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Old 10-06-2011, 10:51   #1
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European AC System for a Boat

European AC systems.I recently purchased a 1981 sailboat. It has an AC System in it but I did not see any circuit breakers. I understand the wiring we use in the States. I am having problems figuring out the European wiring. I know that the wiring is 240v 50hz as opposed to our 120v 60hz. I bought the boat in Italy and it has an AC system in it that is very simple. The only AC items are two receptacles and a battery charger. I wasn't able to find any circuit breakers and neither of the plugs had Ground Fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). The power cord runs into the lazaret and thus is weatherproofed. I am looking for a simple diagram that would show me how to install a safe and ISO approved method (or at least mostly approved) to create this system. If grounding is necessary I would like to know where to ground to (engine block or negative of 12v system). Our intended use is to sail the boat and spend as much time at anchor as possible. This year b/c we are going to be in Italy and there are not that many anchorages available we figure that we will be in Marina's on a regular basis. The main use of the shore power will be the battery charger.
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:09   #2
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Re: European AC system for a boat

Well a few pages deeper into a google search I came up with this page that answers some of my questions. http://bluesea.com/files/images/products/8143.jpg I figure I could wire the shore power into this panel and then from there run it to the charger and the two receptacles have one circuit for each. I know it is overkill. Then if each branch circuit was a GFCI would there be no need to run a ground?
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:42   #3
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Re: European AC system for a boat

Quote:
Well a few pages deeper into a google search I came up with this page that answers some of my questions. http://bluesea.com/files/images/products/8143.jpg I figure I could wire the shore power into this panel and then from there run it to the charger and the two receptacles have one circuit for each. I know it is overkill. Then if each branch circuit was a GFCI would there be no need to run a ground?
If you want to follow the EU/ISO AC standards. Then the following apply, Use EU standarised stranded mains cable of suitable current capacity, Brown=Live, Blue=Neutral and Yellow/green = Earth. ARTIC type of cable, a flexible rugged flex is also good and available everywhere.

Its is a requirement to fit a single whole boat 30ma RCBO ( what you call A GFCI), But these are not fitted on the outlets like sometimes you see in the US.

So run the shore power from the outlet, into a RCBO, then into the blue sea panel. No need for more RCBOs. Equally with a whole boat RCBO, theres no need to connect mains earth ( yellow/green) to DC negative, unlike ABYC. This removes a source of load dumping currents and impressed corrosion. Fit a galvanic isolator if you like belt and braces.

ISO standards do not allow the use of "wire nuts" for connections, use proper crimped connectors or DIN mounted connector blocks.

Dave
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Old 10-06-2011, 13:24   #4
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Re: European AC system for a boat

Thanks Dave that seems pretty basic. So all I need to do is wire from my incoming source to a RCBO and then to the Blue Seas Panel and then from the panel to each circuit. Sounds simple. Wire nuts are not acceptable on a boat in my opinion.

The RCBO will take care of any grounding faults so that individual circuits are not needed. This makes the job easier. A problem that I see is that the RCBO will trip if the marina wiring is bad.
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Old 10-06-2011, 14:12   #5
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Re: European AC system for a boat

I would be careful to not put too much trust in American advice about European boat power. I am an American so you are on notice about the following

The use of an RCBO at the boat outlet would seem to make European boats safer than American wired boats that just have circuit breakers plus grounding at the boat and back to the marina ground. It's not that simple.

The standard European RCBO trips at 30ma. This is high enough to avoid nuisance trips but also high enough to kill humans. They will trip well below where an arc might cause a fire in a piece of equpipment. The American GFCI is essentially identical to an RCBO but it trips at 5ma. You can't put a GFCI at the boat shore power outlet without an unacceptable number of trips but it is much safer for people.

The ABYC has recently started recommended that new US boats have a 30ma ELCI which is identical to an RCBO. I have yet to see one actually installed. Belts and suspenders would be an RCBO/ELCI at the outlet plus GFCI's on circuits with higher risk of human contact such as galley outlets.

You're on the right track with an RCBO at the outlet and then a breaker panel - but really, get some local advice. The biggest issue with European power is that it's all 220-240v which can kill you in the blink of eye.

Carl
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Old 10-06-2011, 16:52   #6
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Re: European AC system for a boat

Thanks Carl
GBNow is European(I think). I might do the belt and suspenders thing. It seems that is the safest thing to do and with only two outlets it won't cost too much.
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Old 10-06-2011, 17:45   #7
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Re: European AC system for a boat

The EU has required RCBOs for years. ABYC requires them for boats built in the US after July, 2010. As CarlF states, they trip at 30 mA max with a trip time of 100 msec max. (E-11.11.1)

Personnel protection is provided at local outlets as follows:

E-11.13.3.5 If installed in a head, galley, machinery space, or on a weather deck, the receptacle shall be protected by a Type A (nominal 5 milliamperes) Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). (See E-11.11.)

Blue Sea Systems has RCBO/ELCI available.

Hope this helps.
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Old 10-06-2011, 17:55   #8
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Re: European AC system for a boat

Not sure if this link will be of use to you or not. Its mainly about US boats in EU, but hopefully it will give you some info.

European Power Onboard
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Old 10-06-2011, 20:44   #9
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I am based on the European side of the pond. What I laid out is the basic requirements for EU AC standards for small boats in accordance with RCD (ISO) standards. The 5 versus 30ma trip is a nonsense 30ma RCBO have been used in Europe for years and they protect humans just fine. 5ma trips cannot be used on whole house or boat installations as they generate too many nuisance trips.

There is no need to duplicate the RCBOs . It achieves nothing. As to Marina wiring , no it doesn't cause nuisance trips as RCBOs don't care if live and neutral are reversed. ( the most common fault. ) in Europe there will also be a RCBO on the Marina power pillar as well.

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Old 11-06-2011, 05:27   #10
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Re: European AC system for a boat

Quote:
5ma trips cannot be used on whole house or boat installations as they generate too many nuisance trips.
This is absolutely correct.

Quote:
The 5 versus 30ma trip is a nonsense 30ma RCBO have been used in Europe for years and they protect humans just fine.
This is absolutely wrong!

The only reference I could get to this early in the day was Mike Holt's "Basic Electrical Theory", 2004. Figure 4-14 shows the following effects of subjecting the "average human" to 60 Hz:
0.3 mA to 0.4 mA > electrical sensation
0.7 mA to 1.1 mA > perception let-go
10 mA (female) > maximum let-go
16 mA (male) > maximum let go
50 mA for 0.2 seconds (female) > fibrillation level
75 mA for 0.5 seconds (male) > fibrillation level

The dual protection offered by a 30 mA full vessel RCBO/ELCI upstream of the branch circuit panelboard and a nominal 5 mA GFCI in every outlet installed in a wet/damp or potentially wet/damp area is absolutely warranted.

Charlie
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Old 11-06-2011, 07:40   #11
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You can put as many of the damm things in as you like. But i was answering the OPs question.

The fact is not withstanding the 5ma US debate, European RCBOs are universal and in the main 30ma. Studies in Europe have shown that in practice this is more then adequate and is universally specified.

If you want you can source 20ma units with some difficulty.

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Old 11-06-2011, 14:50   #12
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Re: European AC system for a boat

BTW, the NEC also requires GFCIs in wet or potentially wet area.

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