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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems > What to do about a 220V electrical system?
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Thread: What to do about a 220V electrical system? Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
05-28-2014 07:16 AM
Minnewaska
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

Sorry, late to the party. I have a good buddy who did this. Bought his boat in England, shipped it to Newport and had the 220v converted to 110v. Seemed like a nightmare from afar. Very costly, although, I don't recall the number he did tell me at the time. He also had to change all the chargers, AC units, receptacles, etc. He rationalized it all as having brand new stuff, like a refit.

However, he has odd issues, as I think it was 99% replacement and that last 1% gets him. For example, I believe he has an odd shore power receptacle on the boat. While he has an adapter, he was left hanging when he wanted to get one to plug into a standard shore outlet when on the hard. There are other gotchas, but I can't recall them all.

I know this much from watching him. I will never do it.
05-28-2014 04:34 AM
AlanF
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

I have seen a boat that was 220V and planning on staying in the US for many months. He just put in a 110/220 charger - fairly easy these days (Sterling, ProMariner, Mastervolt, and I'm sure others) - which was wired directly to the shore power. He added a basic 110 inverter with a couple of new outlets for any US appliances he needed to use. Everything else ran off the built-in 220 inverter. Admittedly no A/C on that boat, which could be a factor.
05-05-2014 07:29 PM
sugarbird
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

Like I said earlier, lots of good info, pretty much what I was looking for. I think my friend is starting to feel that the negatives outweigh any probable price breaks...no plans or likelihood of cruising the world or even crossing the pond, wants AC and convenience, would rather spend his time, effort and money on other boat stuff. Thanks again!
05-05-2014 02:34 PM
Coquina
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

It would help a lot to know what AC equipment is on the boat. It may range from trivial to $20,000.
05-05-2014 07:57 AM
svzephyr44
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mitiempo View Post
The only good permanent solution I see...
Have you ever actually done this? Because I have and it is not as straightforward as you suggest. Depending on your equipment the frequency issue can be significant, as can the fact that the step-up or step-down might not leave you with a voltage within operating range. It does work for most things but not all.

More to the point of the original question. Presuming that your friend bought the boat and used a transformer he is still going to be faced with two issues:

1. The internal boat wiring is for 220vac. That means every time he wants to buy a new appliance like a toaster he will have to import it from Europe - no running down to Walmart for the $7.99 toaster. For major marine part expenditures (air conditioner, etc.) there will be a major purchase - maintenance - repair hassle if something goes wrong.

2. The next potential owner may demand even more of a discount for a 220vac boat in the US. Or if the market continues to be soft it may be harder to sell the boat than one with 110vac. Something to consider.

Fair winds and following seas.
05-04-2014 08:06 PM
mitiempo
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

The only good permanent solution I see is the installation of a good quality isolation transformer such as the Mastervolt. Cost of a few thousand. It is the only permanent solution that will work anywhere in the world and add to the boat's market value, not detract from it with a temporary solution. An isolation transformer should be on any larger boat in any case as they are much more effective at eliminating galvanic issues that galvanic isolators are.
05-04-2014 07:16 PM
hellosailor
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

Of course if you are not using A/C or other major AC loads...Another option would be to ignore the existing 220V system, and just add a 120V charger, breaker, and a couple of outlets for the occasional use. Might be simpler and cheaper in the long run, and preserves the ability to go 220 at a later date if they want to.
05-04-2014 06:43 PM
killarney_sailor
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

Donna
We have a 110v but shore power connections for both 110v and 220v. The boat came with a transformer that I am sure had not been used since the mid-1980s when the boat went to the Med. I wondered if it would work after so many years of just sitting in the engine room (it is quite a large, GE unit). Fired up first time and always worked fine.

To make it work we bought a plug that fit the deck fitting (it was ridiculously expensive for a plug). In Australia, the first place we were in a marina in the 220v world, we bought an extension cord at the local version of Home Depot. It was on sale for something like $20 - other than wine about the only bargain we found in the country. We bought a plug to fit the shore power point and wired it up. When we got to South Africa we bought a different plug and cut off the Oz plug (kept it of course). Went to a different marina in SA and they had a different plug so we bought another plug and kept cutting (the extension was quite long to start). It all worked just fine. I must say, I like the smaller wire sizes and cheaper fittings.

For the OP, my reaction would be to pick a different boat unless the price of the 220v bolt was really special. I think changing over would be costly and time-consuming. Running a hybrid system would likely hurt the resale.
05-04-2014 06:08 PM
hellosailor
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

Mark-
"They are not going to have two different grids to try and save $5 of copper."
No, but I'd bet there's way more than a $5 difference in the price of the wiring alone. Have you seen the price of copper anything these days?
A builder making boats for the EU or world market would be a fool to use heavier wire than the boat needed, especially since they only need to "use this spool, not that one" when they target a boat for a different market.

Of course, many of the fools have been driven out of the boatbuilding business over the years by little things like that, haven't they? The long list of names that have gone belly-up in the last 40 years? Pearson, O'Day, Hunter, Cal, Sabre, C&C..and yes, that's ignoring the names that were bought out by new companies.
05-04-2014 04:37 PM
desert rat
Re: What to do about a 220V electrical system?

Spot on. Spend a little more, a few good switches and a transformer where you can use either winding as the primary and you have step up, step down or just isolation.
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