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Old 28-10-2020, 20:40   #1
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Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

Hello-


For the electricians out there: Our shore power comes in from the dock at a standard 230v (so 230v on one wire, neutral on the other). Our generator runs on 2 legs providing 115v on each, out of phase with each other, so the resulting voltage is 230v (so each wire is 115v). Everything seems to work without issue. Is there anything to be concerned with regarding this setup? We did add DP breakers to the system so each leg is has protection.



Cheers- Matt
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Old 28-10-2020, 21:28   #2
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

Sounds like you have a North American boat located in Europe?

North American power is split phase 240v 60hz. So the gen is probably 60hz.

Europe is 230v single phase 50hz.

The freq will cause issues with some items.

Also the ground is done different.


You might be able to reconfigure the gen for 230v 50hz.
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Old 29-10-2020, 00:17   #3
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
Sounds like you have a North American boat located in Europe?
It's got a bit of everything. But was a Euro boat that had 120v added via an inverter when it became a North American boat. Had the genset added in North America.

Quote:
North American power is split phase 240v 60hz. So the gen is probably 60hz.

Europe is 230v single phase 50hz.
Right, the major power consumers (water maker, ac, dive compressor) are all set up to be used off the genset at 60hz. Shore power is pretty much only used for the battery chargers, which will take any voltage at any frequency.

Quote:
Also the ground is done different.
How so? You mean the green ground wire, right?

Quote:
You might be able to reconfigure the gen for 230v 50hz.
Based on the way things are set up, probably don't want to do that. The only downside is not being able to run the AC units when plugged into a 50hz shorepower.
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Old 29-10-2020, 03:59   #4
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

What type of switch is used between the AC generator and 230-volt shore power system? Are inverter(s) still used for the 120-volt loads?

Standard 60Hz panel loads would be balanced sharing a neutral. If you feed 50Hz power into that setup and switch loads on opposite phases they would connect via the neutral buss and the equipment would see 230-volts.

Can you share a diagram?
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Old 29-10-2020, 09:33   #5
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

My understanding is that European 230v is 230v one side of ground (neutral) while North American 230v is 115v either side of the neutral. Mixing the two is dangerous and could well cause a fire as it did on a 72 foot ketch in Panama that I helped clean up afterwards.
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Old 29-10-2020, 10:28   #6
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

The OP has it right. The issue is whether the power is 50hz or 60hz.

Equipment isn't very picky about voltage since the utilities allow quite a wide variation. The US grid can vary between 105v-125v (210-250) And you can always get an inexpensive transformer.

But there's no reasonably priced way to change frequency.

Frequency doesn't matter to a device with a heating coil like a hot water heater. Nor does it matter to anything like a computer or TV which says on its back that it takes 50hz/60hz.

So the problem is with some electric motors which turn at different speeds at 50hz than 60hz. Even here, you can probably get away with it with small motors.

On a boat, the usual problem spot are air conditioners since everything else can be run off an inverter. But I know many cruisers who run the air conditioners at the wrong frequency and say they have no problem. And some air conditioner compressors use newer motor types that don't care. So I'd probably experiment - you may get less cold air but it might still be enough for your purposes. And put your hand on the compressor motor a few times and see if it's running hotter than usual. Anything that runs too hot will have a shorter life.

If this is European power, I expect the dock pedestal is protected with an RCD which will protect against most electrocution risks like a US GFCI or ELCI. Unlike the US GFCI which only protects individual outlets the RCD protects the whole boat.
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Old 29-10-2020, 10:37   #7
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

I think I would buy a center tap transformer to give you 115V per leg from the shore power and also act as an isolation transformer.
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Old 29-10-2020, 12:12   #8
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

As others have mentioned the frequency difference can be an issue particularly if it is running a motor. That said to me th main issue is that nuterals are totally different. in split phase the nuteral carries the balance of the current back to the power source. If leg 1 (L!) has 5 amps flowing and L2 has 5 amps they cancel each other and the neutral carries no current (which I agree sounds weird). If L1 carries 5 amps and L2 carries 0 amps then those 5 amps in L1 return through the neutral. y contrast in European 3 wire systems all the current flows through the hot and neutral wire at all times. OK that's the difference but does it matter? Potentially yes it could matter a lot depending on how things are wired. You could find your 110v receptacles delivering 220v or you could find neutral currents flowing down earth lines. This is not something anyone can check remotely without a full circuit diagram at the last. I suggest you get a qualified electrician to take a look at it so as to put your mind at rest. Only problem will be finding one with experience in both systems.
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Old 29-10-2020, 20:35   #9
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

So the 110 vAC outlets are completely isolated from the 230 vAC system. All the 110v outlets run off an inverter (the only time they are energized is when the inverter is on). No wiring is shared between the 110 and 230 systems.


I don't have a wiring diagram, but the system is simple: 3 wires from the shore power connection (Hot, Neutral and Gnd) connect to a "Shore Pwr - OFF - Gen Pwr" switch. This rotary switch breaks all 3 wire connections before making them. The 3 wires coming out of the Generator (Leg 1, Leg2, and GND) also connect to the rotary switch. The wires coming out of the rotary switch connect to a circuit breaker box. Each wire coming out of the box (so each individual circuit, but not the GND) is connected via a DP circuit breaker.



