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Wiring for a Switch Panel and Bus Bar?

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  • Wiring for a Switch Panel and Bus Bar?

    So I'm thinking about adding a switch panel and a negative bus bar to my pontoon. The pontoon has no wiring or any kind of electrical devices installed yet. I want to make sure I hook this up currectly. My first question is do I have to run a line from the negative post on the battery to the bus bar, or can I just install the bus bar and run the negative wires from the stereo and lights, etc to that bar? On the ones I've looked at, I don't see an input terminal or anything like that where I would bring a line from the battery in so I didn't know if I could just screw the bar in under the console and that was it?

    My second question then would be, do I just run a line from the positive post on the battery to the (pre-wired) switch panel's positive lead and then run the switch panel's negative lead to the bus bar? And then any devices I can run the positive into the switch panel and the negative to the bus?

  • #2
    Originally posted by gillmeone View Post
    So I'm thinking about adding a switch panel and a negative bus bar to my pontoon. The pontoon has no wiring or any kind of electrical devices installed yet. I want to make sure I hook this up currectly. My first question is do I have to run a line from the negative post on the battery to the bus bar, or can I just install the bus bar and run the negative wires from the stereo and lights, etc to that bar? On the ones I've looked at, I don't see an input terminal or anything like that where I would bring a line from the battery in so I didn't know if I could just screw the bar in under the console and that was it?

    My second question then would be, do I just run a line from the positive post on the battery to the (pre-wired) switch panel's positive lead and then run the switch panel's negative lead to the bus bar? And then any devices I can run the positive into the switch panel and the negative to the bus?
    My guess is your running this circuit up to the helm/console. Don't use the boats pontoons and structure for a ground circuit, run at least a 10AWG wire from the negative to your buss bar. Run power up with same size wire to another buss. The easiest way is to pick up a fuse panel with both ground and power together as shown below (Exp Blue Sea)
    Click image for larger version

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    • #3
      So I do need a separate fuse panel in addition to the switch panel? The switch panel I'm looking at has built in breakers. I was thinking I could just run power into that from the battery and then hookup a separate negative bus bar to run the negative (from the Switch Panel) into that and then the negatives for the stereo and lights into the negative bus bar as well? I want the stereo ran into the switch panel so that way I can kill ALL power to the stereo so it doesn't drain my battery

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      • #4
        You have one or the other. If you have a switch panel with built-in breakers you don't need a fuse panel. If the switch panel doesn't have fuses or breakers you need a separate fuse panel. Switch panels with breakers, although convenient, generally have a mix of breaker ratings that may not be the best solution. If you use a separate fuse panel, you use fuses appropriate for the circuit they protect. As for ground bus type, some switch/breaker panels have built-in positive AND negative buses, while others do not. If there is no negative bus, you need one. If there isn't you don't.

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        • #5
          Thanks Silvertip. One last question. If the Switch Panel I use does not have a negative bus, and I get a separate one, do I have to run a line from the battery to that bus bar? Or is it good as it is when I mount it to the console? Also, could I run the ground wire from the switch panel to the bus bar, or would I have to run that line straight back to the battery?

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          • #6
            If your panel doesn't have a negative area you will need a separate bus bar. The separate bus bar will need to have a negative wire from the bus bar to the battery.

            It should look something like this.
            If you tell me what panel you have and the acc. you want I can make a wire diagram for you to use.
            Attached Files
            Last edited by 2 Eagles; December 9th, 2014, 09:21 AM.

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            • #7
              your diagram actually helped me with everything i need. thank you!!!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by gillmeone View Post
                Thanks Silvertip. One last question. If the Switch Panel I use does not have a negative bus, and I get a separate one, do I have to run a line from the battery to that bus bar? Or is it good as it is when I mount it to the console? Also, could I run the ground wire from the switch panel to the bus bar, or would I have to run that line straight back to the battery?
                Unless all the Negatives/Returns have a path back to the battery, nothing wll work.
                The Negative Buss cable need to be at least as heavy as the Positive Cable. Usually 10 gauge or larger.
                Also do not ignore the main (~30A+) fuse in the Positive Cable, very close to the battery. It is NOT Optional.
                Bill, Lorain Ohio

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                • #9
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                  Great diagram from AllDodge, but 14 gauge is overkill for most of those circuits, IMO. 16 is adequate.
                  Bob, Seneca Lake NY
                  '88 Bayliner 1700 Capri bowrider, 85 HP Force O/B, "Sea Weasel"
                  '94 Grumman Fish'N Fun pontoon, 40 HP Merc
                  Want a vessel safety check? Click here. Want to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary? Click here.
                  Disclaimer: Although I am a member of the USCG Auxiliary, the opinions and advice in my replies are my own and do not necessarily reflect CG or CG Auxiliary policy or regulations unless so specified.

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