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Old 06-10-2015, 14:09   #1
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I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

I have a french made boat with a 230V 50hz generator. I plan on buying some tools/equipment for the boat and it seems to be expensive/impossible to buy European gear in the USA. One basic item for example is a wet/dry shop vac. For a 110V/60hz USA small vac, it would be $75. Ordering via Amazon is almost $300 for a 230V/50hz european unit.

I could buy a converter (230V to 110V) but they don't convert the frequency from 50hz to 60hz, so the motor will run slower, if at all.

For a 1200 watt shop vac would it be reasonable to buy a 12V to 110V 1200 watt inverter, just run the genset to charge the batteries while in use?
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Old 06-10-2015, 14:22   #2
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

More info required. Our generator can be changed from 50 to 60 and back, no problem.
Change revs from 1500 > 1800 (or 3000 > 3600 if its a small one).
Next change a jumper on the regulator board.
Choose 120v Taps on stator terminal board
Re-adjust stability and voltage fine adjust.
Job done.

Refer to your Generator manuals.
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Old 06-10-2015, 14:24   #3
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

Two good ideas. Th einverter might be simpler for just a shop vac, but if you're planning on using more tools, then sure investigate the generator.

Don't forget wire sizing for the different voltages.

Good luck.
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Old 06-10-2015, 14:54   #4
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

I'm at somewhat of a loss to explain the concern over Hz rate, because when I lived in Germany, everything we brought with us worked just fine, obviously we used transformers to covert 220 to 110, but all our "stuff" functioned fine, microwave sounded a little different, but worked. Mechanical clocks ran slow, but we didn't have anything with a mechanical clock.

But Hz rate is a function of generator speed so you should be able to adjust that and may even be able to re-wire for 110V as posted above.


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Old 06-10-2015, 15:22   #5
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I'm at somewhat of a loss to explain the concern over Hz rate, because when I lived in Germany, everything we brought with us worked just fine, obviously we used transformers to covert 220 to 110, but all our "stuff" functioned fine, microwave sounded a little different, but worked. Mechanical clocks ran slow, but we didn't have anything with a mechanical clock.

But Hz rate is a function of generator speed so you should be able to adjust that and may even be able to re-wire for 110V as posted above.


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It all depends on what "stuff" you're talking about. Most electronics won't care and a lot of it is universal voltage and will perform just fine on 95-250 VAC at 45-65 HZ. Things with larger motors, especially induction motors, and large transformers are a different matter. The one issue I rarely see brought up in these power conversion threads is air conditioning. A unit designed for 60 Hz power may easily overheat if run on 50 Hz power, even if the voltage is brought in spec with a transformer. Even if it runs, it will very likely run inefficiently. Frankly, A/C is the only challenge I see for most mid sized yachts seeking universal power acceptance. Most other things can either operate just fine on any local power, or can be easily run from an inverter. In general, motors designed for 50 Hz can often run at 60 Hz just fine, but they will run 20% faster. Going in the other direction, an induction motor designed for 60 Hz will often overheat if run at 50 Hz., as there is often not enough margin in the design to prevent the magnetics from saturating. If it's important, look for motors rated for both 50 and 60 Hz. They're not common, but are available.

To the O/P, these same conditions apply to power generation equipment. If the gen-head is spec'ed to run at 50 Hz, it likely will perform at 60 Hz by running at the higher RPM necessary. The engine's ability to tolerate the higher RPM is another question.
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Old 06-10-2015, 15:45   #6
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

If your french made boat has an Onan generator, as already stated you just move a jumper in the control panel and it will produce 60hz , run at an increased rpm and have more kW output.
I have a french made boat with Onan generator, 60hz airconditioning units and run 50 hz power and no problems, but if I run at 60hz the airconditioning produces more cool air.
To solve the 50/60hz issue for the watermaker electric motor I went down the Variable Frequency Drive route and installed a 3 phase motor , so I can change the frequency to keep the pump happy and have soft starting.
The battery chargers are not interested wether it's 50/60hz and any other appliances can use the inverter, so I can use shore or generator at 50 or 60 hz, sorted.
Rgrds

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Old 07-10-2015, 09:41   #7
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

Consider what you already have installed on your boast and how often/how long you run each of them (if they are only 50 Hz tolerant), and what you want to add and how often/how long you'll run each of them.....and what their cost is. On my Onan, changing the voltage and Hz is possible, but a somewhat involved task-not something I'd want to do often. On the other hand, if the tools,etc you want to buy are not that expensive....buy them and use them at 50 Hz. If/when they burn out-replace them. PS: Our boat is an Asian boat, designed and set up for 230v, 50Hz. We installed a 220v/110v step-down Xfmr, and use standard 110v, 60Hx tools all the time-without issue-and have for 16 years!
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Old 07-10-2015, 11:14   #8
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

