Switch Boards/Power Panels
Published on Mar 22, 2010
Your boat probably has several electrical devices that you turn on and off by pushing a button or flipping a switch. For convenience and ease of installation, many boat builders consolidate these various switches into one unit, called a switch panel or power panel.
Often located at the helm (driver’s seat), a switch panel/power panel puts frequently used switches (navigation lights, bilge pump, aerator pumps) right at your fingertips—very handy, especially in the dark. The switches in a switch panel/power panel should be water resistant, and in our experience, each switch is labeled for quick reference.
Larger boats with cabins will usually have a power panel mounted on one of the interior bulkheads (walls) for easy access to air conditioning controls, cabin lights and other accessories.
In addition to switches, boat manufacturers sometimes add circuit breakers, fuse holders, and a 12-volt outlet (cigarette lighter adaptor) to power panels, simplifying the process when it comes to fixing an electrical system, as well as providing a place to plug in your cell phone or portable spotlight.