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Old 19-03-2010, 09:09   #1
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110vac to 220vac Conversion Revisited

Sorry for raising this dumb question again, but none of the answers I've found are satsifying.

I have an American boat with a 2000 watt Xantrex inverter/charger. The boat's electrical system is all 110 a/c, and includes the usual stuff (refrigerator, microwave, etc.). (The refrigerator is actually a Seafrost system but it runs on electrical power if the cold plate system is disengaged, as it would be at the dock.)

So now I sail to Europe and want to use the shore power there, which is presumably 220v 50 cycle.

Now when I go to Europe and stay in a hotel, I have a couple of plug adapters and a 220 to 110 converter that cost about 20 bucks so that I can run my U.S. appliances (e.g. electric shaver, wife's hairdryer) without blowing them up.

So doesn't anyone market a converter for marine shore power cables? The idea would be to plug into 220v, convert to 110v, and then power the boat with the 110v. Why should I have to rejigger the boat's internal electrical systems, buy a different inverter or install a genset to get around this problem?
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Old 19-03-2010, 09:17   #2
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Well, it's not quite that simple...or inexpensive.

First, you would have to convert up to 30A. That requires a pretty good size transformer. No problem, just expensive. There are a number of manufacturers of such gear.

Next, you'd have to deal with the 50-cycle current in the EU vs. the 60-cycle current in the U.S. Many things would run OK, but some items...expecially motor-driven ones...could be damaged unless they're rated for "50-60 cycles". Refrigerators, air conditioners, and some power tools are particularly vulnerable.

Suggest you take an inventory of your on-board 120VAC equipment, see which ones will work OK on 50 cycles, then decide on a course of action.

Bill
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Old 19-03-2010, 09:21   #3
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There was a discussion on this last year that may help.

120v to 220v
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Old 19-03-2010, 09:34   #4
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See Jack Tyler’s (s/v ‘Whoosh’) excellent European Cruising Information:
Whoosh
.svsarah.com/Whoosh/WhooshSection.htm

Particularly his European Shore Power article:
European Power Onboard
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Old 19-03-2010, 11:40   #5
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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
See Jack Tyler’s (s/v ‘Whoosh’) excellent European Cruising Information:
Whoosh
.svsarah.com/Whoosh/WhooshSection.htm

Particularly his European Shore Power article:
European Power Onboard
Yes, that article was very helpful. The battery charger would probably work for me. I have no high-draw appliances such as electric heaters or air conditioning and all of my 110v a/c appliances run fine off the inverter. It's just the refrigeration. Query whether the constant charging would reduce the life of my batteries.

The portable converter would work also, but I'd have to check to see if the compressor motor is rated for 50-60 Mz.

The "expensive" solution seems like killing fleas with a sledgehammer.

Incidentally, why would anyone want to buy a cheap European TV when you can now get excellent TV reception over the Internet by any of several inexpensive methods? Every cruiser should have a friend with a slingbox, and there is always hulu.
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Old 19-03-2010, 12:21   #6
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We would have the opposite problem if we crossed the pond. Sadly our 240v wiring might or might not cope, so our solution would probably be a transformer to raise the voltage as it comes on board. Then run everything off 240v.

However I note that our new battery charger will take any voltage at any frequency, so perhaps keeping as much as possible 12v may be the way forward.

Sterling Power Products: ProDigital Technical Information

Have you checked the fridge and battery charger manuals? you might be lucky.

