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Old 25-09-2015, 18:02   #1
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Shorepower transformer for European boat

Hi everyone!

I have a european set up Lagoon 500 which is designed to accept 220v 50hz shorepower. I am cruising in the Caribbean where it seems that most shorepower options are 110v-120v 60hz. All of my high voltage systems and appliances are designed to run on 220v, so I can't use them unless I am running my generator.

I have been doing some research to see what type of marine transformer I can install that would allow me to plug into 110v-120v 60hz and convert to 220v 50hz so I can run everything on shorepower.

I figure since the boat has an 11 kVA generator that is about the size of transformer I should be looking for.

Does anyone have any advice/recommendations for me?

Thanks guys and gals!

Best

Chris
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Old 25-09-2015, 19:24   #2
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

Hi Chris:

Unless things have changed I don't think that you can convert from 50hz to 60hz easily or inexpensively. I know of a good article on adjusting the American to Euro but not the reverse. This might help you to understand the problem but is not a direct answer to your question -- European Power Onboard Good luck and let us know how it turns out for you.
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Old 25-09-2015, 21:42   #3
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by cbrooks07 View Post
Hi everyone!

I have a european set up Lagoon 500 which is designed to accept 220v 50hz shorepower. I am cruising in the Caribbean where it seems that most shorepower options are 110v-120v 60hz. All of my high voltage systems and appliances are designed to run on 220v, so I can't use them unless I am running my generator.

I have been doing some research to see what type of marine transformer I can install that would allow me to plug into 110v-120v 60hz and convert to 220v 50hz so I can run everything on shorepower.

I figure since the boat has an 11 kVA generator that is about the size of transformer I should be looking for.

Does anyone have any advice/recommendations for me?

Thanks guys and gals!

Best

Chris
===

There are ways of converting 50 Hz to 60 Hz but they are heavy and/or expensive. That said, most of your 50Hz equipment will run OK on 60.

It is relatively easy to derive the 220/240 volts that you need. A standard 50 amp shore power connection is 120-0-120, with the two 120 legs out of phase with each other such that they add up to 240 volts. By getting the right electrical fittings you can make up your own adapter cable or it's possible that one of the local suppliers like Budget Marine sells one. If all else fails you should be able to hire an electrician to make up an adapter for you.
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Old 26-09-2015, 02:12   #4
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

The best option I have found for this situation is to get a battery charger that will take either shore power voltage/frequency and then run all on-board AC appliances from the inverter. We've just re-done our boat's electrics to achieve that and can run everything (including electric cooking) from inverters.

Tom


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Old 26-09-2015, 12:58   #5
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

We handled the situation likewise.
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Old 27-09-2015, 01:23   #6
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

We looked at transformers to accomplish this but they are too big, too heavy, too noisy and generate a lot of heat. We bought a thing called a "Smart Y" (about $600). It has a Y with two 30amp plugs for the dock (you need two dock receptacles available). The other end plugs into one of the two receptacles on the boat. As Wayne.B says, stepping down from 60-50hz is more complicated. The frequency difference won't bother most AC items but any item with motors (reactive loads) like air-con might have a problem after a long while. Check your manual. You should be able to change generator taps on the genset to get 120 volts but you will have to step it up to 1,800 rpm for the increased frequency. More noise, more fuel consumption. And the real problem is your boat is wired for 220-240 using smaller gage wires than 120. Remember the amperage doubles when you cut the voltage in half. With the Smart Y only one of the two AC load groups could be powered at a time. One air-con, one water-heater but what the heck, you're at the dock. This set up has worked fine for several years so maybe the air-con unit is not that sensitive to the 60hz.
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Old 27-09-2015, 02:33   #7
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

I didn't spend a lot of time at docks, but we were always able to find 220 V while we were in the Caribbean when we did go? Per chance are you in Antigua? I'm guessing US engineers spec'd the power distribution system there as it seems to be an anomoly electricity wise in the Eastern Caribbean (though I'm guessing Peurto Rico and the USVI's also have the same afflictions). Even in the US though most marina's have 220 V as most larger yachts power demands require it, so it surprises me you can't find 220 V in the Caribbean. I usually heard the opposite complaint from US cruisers....

Our boat is 220/50 Hz but our battery charger handles both 50 & 60 Hz (Xantrex - that's probably it's only good feature) and our AC unit is also dual frequency. Double check your data plates. Didn't bother trying washing machine on 60 Hz.
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Old 27-09-2015, 10:23   #8
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

Our boat is 220/50Hz also. I have found as follows: There is no good solution to convert 60Hz to 50Hz. 220V is easy to come by throughout the Carribean (standard with 50A power), but it is often 60Hz, not 50Hz. Our battery charger will run on 50Hz or 60Hz. We have a 4kW inverter which produces enough 220/50 for all outlets, microwave, entertainment system, icemaker, small appliances, etc. Several of our larger AC loads accept 60 Hz -- our watermaker, hot water heater (really doesn't care!), and some of the A/C units. Some of the A/C units are rated for 50Hz only, but will function on 60Hz. The manufacturer has advised that it will shorten lifespan of the compressor. The solution is to replace the compressor with 50/60Hz units. I will wait until they die before replacing them. A few appliances (washer/dryer, dishwasher) will not function on 60Hz. If I must use them, I must start the genset.

