Installing the main electrical panel

My plan was to install a new wiring panel at the front of the starboard quarterberth, beside the existing outlet:
This is me, cutting out the fiberglass with a foxtail saw, and test-fitting the new panel:
There is a teak rail around the front of the panel, to prevent accidentally switching a circuit. As well, all the switches are off in the "down" position, so that if something falls on them, they won't turn on and drain the battery.
I wired up as much of the panel at home as possible, so that most of the soldering was done ahead of time.
Busbars were a difficult topic -- I simply couldn't justify spending the exorbitant prices for "marine" busbars. Hence, I made my own, which are probably way oversized. I bought a section of 1/4" x 1-1/4" brass, 3 feet long. This I cut into shorter pieces, and drilled and tapped for the appropriate screws or bolts. Each busbar was mounted onto 1/4" plexiglass, which was epoxied into place, with 5200 as a backup adhesive in case the epoxy lets go.
One of the best tools I bought for the electricals was a "brother" handheld label machine. I used this to label the front and the back of the panel, for ease of tracing wires and faults later.
This is the installed panel, showing: 12V feed from the main switch (red, at top), fuse holders (top row of panel), switches (bottom of panel), ground return (black, at bottom left), and lighting busbars with diodes (bottom right). The diodes are installed so that the windex light and instrument lights will be on, regardless of which nav lights I'm using (deck-mounted or masthead).

Secondary electrical panel and battery charger

The main panel controls all the "normal" day-to-day electrical items on the boat. I installed a second, "emergency" panel, to control the stuff that would normally be left alone. It corresponds to the lower section of my electrical diagram (see the bottom of this page), and has fuses for the bilge pump, battery charger, and outboard alternator feed.
As with the lights, the bilge pump is powered via diodes from both batteries, so that it will continue to run, even if one battery dies, without connecting the two batteries together. However, diodes can fail, and there is an override switch to directly connect the pump to either battery.
In the last two photos here, you can also see the new battery cutoff switch (1/2/both/off), and the 12V courtesy outlet in the v-berth. The wood covers the old electrical panel hole, with no fiberglass work required.
Also, in the first two photos, you can see that I've painted the bottom of the sink white, to help brighten up the area below the galley.
Next to the secondary panel, there is a set of small busbars that connect the battery charger, bilge pump, and batteries. The two vertical busbars go to the batteries; the diodes connect to the bilge pump, and the horizontal busbar is the ground return. On the right, you can see the new Guest 2610 battery charger. It's a three-stage charger, with a max charge rate of 5 amps per battery. I labeled the front of the charger to make it easier to hook up, and to be able to remove it over the winter to keep the batteries on charge at home.
These two photos give a good overview of the layout against the bulkhead. To the right of the battery charger is the bonding busbar, which connects the mast, keel, 12V ground and 120V ground. All these connections are made using green wire, to note that they are non-current-carrying. See Nigel Calder's "Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual" for more details on this.
The blue junction box at the top right is for the second shore-power outlet, which feeds the battery charger.
Installing anything on a 22-foot boat is a challenge of space, and wiring is no exception. Here I am, wedged into the galley, soldering wires together:
The final product. This is the secondary panel, fully installed and wired. I attached a small multimeter to the galley door with velcro, which plugs into the panel to check the battery voltage. It can also be easily detached to be used elsewhere on board if necessary.
© 2018 Melissa Goudeseune