Paneltronics Hits A Home Run

After my tour of the Miami Boat Show yesterday I didn't have much trouble identifying what my personal home run for the day was it terms of a product that's really needed and will be a useful addition to a lot of boats both new and old. The folks at Paneltronics have come up with a small system that can be easily installed to your boat in about three hours, even by a handy DIYer. The display screen for this new system is shown here: Let me explain the problem this device solves so you can get ...

13th February 2010.
By Ed Sherman

After my tour of the Miami Boat Show yesterday I didn’t have much trouble identifying what my personal home run for the day was it terms of a product that’s really needed and will be a useful addition to a lot of boats both new and old. The folks at Paneltronics have come up with a small system that can be easily installed to your boat in about three hours, even by a handy DIYer. The display screen for this new system is shown here:

Let me explain the problem this device solves so you can get a feel for why it serves a very common need today. Boats today are loaded with AC shorepower equipment. Let’s be honest, we want all the comforts of home on board. In the old days, most boats with shore power service would get by with a TV and a few 120 volt reading lights, a battery charger and maybe a water heater for hot showers. Today, boaters will often have all of the above, but will also have air conditioning, maybe an electric refrigerator/ freezer, coffee maker, blender, hot plate to keep those crepes warm, hair dryers and you name it, this list of conveniences goes on and on depending upon personal taste. The bottom line is that all of this now needed equipment contributes to what I have often referred to as your appetite for amps. Our appetite for amps has grown considerably in the last 10 or 15 years and the average 30-40 ft. boat is going to be a heavy consumer of electricity.

This fact has put design teams in a situation where they are now forced to bring shore power service to the upper limit of design parameters. A 30 amp shore power system is now spending a lot more time treading in that near 30 amp limit based on our needs. In many cases builders have had to replace the traditional 30 amp service with 50 amp service just to keep up, and even at that boaters still manage to have enough equipment installed to keep them running near their maximum.

So what’s the problem you may ask? Picture this scenario, you’re onboard, the TV is going, all the AC lighting is on, its hot outside so you really need the air conditioner, the refrigerator is keeping the steaks and beers cooled down and now you want to take a hot shower and when done use a hair dryer. You may already be near the maximum amperage the boat’s AC system is designed to, say you’re at the 29 amps the Paneltronics display is showing above. As soon as you fire up the 1600 watt hairdryer you’re going to trip the main AC circuit breaker, shutting down all of the power to your boat. The bottom line is you’ll need to turn off something and reset the breaker before you can dry your hair. Enter the Paneltronics load shedding system.

Load shedding is nothing new, its been employed on big boats for years, but the Paneltronics system is geared toward the average boater with a single 30 or 50 amp shore cord, the vast majority of the market today. Using user selected parameters, the system will automatically shut down the device or devices you decide on when you do jump over the designed system limits. When you turn off the hair dryer as an example, the air conditioner will automatically turn the AC system or water heater back on. No tripped breakers to deal with and only a temporary interruption of power delivered to the device of your choice, and no harm done. The system will also work if you are running from on board generator power. Hats off to Paneltronics! This is a needed product that deals with a real world situation on modern boats. It earned my home run vote yesterday.

 


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Ed Sherman

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Ed Sherman is a regular contributor to boats.com, as well as to Professional Boatbuilder and Cruising World, where he previously was electronics editor. He also is the curriculum director for the American Boat and Yacht Council. Previously, Ed was chairman of the Marine Technology Department at the New England Institute of Technology. Ed’s blog posts appear courtesy of his website, EdsBoatTips.
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