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Old 29-11-2014, 20:48   #1
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Improving on Shore Power Connections

This world wide reference table illustrates that a cruising yacht must deal with a variety of different electrical standards and plugs.
Mains electricity by country - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And this present thread 240v Shore Power Connection illustrates problems and dangers with modifying AC connecters and plugs.

This got me to thinking, maybe there is a better way to improve on how we connect to different marinas in different countries and verify solution, WITHOUT being dependent on running everything thru a Victron Type Multiplus (whose failure just complicates everything).

I am not a qualified electrician, so feel free to correct me on my rationalization and thinking as to a better but simple system assuming you have an installed AC Generator onboard.

For example my Northern Lights M843NW3:12/10 kW is set up as 4 lead, 1 phase, 50Hz output standard @ 1500 RPM
  • Your onboard AC wiring system and onboard consumers is really designed to handle what your Generator delivers.
  • So you are stuck with that and if moving to different Marina locations, just accept that some stuff will not work unless you have capacity to run thru your invertor or accept as is my case in the Philippines that Hz difference is not that critical (Philippines is strange)
Improving on testing and changing
  • I believe the weak link in connecting to Marina shore power is the closed water-resistant type plugs that are used at Marina Pedestals and the Hubble type fittings we connect to on deck.
  • While we have little choice but to modify our shore cable connection and change plug to fit the Marina’s pedestal, I think the onboard Hubble plug restricts and complicates managing different Marina Supplies.
  • The Hubble type is also the common failure point for heat and arcing of loose connections, deck wash short-outs and is often a vulnerable connection for stepping on.
WHAT IF:
  • You just terminate your inboard shore cable with 4 heavy duty lugs as shown.
  • Then do away with the on deck Hubble plug (Male/ Female) and instead run your shore cable down thru an engine room vent to a protected terminal block and breaker, which is prewired to the Isolation Transformer.
  • As the shore side connection varies, you have the option to connect the 4 or 3 wires as is needed to match what the Isolation Transformer can handle.
  • Once connected and tested hot and correct from the shore supply, you can flip the Mains breaker that feeds to the Isolation Transformer and Main AC Distribution panel.
Obviously this is not as handy a solution for the day sailor who wants to quickly get out for the day and reconnect, but is it something that benefits a transient who will plug in for a month?

Am I missing something?
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Old 29-11-2014, 21:05   #2
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

This is the method that ships use when berthed. It actually makes perfect sense. The box could be placed in any waterproof locker with an easy to remove cover.

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Old 30-11-2014, 04:19   #3
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

Sensible but not practical for those who move about and plug in. (I don't)
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Old 30-11-2014, 05:32   #4
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

I think it's an eminently sensible idea . Hard wire the shore power cable to eliminate a big point of failure.

A variant on that would to put the Hubble plug inside your lazarette out of the elements.

In either case, strain relief would be a very important consideration.
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Old 30-11-2014, 06:04   #5
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

Permanently connect the shipboard end and install one of these: CM-7 - Glendinning Products, LLC.

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Old 30-11-2014, 06:37   #6
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Permanently connect the shipboard end and install one of these: CM-7 - Glendinning Products, LLC.

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Old 30-11-2014, 08:21   #7
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

One problem is that this does nothing about issue of how to plug into the dock end outlet, which still requires the proper plug on the end on the far end of the cable. Still need either a bunch of different cables or adapters onboard anyway.

Although a hassle in some cases, 90% of time plugging in is no issue for my boat. To me, having to hard wire the boat end of cable every time connecting sounds like a hassle and something that presents its own problems (possible hot connection lugs dangling about if other end of cable still energized being one).
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Old 30-11-2014, 08:32   #8
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
...... Hard wire the shore power cable to eliminate a big point of failure...............
Perhaps, but this will severely limit your cruising range.

Hard wiring the boat end of the shorepower cable is reasonable (but it complicates things if the cord gets damaged because you can't just go to the marina store and buy a replacement and plug it in), but I think most marinas would get pretty upset if you took the dock pedestal apart and hard wired your power cord in, bypassing the receptacle.

This would also prevent moving your boat quickly in an emergency like a fire on the boat in the next slip.

Sometimes we get what seem to be great ideas but forget or don't understand why things are done the way they are done.
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Old 30-11-2014, 11:58   #9
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

All good points rwidman and I already felt that this was more suited to a roaming cruiser .

I agree you are pretty much forced to buy the matching marina's male plug for their pedestal and rewire your shore side..... But doing away with the exposed boat side large plug is what I hoped to achieve.

This plug always seems to develop internal damages over the years of handling and I thought reducing physical size so that cable with lugs can be run thru a small dorade vent into a dry observable connection point is worth considering.
I felt that this also makes it easier to verify with a meter... that the new marina side plug has been properly wired.

The fire scenario also depends on how you run and secure your shore cable...(bow in or out?) so in my "bow in" case , shore cable runs via pulpit over deck to cockpit plug.

I would always be forced to quickly disconnect from shore side or rip out pedastal plug in an emergency and take my cable with me.
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Old 30-11-2014, 20:56   #10
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

Many large power boats use the Glendinning system. I have often wondered why it isn't incorporated more often in sail boats.
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Old 30-11-2014, 21:20   #11
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

On the Superyachts (+50m) we use a power reel like that but much larger to handle +350amps 3 phase 220-440V connected to a step up/down transformer and frequency controller.

One interesting caution was that the Chief Engineer always flaked the cable off of the spool before energizing because of heat and I think winding concerns.

The same problem of matching the shore side plug was even more critical as you could tell by the condition of them that previous customers had bad connections there... creating heat.

My excellent engineer often talked the Marina into bypassing their plug and wiring direct using his own custom waterproof connection box.
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Old 30-11-2014, 21:47   #12
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

For us non-megayacht guys who only need 30 or 50 amps the Smartplug will solve the boat side of the problem. SmartPlug Systems - Shore Power Products and Accessories

Been using mine for about 3 years and perfect so far. If there is a problem it will be on the dock side connection so at least the fire won't be starting on your boat.

Instead of adapters you can just wire a new plug on the dockside when visiting area with power different than your home country. Of course the boat side will have to go through appropriate electronics to make it work for your system.
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Old 30-11-2014, 22:46   #13
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

That Smart plug is a definite improvement over the twist type that I hate.... Thanks for sharing
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Old 01-12-2014, 09:01   #14
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
That Smart plug is a definite improvement over the twist type that I hate.... Thanks for sharing
If the Smartplug need any further endorsement, CF member Maine Sail who is almost obsessive about quality and reliability, has endorsed Smartplug.
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Old 01-12-2014, 10:50   #15
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Re: Improving on Shore Power Connections

If you are parked for months at a time, never leaving the slip, you probably don't need to adapt to other shore power sources...because you never cruise far enough to come across other power sources.

If you actually cruise with any regularity, it's going to be a big hassle rewire the cord every time you move unless you add some type of reel system, which tends to be expensive and bulky on smaller cruisng boats.

Finally the plug is usually the not the primary issue when you come up against a variety of volt/hz combinations.
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