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Old 09-01-2019, 11:38   #1
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Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

I am interested in the opinion of others on this forum. I am in the process of re-wiring my 1985 Tayana 37 sailboat. I plan to cruise the east coast of the US and down into the Caribbean, maybe more in the future.

I am in the process of identifying the battery charger I will be installing and keep getting feedback from others I should be purchasing a battery charger / inverter combo. This is an important decision as a charger / inverter combo would be wired differently. The battery charger would simply hang off the AC panel as one of the various loads, however, the inverter / charger combo would be wired inline with the main 30A AC coming into the boat prior to going to the main panel (Victron energy Multi).

For the life of me I cannot see why I would need an inverter.

1. They are so inefficient
2. Everything I can think I would need can run on 12V
3. Creates a more complicated piece of hardware and adds to potential things that can go wrong (inverter / charger vs. simple charger)
4. If I REALLY need AC power while on the hook I can just start my Honda generator and plug it into my 30A shore power inlet.
5. Alternatively, I could carry a portable 1200W inverter and just run it off the batter if I really had to. (Even less efficient, I know)

I am curious of the views of others. Why did you choose to have an inverter? After installing one do you really use it that often, and for what purpose? Am I crazy to not install an inverter / charger combo? Am I missing something here? Does it make solar / wind charging easier? simplify wiring?

Thanks ahead of time for the feedback.

Phil
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Old 09-01-2019, 11:56   #2
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

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Originally Posted by CharmCityBoater View Post
1. They are so inefficient
2. Everything I can think I would need can run on 12V
Hi, I'm with you, I run both my mobile home and my boat without an inverter.

But. Nowadays they've an efficiency of 90ish percent. It's mostly the AC power supplies, like example for laptops which are horrible. Also efficiency highly depends on temperature and load. Some info from victron:

https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...efficiency.pdf

If you've got a bunch of AC power tools or chargers which are hard to come by as a 12V version, it sort of makes sense to have an inverter. Or Aircon/Washing machine/...

But on a 37ft vessel I'd just avoid an inverter and maybe carry a little honda generator.
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Old 09-01-2019, 13:03   #3
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

Except for the few months when at the dock, the past 2.5 years of cruising I bet I've used my inverter at least as much as my charger.

Deciding to only get a charger instead of a charger/inverter has the only real pro of saving a few dollars now. But, that pretty much always results in a "I wish I had done it in the beginning" thing later.
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Old 09-01-2019, 14:07   #4
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Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

First they are NOT inefficient, properly sized, good ones are 95% efficient.
Then depending on what you want to run, 12VDC is both expensive and usually poor quality appliance. Vacuum cleaner and toaster, blender come to mind, as well as a counter top ice machine $99. Yes you can get a 12VDC ice maker, but they are often thousands of dollars.
Anytime we motor, we make ice and put it in 1gl freezer bags and in the freezer. When motoring, there is usually excess DC power from the alternator.
How do you charge your drill batteries etc?
An inverter/Charger is nearly seamless to use, just push a button.

Plus an inverter/Charger is often a big boy. My Magnum is a 125 amp charger and is the best charger I have, power easily turned down and will terminate charge based on trailing amps, easily incorporates an amp counting battery monitor etc. plus it comes on line slowly which the Honda really likes as opposed to suddenly and overloading the Honda.
I also have a Sterling Pro Charge Ultra, great Charger, biggest is only 60 amps and it hits all 60 amps instantly, which the Honda doesnít like at all.
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Old 09-01-2019, 14:15   #5
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

All good feedback. Especially the "If I choose only a charger I will wish I had the inverter function...". I am going with Victron energy either way so I guess I will be looking at the MultiPlus inverter / chargers.
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Old 09-01-2019, 15:09   #6
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

If you can't imagine why you need an inverter, then you don't need one, don't have one.

Everybody uses their boat differently, and the fact that I use an inverter every day should have no bearing on what you need.
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Old 09-01-2019, 17:58   #7
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

The thought a freshly baked bread, lobster and salad sandwich would justify having an inverter!

Apart from that I will have a small (lightweight plastic) washing machine which I will use in my shower recess.


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Old 09-01-2019, 20:52   #8
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

the most common things would be a mircowave or coffee maker etc. nobody is going to spend 20 mins pulling out a portable genny to use a microwave for 1 min.

if everything you have can run off 12v then don't bother. 12v is better. most boats can't. and use inverters.

the other consideration is different power down the coast. if you run into 230v 50hz, then having a seperate charger and seperate inverter. allows you to have 120v at the dock via inverter. while you charge via a multi input voltage charger.
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Old 09-01-2019, 21:04   #9
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

Stick with separate charger and inverter. Nothing worse than having your combo unit go down and have no way to charge your bank (outside your motor) while you wait 6 weeks for a replacement or having it fixed (happens more than you’d think) if you’re not sure why you need one just get a cheapo RV automotive one for $100 put it in a sealed bag; you won’t be able to run an ice maker off it but you’ll be able to run small power tools etc with them. We have one and it never gets used as we prefer to run dc wherever possible. One of the first things I threw out when we got our boat was the microwave and a press makes much better coffee IMO
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:20   #10
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

