New AC Panel

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Back to Home ... s/v Stella Blue home ... Wiring Page ... Projects

This picture explains it better. You can click on the picture to download a better drawing in Adobe Acrobat format.

Essentially, I created two entirely separate panels, with discrete Hot and Neutral busses.

The large Inverter switch supplies power to a single small 8 Amp breaker that feeds a limited number
of AC plugs.
(8A because it's a 1000W inverter.)

Everything else is standard and normal.


With the lockout bar removed,
both Shore Power and Inverter can be on
at the same time without any loops
or shared connections.

The Xantrax Freedom Charger/Inverter has the intelligence to switch the
inverter side AC circuits straight through
when shore power is available.

I need to find some black screws to match!

Of course,
I broke the LED when trying to move it without taking all the LED's apart. Oops, they come out from the front of the panel, so I would have *had* to take it all apart anyway.

Oh well. It's not a wiring project without at least one extra trip to the store.

The AC Source Selector *was* either 'Shore' or 'Inverter',
with a lockout switch to prevent them both being on at the same time so that either input source could feed the 8 breaker panel without fear of loopbacks that would blow up the inverter.

But when it came time to wire it all up,
it was clear that I really don't want the inverter doing anything
except feeding a small subset of plugs for Nav Station, Galley and TV.
I'm not setting up to live with lots of AC devices.

April 2004 -- I installed the new AC Panels as part of the Nav Station project, although I hadn't made a final determination about how the AC was going to be wired. I installed two generic panels:
Blue Seas Part #8032 --120 AC Source Selector Panel 30 A
Blue Seas Part #8059 -- 120 AC 8 Position Circuit Breaker Panel

On the panel, all the Grounds are tied together on a single post. I replaced all the nuts with Nylok nuts so they won't come off, and put heat shrink over all of the wires except the pre-made one that grounds the front of the panel.

The Panel itself, as well as
the Ground for the Shore AC
and Inverter AC,
are tied together on a
1/4" post on the DC Ground Bar.

To isolate that single breaker,
I did a little surgery with my Handy Dremel Tool on the
Hot Bus Bar .

Another very important thing was to isolate the LED and tie it to the inverter Neutral wire.
You don't want a wire from the inverter Hot Wire to connect over to the Shore Power Neutral wire. The Neutral wires are all tied to the same Ground (inside the inverter or at the dock) and a loop would make the inverter circuit's LED light find it's own Neutral through the ground wire.

It's the little details that'll get you.

My new charger/inverter is a Xantrex Freedom Marine 10, which has a 50 Amp charger and 1000 Watt inverter. It's actually not new... it's been sitting in the box for two years waiting for me to get around to installing it!
This model has the option of feeding all the AC plugs in the boat through the charger/inverter, since it has a relay that connects the Inverter output to the AC input line when there's current on the input line.
I decided NOT to wire it that way, as I want the flexibility of having AC power to the plugs without having the battery charger on. I also want to wire it so that if the Xantrex breaks,
I can wire in a separate charger and inverter without having to rewire the boat.

I decided to have Starboard and Port AC Outlets that run directly from shore power,
and a smaller AC run from the inverter.
I used Gray plugs for the inverter powered AC, and Ivory for the Shore AC. Details on the AC Plugs page.

To make it obvious,
I used a Red breaker
for the single AC Inverter run.

It's 8 Amps because
the inverter outputs 1000 Watts (8.3 amps).

So I have:

Inverter Outlets
Starboard Shore Outlets
Port Shore Outlets
Water Heater
Hot Tub
(I'm still trying to figure out where to put them.)

All breakers have #10 32 tpi screws.
For some reason, Ancor breakers have
small slotted screws, which
I find to be a real nuisance.

I replaced all the breaker screws with
3/8" long phillips head screws.
Phillips heads are easier to deal with, and a longer screw comes in really handy when working on the back of a panel once it's all wired up.

This little screwdriver from Home Depot is great for working on electrical panels.
I put a length of heat shrink on it for protection.
Naturally the panel should be entirely dead before working on it, but it never hurts to be extra safe.