I have found, subject to the above, it all works well... with the biggest "pain" of having a 220/50 boat is getting 220/50 appliances and motors in North America.
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Old 28-09-2015, 02:50   #9
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

With the HZ, depends on the load, Motors will run faster, Modern switch mode power supplies are usually universal (50/60hz & 110/230v, check label) Some things with clocks will not run or clock runs fast (they take their time signal from the HZ)

Transformer, not quite 11kva but do you need that much ? what are your appliances ? Outback Power Inc. - Integration Hardware Autotransformer

Tim
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Old 28-09-2015, 05:23   #10
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

First you don't need 11 KVA, if you do, your out of luck as the most I think you can get is a 50 amp service and if I do the math correctly, 50 x 120 = 6,000 Watts, it's very common to over size a generator, that way a dumb owner just can't overload the thing
Note , I may have messed up the math but don't think so.

Secondly don't even try using some kind of adapter to get 220V power, American 220 isn't really, it's just two 110V hot wires, European is real 220V, it won't work.

You can get a transformer, I'd put it on the dock though and not build it into the boat.

Best solution in my opinion is do what others have suggested, a large battery charger / inverter, if I understand correctly then you can plug into whatever is available, as long as inverter is voltage flexible
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Old 28-09-2015, 06:21   #11
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
First you don't need 11 KVA, if you do, your out of luck as the most I think you can get is a 50 amp service and if I do the math correctly, 50 x 120 = 6,000 Watts, it's very common to over size a generator, that way a dumb owner just can't overload the thing
Note , I may have messed up the math but don't think so.
Your math is OK, but your assumption of 50amp dock service is not, it's typically 240v, not 120v. 50A/240v/60hz is 12,000va/watts.

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Secondly don't even try using some kind of adapter to get 220V power, American 220 isn't really, it's just two 110V hot wires, European is real 220V, it won't work.
Sorry, American 220 is really 220 (actually 2x120 = 240v). I believe you are confused by the 'neutral' designation. The American 240 has a center tap designated as neutral whereas the EU has one side of 220 (more correctly, 230v) designated as neutral. An EU appliance couldn't care less, it's the frequency that can cause issues.

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
You can get a transformer, I'd put it on the dock though and not build it into the boat.

Best solution in my opinion is do what others have suggested, a large battery charger / inverter, if I understand correctly then you can plug into whatever is available, as long as inverter is voltage flexible
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Old 28-09-2015, 13:14   #12
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

Our boat was built in Asia, and was wired for local power(230v, 50cps). We are now in the Caribbean, too, and went through the same issues you're asking about. For us, the big problem was that most US 220v is a 4-wire system (2 hot, neutral, and grnd), while the boat was a 230v 3-wire system (1 hot, 1 neutral, and 1 grnd). We did an energy analysis, determined that we could get by with a single 35-amp, 120v dock service(that's about 4,200 watts, or about 18 amps at 230v). We bought a step up/down 5000 watt transformer (on ebay), plug the 35 amp/120v shore power (3-wire, single power cord) into the transformer input, then connect our original (EU and Asia) normal shore power cord(230v, 3 wire) into the transformer output and into the boat's shorepower inlet. It's 60cps, not 50 cps, but all our stuff in compatible.......and it works. We now carry the extra shore power cord (120v, 35 amp) and the transformer (a single metal box, about 10" x 10" x 8" high), but that's it. And, as I said, it works!
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Old 28-09-2015, 13:37   #13
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

Sorry, I forgot to add....we have a 7.5 kva genset installed (7,500 watts is approx. 32 amps at 230v), but as I mentioned we decided we could get by with a lot less than a full load when we're in a marina. And the 5000 watts/18 amp is workable for us, even with our electric stove! I doubt you'll need your full 11 kva either. There are isolation transformers that are available, but they were bigger, heavier, more expensive, and run hotter than our portable solution.
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Old 28-09-2015, 15:29   #14
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Shorepower transformer for European boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by DotDun View Post
Your math is OK, but your assumption of 50amp dock service is not, it's typically 240v, not 120v. 50A/240v/60hz is 12,000va/watts.







Sorry, American 220 is really 220 (actually 2x120 = 240v). I believe you are confused by the 'neutral' designation. The American 240 has a center tap designated as neutral whereas the EU has one side of 220 (more correctly, 230v) designated as neutral. An EU appliance couldn't care less, it's the frequency that can cause issues.


OK , we re talking US power here on the shore, not European, or he wouldn't need to convert,
In Europe a single "hot" wire is 220V. How are you getting 220V from two 110V lines? You cannot connect two 110V lines together and get 220V, your not getting 220V without a transformer.
Frequency for most appliances doesn't matter all that much, everything I had in Germany that was US 60 hz spec ran fine off of 50 hz power once it was run through a transformer, anything with a mechanical clock would not keep time of course, but what has a mechanical clock?


Also unless I'm mistaken US 50 amp shorepower is actually dual 30 amp breakers, not dual 50 amp breakers is it?


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Old 28-09-2015, 15:36   #15
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Re: Shorepower transformer for European boat

From the neutral to either hot leg is 110-120. Between the two hot legs is 220-240.
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