Alt-Power Breaker Panel

 

Most home power panels are setup for 240VAC, and have an A and a B leg.  If I tried using one of those, I could only power up half the panel. Some can be reconfigured, and there are smaller panels that are intended for 120VAC, but I didn't like what was available locally.

Fortunately, a coworker was refurbishing his boat.  He gave me a six circuit Paneltronics breaker panel.  These are a couple of hundred $ new.  It was in pretty good shape, with some minor corrosion on the brass fasteners, and copper bus bars.  A few minutes on the wire wheel cleaned them up nicely.

Even though it has places for 6 breakers, it only comes with 4 installed.  I was able to find a couple of 15A breakers of the right series.  They were easy to install.  It's now functional, and I've started wiring portions of the house to it that I want to operate from the inverter exclusively.  After it was powered up, I discovered half the LEDs have failed.  New ones have been ordered, and will be installed when they arrive.

 

 

Note the green corrosion on the copper bus bars, and the brass fasteners.

A few minutes on the wire wheel removed all the oxidation.

I believe these breakers are now discontinued.  Not available on Amazon, nor on an electronics supply website.  I did find a couple at an online boat supply store.  About $12 each.  So of the 6 breakers, one is a 20A, four are 15A, and one is a 10A.

About half the LEDs have failed in the panel.  These are 120VAC.  Couldn't find enough of the original tiny ones, so went with 1/4" ones.  Easier to see anyway.  They haven't been installed at the time of this report.  Hopefully by the weekend.

I bought a 12"x12" electrical box at Home Depot, made a template for the breaker panel, drilled the corners, and used an oscillating cutter to slice the 1/4" thick plastic lid.

The cutter did a decent job.  I used a deburring tool to clean up the edges.

Started wiring it into my off-grid setup.  I later added a nice LCD DVM.  I found this on Amazon for under $10.  I ordered a few as they will be used on several other projects too.  You can find them here.

 

It sits below the rest of the panel, making it easier to reach.  I also hardwired in a power strip.  My shop tools will plug in here, and be operated from the 1800W inverter above.

 

UPDATE: Jan 23, 2015.  The rest of the circuits have been wired into the barrier strip.  I have yet to wire the house to the matching terminals yet.  More wire to run in the attic first.  However, the replacement LEDs have all arrived.

From the back of the panel, the LEDs are gently pushed one at a time.  They are held in place with a little friction.

Since the smaller LEDs are hard to source, I went with the slightly larger 1/4" ones.  Got these on Amazon.  Using a 1/4" bit, the hole was slightly enlarged.

The aluminum panel was a little thicker than I remembered, but drilled easily.

Test fit of the first one looks fine.  Now for the rest.

Took my time and got them all done.

The camera flash made the look slightly illuminated.  They are dark when off.

With no flash, and just the ambient lighting in the garage, they light up nicely.

 

 

 

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Last updated 01/23/15    All rights reserved.