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post #1 of 24 Old 09-07-2019 Thread Starter
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Electrical - 220 vs 110

Still a couple of years away from purchasing a live-aboard, and find myself searching and researching my options. I am finding that the main differences between Euro-boats and Euro-boats spec'd out for Americans is the propane containers and the electrical systems. The propane tank solution doesn't seem to be much of an issue and can be resolved with adapters and some modifications. The electrical systems on board don't seem to be that big of an issue either. During my 22+ years in the military, I lived overseas for 8 of those years on 220 systems. Learning to live with a different electrical system was just a matter of using transformers or purchasing 220 gadgets. I plan on starting in the Med then working my way west to the Caribbean and back to the US.

My questions are these; since both 220 and 110 are starting from the same 12v source, is it a big deal to have one or the other based on my sail plan, or do you all make provisions to run both? I believe that the majority of the big power systems on a sailboat include refrigeration, lighting, comm/nav, watermakers, air conditioning, washing machines etc are 12v systems, so is the AC systems (220/110) a major concern?

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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

You mentioned a key ingredient. If you're only going to make AC current by inverting off your 12v house bank, then it really doesn't matter much. I'd pick the system I thought I might spend the most time, over the life of ownership, plugged into shore. Perhaps, if you're going to end up in the US and potentially sell in the US one day, that should drive the decision. 220v would devalue the boat in the US.

Using transforming adapters, at the receptacles, is not a great solution, I've found.


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post #3 of 24 Old 09-07-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

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Using transforming adapters, at the receptacles, is not a great solution, I've found.
Transforming at the receptacle is definitely not a good idea. Any DC to AC conversion will be done via inverters, much safer that way.
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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

You can also install transformers on the shore inlet of the boat, so that you can plug into either shore power and have what you need aboard, but they are very expensive and heavy.

As I think about it, if you're going to end up and stay in the US, I'd want all the appliances and electrical systems to be US compatible.


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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

220 VS 110 doesn't really matter if it's a boat you are going yo have for a few years.

Most of the new battery chargers are 220/110; the power plugs can run whatever you like; the hot water heater element can be changed for $100.

If your boat has air-conditioning that may be a problem. Water maker I don't know but that must tin off a generator, not shore power

Re propane/butane gas is a non event, no adapters/modifications needed just a new regulator for each type of tank. I am running 3 tanks: US, CampingGaz and UK Propane (I have the UK butane regulator too.).
I cut the hose and put in a hose barn to 8mm thread on the boat side and have a bit of hose on each regulator ending in an 8mm thread.
The 8mm threads are joined with a joining nut. It takes 2 shakes of a lambs tail to change cylinder types and no ramming a hose onto a barb ��
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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

For AC itís frequency thatís more of an issue. A lot of 220 is 50hz and 110 is 60 Hz. If you run a 60 HZ AC on 50hz it will wear out faster. Same with any other high demand electrical pump.
For wiring convenience 220v 50 hz is better. Wires are smaller and more flexible. Especially the shore power hook up. If youíre in the Caribbean most places have 110 but some donít. If youíre in the US itís the reverse.
We went with 110 sometimes itís a hassle but think it would be more of a hassle to have 220 as we spend time in the states.

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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

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For AC itís frequency thatís more of an issue. A lot of 220 is 50hz and 110 is 60 Hz. If you run a 60 HZ AC on 50hz it will wear out faster. Same with any other high demand electrical pump. For wiring convenience 220v 50 hz is better.
The whole time we were overseas, the only real difference we saw was that our VCR and clocks ran slower on 50Hz. Go figure. I agree, the 220/50 is a more efficient way to run power.
Thanks for your input.
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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

Thanks MarkofSeaLife, that's great information regarding propane plumbing. Did you have to modify your propane locker at all to accommodate the different tanks?
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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

Most clocks in modern appliances are digital very few are electro-mechanical and many of those run on DC so no issue with frequency, and therefor would run at the same speed whether supplies with 50 or 60 Hz as the first thing the AC power goes to is a power supply to be rectified and converted to low voltage DC. Only a electro-mechanical clock running directly from mains would be affected by change in frequency, i.e. run slower on 50hz.

If you are going to outfit your boat for AC I would figure out what AC appliances I would have, find ones in your price range compare the amperage draw then compare inverters and their efficiency i.e. power in versus power out, ensure they are the same max continuous power out rating. Once you have an idea of your amperage draw for both 110 and 220 can you make an informed decision on which is better for you and gives you the most bang for the buck. Remember it takes twice as much DC amperage from your batteries to make one amp of 220V as one amp of 110V, this is going to directly affect your batteries. The plus side of this 220 appliances tend to draw less amperage but is it 50% less and is the efficiency of the 220V inverter the same as the 110V inverter.

If you are just going to buy a boat and use it's AC system and not outfit it yourself and want to use shore power then I would invest in an Isolation transformer capable of switch between to two voltages and frequency, then you do not have to worry about your AC input.


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Re: Electrical - 220 vs 110

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Thanks MarkofSeaLife, that's great information regarding propane plumbing. Did you have to modify your propane locker at all to accommodate the different tanks?

Nope. The US and UK bottles are the same diameter and aprox the same height, and the EU CampinGaz is smaller.
Most work on the Swap system. You can't have your own bottle refilled... This sux as I keep my bottles in good condition. Swapping is often for a ratty old one.

The regulators are cheap... $6 to $30
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