Saturday, September 13, 2014

Toggle guards

A boat's electrical panel looks like the control board for a nuclear reactor, or at least it looks like the one on the Simpson's.  For some of the breakers, it's important that they not accidentally be switched on or switched off.  Enter the toggle guard.  These vary, but all are essentially the same providing a protective cover over the switch that has to be opened in order to change the switch's position.  You know all those movies where someone flips open the cover over the missile launch button?  That's it.

Blue Sea makes a nice, effective, and inexpensive toggle guard for the branch circuit breakers.  The picture below shows a handful of them scattered across the breaker panel.  Some are to keep the breaker from being turned off accidentally, and other are to keep the breaker from being turned on accidentally.

Toggle guards scattered around the breaker panel
The toggle guards work great on branch circuit breakers, but the mounting screw spacing is different for larger main breakers, and there is no guard available for tandem breakers like on a 230VAC circuit.  The main breaker is just as important, as discovered by a veteran Nordhavn owner.  He was underway and his engine suddenly went stone dead.  It turned out someone had brushed up against the main breaker and tripped it off.  It was a simple fix, but generated way more panic than anyone wants.

Enter Mark, the local master of all things acrylic.  He has CAD drawing of these breakers and can laser cut a cover plate as seen in the picture below.  I rummaged around the local hardware store and found the plastic standoffs and screws, and presto, a really nice toggle guard.  The cover keeps errant fingers and butts away from the breaker and requires a conscience reach behind to switch it on or off.  And there is ample clearance for the breaker to trip on it's own as breakers are designed to do.  I put one on the 24VDC main breaker and on the 12VDC subpanel main breaker.

Drop me a note if anyone wants Mark's contact info, as I'm sure he can supply these to others.

Acrylic cover over tandem breaker

Acrylic cover over single main breaker

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