Bass Pro Shops Rocker Switch Panel with Battery Gauge and Cigarette Lighter
Best for my fishing boat (no console)
I recently purchased a 2010 Princecraft Springbok DL BT fishing boat with a Mercury 20 ELHPT motor and needed a switch panel exactly like this one (for navigation lights, inboard utility lights and bilge pump). Even though the first review wasn’t favourable, I took a chance and purchased it. When I got it, I obviously noticed a few design changes from the image shown, and I think they are improvements, so here goes :
1) Each switch now has individual clear silicone-like covers, so they are now « splash proof » (not waterproof). Top cover was a bit sticky and rocker switch was tricky to use (kept switching off by sticking to the cover – used liquid silicone to fix problem).
2) Battery tester switch is protected by a black rubber-like cover. This, I think, makes it somewhat waterproof.
3) Fuse receptacles for the 3 switches are totally different from the image, they are now identical to the one used for the cigarette lighter (screw top, instead of pop-up), and that’s a plus since they are much stronger.
4) All of the above improvements have a cost : cigarette lighter is the victim and top portion is now made of cheap plastic instead of metal. I don’t care since the reason why I need this plug is for my GPS or other devices (quite useful for a search lamp or a 12V cooler), not the lighter itself.
Still, I don’t think this switch panel rates very high in the IP protection chart, so I used a piece of rubber inner tube to shield the entire panel to make it rain proof (looks awful, but hey!, it’s a fishing boat, not a chick magnet!). Also, I replaced 3 of the fuses from 10A to 2A, since requirements for my accessories are so low.
Panel has a thin plastic film that protects the silkscreen job, I tried to remove it and paint on the outer edges flaked, and it took a lot of patience to go around the fuse receptacles (tweezers needed here), so up to you if you want to do it too.
Now, installing this panel wasn’t obvious since my boat doesn’t have a steering console, so I made a bottomless enclosure (lucky me, I work in a sheet metal fab. plant, with powder coating booth…heh, heh, (Colour : textured RAL7032 was closest I had to match the inside of my boat) and screwed it on the outside of the boat’s battery compartment and siliconed the wiring hole to make it spark safe. Switch panel works flawlessly, and will see with time since the panel itself is a bit flimsy (thin aluminum, you get what you pay for…).
***BEWARE : cigarette lighter housing is NOT insulated from the panel itself. So, since I used a STEEL enclosure, the whole thing was grounded to the boat’s hull (through the screws) and that’s a big no-no (NOT good with aluminum). I had to insulate it with two rubber washers I made and taped the housing (side contacts). It is now a 12V power outlet (heat generated by lighter would be risky). If your boat is not made of aluminum, don’t bother.
As for the installation instructions, they are ok (I am NOT good with electrical wiring), but there is NOTHING on how to plug the battery tester, I plugged the red wire to the positive end of the battery and it worked (must be ok then). And, being a francophone from near Montreal (though fluent in both french and english), I tried using the french instructions but translations are near disastrous (I should offer my services…).
In conclusion, this is a fair panel for the price. It is exactly what I need, but would not recommend it if you have a boat with console, you should get a better quality unit since you (may) have the room for better switches. I hope it works for a long time, or I’ll have to design and build one of my own…and that will cost more.
Hope this was helpful.
p.s. Photo taken before the wires were hidden with plastic coils
May 18, 2010
It installed easily, looks great and functions suitable to all my expectations. It made rewiring my john boat easier than I had expected. I am very well pleased with the product and the price.
November 12, 2006
I purchased this last year, installed it in the side bulkhead of my boat. Operates the nav lights, deck lights(lots of night fishing) and pump. Works perfect and is good quality. I must have the upgraded version because I have the rubber boots and decent fuse holders. I checked it out good before I purchased. i have been an electrician for 30 years and this passes "MY" inspection, for whatever that is worth. One note is my boat is not stored outside so it doesnt see the daily elements. I did use some clear silicone between the back plate and the bulkhead, which should prevent water from entering the back.
April 30, 2011
Bought this product about 3 years to use on my pontoon boat when I replaced the console. After the first season, the rocker switches were starting to fail and by the next spring, none of the three switches would work at all. I understand that the new ones have protective covers over them so maybe they will last a little longer. It also looks like the cheap fuse holders used on the original model have been upgraded.
The Battery meter on mine has completely clouded over and although I assume it still works, it is unreadable.
I am buying this unit again because it will hopefully fit back where the old one was and I also hope it will last a little longer than the old one did.
I'll let y'all know!
May 24, 2010