BTW you may find some marinas in Europe wired up the wrong way, not unusual for cruisers to have a special short extention lead with one end wired back to front. All good fun when having arrived in the middle of the night in a strange marina, you plug in and the whole pontoon goes out

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Old 19-03-2010, 12:30   #7
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There are companies that make shorepower converters, they are solid state device's that are capable of taking any number of phase's at any input voltage and converting it to the vessels onboard voltage and frequency. Atlas Energy Systems in the USA, Mass in Europe and Vektek in New Zealand to name a couple. This technology has been around for some time but is not cheap, it becomes economic beyond 10kva.
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Old 19-03-2010, 15:42   #8
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I just talked to Xantrex. They sell a charger called the "Truecharge2" that will accept a whole range of voltages for around $500. They will also sell you a separate inverter (plenty of choices), and if I were building or rewiring a boat today, that's what I would do. But they do not have a combo inverter/charger that can do what the Truecharge2 does and outputs 120v household current. Seems logical that someone ought to have a product like that. Here is the info on the charger:

Xantrex Technology Inc. - Boats - TRUECHARGE™2 Battery Charger - Product Information
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Old 19-03-2010, 19:58   #9
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Very simple

On my boat, it is wired for 110v, and a genset for that voltage. I also have a 230v washing machine onboard. I start the genset (5 KVA) and use a stepup transformer (4000w at 110v) to get my 230vac (now about 2000w at 230vac). Most of the transformers I see on the internet are stepup and stepdown. So you can use the same transformer for shore power to the boat. However some countries would require an electrical cert. to have it wired to your electrical panel. In fact, you probably wouldn't get one for various reasons; wire code being one of them. Most will allow shore power to the boat, provided it is going to one direct plug in appliance. So, I have a 25amp 12v battery charger just for the 230vac shore power, which is wired to the boat.( I have 110 and 230 wired to the boat, but the 230 is only going to the one appliance). No warrent cert is required as it is only doing one appliance. I could also use it for the washing machine, (by unplugging the battery charger and plug into the washing machine) but around most marinas there are laundry services close by. I also have 110 and 230 powertools and live happy with both voltage options.
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Old 20-03-2010, 19:22   #10
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The easiest way is to purchase in Europe a standard 230 to 110 isolation transformer. These are yellow and used on building sites where 230 is not used. These have the European blue male socket and two 110 yellow female round pin sockets. Matching plugs and sockets can be got at good hardware stores. These are rated for around 2500-3000watts ie about 13 amps at. 230. Vac. Thiis is all you will get from a European marina socket (at the very best).

This doesn't solve the 50 60 h issue but inreality most modern gear will handle the changed frequency.

Yes you will find the odd reversed polarity sockets usually it's confined to the supply pillar you on. You will not trip the marina in fact normally nothing happens and everything powers up. Which is what should happen. If you have a polarity detector then you can wire a simple short cable with a plug socket combo and crossed live and neutrals
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Old 20-03-2010, 19:49   #11
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Ugh. Shorepower and the dismal consumption-based shore life it implies. I'm tearing out the several hundred pounds of shorepower hardware and wiring. In the last year I've used it maybe 4 times. Three times vacuuming (I'm a single male) and once drilling a hole. An occasional extension cord from the dock to the charger is all I want. But carry on, don't mind me
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Old 20-03-2010, 23:53   #12
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220vac to 110vac.....

Curmudgeon,
Gord has pointed you to Jack's wondeful article/website.....and that's where I was going to suggest you start at, as well....

Perhaps I could add a few things that will help...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Yes, that article was very helpful. The battery charger would probably work for me. I have no high-draw appliances such as electric heaters or air conditioning and all of my 110v a/c appliances run fine off the inverter. It's just the refrigeration. Query whether the constant charging would reduce the life of my batteries.
1) Not knowing your actual power draw for your ac appliances, it's hard for anyone to give you any detailed info/advice......
You wrote that "all of my 110v ac appliances run fine off the inverter".... and, "....It's just the refrigeration."
So, calculate your power used on 110vac, and you'll be able to determine whether the inverter > batteries > 220vac battery charger plan is practical or not.....

If you can rig a 220vac battey charger with the same (or close) output (charging amps) as your inverter will be drawing when running your frig, etc. then your plan is practical......

2) Constant charging will NOT harm your batteries.....
Assuming you keep them watered and assuming you have a good charger, you'll probably find that your batteries will love being "plugged-in" and you'll actually be getting them to 100% state-of-charge......



Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
The "expensive" solution seems like killing fleas with a sledgehammer.
3) Actually the "expensive" solution does work for some, but like you, I found the idea of spending big $$$ to be questionable.....