Most handheld power tools use universal motors. These are generally not sensitive to line frequency, and can usually be run on either 50Hz or 60Hz, or even DC, as long as the voltage is appropriate. Induction motors are the type that are sensitive to line frequency. Generally, these are found in stationary power tools like table saws and drill presses. Not many induction motors found on a mid-sized sailing yacht, with the exception of air conditioning units, and perhaps washing machines. Large AC water-makers likely will also use an induction motor. If you have one of these, you'll likely want to get the frequency right as otherwise the speed and therefore the generated pressure/flow will be off and could cause problems.
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Old 07-10-2015, 18:29   #9
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

This site (and ones like it) sell european 230v 50hz appliances for reasonable prices.
220 Volt Dry Vacuum Cleaners | Heavy Duty Vacuum Cleaner
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Old 07-10-2015, 18:51   #10
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

I'm literally 'in the same boat'. :-)

We've got a 1500 watt - 24vDC to 110vAC inverter (60 Hz) mounted alongside the nav table. I run all sorts of power tools off of it (small shop vac, grinder, drill, jigsaw, etc) and even a rice cooker.

Easy solution and it gives me a ton of flexibility. As we've travelled around, I'd estimate we've found way more countries that are 220v, (and 50Hz). As such I've got a mix of everything onboard during our travels and with the separate inverter it really doesn't matter. I can buy whatever's cheapest wherever we're at!

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Old 07-10-2015, 19:22   #11
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

We do the same as hobie generator is 5 kW 220v 50 hz
Lithium batteries run 2 mastervolt 2500w mass sine I nverters both USA and European voltages on 2 separate circuits.
Gives us the option to use whatever's available

We run the air con off both USA 230v shore power and European 220v shore from the generator and even from the inverter. We can't tell the difference

Regards
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Old 08-10-2015, 02:20   #12
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

I'm on the other shore:american boat in Europe. Installed a step down trafo 240 / 120 but,50Hz.All units work fine with with 125V 50Hz-vacuum,hairdrier,micro besides:
1). Xantrex Prosine 2000Vt charger/invertor. This monkey is so smart so, always trying to cut of shore power supply,even when I reprogrammed Shore power In parameters like "Low frequency", "Low/High Voltage" . Just reports and "Error" and cuts off. Finally, I installed a switch so, use Prosine only for battery charge and invertor at sea. But, you won't have this problem with french boat...Unless will put Xantrex charger(I called the company and the girl said "no way to adjust to 50Hz);
2). FlagShip Aircon. As stated above by Saltyhog...It overheats after 20 min work. Even, the compressor has double voltage 120V60Hz/240V50Hz,but the cooling water pump is 60Hz. Visually, the water runs well,but maybe considering the water temperature (was 28C this summer) it can't refregirate.
By the way, I installed additional socket for 220V in some areas. So, now I prepared for most cases. You should consider wire sizes, as Stu Jackson stated above
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Old 08-10-2015, 03:40   #13
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Re: I have a 50HZ Generator - Advice requested

Options:
- Best, if your generator has a simple adjustment/modification it may be able to produce 120V/60hz power directly. (but be careful not to leave any of your euro-appliances plugged in)
- Simplest while ensuring full compatability, especially if you aren't talking about long duration high wattage applications like air/con, is a large battery charger feeding the batteries and and inverter feeding the 120v/60hz system. Carefully sized and designed, it can run the larger loads but it gets more expensive.
- Simplest while needing to verify each devices compatiability, is to use a transformer to create 120v/50hz power. You hear hit and miss statements regarding motors. Keep in mind, they may not blow out immediately but the extra heat may mean they survive 2yrs when they should survive 10yrs, so someone saying they did it with no problem may simply not have reached the point of failure yet...or it may have been over designed and it will never fail...hard to say with any certainty.

Someone mentioned it but make sure your wire sizes are sufficent. When you go from 240v to 120v you need twice the amps to deliver the same amount of power. If they cheaped out and put in the bare minimum wire size for 240v, it may not be sufficent for the same load at 120v. Probably not an issue with a small circuit that only carries a couple of 12w lightbulbs but something running larger motors or resistance heaters may be an issue.
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