Sunday, March 31, 2013

New additional Electric Panel and Air Conditioner

A few months ago we purchased a new combination unit for the salon that is an air conditioner, reverse cycle heater and dehumidifier.  We had been waiting until the salon was a little further along and any leaks were resolved and we were not filling the salon with saw dust before we put the expensive unit in place.

We were able to resolve the leaks that we had from the ports as well as the chain plates and the building, cutting, sanding in the salon was finally wrapping up, so we loaded the Webasto FCF 16,000 BTU unit into the dock cart and hauled it on board.

It fit well into a spot right under the settee in the salon and is accessed by removing the slide out bunk in the salon and dropping it into the storage area from above.  When adding this unit to the boats total Electric supply it was just pushing the limit of our 30amp service.  The existing panel in the boat has separate breakers for both a forward and rear air conditioner, but given that this size air conditioner runs at about 9 amps (with a startup of about 15), and the rear air conditioner (as old as it is) runs at about 12 amps with a very high startup of about 18amps.  So if both units were running and the microwave was used or a hair dryer, this would likely pop the 30amp main in the boat or at the shore power supply panel.

We decided the best approach was to add a second electric panel and 30amp service into the boat and leave the rear air conditioner on the existing original panel and the new air conditioner on the new panel.  We decided to go ahead and add plenty of room for expansion and selected the Blue Sea 8074 Electric Panel.  It comes with a volt and amp meter built in to monitor usage through the panel.

It will notify you of reverse polarity from your dock power service so you can know that information before you start turning on breakers. We love this feature since we plan on visiting marina's and you just never know the quality of the power or wiring that may be in place.

I normally like to do most of the work on the boat myself, but was nervous about doing this job for 2 reasons.  First it requires drilling a hole in the outer hull of the boat and also it required wiring in the main electric feed to this breaker box.  Because of that we hired someone do to this and he was able to complete the whole job in about 4 hours or so.

He started by drilling a hole in the outside of the boat right above the existing 30amp service line.  The boat side connector was installed and matches the other style of waterproof connectors as the other 30amp power service, telephone and cable inputs.

The wire from that service line runs through the existing wiring channels across the engine room and toward the existing electrical box where it is routed just about a foot forward of the existing one to the new panel.  The bulkhead between the engine room and walkthrough had to be cut to attach the flush mounted panel  (See photo on right).  This went just below the Xantrex remote panel for monitoring battery bank charging and battery levels when not charging.

From the panel, the one and only used breaker, runs to the new air conditioner.  So we have 7 more available breakers that can be used in the future.  After the electric was run to the new unit, I plumbed in the sea strainer, sea water circulation pump and it was also connected to the unit.  The thermostat wire was run to a forward bulkhead wall.  So the moment of truth was here and we tested out the unit.  It ran but we were not getting water circulation.  I took the lines apart and luckily it didn't take too long but the culprit was a bit of a clog in the exit through-hull.  I suspect dirt dobbers or something had tried to nest in there but after a quick clean out, all was circulating and working great.  The good news is that we now have enough air conditioning to keep the boat cool even in the heat of southern summers.  When it gets cold, we also have the heat capability and if we are going to be off the boat for some amount of time, we can set the unit to auto dehumidify as well.   Making progress, slowly but surely.


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