I spent just $250 on a 5000 watt (~ 4000watt continuous) multi-tap 220vac to 110vac transformer.....(my transformer can accept voltages from 95-100 volts up to 260-270 volts, and output 115-125vac and/or 230-250.....which means I can take 220vac from an EU dock power outlet and input 125vac to my boat...no power sags, etc....)

If you want to see what I used....here's a couple of photos showingit operational in Gibraltar....running Air Cond for a few hours each afternoon, in the heat of August....
Annie Laurie Translant
Annie Laurie Translant

I made up an 85' length of 12/3 power cord, with an EU connector on one end, and a standard US 125v/30amp female connector on the other end (which mates with the US 125v/30amp male connector I wired to the transformer input), which allows me to easily add extra lengths of shore power cord if necessary by simply using my standard US 125v/30amp shore power cords.....
On the transformer output, I have another of my custom cords, which allows me to plug-in both of my shore outlets on the stern of my boat....

I bought this transformer and rigged all the cords, etc. here in Florida, before I sailed to Europe.....and all I needed when I arrived was the 220vac EU dockside plug(s)....bought one (16amp) in Horta, Azores....and another (32amp) in Gibraltar....and I had AC power on-board, lickedly-split....


Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Incidentally, why would anyone want to buy a cheap European TV when you can now get excellent TV reception over the Internet by any of several inexpensive methods? Every cruiser should have a friend with a slingbox, and there is always hulu.
4) While I'm not a big fan of TV (don't have one on-board), I think you may be in for a big surprise if you assume that you're going to be happy trying to watch TV via an internet connection (such as from a Slingbox, etc.) when out cruising, since you're likely not going to have the kind of reliable hi-speed connections that you're used to here.....

Not to mention that it would be difficult to acculmate yourself to the local culture, etc. if you're stuck in your salon watching "Dateline", etc.....


Good luck and happy electrons....

John
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Old 21-03-2010, 08:24   #13
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FYI, there is a slingbox available for the european market. So if you are crusing there, you just need a friend in Europe to imbibe the local culture.

I've had no trouble finding reliable wi fi in the Carribean. Maybe Europe is different: I've never cruised there.

Ka4wja, can you tell me the make and model of your transformer and where you bought it?
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Old 21-03-2010, 20:45   #14
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220vac to 120vac transformer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Ka4wja, can you tell me the make and model of your transformer and where you bought it?
Curmudgeon,
Sure I can do all of that.....

1) It's a Philmore ST-5000, 5000watt transformer (made in China)....it weighs about 45 lbs.....approx. twice the weight of those "3000watt portable construction-site" units that many use....

2) I bought it from Henry Radio in California, in late 2006, for about $250....been doing business with them for ~ 30 years...great guys....

3) They have a e-bay store as well.....and by happenstance they've got a few ST-5000's listed right now for $259.....
Philmore 5000 Watt 110/220 Step Up and Down Transformer - eBay (item 390170129103 end time Mar-22-10 03:05:15 PDT)


4) All of my 120vac equipment is all 50hz/60hz compatible, and with my solar array, the only thing I need shore power for is occasional use of Air Cond......so it was a no-brainer for me.....

For some the decsion is more compliacted.....but with even a small sized EU 220vac battery charger costing ~ > 100 eros / ~ > $150.....and a decent sized (> 75 amp) one costing about the same as a 220vac/110vac transformer (bought here in the US), in my opinion it isn't about saving some $$$.....it's about convienience, time, etc....



Good luck....

John
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Old 22-03-2010, 03:19   #15
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FYI, there is a slingbox available for the european market. So if you are crusing there, you just need a friend in Europe to imbibe the local culture.

I've had no trouble finding reliable wi fi in the Carribean. Maybe Europe is different: I've never cruised there.

Yes, we have slingboxs,Wifi and way better 3G ( and better cars, food and women, only kidding, the cars and the food are beter, ouch ow, SWIMBO beating me up!).
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