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Old 06-21-2011, 02:06 PM   #1
shortyjacobs
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Default Tips and Tricks for a tidy and safe control box?

So I wired up my control box yesterday for my RIMS/Pump setup. I used a ton of Scotchlock connectors:


BOY is it ugly! Strained wires, a big rats nest of crap. With so many connections being strained when I close it up, it can't really be safe. I know sooner or later a wire will slip off a terminal and short the damn thing out.

SO, how do I do this correctly? Here's my schematic:

(Note: each switch has a neutral lead because they are illuminated)

I am thinking perhaps a terminal strip for all the common connections, and a few more strips for the hot side junctions?
  • How do you wire those up for junctions, like this?

  • Is there a better way to do junctions?
  • Are there any tips or tricks to routing wiring so that it isn't one big rats nest?

Thanks!

(Post script, at least it all worked when I put it together...after I figured out that I had hot/neutral reversed, (seriously, WHY is black hot? WHITE should be hot!), and I only got shocked ONCE! (note to self, even if you turn off the master power switch, don't open it up until you unplug the damn thing!))


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Old 06-21-2011, 03:22 PM   #2
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A Bus Bar or similar allows for an easier wiring job. No jumpers needed. If you use the terminal junctions then look for ones that have pre-made jumpers, makes it neater than pigtails.

I of course did none of that as I already had the parts, but I wish I had followed my own advice.


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Old 06-21-2011, 09:04 PM   #3
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Key factors for any wiring job which are also somewhat money saving techiques.

#1. Wire type and size. Use stranded copper for areas where multiple flexes occur. Solid copper can be neat and tidy when used to snake around. Also use the smallest possible wire size that is safe, this can be done if fuses and breakers are used properly. EX. you do not need 12ga wire going to your PID's or other low amp draw items, like coils for relays and contactors. Keep colors uniform, red and black for hots, white for neutral, green or bare for ground, and blue for DC. This will help you so much in the long run.

#2. Bus Bars. Again sized correctly for load, a bus bar for your control circuit doesn't need to be large and take up a lot of space. I use DINN mounted items for cleanliness (breakers, fuse blocks, relays, bus bars, wire connectors).

#3. Isolation. Keep large gauge wires and high amp draw items away from small and low amp draw items.

#4. Wire loom. Use nice and neat wire loom, I prefer braided, and not spiral or solid loom.

#5. Item Placement. I usually try to keep all common items together. Like you dont want relays placed all around your box, make a row of all relays, all breakers, etc...

Also use zip ties where you feel necessary and cut wire lengths to proper lengths.

Here is a picture of my panel as I was wiring it.

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Old 06-22-2011, 05:24 AM   #4
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I second everything maxkling just said.

Also, make liberal use of the adhesive backed wire-tie mounts and zip ties. Collect wires by purpose and zip tie them down. Kal has good examples at theelectricbrewery.com under "the control panel (part 2) - wiring basics."

Finally, think about a wiring sequence. Do all of the higher current wires, then the PID wires, then the switches, or whatever order you decide on. That way the wires aren't woven together.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:55 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I actually read through Kal's entire build on his site after posting this thread originally, and it was very helpful as well.

I'm taking a lot of what you said to heart. I tore out every wire last night and started fresh in my box using a lot of adhesive backed tie mounts and zip ties. I first bought some euro style terminal bars, but then bought these instead. I am velcroing these suckers down at each junction. They have the advantage of being modular, so I don't have long traces of wire, and are already internally jumpered, (the idea of doing tons of jumpers on the terminal bars to turn them into bus bars made me groan!). So far, I'm about half done, and it's looking REALLY good. I'm doing it all with 14 ga stranded, as that's what I have right now, and I don't want to buy thinner wire. I know it's not ideal, but it's working great so far. I'm going to get some 18 or 20 ga stranded to wire up the indicator lights and RTD port though.

My "box" is very small...only controlling pump and RIMS, so it's not as extensive as a lot of your setups. It's also a plastic rubbermaid type box, (I know, I know...not nearly as flashy as yours, and not rated for taking a fire hose at 6 inches and not taking on water....but I'm cheap, and it's GFCIed, and so there....).

Here's a before shot. Hopefully at the end of tonight I can post an after shot:
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Old 06-22-2011, 04:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyjacobs View Post
  • How do you wire those up for junctions, like this?

  • Is there a better way to do junctions?
  • Are there any tips or tricks to routing wiring so that it isn't one big rats nest?
Use these instead of the red jumper wires:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=2103227
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Old 06-22-2011, 11:03 PM   #7
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WOW, that looks like a serious fire hazard, HA.

Make it neat no need in hurting yourself, burning down your house, or throwing away money and time. When I do a mock up, its not neat at all, just to verify my wiring and make sure everything works as planned, thats pretty much all you did, right?
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Old 06-22-2011, 11:27 PM   #8
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Some good advice so far. As you found out, Scotchlocks have their place but are awful for this. I really like insulated crimp fittings. When done properly they can be as secure and safe as soldering.

Take your time planning and running wires. It took me hours, but I was able to cram a TON of stuff in a 12x12" box. I'll be happy to answer any specific questions or take more pictures



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Old 06-23-2011, 02:47 AM   #9
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Well I promised an update. Almost done, just need to wire my stereo plug to the RTD connections on the PID. That involves soldering though, and I'm too tired tonight. Here's the new inside in it's final glory:


Close up of the "top side":


A hazy view through the side plastic to show how everything nests nicely together:


Only problem is, all those adhesive backed mounting squares and velcro bits sure make the top side look ugly...might end up taking out the switches and PID and spraying the thing flat black or something....


Also, Nostalgia, very nice and compact looking setup! Walker, thanks, I was guessing that was what those were for, but didn't want to guess wrong. I went with the push connectors instead, (which are VERY secure, by the way....I can rip apart my double crimped connections if I really really try, but these are even stronger).
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Old 06-23-2011, 03:00 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shortyjacobs View Post
  • How do you wire those up for junctions, like this?
You can buy straps for terminal blocks that significantly clean up your work. I can't tell you where I got these, but they do exist.



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