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Switch Panel Help / Explanation

Old 10-30-2020, 06:03 PM
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Default Switch Panel Help / Explanation

Trying to get a basic understanding of how a switch panel works. My panel basically has the breaker type deals and then the switch itself. The bottom prong should be supplying the 12 volts?




Old 10-30-2020, 06:19 PM
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The pictures aren't exactly clear enough or show enough for me to give you a good answer.
Old 10-30-2020, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by hablox View Post
The pictures aren't exactly clear enough or show enough for me to give you a good answer.
What I’m asking is a basic understanding of how a boat switch system works and where I would see 12 volts with a multimeter.
Old 10-30-2020, 07:30 PM
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Ok, in very generic simple terms...12 VDC is supplied to one side of the circuit breaker, then the other side of the breaker sends the 12VDC to the center pole of the switch. Then by turning the switch on you sent the power to the device the circuit is intended for.
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Old 10-30-2020, 07:44 PM
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That bar running across all the switches is most likely the main power. Grounds are prolly separate on a buss bar somewhere. Should be easy to figure out after that.

your pics don’t really help at all

but it looks like the breakers are on the top and they feed each switch individually?
Old 10-30-2020, 07:49 PM
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Judging by the pics and stated you have circuit breakers on the switch panel, there should be one positive wire to feed the whole panel. The one positive wire is hooked to the first breaker and then all other breakers get their positive feed from “piggy backing”.

by your photo, it appears as if the piggy backing is that glorious strip of metal with one wire attached to it on the far right side..... I however could be wrong as those two photos aren’t the greatest and a lot going on in them... not blaming your photography skills as getting to the back of panels suck ass some times.
Old 10-30-2020, 10:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Onebadlarry View Post
Judging by the pics and stated you have circuit breakers on the switch panel, there should be one positive wire to feed the whole panel. The one positive wire is hooked to the first breaker and then all other breakers get their positive feed from “piggy backing”.

by your photo, it appears as if the piggy backing is that glorious strip of metal with one wire attached to it on the far right side..... I however could be wrong as those two photos aren’t the greatest and a lot going on in them... not blaming your photography skills as getting to the back of panels suck ass some times.
it is really difficult to get a good picture. I’ll try again. The breakers are on top and they connect to the “bar”. I checked voltage at the connectors leaving the switch but I’m not getting a 12v reading which I thought I would?




Old 10-31-2020, 02:10 AM
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If I get what you mean by "connectors leaving the switch" they will have 12v with the switch on.
Old 10-31-2020, 06:32 AM
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You have the switch on when attempting the reading right?

do you get a reading at the main positive wire coming into the breakers (that one wire hooked to the metal bar)?
Old 10-31-2020, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by hotwire_marine View Post
That bar running across all the switches is most likely the main power. Grounds are prolly separate on a buss bar somewhere. Should be easy to figure out after that.

your pics don’t really help at all

but it looks like the breakers are on the top and they feed each switch individually?
Looks like a ground bar to me. Would they leave “hot” bar exposed like that?
Old 10-31-2020, 08:22 AM
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Did you check for voltage at the bus bar (the metal strip) with your main battery switch on?

Last edited by hablox; 10-31-2020 at 08:38 AM.
Old 10-31-2020, 08:28 AM
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Originally Posted by vandlor View Post
Looks like a ground bar to me. Would they leave “hot” bar exposed like that?
Its supposed to be covered or was at one point\

Def not a ground bar tho, you don't switch the ground in 12v DC marine applications so no need for the ground to even be at the switches.

OP needs to watch some youtube videos on how 12vdc electrical switches and circuits work, like basic basic stuff, or pay a pro to help you.

#1 cause of marine and boating fires is 12 V DC !
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Old 10-31-2020, 08:31 AM
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There are grounds at switches, for the indicator lights, internal to the switch, to illuminate. If your switch has an internal light.

Last edited by hablox; 10-31-2020 at 08:37 AM.
Old 10-31-2020, 08:36 AM
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Need to find a ground somewhere.
Your meter isn't going to find the 12V potential unless one of its leads is on the ground.
Old 10-31-2020, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by hotwire_marine View Post

Def not a ground bar tho, you don't switch the ground in 12v DC marine applications so no need for the ground to even be at the switches.
He has DC NEG/Ground at his switches, it's the yellow wire that clearly connects to a terminal labelled NEG in the pic. Almost certainly for backlights or indicator lights. Very common in marine applications, unless your switch panel is 30 years old and doesn't have lights.

Old 10-31-2020, 05:10 PM
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To clarify, there is a main red power wire connecting to the bus. For whatever reason I cant’t get my multimeter to show me 12 volts. Everything electronic on the boat works normally. When I check voltage at the battery I get 12 bolts so I know the multimeter is good. Also I’m relative new to boats and 12v circuits but I am handy. I’ve installed a new bilge and rewires, rewired my trailer, installed a Garmin fish finder and wiring, etc.




Old 10-31-2020, 06:15 PM
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That bar will have 12 volts when the battery is switched on. Why you are having a problem determining that most likely is operator error. (Not being a dick). Are accessories not working or are you just fiddling around?
Old 10-31-2020, 06:26 PM
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If you are seeing lower voltage on the switches than the common bus bar, try cleaning the connections. The ones you circled appear to be covered in corrosion (oxidation). The added resistance will drop the voltage. Put a bit of dielectric grease on them after they are cleaned to prevent it in the future.
Old 10-31-2020, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by vandlor View Post
That bar will have 12 volts when the battery is switched on. Why you are having a problem determining that most likely is operator error. (Not being a dick). Are accessories not working or are you just fiddling around?
I am just wanting a full understanding of the switch system and how it’s working. I do plan on adding some lighting in the near future. Everything is working. I have no clue why I’m not getting 12v at the bar. I even tried the negative lead on the battery and the the positive lead on the bar and nothing.
Old 10-31-2020, 07:26 PM
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Originally Posted by fishbum69 View Post
If you are seeing lower voltage on the switches than the common bus bar, try cleaning the connections. The ones you circled appear to be covered in corrosion (oxidation). The added resistance will drop the voltage. Put a bit of dielectric grease on them after they are cleaned to prevent it in the future.
I can do that. That’s no problem but I’m showing 0.xxx for voltage. I’m also showing the the terminals (for positive lead off switch) also showing 0.xxx. It’s confusing me.

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