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Old 23-07-2016, 12:03   #1
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Converting from 220 volts to 110

I am considering purchasing a boat in Europe of which most are wired for 220 volts. Since I am planning on bringing it back to the US I would like to convert it to 110 volts. My questions are: What all is involved with this conversion? How expensive would it be? Is it really necessary (ie. is there some adapter that could be use at the dock to go from 110 to 220)
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Old 23-07-2016, 12:17   #2
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

the biggest problem is freq 50hz vs 60hz. if you plan to permanently leave it in the US I probably wouldn't bother and buy one here. it would cost a lot to do properly
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Old 23-07-2016, 12:46   #3
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

Not only is the frequency wrong so things like battery chargers may or may not work but the wiring is also thinner for 220v. There are also some different ideas on how to wire a boat in Europe compared to the US in particular earthing. You could be in for a re-wire if you want to do it properly, or just take a chance. There are dropper boxes going the other way for US boats visiting Europe as workshop equipment is often rated at 110v as its safer.

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Old 23-07-2016, 13:45   #4
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

The wiring is a serious problem. 220v wiring may be much smaller than required for 110v. Wiring that is too small may overheat and cause a fire. Really.
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Old 23-07-2016, 13:56   #5
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

I'm in a similar situation in regards to buying in the Med and sailing her back to the US. I did a search here and pulled up some threads that had some good info. I dont remember the steps but a couple of people did purchase overseas, sail back here and did some kind of conversion with successful results.

I need to do the search again and pay attention this time.
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Old 23-07-2016, 15:12   #6
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

The easiest solution is to install a transformer to step up the 110V US power to 220V for the on board circuits. Then you have to deal with any built-in components (battery charger, A/C, frig, etc.) to see if they can be run at 60hz. If not they will have to be replaced or discarded before you connect to 110VAC 60Hz shore power.

Of course once you get the boat to the US you will no longer have convenient access to purchase new or replacement 220VAC electrical components, but at least you will have a boat with a working and safe electrical system. Well, at least as safe as it was on European power.

There are many manufacturers of transformers - Mastervolt, Charles, etc. Most can be wired permanently between the shore power receptacle and the distribution panel such that it will work fine while still in Europe and will accommodate 110VAC power by throwing a switch on the transformer.

Still it is not a simple problem, and your asking the question implies you are not that familiar with AC power at any voltage. I suggest you use a qualified marine electrician to evaluate any boat you are considering for puchase to determine the level of effort required to make it functional and safe on 110VAC60Hz power.

John
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Old 23-07-2016, 15:36   #7
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

There are a few threads on this already buried in the archives, but depending on the boat, I think you may be assuming a solution that isn't necessary.

We have an Amel which is 220v. Joel Potter is the Florida rep for them and he used to have a good FAQ section on his website on this exact topic. (I've got snail paced Internet right now or I'd try to find it and put a link). Basically, he noted that pretty much every marina in the US has 220 volt available as most larger yachts use 220 volt due to their higher demands.

We have an Amel which is 220v. Joel Potter is the Florida rep for them and he used to have a good FAQ section on his website on this exact topic. (I've got snail paced Internet right now or I'd try to find it and put a link). Basically, he noted that pretty much every marina in the US has 220 volt as most larger yachts use 220 volt due to their higher demands. A lot of Amel owners had this concern before buying and very few have found it to be a major issue in real life......particularly if/when you cut the dock lines and get out of NA and find that it's a largely 220v/50Hz world out there in the rare occasions you touch a dock. :-)

Back to the boat you're looking at. You didn't say, but I'll assume since you're asking and looking to bring it over from Europe it's a fully equipped cruiser with all the amenities. If the charger is rated 50/60 Hz (and most newer ones purchased outside North America are) you've probably got 95+% of your dock charging issues probably solved for the cost of a U.S. 220v plug for your cord. Does the boat have AC? Check, again, it may already be rated 50/60 Hz (I know our main one is). Even if it's 50Hz, many people get away with running 50 Hz units on 60 Hz power with no issues although it depends on your willingness to risk having to replace a compressor at some point down the road as it will be running faster. If it's galley appliances you're worried about, what are they? If equipped with a microwave, it's probably already got one that will last you for years. If it dies 5 years down the road, you can get 220v stuff in North America, it just has to be shipped in, but in the realm of boats, $50-75 for shipping? If you really need electric blenders, rice cooker and griddle, buy them in Europe when you pick up the boat. You'd have to buy them anyway likely, so again, jot much difference in cost, but even if you already had them you're out what....$400 for a set? Same goes for power tools. Drill and grinder. Again, buy them in Europe with an extension cord when you pick up the boat. You can be to cool guy at the dock with 'hi-power' tools! Or, most cordless tools have 110/220v chargers (again, all my Bosch chargers are 110/220). Laptop, iPad, camera chargers, etc, etc, etc, are generally 110/220 v also, so with a few $10 travel adapters that's a non-issue also

