Rewiring Help

Discussion in 'Boat Modification Journal' started by jconna, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. jconna

    jconna New Member

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    PA
    Can someone help me understand a good wiring scenerio? I read the post a few down and it seems way too technical for my application. I will start by giving you a layout of my current situation. I only have a 14' Jon boat. Starter Battery which I will ignore, and a deep cell battery both located in the back of the boat. I have a steering console with a rocker panel installed and two cigarette lighters. Fish Finder, and an navigation lights. One cigarette ligher is used for a power converter to 110 in order to play a radio. The other is used for spotlights, etc...

    It is currently a pathetic system that gives me nothing but problems, and I want to rewire it AND do it correctly. I'll give you what I'm thinking but I also have a few questions.

    1) I have read that I should put a (high amp) breaker on my positive wire within 18" of my battery in case the wire was to short out. I have no idea what they mean by a high amp breaker though. I look on the internet and I see all types of amperages. I'm not stupid, but I don't know much about electricity.
    2) I would then continue this hot wire to my console area (not enclosed..does this Matter?) and connect it to a fuse or breaker panel of some sort
    3) Out of the breaker or fuse panel into my rocker switch for lights, and bilge pump.
    4) Run a ground wire to my console (approx 8 foot runs) area and connect to a bus bar
    5) Ground my lights, bilge, and rocer panel through the bus bar
    6) Run direct wires from the cigarette lighters to the battery with inline fuses. (Ideas on fuse sizes based on what I'm running)??
    7) Run a direct connection from my depth finder to the battery with an inline fuse.

    Any thoughts? Suggestions? I want to do this right this time and not worry about it every time I go out. Any help will be appreciated, but if it gets too technical...I'm going to be lost again. There are a few of you that sound like you really know you're stuff and will probably think of this as very trivial, but I really am confused as to what I need to do here. Thanks
     
  2. Big Dav

    Big Dav New Member

    Messages:
    1,016
    State:
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    Jeff,
    I will try to help if I can.
    1) What you need at the back is a circuit breaker large enough for the total amount of amps used on the other end (distribution / fuse block) for all you accessories combine. I typically run 10ga or the larger 8ga wire and place a 30 or 40 amp breaker at the back. That breaker has one purpose and that is to protect the battery in case something is shorted (grounded) out. It does nothing to protect the accessories. That is what the distribution / fuse block is for with individual fuse for each of the other accessories. The lower amp rating int he fuse block will blow in case of a problem with one of the accessories and still allow the other accessories to function and not trip the larger high amp breaker int he back.
    2) The Ideal of placing the fuse panel under the console is just to help protect it from the elements (rain, sun, etc.) Just place it up high enough under the console to get it out of the way and as protected as possible.
    3) that is what you want to do. Come out of the fuse panel and then to you switch to the accessory. The better quality switches and parts you use the less trouble you will have down the road.
    4)It is much easier to run one ground to the battery and make all the connections in the same general area. It can get messy and confusing trying to connect a half dozen small wires to the battery and remember what and where they go to. Are you OK with what a buss bar is?
    5)If you have a large enough main wire for the ground to the buss bar that would be a very good choice to ground your accessories. You never want to tie accessory grounds into existing grounds in a wiring harness or ground anything to the boat itself. The existing grounds may already be at there limit and in a boat you want to always ground to the batter.
    6)I run accessories like that to the fuse block and I always put a switch on them. Make sure the switch has a high enough amp rating to carry the accessory. You will have to check with you particular accessories to see there amp rating. That will help you in correcting amp rating on fuses as well.
    7) Again, I fuse and switch my depth finder as well in the distribution / fuse panel. That way I can make sure to cut power to any and all accessories when not in use and I don't have loads of small wires to connect at the battery.

    This is just an example of how I do wiring and I am not saying it is better than what anyone else does but it has worked for me on many wiring jobs in boats.

    I hope this helps and clears some things up. Let me know if I need to clarify further or can help with more questions.
    Thanks
    David
     

  3. jconna

    jconna New Member

    Messages:
    154
    State:
    PA
    Thanks…I think that I’m understanding what you’re saying on the amp load. If not, maybe I still need some teaching. I think that I have the negative bus down. It simply takes the large lead from the battery and allows a central place away from the battery to ground all of you’re accessories. As far as my accessories go…I really don’t have anything that is drawing a lot of amps short of possibly my cigarette lighters and I don’t know how to tell what that would be? Here’s pretty much a list of everything that I have and any recommendations by the manufacturer. Regardless of what I have, I'll take you're suggestion and just go with a 30 or 40 amp breaker in the rear.

    Switch Panel…….6 Gang w/breaker….Individual circuits 10amp / 40 total
    http://seasense.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=231&category_id=24&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=26

    Anchor Light is recommending a 1 amp fuse. Does this mean that is all that I need to allow for? EG…As far as adding up totals for my Breaker at the battery.
    http://www.attwoodmarine.com/products/Install_Instructions/69367a_eng_frnch.pdf

    Navigation light also recommends a 1 amp fuse.
    http://www.attwoodmarine.com/products/Install_Instructions/69383-B%20Bi-Color%20w-Task%20Light.pdf

    Fish Finder is recommending a 3 amp fuse

    No idea how to tell what a spotlight or my power converter would require? Am I correct in running them directly to the battery or should I look at running them through a separate circuit breaker system?
    http://www.pmariner.com/productFeature.php?ProductNum=79018&page=1

    Don’t have the bilge pump yet but I can’t imagine that they draw much either?