I use my 4K watt inverter all day everyday, but I laid out and planned my systems accordingly. Watermaker, ice-maker, microwave, refrigerator/freezer, 110v outlets throughout all run off the 24v/110v inverter. To run the washer/dryer and ac units I have to run the gennie or be on shore power.
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:30   #11
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

Inverters are better for short loads, like toasters, blenders, microwave etc.
If your going to cook electrically then I think your better off starting the generator, cause that is a whole lot of power to pull from a bank.
If you are going to have any long term loads like say a TV for instance, then your better off with a very small pure sine wave inverter just for it, itís wasteful power wise to run a TV for hours off of a 3KW inverter.

Inverter costs have come down so much that in my opinion itís not worth it to have a modified sine wave, a pure sine will run anything.
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Old 10-01-2019, 10:41   #12
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

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If you are going to have any long term loads like say a TV for instance, then your better off with a very small pure sine wave inverter just for it, itís wasteful power wise to run a TV for hours off of a 3KW inverter..
...or get a computer monitor with external power supply (mostly 19ish V DC) and a 12 V DC booster to replace it with (like for laptop power supply). Cheap&Efficient.
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Old 10-01-2019, 11:23   #13
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

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The thought a freshly baked bread, lobster and salad sandwich would justify having an inverter!
That is going to require a lot of DC amperage to bake bread in a an AC oven. How are you going to put that many amps back into the battery bank?
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Old 10-01-2019, 12:16   #14
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CharmCityBoater View Post
I am interested in the opinion of others on this forum. I am in the process of re-wiring my 1985 Tayana 37 sailboat. I plan to cruise the east coast of the US and down into the Caribbean, maybe more in the future.

I am in the process of identifying the battery charger I will be installing and keep getting feedback from others I should be purchasing a battery charger / inverter combo. This is an important decision as a charger / inverter combo would be wired differently. The battery charger would simply hang off the AC panel as one of the various loads, however, the inverter / charger combo would be wired inline with the main 30A AC coming into the boat prior to going to the main panel (Victron energy Multi).

For the life of me I cannot see why I would need an inverter.

1. They are so inefficient
2. Everything I can think I would need can run on 12V
3. Creates a more complicated piece of hardware and adds to potential things that can go wrong (inverter / charger vs. simple charger)
4. If I REALLY need AC power while on the hook I can just start my Honda generator and plug it into my 30A shore power inlet.
5. Alternatively, I could carry a portable 1200W inverter and just run it off the batter if I really had to. (Even less efficient, I know)

I am curious of the views of others. Why did you choose to have an inverter? After installing one do you really use it that often, and for what purpose? Am I crazy to not install an inverter / charger combo? Am I missing something here? Does it make solar / wind charging easier? simplify wiring?

Thanks ahead of time for the feedback.

Phil

I would start by hastening to remark that you certainly not crazy for asking the question. Your own boat should be equipped to suit your own lifestyle and use pattern, and if you don't feel a need for an inverter, why do you care what others do?



You asked however for data points, and here's mine --


My Victron charger/inverter is a member of the family, as it were. It is the heart and soul of the boat's electrical system, the nexus which connects together AC and DC systems, consumers, power sources.



Those who don't have AC consumers won't care about this, but if you do have significant AC consumers, then the inverter part of the charger/inverter is what allows you to keep powering them from batteries when sailing or at anchor, or directly from the alternator, when motoring. We have a large frame 24v school bus alternator, so when the main engine is running, we have basically unlimited AC power just like if we were on shore power.



A modern charger/inverter also improves the way you use shore power or generator power, by allowing you to set a limit on the current drawn from that source, with any deficit made up with inverted battery power. This is really useful.



On my boat, we have a lot of AC equipment, so all this is really handy -- washer, dryer, built-in microwave, induction hob, power tools, and pretty much everything you would have in your home.


That's just one data point. If you are happy running everything off 12v, then your needs will be different from ours. Your boat should be equipped for the way YOU use her, not for the way anyone else would.


P.S. Your point about the reliability of charger/inverters is a serious one. My Victron has blown up for the second time in 9 years, and it is a huge expense and PITA winter project to deal with that. It's worth it in our case, but a good lesson to not put equipment on your boat which you don't really need -- it means that much less to break.
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Old 10-01-2019, 12:39   #15
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Re: Inverter for bluewater sailboat?

An inverter of sine wave quality allows you to run domestic fans. (quieter and better) and the larger ones permit the use of a hair dryer. THAT is going to make life aboard better for she who must be obeyed, and I could also run a small vacuum cleaner from mine--but I used a separate inverter and a quality battery charger completely separate from one another. I also used an isolation transformer when using shore AC power. That stops your vessel being one of the better paths to earth in the marina MEN system.
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