Your other option for the misc 110V stuff , which we also have on-board is a 1500w standalone inverter. I just replaced ours and it was about $700, so assume $1000 (or 1 Boat Buck) installed by yourself with fuses and wiring. With it I run misc chargers that I'm too lazy to get adaptors for and even a 110v grinder I have (bouncing around between 110 and 220 v worlds regularly we've developed a good collection of tools and appliances of both). The nice part of have both onboard when you're cruising ia that it doesn't matter what the voltage of the country you're at is if you need to buy something!

Again, just another option before you automatically assume you need to change it.

Finally.....110v is safer than 220v? Definitely a North American-centric opinion. I's funny since I've had Australian and European engineers tell me the exact opposite arguing it's because the amperages are lower. Both are equally safe if maintained and used appropriately, (and equally unsafe if not!).
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Old 23-07-2016, 15:54   #8
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
Not only is the frequency wrong so things like battery chargers may or may not work but the wiring is also thinner for 220v. There are also some different ideas on how to wire a boat in Europe compared to the US in particular earthing. You could be in for a re-wire if you want to do it properly, or just take a chance. There are dropper boxes going the other way for US boats visiting Europe as workshop equipment is often rated at 110v as its safer.

Pete
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The wiring is a serious problem. 220v wiring may be much smaller than required for 110v. Wiring that is too small may overheat and cause a fire. Really.
Neither of these assertions that 220v wiring much smaller is true. Voltage doesn't dictate wire size, current does. Wire is protected by a circuit breaker that trips on current, not voltage. A 16amp circuit breaker will trip at 17amps on 110v the same as 17amps on 220v.

Do it properly? Are you stating they don't wire boats properly in the EU? How absurd!

Use the same branch breaker, same branch wire installed in the EU, put 110v on it, you'll be fine. Yep, 110v will only deliver half the power compared to 220v, but there is nothing dangerous or improper!

Yes, shorepower cord will have to change. Connect new shorepower to EU distribution box, change the receptacles, all is good.
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Old 23-07-2016, 17:15   #9
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

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Neither of these assertions that 220v wiring much smaller is true. Voltage doesn't dictate wire size, current does. Wire is protected by a circuit breaker that trips on current, not voltage. A 16amp circuit breaker will trip at 17amps on 110v the same as 17amps on 220v.

Do it properly? Are you stating they don't wire boats properly in the EU? How absurd!

Use the same branch breaker, same branch wire installed in the EU, put 110v on it, you'll be fine. Yep, 110v will only deliver half the power compared to 220v, but there is nothing dangerous or improper!

Yes, shorepower cord will have to change. Connect new shorepower to EU distribution box, change the receptacles, all is good.
Hold on now - an appliance, like a blender, takes a certain amount of power to run it whatever the source, 220 or 110 vac. We often measured power in watts. If you have twice the voltage you need half of amps to achieve the same blender power. A watt is volts x amps. If your appliance load (blenders, battery chargers, lights, etc) needs half the amps to get the same watts (power) the wire can be safely sized at half the wire size. I don't think it's a given that the AC wiring will be correctly sized for 110 power. It might be big enough, but it should certainly be checked.

A few years back I was involved in some volunteer work setting up temporary housing to help storm victims. The shipping container style housing came from Europe and was pre-wired for 220. All of the wiring was too small by building code here in the USA. Fortunately it was easy to pull the wires out of the conduits and pull new THHN wire properly sized for the 110 voltage. I was not the electrician running the job, but I was definitely involved in the labor! I don't see why a boat would be any different than pre-wired living quarters.
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Old 23-07-2016, 18:18   #10
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

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Originally Posted by DotDun View Post
Neither of these assertions that 220v wiring much smaller is true. Voltage doesn't dictate wire size, current does. Wire is protected by a circuit breaker that trips on current, not voltage. A 16amp circuit breaker will trip at 17amps on 110v the same as 17amps on 220v.

Do it properly? Are you stating they don't wire boats properly in the EU? How absurd!

