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Old 12-10-2018, 08:37   #1
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Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

How do cruisers deal with shore power in areas with line power standards different than those on their boat?

For example, a European boat (230V/50Hz) in North America (120V/60Hz), or vice-versa?

Forgive this dumb carpenter; in many areas, electrics are one of the impenetrable mysteries of the universe! I'm not sure how to phrase a search with enough specificity in these terms.
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Old 12-10-2018, 10:05   #2
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

Dozens of widely different solutions, appropriate to how the owner uses their boat and what sort of appliances are aboard.

For me, only the charger plugs in to shore power, and it is designed to accept any country's standard without changing anything but the plug adapter.

US or Japanese or Euro/Aussie style mains appliances can be used / swapped out as desired, running off an appropriate inverter.
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Old 12-10-2018, 10:50   #3
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LaughingWarrior View Post
How do cruisers deal with shore power in areas with line power standards different than those on their boat?

For example, a European boat (230V/50Hz) in North America (120V/60Hz), or vice-versa?

Forgive this dumb carpenter; in many areas, electrics are one of the impenetrable mysteries of the universe! I'm not sure how to phrase a search with enough specificity in these terms.
Unfortunately this is a complex subject that changes from boat to boat. If your boat is relatively simple without high current devices, then the strategy John suggest is certainly a good one.

However, if you have power hungry devices, like AC, Water heaters, Microwave, ect then its a much bigger challenge. Various solutions exist, but the most common seen are transformers. While transformers will convert the voltage (and offer other advantages), they will not convert the frequency. So even with a transformer, some items like microwaves and clothes washers still don't work correctly.

We have actually seen some boats that just plug into the dock to charge and run AC. They start their generator for devices that don't function properly on the incorrect frequency.
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:12   #4
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

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Originally Posted by LaughingWarrior View Post
How do cruisers deal with shore power in areas with line power standards different than those on their boat?

For example, a European boat (230V/50Hz) in North America (120V/60Hz), or vice-versa?

Forgive this dumb carpenter; in many areas, electrics are one of the impenetrable mysteries of the universe! I'm not sure how to phrase a search with enough specificity in these terms.

Many approaches; here's a review.

  1. Many cruising boats do not make extensive use of marinas instead preferring to anchor or moor. For occasional, short stays in a marina, then, the solution is not to use shore power at all and rely only on whatever other power sources (solar, generator, etc) are aboard.
  2. It is possible to fit a boat with dual voltage, dual frequency systems such that it can use any shore power system worldwide and convert it to the standard for the boat. For example, here is an isolation transformer that will automatically adjust to the input voltage. (but see note below on frequency)
  3. There are some marinas that offer both voltages. (again, see note below on frequency)
  4. As noted upthread, it is possible to obtain a battery charger that will run on either 120 or 220 volts, and use that, while leaving the rest of the shore power system disconnected when traveling in areas where the voltage is incompatible.
  5. It is possible to use a portable transformer, placed on the dock between the shore power pedestal and the boat, to convert voltage. (but again see note on frequency)
There are no practical devices that will convert frequency between 50 hz (European) and 60 hz (American). Therefore, for worldwide cruising, you want your boat to be compatible with either. Most (but not all) inverter-chargers will accept either input frequency, as will nearly all heating appliances and portable power tools. Things to watch are air conditioners, clothes washer, and microwave.
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:17   #5
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

We have a Promariner Pronautic world voltage/frequency charger that does both. Like John, nothing else plugs into the shorepower. Ever device onboard is 120v and fed from a separate Magnum inverter.

It works ok until you are in an area and want to buy a new coffee maker, but they only sell them locally in a voltage you can't use on board.

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Old 12-10-2018, 12:43   #6
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

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If your boat is relatively simple without high current devices, then the strategy John suggest is certainly a good one.
Actually even a large-demands complex setup works well that way.

The key factor is, if a boat is set up to run everything off the battery bank(s) for long periods off grid, without relying on running an AC genset.

It is I admit uncommon to see such a setup in conjunction with high current demands, but is certainly my preference in design.
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Old 12-10-2018, 12:49   #7
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

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Ever device onboard is 120v and fed from a separate Magnum inverter.

It works ok until you are in an area and want to buy a new coffee maker, but they only sell them locally in a voltage you can't use on board.
Easily solved by just buying an inverter at the same time to run that appliance.

In my scheme the DC distribution becomes the backbone, most inverters are small, usually cheap, local to the the device(s) they power and thus usually powered down.

I do not use kombi style inverter / chargers.
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Old 12-10-2018, 13:05   #8
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

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Actually even a large-demands complex setup works well that way.

The key factor is, if a boat is set up to run everything off the battery bank(s) for long periods off grid, without relying on running an AC genset.

