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Old 28-10-2014, 07:11   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Tulsa, OK
Boat: Hylas 54
Posts: 26
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European power 50hz 60hz solution

I just wanted to share with the Forum members that I had an excellent change to my Hylas 54 that will enable this American power based boat 60 hz 110v to operate in Europe on 50hz 220v power at the flip of a switch. Yes, the flip on one VERY complicated but logical and well designed 7-pole rotary switch that is labeled 50hz/OFF/60hz. It looks exactly like the Gen/OFF/Shore switch currently on most boats with generators. Our Hylas had a Prosine 2.0 inverter/charger and a small 80amp back charger from Dolphin. The Dolphin charger is important because it works on 50hz AND 60hz. The Prosine and Mastervolt products only charge in 60hz (OR 50hz if you buy the Euro version, but NOT both in one machine). Note: we have 4 255amp 8d Lifeline house batteries.

This refit was designed by Marshall Larner at J Gordon & Co. in Annapolis, Maryland.

In addition to the switch, we upgraded our Prosine 2.0 inverter/charger (120 amp/2000watt) to a 120v 60hz Mastervolt Combi inverter/charger (200amp/4000watt) and added a 7000watt transformer (probably a little overkill), Mastervolt Soft start, and a Mastervolt Power Analyzer. In all, the equipment was approx $8,000 and the install labor about $2,500.

We think it was a bargain when you consider the convenience of having a simple operation, it will add re-sale value to a blue-water cuising boat AND we will save $1,000's on $9/gallon Euro marine fuel. Just an example: It takes approx 2-1/2 hours for the Spendide washer/dryer to do a load. At $9/gal that is ~$20.00 per load if you are running our 0.8gal/hr generator to do laundry. Remember, you are sitting at a marina. Shore power is always much cheaper than fuel. Yep, you could walk into a marina and do your own laundry (if one is available, if a machine is empty) but we prefer not to since we have one on board. PLEASE NO FLAMING COMMENTS ABOUT LIVING TOO LUXURIOUSLY. We've loved sailing on our Hunter 36 without these comforts and we get that you can do things simpler. We choose this method now. This is a post to help people design a Euro-flexible boat. My point is that you can scale the design to whatever your boat needs are even if they are large or small.

In short the key to the design model was dividing all AC devices on the boat into 3 power needs:

1) anything needing 220volt service (in our case the Air Conditioners need 220volt service and have 50/60hz capability. If yours are 60hz only, you must change to a 50/60hz Air Cond (I've heard that running on the wrong hz is fine for a while. Just buy a new Air Cond after yours quits, if it quits) Sorry, but your batteries 99.9% of the time won't be big enough to invert the Air Conditioners.

2) any devices that are 110volt but not 50hz/60hz sensitive. In our case, water heater, watermaker pump, Dolphin charger. These devices will run fine in Europe with only a transformer. (Note, hear is probably where we overdesigned the transformer because we don't need to be able to run the watermaker while in port. A smaller transformer would have been cheaper, lighter, smaller) Note: all of these devices are on LINE #1 of our two 120v lines. The transformer only needs to supply TRANSFORMED power to that one leg. I think you can get transformers that have two 120volt outputs if you need power to both LINES.

3) any devices that are 110volt and ONLY 60hz capable. Ice maker, trash compactor, microwave, dishwasher, washer/dryer, central vacuum system, and all 110 outlets on the boat. These devices will need to be wired to run off the inverter in addition to shore/generator power. It was a relatively simple thing to do. But just make sure you don't bump up too close to the 4000watt inverter capability. The only time that we even pay attention max inverter usage is when we have the washer/dryer on. It uses 14amps (@120v that equals 1866 watts @90% inverting efficiency) in heating/dry cycle mode.

The 7-pole switch that Marshall designed does a great job of directing the shore power to the various places that need it. It also was designed to be safe in that if you made the mistake of starting the 60hz generator while on 50 hz Euro shore power mode, nothing will get damaged.

A whole different problem that gets created by this change is HOW to hook up to a Euro shore power pole. We have built numerous adapters to solve this problem. Additionally, we built a 3' long pigtail that enters the boat with a female USA type 125/250v 50amp plug on one end, and a Euro 32amp male on the other. This was a head scratcher because the USA plug uses 4-wire cord and the Euro plugs use only 3-wire cord. If you bring 2 110 legs into your boat, you will have to do some testing to figure out which hole to NOT use on the USA plug.

I am writing this because when I started out to plan for going to Europe (we plan on keeping the boat over there for several summer seasons) I never found a complete solution to the electrical problems. I didn't want a half-way solution. I was willing to spend a fair amount of money. I wanted to be able to go from my USA generator while on the hook to Euro shore power at the flip of a switch. I know that frequency converters are out there but they are BIG, HEAVY, EXPENSIVE, and I am told that they can hum loudly.

I will be happy to talk to anyone and help about the refit. There are literally a million questions that I had to ask and research before undertaking this refit. But basically, a big inverter and a complicated switch made this possible. We ABSOLUTELY love the solution. I am convinced that 100% of the investment was worth it from a quality of living standpoint and also I am convinced that when we sell this boat we will probably get every penny back because Hylas owners typically sail in the Caribbean and/or Europe so having a boat wired like TARA is a tremendous selling point.
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