Let me say I am not a genius with electricity. One of my big 3-way breaker switches that controls the a/c, battery charger, etc., has gone out. In looking for replacements, I am quickly becoming confused. Do I need a single pole double-throw, double-pole double-throw, or which of the all these configurations that all look the same but do different things do I need?

I thought I needed a DPDT but I ordered a Hubbell DPDT switch (looks identical to the original) and wired it up the same as the old one but it doesn't work. I have tested that I have power going to the switch on both circuits but none coming out in either of the on positions. Also just to make sure I wasn't crazy I jumper the wires together and turned shore power on, and the ac in question came on fine, so I know it's some dumb thing I'm doing with this switch.

Here are some pictures to help:

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I'll take a stab at this and question why a dpdt rather than a dpst?  DPDT is an either/off/or switch while the DPST is an on/off switch.  If your shore power is a single 50 amp 220 vac then the two legs would be on or off with a DPST whereas the DPDT will select one leg or the other.

Going back to look at the panel it does seem to be DPDT, up for #1 down for inlet #2.  Do you have 115 vac between black and white wires with switch in proper position?  If you don't like to work on hot circuits, is there continuity?

It's set up this way because the boat only came with two 30A shore power lines and you have to split the loads up pretty delicately to avoid blowing the breakers on the dock pedestal. The up position is line 1, or the generator if you have that selected on the secondary power panel, the down position is line 2, and the middle is off. By the time you add up a 16k a 12k, and a 9k a/c, plus the water the heater, tv's, lamps, and normal stuff, you're really pushing the limit. Why they didn't put in 50A on a boat this size, I have no idea, it's stupid. But that's why these switches are everywhere. Two 30's really doesn't equal one 50A, it's so much more susceptible to temporary overload when something cycles on/off on the line you assigned it to. I wish it had 50A.

You bring up a point about checking continuity. It makes me wonder if the issue isn't that pushbutton breaker instead of the switch? The switch isn't actually a breaker so CC put a separate 30A breaker under each switch. That would make a lot more sense on why I can't get power downstream of the switch no matter what I do. I have just been assuming it was the switch, which went out the window when I put a brand new one in and it still didn't work.

Just to see what would happen I turned the shore power off and jumpered the wires together and when I turned the power back on the ac started running. Which eliminated everything before or after the switch. It's definitely something at the panel.

Call ward electric ft lauderdale.  I bought on years ago abut $130 if I remember, should convert to rotory switches  $$$

Breakers have a life expectancy tied mostly to number of resets so that could well be the problem.

For sure that is a double pole, double throw. Has to be. You are switching from one source to another with that switch so it needs to switch both the hot and the neutral. They are 120V. The switch is on/off/on.

If you feel you are wiring it incorrectly, shut off the power and put an impedance meter on the terminals, running the switch through it's positions to verify which contacts get closed when the switch is operated a certain direction. Typically the center contacts will be your power 'out' (or load) to the AC and the top and bottom will be shore 1 and shore 2 'in' (or source). Contacts on the same side (left or right) will be made. So in one position left top source connects to left center load and right top source connects to right center source. In the other on position replace 'top' with 'bottom'.

Like this, except replace 'BAT' with AC Load and the 'load's' with Line 1 (top) and Line 2 (bottom).Image result for double pole double throw

Easy to jumper out your breaker, but be ready to turn it back off quick if that breaker is actually protecting against a short or over current. A better idea would be to disconnect an adjacent breaker (mine are all 30A regardless of AC size) and use it for a test.

That bottom breaker should be replaced - one of the screw tabs has broken off and someone by-passed the breaker by putting both wires on one screw. So the breaker does no good and will not protect the wire, which may cause a fire in a fault condition.

Chris Wickersham said:

Chris, I am assuming since I am not there that you have wired the new switch with all wires in the same spots they were on the old switch. As I see that it is not a breaker, but a double pole double throw switch with a push button breaker down below that protects the load. If I had to guess I would think the size and length of the switch handle may not be throwing completely due to the size of the opening in the switch plate that covers it. Try shutting off power, removing the switch from the front plate but leave it wired, tape the switch to cover all the wire connections and then turn the power back on and operate the switch. I think you will find the switch is operating correctly and you need to modify the front plate that covers it. 

Gentlemen, as I went back and re-read how you said those switches are wired, it seemed to me that would mean if the generator was started with a shore power cord still connected to outlet #1 on the boat the prongs on the other end of the shore power cord would be hot. I’m an electrician so I would opt for the rotary switch. That  would isolate the shore power outlets from the generator feed. My 1975 already has the rotary switches but it would be top priority on my boat if it were wired this way. 

Kevin, there is a rotary switch (at least in my boat) to select gen / off / shore. That said, there is still a design flaw in that there are shore power inlets on both side of the boat and when one side is in use, power flows directly to the other side. You can only control / stop this by way of the main breakers for each side.

Kevin, there is a different power panel behind the sofa in the salon for the 115V stuff that has a big rotary switch to tie the generator in, and it’s isolated from shore power when in use. The shore power inlets all have their own breakers, and I just keep the side I’m not using turned off. Otherwise if you keep all the breakers closed then yes it acts like power outlets when the inlets on the other side are live. Very odd design.

I now realize the breaker is busted thanks to Steve, and just ordered a replacement. Can’t believe I stared at that for a day and didn’t see that. But because somebody already tied the wires together it can’t actually be the problem. I ordered another new switch on the 2% chance th first one was defective, but when I go back to the boat I will test the contacts on the switch to make sure I am wiring it right. I think I did it right though, I had no idea what I was doing so I just copied the switch next to it. Both switches were from Hubbell and different model numbers but I assume the same contact locations? The switch didn’t come with any kind of wiring diagram. The wires are color coded so in theory it should be hard to screw up, although clearly I managed to do it anyway LOL

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