So the upshot is that each individual circuit could either be:


Shorepower configuration: 230v, Neutral, GND at 50 hz (or 60 if connected in USA)

OR Gentset configuration: 115v, 115v, GND at 60 hz
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Old 30-10-2020, 01:28   #10
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

I do not think you needed to break the grounds (none current carrying conductors) through your transfer switch. You might try putting your transfer switch in the off position and checking continuity between the generator green ground and the grounding buss. The generator may still be connected to the grounding system via the DC side. If that is the case might be better to reconnect the grounds at the transfer switch to keep a level playing field on the earth part of the system.

If you do this check and happen to find there is not continuity, consider the generator as a pile of metal with no connection to the grounding (earth) system. If a fault somehow finds its way there while shore power is in use it will quietly lie in wait. Not likely but a possibility.

If not having air-conditioning on shore power is really an issue Webasto makes 230-volt 50/60Hz units.

To be clear who I am I do have ABYC certifications, perform surveys regularly, and enjoy a good puzzle here and there. Always interesting to see how folks sort out using their gear.


Quote:
Originally Posted by teneicm View Post
So the 110 vAC outlets are completely isolated from the 230 vAC system. All the 110v outlets run off an inverter (the only time they are energized is when the inverter is on). No wiring is shared between the 110 and 230 systems.


I don't have a wiring diagram, but the system is simple: 3 wires from the shore power connection (Hot, Neutral and Gnd) connect to a "Shore Pwr - OFF - Gen Pwr" switch. This rotary switch breaks all 3 wire connections before making them. The 3 wires coming out of the Generator (Leg 1, Leg2, and GND) also connect to the rotary switch. The wires coming out of the rotary switch connect to a circuit breaker box. Each wire coming out of the box (so each individual circuit, but not the GND) is connected via a DP circuit breaker.



So the upshot is that each individual circuit could either be:


Shorepower configuration: 230v, Neutral, GND at 50 hz (or 60 if connected in USA)

OR Gentset configuration: 115v, 115v, GND at 60 hz
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Old 30-10-2020, 02:02   #11
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

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Originally Posted by bglad View Post
I do not think you needed to break the grounds (none current carrying conductors) through your transfer switch.

Went back to look, and you are correct. Even though the transfer switch has 3 terminals, the grounds from both systems are connected and not run through the switch. There is also continuity between the 230 green ground and the ground side of the 12 V system.


Thanks for the input!
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Old 30-10-2020, 04:20   #12
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

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Originally Posted by teneicm View Post
Went back to look, and you are correct. Even though the transfer switch has 3 terminals, the grounds from both systems are connected and not run through the switch. There is also continuity between the 230 green ground and the ground side of the 12 V system.


Thanks for the input!

Good, there always needs to be continuity in the safety grounding system (green wire in US or green/yellow wire in Europe). The only thing that should ever interrupt it is either a galvanic isolator or an isolation transformer.


Current carrying conductors (hot legs & neutral) should always be switched by both the shore/genset transfer switch and the main breakers. In the case of a US 120/240 50A shore connection that's a 3-pole breaker. For European 220-240VAC it's 2-pole. All current carrying conductors need to be sized for the maximum load they can carry before the circuit protection trips. ABYC Standard E-11 has a nice table of wire sizes. You can also find this on Blue Sea Systems and Anchor Marine websites.


Be careful with US/Euro power conversions. There are lots of hidden gotchas particularly with grounding, neutrals and wire sizes.
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Old 03-11-2020, 01:06   #13
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

You can only make 230 single from 115 V using a transformer, do not worry too much about the frequency all electrical equipment worldwide basically would work on both 50 or 60, a motor wired for 60 will run slightly faster on 50 but there is no problem with that. If your gen has more than one phase of 115 you cannot make 230 single phase by adding two phases.
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Old 03-11-2020, 04:36   #14
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

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Originally Posted by Philipcataproa View Post
You can only make 230 single from 115 V using a transformer, do not worry too much about the frequency all electrical equipment worldwide basically would work on both 50 or 60, a motor wired for 60 will run slightly faster on 50 but there is no problem with that. If your gen has more than one phase of 115 you cannot make 230 single phase by adding two phases.

Not every piece of electrical equipment will run on 50 or 60Hz; you have to consult the manufacturer's nameplate to see what the ratings say. For example, I am not aware of *any* inverter-charger that will run on a range of frequencies without complaining that the power is out of range. Motors may indeed run a bit slower or faster than intended, but what is the long term effect? Will they overheat or draw excess current?



With regards to generators and output voltage, it's been my professional experience that almost nearly all generator can be reconfigured to supply either 220VAC 50Hz, 120VAC 60Hz or 120/240VAC 60Hz just by modifying the governor speed and output terminal wiring jumper block. Consult the manufacturer's installation manual or wiring schematic. Sometimes this info is even included on a sticker inside the electrical junction box.
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Old 03-11-2020, 10:21   #15
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Re: Difference between 'standard' 230v AC and 2x 115v AC legs?

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Originally Posted by boatbod View Post
......I am not aware of *any* inverter-charger that will run on a range of frequencies without complaining that the power is out of range.
I think many inverters will accept a range of input voltage and cycles.

Victron for example accepts 95 - 140 volts and 45 - 65 Hz input.
https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...120V-US-EN.pdf
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