It is I admit uncommon to see such a setup in conjunction with high current demands, but is certainly my preference in design.
Uncommon, nope, I would say literally unheard of in sailboats. Please provide me an example of a sailboat you know setup like that or you assisted in such a design? Hell, provide me an example of a boat you did any design on.
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Old 12-10-2018, 13:12   #9
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

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Easily solved by just buying an inverter at the same time to run that appliance.

In my scheme the DC distribution becomes the backbone, most inverters are small, usually cheap, local to the the device(s) they power and thus usually powered down.

I do not use kombi style inverter / chargers.
Wow its posts like this where you really loose your creditability and show that you have no experience cruising.

You are seriously suggesting people just buy a small inverter locally to power devices they purchase. I actually laughed out loud at that thought. In many locations, good luck even finding a "small, usually cheap" inverter. Hell even here in the Eastern Caribben finding a store with an inverter in stock is difficult. Then add the price. A 300W non sine wave inverter down here can easily run $150USD.

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Old 12-10-2018, 13:19   #10
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Dozens of widely different solutions, appropriate to how the owner uses their boat and what sort of appliances are aboard.

For me, only the charger plugs in to shore power, and it is designed to accept any country's standard without changing anything but the plug adapter.

US or Japanese or Euro/Aussie style mains appliances can be used / swapped out as desired, running off an appropriate inverter.
We rarely go to a dock or plug in. Roxy has an isolation transformer on the 220 50 Amp circuit. This makes 110. 110 simply shore power bypasses the transformer. Shore power simply powers the inverter/charger and the 110 legs. Most appliances will operate OK on 50 hz or we can operate off the big inverter. For computers and other small specialty needs we use the Samlex small full sine inverter, 300 watts.

The boat has 660 watts solar and 12.5 kw generator so if shore power is not usable - no problem.
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Old 12-10-2018, 13:32   #11
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Wow its posts like this where you really loose your creditability and show that you have no experience cruising.

You are seriously suggesting people just buy a small inverter locally to power devices they purchase. I actually laughed out loud at that thought. In many locations, good luck even finding a "small, usually cheap" inverter. Hell even here in the Eastern Caribben finding a store with an inverter in stock is difficult. Then add the price. A 300W non sine wave inverter down here can easily run $150USD.

And in my example of the coffee maker, you'd need a lot more than a 300w inverter.... plus, with that draw, they're not the type you just plug into a cigarette lighter, but need to be hard wired.

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Old 12-10-2018, 13:42   #12
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

I very regularly purchase all kinds of electronics including inverters while overseas, including places USians may consider "third world".

Very often much wider selection, usually good-enough quality and nearly always at a fraction of the price sold in the US, enough so buying spares is practical.

Some people need to get out more.
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Old 12-10-2018, 15:36   #13
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

Thank you all so far for your comments.
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Old 12-10-2018, 17:52   #14
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

110VAC wiring will safely carry 220VAC, generally. 220 wiring actually uses smaller wire than 110. Typically the insulation is rated at 600V.



The frequency issue can be tackled a couple of different ways. One is using a 220V 50Hz capable charger to charge the bank, and an inverter big enough to handle max anticipated 110VAC load, as well as a small one for when the big one is not needed. The charger should be capable of keeping the batteries at least up to 50% after peak usage hours, and preferably reaching float stage at least for a short while at some point each day.



The other way is with a motor/generator. Quite simply, a 220V 50Hz motor turns a 110VAC 60Hz generator. This is quite complicated if frequency is to be held accurately at different loads. Efficiency is nothing to brag about, but on shore power it isn't such a big deal. There are no turnkey setups that I am aware of so it would be a DIY thing. The last MG set I ever saw was on a LASH ship, running on 440VAC 3 phase, outputting high voltage DC to operate a very complex gantry crane used to lift 300 ton barges from the ship's holds to the water and vice versa. I know that they have been used to convert 50Hz to 60Hz and vice versa but I have never actually seen the equipment.


Simply limiting yourself pierside to the loads you normally operate from the batteries (or genset if used) at sea would be the easiest thing. Charge with engine, genset, or a shorepower charger that runs on the local voltage and frequency. If your stay will be a few months, it might be worthwhile to buy locality appropriate applicances.
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Old 12-10-2018, 18:25   #15
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Re: Shore power voltage while cruising the world?

We go the battery charger route.


Rocket Science is a 110v boat, but we have a 220v charger with it's own shore power inlet.



So, in Europe, we simply plug in the 220 charger and let the inverter (2500w) run everything. Works great, and is a simple install. We also have a single outlet for 220 which runs a space heater or water boiler as needed.



There are other ways to go, but this has been very good for us. The only downside is that the water heater isn't run to the inverter, so we don't have hot water from the 220v, but the engine takes care of it when cruising, and in the winter we use marina showers. No problems.
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