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Hydraulic-Magnetic Circuit Breakers Info

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AndyS View Drop Down

Joined: 14 June 2016
Location: River Dunes, NC
Status: Offline
Points: 184
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    Posted: 22 July 2020 at 14:24
I am not an electrician or engineer, but have learned a lot lately about the rocker switches found on many panels such as the common Blue Sea Systems panels that we all use to control electrical circuits on the boats. I thought I would share what I learned. 
When we bought our 2012 385 in 2016, it had recently had an air conditioner installed by a well known company in Florida. They put a separate 30 amp circuit in with a separate shore power connection and a Blue Sea Systems 120 volt panel to control the new circuit. This is located under the nav table next to the other 30 amp panel from Hanse. The Blue Sea Systems panel uses rocker switches that function both as a breaker and an on/off switch - these are called hydraulic-magnetic circuit breakers. Very often when the air conditioner would be off for a short time, and then turn back on, the circuit breaker would trigger and I would return to the boat to find that the air conditioner was off. Obviously when the unit turns on there is a big surge and this was triggering the breaker to trip. It seems, according to my research, that the compressor's spike is worse when it is warm and recently on. I tried putting something called a "SoftStart" on the system but that did not work. I recently contacted Carling Technologies who makes the circuit breakers and learned - and everyone may have already known this but me - that there are a wide variety of breakers and you really need to specify the application. According to a Blue Sea Systems rep I spoke with, they just buy "middle of the road" breakers which work fine for things lights and simple electronics. The woman I spoke with at Carling Technologies explained that I needed what they call a "high in-rush" breaker which allows a big spike without tripping. These are good for motors and compressors, etc. On the other extreme, if you had a sensitive piece of equipment that you did not want any spike to get through, then you should have an "instantaneous" breaker. And there are literally thousands of combinations you can specify - from the amount of delay to the terminal ends to the color of the rocker switch. They can make them up for you, or you can do what I did and find the exact one you need with the help of Carling - they have a database and could locate for me what company had the exact switches I needed. Here is a link to their spec sheet for the breakers -
Now the air conditioner cycles on and off without tripping the breakers and all is well. The bottom line is that a 30 amp breakers is not just a 30 amp breaker - you really need to know the application and make sure that you have the right one installed. Like I said, this may be common knowledge, but my boat mechanic had no idea that 30 amp breakers varied so much. Hope this is helpful to anyone who has these switches on board. 
River Dunes, NC
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