutter Richmond CA
I have had to replace breakers, both AC and DC that simply went bad with age, never mind water damage.

Parts are available to completely rebuild your panel but as others have pointed out it will not meet current standards in regard to AC. Unfortunately upgrading will cost a good part of a boatbuck but is well worth it for several reasons including safety, reliability and possibly ability to get insurance.
 
Nov 21, 2012
154
Yamaha 33 Port Ludlow, WA
1. You should replace all breakers that were potentially submerged. If they were water damaged and corroding, they won't get better with age.
2. It's hard to tell from the pictures you posted, but is the bottom breaker an AC breaker for shore power? If so, a shore power connection should have an ELCI breaker connected within 10' of the shore power inlet, and before anything else. A polarity indicator will likely be part of the new ELCI breaker. However they are bigger than a standard breaker, so fit might be an issue.
3. As mentioned, AC power needs to be kept separate from DC power. Separation can be a simple plexiglass or other non-conductive enclosure around the back of the AC breaker and wiring, so that no contact is possible between conductors. The enclosure can't be removable without the use of tools, per ABYC.




Can anyone tell me if I update my 12v DC accessory control panel if I need to have a reverse polarity switch when using shore power? I cannot find a control panel similar to the one I have to meet my needs. When the main switch is on, there seems to be a loose connection that I cannot access.
 
Last edited:
Jan 22, 2008
7,846
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
I have 2 lights on my AC panel. One comes on if there is shore power connected to the boat. The other is a reverse polarity light. I do not have a RP switch, as the problem would not be on my boat, but ahore.
 
Nov 6, 2017
33
Catalina Catalina 30 Stratford
First and foremost, and I'm not saying this to be mean, but if you do not understand how electricity works you should find someone who does or hire an electrician. Mistakes made when working on electrical systems can damage your boat and in some cases kill you or someone else. That said if you are confident to proceed the first thing to do is find out what is causing the problem through testing with a multimeter. Unnecessarily replacing parts to fix a problem is a very costly way to fix a problem. To begin troubleshooting, check to see if there is there power getting to the circuit breaker with the breaker turned off? If not check for blown fuses at the battery. If you have power at the breaker turn it on and check that there is power getting through the circuit breaker. If the breaker will not stay on you may have a short somewhere on that circuit that will have to be found and repaired or the circuit breaker is bad. To check the circuit breaker disconnect the circuit from the breaker leaving the power supplying it connected and see if it will stay on. If it does then it is probably not the problem. Next, reconnect the circuit and find all the devices on the circuit and disconnect them one at a time. You will know when you have found the offending device when your circuit breaker will stay on. This step is easier to accomplish if you have an electrical diagram to find the things on that circuit. Getting back to the circuit breaker if it has been wet at some point it should be replaced. The reason is circuit breakers are electro-mechanical devices that have parts in them that will rust when they get wet. Regardless of them working as far as being able to turn them off and on they may not work in the case of an overload or a direct short which can and does cause fires. Do not think that fire on a boat is no big deal until you watch a few youtube videos about boat fires. Burning fiberglass boats are extremely difficult to extinguish and typically burn to the waterline and sink. It is important to find the problem that is the cause of the problem as you will have peace of mind that you know that you have found and fixed the problem. Don't be surprised to find that the problem was caused by something someone did wrong because they did not understand what they were doing. Don't be one of those people.
Remember we are all good at some things and suck at others.
 
Jan 22, 2008
7,846
Beneteau 323 Annapolis MD
Can you take a hack saw and cut away the AC portion to separate it? Still, you'd have to cover the rear, wiring, side. Can you get us a closeup pic of the panel?