How To Install A Switch Panel


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1. Before you start

Make sure the cable coming from your battery switch is sufficient for the power you want to draw from your switch panel.

Battery-fuse-switch-busbar- switch panel (show recommended wire/volts/amps)

Work out what you will run off your switch panel and what you will run directly from the bus bar to determine if you need a 2 switch,  4 switch,  6 switch, etc.

Decide where the location of the switch panel will be and if it will fit.  There are multiple types of sizes and shapes of switch panels to choose from here.  Consider if integrated USB or 12V charging is required.

Decide on location for bus bars.  Choose a size that will fit all your requirements.  It is always better to have more room than not enough to future proof its use.


Products you will need

2. Underway  

First attach the appropriate fitting and cable lugs to your switch panel cables. In this case spade or ring connectors that will fit directly onto the bus bar. For the 6-switch panel we will have one ring fitting the negative and three blade fittings for the positive wires. 



You have identified your switch panel location.  You now need to use the template to cut out the pilot holes in the dash.  Tape the template in position using masking tape.  Ensure the masking tape runs about 40mm wide of the cut out. 


Drill your pilot holes according to the template using an electrical drill.


Once pilot holes are drilled and are big enough to fit the jig saw blade inside, use a pencil and ruler to mark out the remaining guidelines that need to be cut.

Cut all 4 sides until your hole is complete. Use a file to smooth off any sharp edges.  Check that the switch panel fits snugly in the hole.  If it doesn’t fit, it’s easier to see from the rear what is causing the problem.  File off the guilty edge.

Once the switch panel is snug mark the screw holes with a pen, and drill in order of opposing corners. Use Duralac on screws before screwing it into place, tighten evenly and make sure you have a good seal against the surface so water cannot run into or behind the switch panel. 

Now that you can see where the positive and negative cables run from the back of the switch panel you can confirm your bus bar location. 



Diagram 2:

Screw the negative bus bar into place and make sure there is space either side so that you can attach other wires. 

Now place the positive bus bar parallel to the negative and give yourself 100mm in between for cables, etc.  Screw this into location so that it is firm and won’t move or rattle out of place.

You will need to be sure that there is no opportunity to arc across the positive and negative busbars.  The busbars cannot for example be located in a space where items could roll or fall against them.  If they do (and the items are metal) it could complete the circuit and create the risk of electric shock. The BEP bus bars provide some protection with their rubber boots but are not fool proof.

Make sure all switches are facing in the off direction. Run the negative wire from the switch panel to the negative busbar first and screw its ring connector into place, then the 3 positive wires with spade connectors onto the positive busbar.

Now connect your common earth/negative wire from your battery to your negative busbar by screwing the ring connector with a posi drive screwdriver and then repeat for the main power/positive cable from the battery to the positive busbar.


3. Finishing 

Check all connections are firm and are not at risk of getting wet.

Test that each circuit is complete by attaching the clip of your circuit tester to the negative busbar and inserting the tip of the circuit tester into each spade connector.  If all is well and the circuit is complete, the tester will light up.  Remedy any defects.

Place terminal caps over the busbar.

Decide which switches will be for what accessories and use the sticker book to label them.

Your switch panel is now ready for the accessories to be wired up.   All you need to do is connect the negative wire from the accessory into the negative busbar using a ring connector, and the positive wire from the accessory into the back of the desired switch panel using a blade connector.

4. Final step

Reconnect the boat battery.