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Author Topic:   Fuse block vs. circuit breaker panel?
Frank O posted 04-15-2007 10:13 PM ET (US)   Profile for Frank O   Send Email to Frank O  
Having worked my way through a variety of fixes and upgrades since buying my 1995 Outrage 21 last June, I'm now taking a general look at the boat's wiring and trying to get a handle on ways to improve it. Overall, the wiring that's included in the electrical diagram in the original owner's manual (particularly that between the helm switch panel and the circuit breaker panel) looks very neat and professional. However, there's a lot of additional wiring that looks like it was added later that I'd like to clean up.

Here's a picture shot through the access door on the port side of the console:

Some of the messier wiring is in the middle of this shot. I note that in addition to the circuit-breaker panel (black panel out-of-focus on the left) there is a fuse block (on the right near the battery switch). There is no such fuse block shown in the electrical diagram in the owner's manual, so I assume it was added to supply various other devices (accessory lighting, marine radio, stereo, chartplotter/sonar, radar, etc.).

Two questions:

1) If you were in my shoes wanting to clean up some of this "second layer" of wiring, would you keep this fuse block or replace it with something else? If the latter, what?

2) As noted in another recent post, this fuse block appears to be connected directly to the "house" battery. Thus all the devices that draw power from this fuse block (radio etc.) can't be switched between batteries. Would it be more common practice to connect this fuse block (or whatever I install to replace it) to the battery switch so that the devices supplied by it can be switched between batteries (along with the engine and devices controlled by the helm switch panel)? If so, would I connect the fuse block (or replacement) so that it is "behind" (which is to say, protected by) the main circuit breaker which feeds the circuit breaker panel?

Thanks in advance for any input.

Chuck Tribolet posted 04-16-2007 08:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Can you reach that breaker panel to reset the breakers when
the trip?

What are the circuits on the breaker panel?

I'd probably use a fuse block on the accessory circuit but not
THAT fuse block. You gotta have a way to split out to the
various accessories, and you have to fuse some of those at
a low amps because they used thin wire. There are two problems
with that block:

1. It has exposed hot terminals. ZZZZAPPPP!
2. It has the tubular fuses that are hard to pull. I prefer
the blade type.

Blue Sea Systems makes some really nice fuse blocks. Be sure
to get the flavor that has a built-in ground bar too.


Frank O posted 04-17-2007 01:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks, Chuck, that was basically what I was thinking -- upgrading the fuse block to a more modern model (I saw that another recent thread here mentioned Blue Sea).

To answer your question, yes, the breaker panel is easily accessible. It seems to have been original equipment, as it's documented in the electrical diagram in the boat's original owner's manual. There is one breaker each for the switches on the helm switch panel (anchor/nav lights, manual bilge, courtesy lights, fresh water pump, saltwater, fishwell pumpout, spare).

Here's a follow-up question. All of the electronic gear I see these days (marine radio, chartplotter, etc) has an inline fuse in the positive power lead. If I'm going to use a fusebox with blade fuses to protect each of these, should I discard the inline fuses? The fusebox is in the lower part of the console and is easily accessible via doors on each side, whereas the electronics gear such as radio is mounted in an upper area of the console requiring removal of a number of screws to access the wiring.

Chuck Tribolet posted 04-17-2007 08:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Yes, remove the inline fuses. One fuse is enough.

The accessories should be on a master accessory switch (I'm
surprised you don't have one) that runs to the fuse block and
fans out from there.

BTW, Blue Seas sells a label set for their block, and you can
get individual labels from their web site -- it was cheaper
to get the individual labels and they have a much broader
range than the set covers. Or you could use a Brother
label maker.


Frank O posted 04-17-2007 10:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Hmm -- I just tried googling "master accessory switch" and got 0 hits. This switch would be between the battery switch and the fuse block? As noted, the original wiring diagram for my 95 Outrage 21 shows a main circuit breaker between the battery switch and the circuit breaker panel which supplies the devices controlled by helm switches, but no master switch per se.

Also, what is the particular benefit of getting a fuse block with a built-in ground bar?

Other things I'm still wondering about:

-- Should the fuse block be connected so that it can be switched between batteries via the battery switch, rather than hardwired to the house battery as the current one is?

-- If so, should the fuse block be connected so that the existing main circuit breaker is between the fuse block and the battery switch?

Chuck Tribolet posted 04-17-2007 11:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The accessory switch would be between the fuse block and the
breaker/fuse for the accessory circuit. In your case, I suspect
that would be the "spare". This switch allows shutting off
all the electronics and such with one flip.

The built in ground bar allows both sides of the circuit to
end in the same place. Nice sanitary wiring, and easier to
trace when you have a problem.

Not sure about your first battery switch question (I have a
single battery).

Where's your battery located?


bluewaterpirate posted 04-17-2007 11:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Here's my install.

two group 24 Cabelas AGM batteries
BEP 716 Battery Distribtion Cluster
Blue Sea Fuse Block
Guest Battery Charger

I changed over from a Perko Combo Battery Switch. I had a Blue Sea Fuse Block conected to a common positive terminal so I could use either battery to power assessories.


Frank O posted 04-19-2007 08:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Interesting, thanks. Looks like a nice, clean setup, Tom.

Chuck, I hadn't considered running all the accessories (marine radio, chartplotter etc) through the "spare" switch on the helm, but that's an interesting idea. The main thing that gives me pause is that these rocker switches are in a location where they seem to get bumped by divers as they move around the boat with equipment. A few trips ago, during the surface interval, we heard a strange buzzing sound and I thought maybe it was the fairly strong wind making a musical instrument out of the canvas on the T-top. But I finally hit on the fact that someone had bumped into the switch to activate the saltwater pump, which proved to be the source of the sound. If someone bumped the "spare" switch anytime during a trip, powering off the GPS would cause loss of all trail data from the trip in progress (don't ask me how I know this). So if I were to put all the accessories on a master switch, I might be inclined to put it in a more shielded location.

Chuck Tribolet posted 04-20-2007 12:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Or get some different dive buddies. ;-)


davej14 posted 04-20-2007 08:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
Security caps are available for switches that will prevent accidental actuation by inadvertent contact.

where2 posted 04-20-2007 10:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
I suspect the 1995 Outrage has a switch panel like my 1995 Rage (Jet boat), with thumb sized rocker switches rather than fighter style toggle switches. I would install a screw with a small chunk of black plastic under it that was loose and fell in the way of shutting the switch off inadvertently.

I cannot find my spare switch to derermine the thickness of black plastic material necessary. It simply needs to be weighted so that gravity engages it.

Alternatively, you could modify the rocker cover to have a black nylon allen screw through the rocker cover and screwing against the switch face that keeps it from being turned off, but that might look kinda cheezy.

Frank O posted 04-20-2007 11:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Interesting ideas, thanks.

The switches, incidentally, look like this:

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