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Old 01-10-2012, 09:25   #1
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220volts

Hi folks,

Once again I am looking for some wisdom from more experienced folk here. If I bought a yacht that is fitted with a 220volt outlet system and sailed to the US, I imagine this would be a problem. If so, what can one do to have a dual system and how costly would it be?
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Old 01-10-2012, 09:57   #2
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Re: 220volts

Depends on what appliances and gear you want to run.

If I were to sail my yacht (large cruising sailboat with lots of electrical gear/appliances on board) to the U.S., I would keep all the gear I have and leave it all 230v. My battery charger will happily run on 110 volts and I can use my inverter to supply 230v for my on board gear. My generator produces 230 volts.

Would be a minor PITA having to source a 230 volt toaster, say, in case my existing one burned out, but a lot less than converting the whole boat.

The key to this approach is having the right charger/inverter -- one which will (a) run on any voltage; and (b) have enough inverter capacity to run whatever gear you plan to have. Mine is a Victron Multiplus; other good inverter/chargers work the same say.

The other approach is to rip it all out and start over again. Would be prohibitively expensive on my boat.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:09   #3
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Re: 220volts

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Depends on what appliances and gear you want to run.

If I were to sail my yacht (large cruising sailboat with lots of electrical gear/appliances on board) to the U.S., I would keep all the gear I have and leave it all 230v. My battery charger will happily run on 110 volts and I can use my inverter to supply 230v for my on board gear. My generator produces 230 volts.

Would be a minor PITA having to source a 230 volt toaster, say, in case my existing one burned out, but a lot less than converting the whole boat.

The key to this approach is having the right charger/inverter -- one which will (a) run on any voltage; and (b) have enough inverter capacity to run whatever gear you plan to have. Mine is a Victron Multiplus; other good inverter/chargers work the same say.

The other approach is to rip it all out and start over again. Would be prohibitively expensive on my boat.
Thanks very much for that info. We will be looking at a 44-48ft boat, which will have all the bells and whistles. I just wouldn't know how large an inverter to ensure was fitted. Would a 3000watt inverter be enough in your experience?
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:12   #4
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Re: 220volts

I like Dockhead's approach, the only thing you have to run on 110 is the charger (or put in a separate one for US use). Having said that, there are two pieces to this puzzle; voltage and frequency. Voltage is easy to deal with, while in the US you could add a very cheap transformer if you wanted to step up dock voltage to 220 (most US marinas have either 30A or 50A circuits, if you step up to 220 you'll be limited to 1/2 that on the high side). That would take very little work and not cost much.

However, the US uses 60Hz, which is not simple to change, so all of your equipment would have to be happy with that. Some things don't care, some things care a great deal, so depends on exactly what equipment you have on the boat. This is where Dockhead's approach becomes so much easier. The inverter you have puts out the correct frequency, so, as long as it is big enough to power everything you need powered you only need to feed the inverter, which simplifies things immensely.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:17   #5
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Re: 220volts

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Originally Posted by Bluewaters2812 View Post
Thanks very much for that info. We will be looking at a 44-48ft boat, which will have all the bells and whistles. I just wouldn't know how large an inverter to ensure was fitted. Would a 3000watt inverter be enough in your experience?
3000 watts is what I have on a 54 foot boat. It's enough for domestic appliances -- power tools, hoover, A/V equipment, microwave, coffee machine, toaster, etc., maybe not all at once. I have a washer/dryer on board -- I have even run that off the inverter. You can't run aircon or electric heaters off a 3000 watt inverter, but you can buy as many Victron Multiplusses are you want and parallel them.

In the U.S., you will generally have 30 amp shore power (x 110 volts = 3300 watts -- theoretically), so a 3000 watt inverter would be the right size for one shore connection.

You could wire up another ring main with 110v outlets, for any 110v appliances you may have -- not all that much trouble, although it does clutter up the wiring system somewhat.

Will you have a genset on board? How do you plan to use your boat? Will you be living on board in marinas, or cruising with most of the time spent at anchor? U.S. cruisers typically spend much less time in marinas than in the U.K. If you're moving around and only occasionally in marinas, then this question will not be all that big a deal for you. If you're living on board in a marina, then it is somewhat tougher, although my advice would probably not change.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:25   #6
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Re: 220volts

A separate word about aircon:

Many, maybe most UK cruisers will be shocked at the stifling heat in the summer in most parts of the U.S., and will find aircon to be a necessity.

You need a lot of power for aircon.

This will create a problem if you are trying to keep your boat 230v and if you have a 230v genset on board.

If you have a genset, then the aircon will need to be 230v. You'll be fine at anchor, but then you won't be able to run the aircon dockside.