    If I’m understanding you correctly, I am only drawing a total of 5 amps without the lighter (power inverter, radio, and spotlight). I don’t know what they would require, but most of the fuse panels that I am seeing are 30 amp per connection, and 100 for the unit. I’m assuming that I would simply stick a 1 amp fuse for the lights, and a 3 amp for the fish finder, etc…Just match the recommended fuse. How would I go about trying to determine what size breaker of fuse I need for whatever I’m plugging into the cigarette lighters? Or do I even need to worry about it? Should I just run them directly to the battery and forget about it? Lastly...Thanks for the advice on running the fish finder directly into the fuse panel. I had always heard that they need a direct connection to the battery but I read the manual, and sure enough...It's acceptable to go to the panel. Much easier and shorter run!

    Sorry for such long questions and comments. I’m just trying to get a handle on it. Thanks for taking the time to help out.

    Jeff
     
  4. Big Dav

    Big Dav New Member

    Messages:
    1,016
    State:
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    Jeff,

    I have a panel like that in my tracker only mine has rocker switches. Been a good panel for the money. Just be careful about excess water if possible. My switches get a little corroded and need to be cleaned from time to time. I put some dielectric grease inside them and it helped. You switches are different so you probably wont have the same issue.
    You power inverter requires a 15 amp fuse.
    My front and rear lights are always tied together on the same fuse/breaker/switch. I run a 5 amp fuse ( if memory serves me correctly, but you will be safe by following the manufacture specs) for them but it will blow in case of a problem. You will know pretty fast if a fuse is smaller than it needs to be.:roll_eyes::big_smile:
    For my 12 volt outlets I run 30 amp fuses. Over rated for most anything I use but I don't want them limited by a small fuse. Keep in mind i have more than one outlet on that circuit and may use more than one light at a time. You can figure your amps on your lights with this formula: total watts divided by volts equals amps or watts/volts=Amps. With that known formula the amps will fluctuate with changes in voltage. For example my 70,000 candle power Ram spot light uses a 37.5 watt bulb, therefore it would be 37.5 devided by say 14 volts would = 2.7 amps +/- depending on voltage but it came with a 4 amp fuse. I am working from memory on the formula to figure amps from watts and voltage. I will need to double check that if you want to use the formula to fuse your lights.:big_smile: My Brinkman 3,000,000 spotlights came with a 10 amp fuse. My Brinkman sealed crappie lights have a 55 watt bulb butt they cam with a 20 amp fuse in them. I can't tell you why they are that high.:confused2: My Golight is rated at 400,000 candle power with a 65 watt bulb and is listed int he specs as 5.5 amps. Knowing this it still reads in the instructions to put it on a 15 amp fuse circuit.
    What I am getting at with most items you plug into a 12 volt outlet will have there own fuse in-line in the plug. That will protect the individual item in case of a short. While allowing all the other items to remain working and the main fuse for that circuit to not fail. My fuse for my 12 volt outlets does the same purpose as the main breaker int he back. Protects the circuit not the individual items being used in that circuit. If that makes sense.

    I hope this helps and if not just let me know and I try to clarify anything if possible.:big_smile::roll_eyes::smile2:
    Thanks
    David
     
  5. jconna

    jconna New Member

    Messages:
    154
    State:
    PA
    Makes perfect sense...Thanks David! Time for a trip to BP to pick up a few things and get moving on this. Appreciate the clarification on everything
     
  6. Big Dav

    Big Dav New Member

    Messages:
    1,016
    State:
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    Your very welcome. I am glad to have been at least some help.:big_smile:

    Best of luck to you finding what your looking for a BP. I gave up and started ordering from different suppliers online.:eek:oooh: Seems like every time I made a trip to BP they did not have what I wanted or the price was just crazy for the quality parts they offer.:angry:

    Also one more thing on the wire for your boat. Use marine grade wire if at all possible. The copper is tin coated for better corrosion resistance and the insulating jacket is designed to hold up better to the elements, gas, etc.:big_smile:
    Here is a link to a post I made in my boat modification journal that has some pics of a little of the wiring I did in my new boat. I still have the under console wiring to do but some of the info and pics might also help some. http://www.catfish1.com/forums/showpost.php?p=927881&postcount=79

    That post is located on page 9 of that thread. http://www.catfish1.com/forums/showthread.php?t=64914

    Have a good one,
    David
     
  7. jconna

    jconna New Member

    Messages:
    154
    State:
    PA
    Well, I found what I wanted except for the wiring and connectors. For that, I went to Home Depot and had it cut. I'm sure it's not marine grade though, so I hope I don't need to replace it any time soon because of that error on my judgement. I've protected it all very well and will be putting liquid electrical on my bus bar / fuse panel connections. Both the bus bar and fuse panel are well hidden in the console panel, but I want to protect as well as possible from condensation. It's getting there though, and you were a big help in getting me on the right track! Running the new fish finder connection now so that I can tie everything up under the console. By the way.....You have done a fantastic job on you're boat. Looks great!

    Talk to ya later,
    Jeff