Yes, the companion way is an inherently wet location, and is not really where electronics ought to be. One particularly clever alternative is turning the wet locker into an electronics locker. I like the aesthetics of that location as well as the dryness, however, I think I want to retain that wet locker for life jacket and foul weather gear storage. Tight as it is, it works in the tiny cabin.
Having made that decision, I now needed to find a main panel which was horizontally oriented and had at least 8 breakers. My choice was made fairly simple when the horizontal criteria was considered. In the end I have selected the Blue Sea Systems #8385 8 position panel. It's almost a perfect fit for the existing space and gives me two additional breakers over the factory panel.
This was a fairly simple decision. I looked at a bunch of options, but yet again I was convinced by an excellent article on installing a battery monitor from MaineSail's collection. Ravat will be sporting a Victron Energy dual bank monitor so I can conveniently monitor both my house bank and starting bank.
This will give me plenty of space to organize my circuits. I'll be consolidating quite a bit in the instruments and accessories cisruits using sub-panels which will free up what would otherwise be a lot of breakers.
#5015 ST Fuse Block. I will be installing one of these for the instruments circuit, and another for the electronics circuit.
Blue Sea makes two functionally similar units. One uses the glass tube fuses, the other uses the ST automotive fuses. I like the idea of the bladed automotive fuses, although I'm not sure why. After some reasearch I was unable to determine any pros or cons beyond personal preference between the two styles. As a result, I went with the ST block.
The other decision I had to make here was whether or not I would purchase the model which has a ground terminal, or positive only. At the time I purchased all of the electrical components I had not fully laid out the locations where they would be mounted. As it's possible I may need to mount these blocks not necessarily in close proximity to the main ground bus, I thought it would be best for organization and intuitiveness if I was able to terminate each device's positive and negative wires in the same location.
I created a comprehensive electrical plan for the boat. in it I diagrammed each wire's conservative length and amperage. There was simply no place anywhere on the boat which could require a 2AWG cable even using the 3% voltage drop tables. So, since I couldn't find a reason to spend the extra money, I went with 4AWG cables. I believe the highest load comes from my starter motor, and thus far the boat starts up immediately, and with much greater enthusiasm than the old 10AWG wire which used to feed that starter.
My original plan was to have GenuineDealz.com make my cables to length and terminal size. Their prices for this sort of thing are fantastic and I would be assured a professional installation. When it came time to put together the schedule for wire lengths and terminals I quickly realized that the documentation additional effort on my part was just not worth it. There is a significant variety of post sizes on my busses and components, and to make the wires lay properly, I was going to need very specific lengths, not just "safe" rough estimates.
These realizations led me to purchase the FTZ crimper from GenuiineDealz.com. It's a lifetime tool to be certain. Built for industrial use, and works like a charm with the FTZ terminal assortment I also purchased. Having gone through this project now, I would say without hesitation that making my own cables was the right decision.
In order to properly maintain the batteries, and ACR will be installed to eliminate the need to switch the battery selector to "all". If a charging voltage is present, it will charge the batteries.