If you don't have a genset, then the aircon will need to be 110v. You can set up a separate shore power connection for that, which you will need anyway since 30 amps will not be enough to run aircon and everything else. But then you can't run the aircon on the hook.

Either way, you're kind of screwed. Maybe you could look at one of those 12 volt air con systems -- that could be a solution, but then you will need a battery charger with enough capacity to run it, and a double shore power connection (or 50 amp shore power connection) to get enough juice into the battery charger.

I spend a couple of weeks a year cruising SW Florida in my dad's boat. He has aircon but no generator. So we use the aircon dockside but get along without it on the hook (which is 6 nights out of 7). I find it ok, but I grew up in the Southern part of the U.S., so I'm inured to the heat. You might not be.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:27   #7
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Re: 220volts

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
3000 watts is what I have on a 54 foot boat. It's enough for domestic appliances -- power tools, hoover, A/V equipment, microwave, coffee machine, toaster, etc., maybe not all at once. I have a washer/dryer on board -- I have even run that off the inverter. You can't run aircon or electric heaters off a 3000 watt inverter, but you can buy as many Victron Multiplusses are you want and parallel them.

In the U.S., you will generally have 30 amp shore power (x 110 volts = 3300 watts -- theoretically), so a 3000 watt inverter would be the right size for one shore connection.

You could wire up another ring main with 110v outlets, for any 110v appliances you may have -- not all that much trouble, although it does clutter up the wiring system somewhat.

Will you have a genset on board? How do you plan to use your boat? Will you be living on board in marinas, or cruising with most of the time spent at anchor? U.S. cruisers typically spend much less time in marinas than in the U.K. If you're moving around and only occasionally in marinas, then this question will not be all that big a deal for you. If you're living on board in a marina, then it is somewhat tougher, although my advice would probably not change.
Our [plan is to liveaboard and to cruise, hopefully using anchorage most of the time and only using moorings when absolutely necessary. Our idea is to have a lot of solar panels, maybe 800watts so that we don't need to use a genset too often. Not sure what you think of this?
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:40   #8
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Re: 220volts

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Our [plan is to liveaboard and to cruise, hopefully using anchorage most of the time and only using moorings when absolutely necessary. Our idea is to have a lot of solar panels, maybe 800watts so that we don't need to use a genset too often. Not sure what you think of this?
That sounds good . That's what US cruisers do -- marinas and ports are fewer and further between than in the UK. It's more fun being at anchor in my opinion.

If you are ready to live without AC, then I don't see any problem with your plan. Solar panels don't give much more power than in the UK because of the heat, despite the greater amount of sunlight, but 800 watts of solar should cover most if not all your needs. If I were you, I would want a low speed diesel genset on board a cruising boat that size, but with that amount of solar you could get by with a portable Honda for the odd topup.

If you will rarely be on shore power, then no reason in the world to convert your boat. Just use the inverter and make sure your battery charger is able to handle both voltages.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:46   #9
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Re: 220volts

Another word about aircon -- if it's just you and your wife, you could air condition just your cabin for sleeping. You could use one of those 12v aircon systems and run it off your batteries if you have a big enough battery bank. Or buy a 230v system and run it off your inverter.

Air conditioning just one space uses far less power, within the capabilities of some boats' battery banks.

Many people don't mind the heat so much except when they're trying to sleep.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:47   #10
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Re: 220volts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
That sounds good . That's what US cruisers do -- marinas and ports are fewer and further between than in the UK. It's more fun being at anchor in my opinion.

If you are ready to live without AC, then I don't see any problem with your plan. Solar panels don't give much more power than in the UK because of the heat, despite the greater amount of sunlight, but 800 watts of solar should cover most if not all your needs. If I were you, I would want a low speed diesel genset on board a cruising boat that size, but with that amount of solar you could get by with a portable Honda for the odd topup.

If you will rarely be on shore power, then no reason in the world to convert your boat. Just use the inverter and make sure your battery charger is able to handle both voltages.
I guess that answers my question quite well, thanks very much for the help. What is the situation if the boat we buy is 110 volts ... how do these boats cope in say the BVI, where I presume it is 220 volts?
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:49   #11
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Re: 220volts

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I guess that answers my question quite well, thanks very much for the help. What is the situation if the boat we buy is 110 volts ... how do these boats cope in say the BVI, where I presume it is 220 volts?
Exactly the same. Run your 110v gear off the inverter, and feed the inverter/charger with 220 volts.
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Old 01-10-2012, 10:56   #12
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Re: 220volts

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Exactly the same. Run your 110v gear off the inverter, and feed the inverter/charger with 220 volts.
Of course, I wasn't thinking lol. I appreciate your input today, thanks.
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