Use the same branch breaker, same branch wire installed in the EU, put 110v on it, you'll be fine. Yep, 110v will only deliver half the power compared to 220v, but there is nothing dangerous or improper!

Yes, shorepower cord will have to change. Connect new shorepower to EU distribution box, change the receptacles, all is good.

euro boats are gernally 16a main breaker ours are commonly 30. and the outlets are not 15a. it's all smaller wire since the voltage is double. see watts comment above.

16a 230v and 30a 120v is the same total power on the boat. but twice the amps and twice the wire size.
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Old 23-07-2016, 18:34   #11
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

I found this off of an old page grab I had from Joel Potter's website:

"A helpful note is in order here. Most North Americans tend to worry about 220-volt A.C. systems as we are used to 110-volt A.C. systems. Please allow me the opportunity to discuss your concerns with you as I am absolutely positively 100% certain I can allay them. Briefly, 95% of all docks in the U.S.A. have 220-volt A.C. power. Call your dockmaster and ask him. Most powerboats use 220-volt, often times employing a “splitter”.

Another fact is that 90% of the world, other than the North American Continent, is 220-volt. As AMELS are voyaging boats, they are set up to receive the most commonly available shore power. As I have been answering the same questions in reference to the same concerns for more than twenty years, you can be sure that I have helpful, honest, and accurate information to pass along to you which will alleviate any concern regarding shorepower."

My recommendation is to go find someone who's using a 220v boat locally before you automatically jump to the cost and trouble of converting.
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Old 23-07-2016, 19:03   #12
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

yes in north america you will find 240v 60hz split phase plugs on 50' slips

all the small slips will be 30a 120v 60hz single phase.

both of which are totally different then euro 230v 50hz single phase.

220v is an incorrecly used term.
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Old 23-07-2016, 19:04   #13
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

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Hold on now - an appliance, like a blender, takes a certain amount of power to run it whatever the source, 220 or 110 vac. We often measured power in watts. If you have twice the voltage you need half of amps to achieve the same blender power. A watt is volts x amps. If your appliance load (blenders, battery chargers, lights, etc) needs half the amps to get the same watts (power) the wire can be safely sized at half the wire size. I don't think it's a given that the AC wiring will be correctly sized for 110 power. It might be big enough, but it should certainly be checked.
You are missing the point. A branch circuit from the EU with 2.5mm wire and a 16amp breaker is perfectly safe whether it's 230v or 120v. Tell me how many 120v appliances you have that require greater than 1920va ???

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveInMD View Post
A few years back I was involved in some volunteer work setting up temporary housing to help storm victims. The shipping container style housing came from Europe and was pre-wired for 220. All of the wiring was too small by building code here in the USA. Fortunately it was easy to pull the wires out of the conduits and pull new THHN wire properly sized for the 110 voltage. I was not the electrician running the job, but I was definitely involved in the labor! I don't see why a boat would be any different than pre-wired living quarters.
Again, you don't understand wire size. Wire size isn't chosen for voltage, it's sized for current. I doubt very seriously the wire was too small for the circuit breaker installed, it may have been a smaller circuit than normally installed in the US (16a vs 20a), but would have operated very safely at 16amps. Hence, no need to change wire/breaker if 16amps works for intended purpose.
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Old 23-07-2016, 19:07   #14
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

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euro boats are gernally 16a main breaker ours are commonly 30. and the outlets are not 15a. it's all smaller wire since the voltage is double. see watts comment above.

16a 230v and 30a 120v is the same total power on the boat. but twice the amps and twice the wire size.

You are referring to the shorepower, normally easier to change than the branch circuits.

As I stated, change the shorepower (and the main breaker), keep the branch circuits.
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Old 23-07-2016, 19:38   #15
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Re: Converting from 220 volts to 110

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Originally Posted by DotDun View Post
You are missing the point. A branch circuit from the EU with 2.5mm wire and a 16amp breaker is perfectly safe whether it's 230v or 120v. Tell me how many 120v appliances you have that require greater than 1920va ???



Again, you don't understand wire size. Wire size isn't chosen for voltage, it's sized for current. I doubt very seriously the wire was too small for the circuit breaker installed, it may have been a smaller circuit than normally installed in the US (16a vs 20a), but would have operated very safely at 16amps. Hence, no need to change wire/breaker if 16amps works for intended purpose.
And where exactly did I say the wire is sized for voltage?

How do you know the boat has 2.5 mm wiring and 16 amp breakers on the AC circuits?

You are making was too many assumptions.
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