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Old 18-08-2009, 18:34   #1
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220vac vs 110vac

we could end up buying our boat in the Caribbean as it exits charter. that means 220. we'll probably cruise there for a while then work our way back to the US where 110 is the requirement

Is it possible to install wiring, etc such that by using different outlets (plug ins are obviously different) and having two different shore power plugs of 110 and 220 we could set up a boat to use electrical shore power of either 110 or 220?

how does everyone grapple with this issue?

Thanks!
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Old 18-08-2009, 18:48   #2
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If you are referring to a European standard 220 V then it is also a different frequency. Europe is 220V 50Hz, US is 110V 60 Hz (but US also has 220V 60 Hz for high power appliances like stoves, driers, etc).

You could wire a boat so one set of wiring could deliver as long as the wires are sized properly to carry the largest load either voltage would carry. BUT, you would have to have two sets of outlets for plugging into inside the boat (or I guess you could change the plugs on the ends of everything you plug in so they all fit one type of outlet) and an adapter that would allow you to connect either shore power to the input side from the dock.

AND, you will have to have two sets of AC appliances since in most cases they are not compatible with the different voltages and frequencies.

What AC powered tools, equipment or appliances will you be using? Will you want or need to use both voltages?
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Old 18-08-2009, 19:18   #3
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If you're talking about a boat out of charter from the U.S. or British Virgin Islands, they're all 110VAC/60 cycle, same as U.S.
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Old 19-08-2009, 08:34   #4
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perhaps a better question is - what do cruisers do when they are in a country with different VAC/HZ than their boat is equipped for?

Is there any way to set up the electrical system to take a boat to any country without encountering a problem with the different electrical power supply VAC/HZ?

Does anyone wire their boats as #2skipmac suggests above?
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Old 19-08-2009, 08:52   #5
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Easiest way is to install an isolation transformer, with multi-voltage capability. These will take care of the voltages you're likely to encounter abroad, converting them to 120VAC. So, you don't need any special wiring on the boat.

However, unless you get a really high-end product ($$$$$), it won't change the Hz. However, if you have a flexible inverter/charger (like the Victron MultiPlus), this can take care of the Hz difference.

There are several ways to implement these technologies. When you have boat (and, therefore, a specific case rather than a hypothetical) then it will be possible to determine which is the best way to go.

Bill
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Old 19-08-2009, 09:07   #6
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Hi First Mate,

What Bill said.

I would guess that you are like most sailors (or you will be when you find the boat) and will operate most of your systems off your batteries or perhaps an engine driven compressor for refrigerator. If that is the case then you will not be too concerned about 110V or 220V since the only equipment that needs to operate on multi voltages will be the battery charger and any electrical isolation system you might use (like the isolation transformer that Bill mentioned).

The Victron is the unit I would buy but there are plenty of chargers out there that will work on US 110V 60Hz power and also European 220V 50 Hz power.

If indeed all of your boat stuff is working off a standard 12V DC boat battery system you will not care what flavor of AC is charging the batteries (as long as you charger is compatible). If you do have a few appliances that run off 110V AC (like maybe a microwave) you can install a gadget (called an inverter) that will convert your 12V battery power back to 110V AC power. In fact, Victron makes a unit that includes a battery charger and inverter in one box. Very first class equipment (no I don't work for them but do like their stuff).

Skip
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Old 19-08-2009, 09:24   #7
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Here are some other threads discussing this as well

120 240 conversion - Google Search

Used the custom Google search found in the search button at the top of the Cruisersforum page.

John
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Old 19-08-2009, 10:06   #8
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thanks for the advice. sounds like it's not really problem whether we have 220 or 110.
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Old 19-08-2009, 10:11   #9
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my eyes glazed over

Quote:
Originally Posted by cal40john View Post
Here are some other threads discussing this as well

120 240 conversion - Google Search

Used the custom Google search found in the search button at the top of the Cruisersforum page.

John
read the thread found in the link above. it is complicated to a degree, but sounds like starting out with 220 is the way to go.
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Old 19-08-2009, 10:15   #10
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Your issue will be that a boat originally wired for 220v will need to be rewired with heavier wire if you convert to 110v, as the current will be double for the same wattage appliances.
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Old 19-08-2009, 10:25   #11
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Don is right! For most boats which spend much/most of their time in U.S. waters...or in places which have 115AC shorepower....the 115VAC-wired boat makes the most sense. By far.

For one thing, appliances are much cheaper. The wiring is (one assumes) heavy enough to carry the loads. And, it's not hard at all to accommodate a 220VAC shorepower situation, using either an isolation transformer or, e.g., a Victron MultiPlus inverter/charger as mentioned above....or both.

But, there's really no way to provide a definitive recommendation unless and until you have a boat and/or have meticulously analyzed your cruising area and onboard electrical needs.

Bill
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Old 20-08-2009, 10:19   #12
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a straight forward answer

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Don is right! For most boats which spend much/most of their time in U.S. waters...or in places which have 115AC shorepower....the 115VAC-wired boat makes the most sense. By far.

For one thing, appliances are much cheaper. The wiring is (one assumes) heavy enough to carry the loads. And, it's not hard at all to accommodate a 220VAC shorepower situation, using either an isolation transformer or, e.g., a Victron MultiPlus inverter/charger as mentioned above....or both.

But, there's really no way to provide a definitive recommendation unless and until you have a boat and/or have meticulously analyzed your cruising area and onboard electrical needs.

Bill
Thanks - sound advice. 115AC is generally preferable but get the boat first and pick the cruising grounds.
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Old 20-08-2009, 11:25   #13
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Bill is right on all counts - just make sure your isolation transformer also functions as a step-down transformer and, but for very sensitive appliances, you are in business. The added advantage to an isolation transformer is that you will be 'isolated' from the shore power and the connection to other, improperly grounded boats. This is incredibly important in avoiding electrolysis (which can actually eat away not only your anodes, but prop/propshaft/thruhulls in fairly short order).

Brad
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Old 22-08-2009, 21:45   #14
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Not to put too fine a point on the discussion, but strictly speaking, an isolation transformer is a 1:1 transformer that offers isolation only. It does not provide for stepping up or stepping down incoming voltage.

Also, be aware that the frequency difference discussed is not a trivial problem to solve and running rotating equipment; e.g. refrigeration compressors, air conditioning compressors, SCUBA compressors, etc. designed for 60 Hz at 50 Hz will shorten their service life dramatically. A good quality inverter/charger will alleviate some of the frequency mismatch by allowing you to charge your battery bank using shore power at, say, 50 Hz, and then powering your minor 60 Hz loads from your battery bank.

You should also note that, contrary to the previous posts in this thread, there is no dependency on voltage when sizing wiring for A.C. systems in the voltages usually used on boats. What this means is, if the candidate boat's A.C. system was properly sized for 120 VAC/60 Hz, then it is properly sized for the European 230 VAC/50Hz. There is, however, a dependency on bundling; i.e., the more current carrying conductors in a bundle, the lower the allowable current.

Hope this helps.
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Old 22-08-2009, 22:32   #15
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There's the cheap way or the expensive way.........

The wiring is the same, btw. All production boats have the same wiring grid for 110 or 240 laid down. Its cheaper

All shore power needs to do if charge your battery so wherever you are in the world you could just get an auto shop trickle charger and plug it into the shore power and clip it onto a battery. *burp* I saved you a few thousand dollars..............

Panseys with air conditioning can afford the bigger bucks
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