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Discussion Starter #1
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?

Thank you.
 

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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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Discussion Starter #3
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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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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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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For AC it’s frequency that’s 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 you’re in the Caribbean most places have 110 but some don’t. If you’re in the US it’s the reverse.
We went with 110 sometimes it’s 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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Discussion Starter #7
For AC it’s frequency that’s 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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Discussion Starter #8
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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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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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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220v AC and 24v DC are both arguably better setups, if that's all the question entails. However, the ability to source compatible accessories, plug into shore and sell one's boat are going to trump the electrical engineering.
 

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220v AC and 24v DC are both arguably better setups, if that's all the question entails. However, the ability to source compatible accessories, plug into shore and sell one's boat are going to trump the electrical engineering.
Geeeez, I'd hate to say you're living in the past... But you're living in the past!

The new kit is automatic voltage and frequency. :grin
 

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Just to extend a little in general about long range cruising... (and without being as factious as I normally are)

Changing voltages does not happen often in ones cruising life... and we are likely to know a year ahead of time where we are going.

I'm doing a bit of Dock Queening in the EU which is pretty unusual for me. I am in marinas rarely. But the areas I travel do encompass 110v in the USA and 220v. I have never had a problem with the change over and don't think people heading off on an extended cruise should be either.

On the boat in Europe in winter is cold and I do use heating. I have never had air conditioning and would never have it. Very few boats do, and I know nothing about it.
The water heater is a quick change of element. The one of the other voltage is USD$67.20 Thats not an impost to the cruising budget. if it is use a solar water bag for a shower and propane heat on the stove your water for the dishes.

Changing shore power connectors takes about 5 minutes with your screwdriver and the cable is the same.
If you need a new charger and youre planning an extended cruise get one that does all voltages because it doesn't matter if its 110 or 220 you will be in some places where its only 98 or 198 volts.

Changing over voltages inside the boat is a non-event... the wiring is the same, you dont have to rewire the boat like Ive heard a million times. If you dont want to change the plug outlets to your style of plugs then just use an adaptor, they're $5.

On trick I did was to run my shore power to a powerboard. That powerboard then splits and one cable goes to the battery charger and the other cable goes to a powerboard in the Saloon to run my 2 heaters, computers, USB sockets and power tools etc
If you go to another country voltage region you can still use the powerboards on your own plugs. Yes the actual appliances might need to change, but, you're in situ for a whole season at least, so whats the cost of a new heater extrapolated over 6 months of winter when its snowing outside?

Most modern computery type stuff either runs on all voltages or you might need a new cable or adaptor. My printer looks just 220volts but its only $50 anyway.

Its easy, safe and simple to change over.

Yes you need to use your brain in my setup! If I have my big heater on High I can't use the other heater, hot water boiler, or battery charger or I gotta go ashore and flick the switch.
If I have the big heater on 2 instead of 3 I can use the small heater at the same time on High, but not the water heater...
Confused? So I write a little note stuck in the saloon so I know. Its not idiot-proof but are you an idiot?

Yes, I am sure someone will say they have some supa-duper monitor that requires some exact voltage, frequency and its own *something*... but why the hell are you putting that junk on a boat??????

As for the old curse of buying your boat so a buyer in 10 years time is happy then get a grip and in 10 years time pay out the $67.20, the $5 and the $350 for a different charger with the prospective new owners home country flag on it.

If your boat is so expensive, a Oyster, Swan or something so particular you can't have a cable under the carpet in the saloon then you and I have a fundamental difference that makes our cruising styles totally divergent.

:grin

Last point: Normally at docks in the civilised world where theres SUN and not snow, my solar panels do 100% of the boats electricity. If you are heading out for a long cruise I definitely think you should chuck on more solar panels than a greenies model farm. :)
If you cant run your boat in summer off solar your gunna have one rough cruising life :)

Mark
 

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Geeeez, I'd hate to say you're living in the past... But you're living in the past!

The new kit is automatic voltage and frequency. :grin
Is that a battery charger? Note the 12v and 24v models are still separate. However, I mentioned accessories and meant things like hair dryers, TVs, air conditioning, watermarkers, ice machines, microwaves, coffee makers, etc. In the US, the buyer is going to want 110v/60Hz coming out of the wall receptacles. It's not the best engineering, but it's the standard, if the boat is going to be heavily used, maintained or sold here.
 

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......Changing over voltages inside the boat is a non-event... the wiring is the same, you dont have to rewire the boat like Ive heard a million times.
I'm listening, but this seems misleading at best. I understand the AC outlets in the boat require different gauge wiring, whether it's 110v or 220v. Are you saying most are spec'd to the larger size, either way? If so, that's sounds like dangerous advice, if not true.

Maybe I'm mistaken about safe gauge requirements.

p.s. The vast majority of boats are not used for long term cruising. Even the OP talks about a single cruise, with undefined future. My perspective is coming from what they plan to do with the boat afterward.
 

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As a full time live aboard for many years I think your idea of running your AC current off inverters is wholly impractical unless you plan to dump a hefty sum into LiPo batteries and some way to charge them.
A boat wired for 220 will be wired to carry roughly half as much amperage as a boat wired for 110. That's a heck of a lot more important than the cycles (most equipment will run on either these days). Your best option, if you plan to have anything other than a few toys operating on AC current (a computer, tablet, phone & Ipod charging) is to choose one and get a genset to operate your AC equipment off, other than a few minutes here and there for reheating in the microwave or short bursts of other equipment.
We have a 3kw inverter that we use that way, but even a small shop vac will burn well over 80 amps of 12 volts when operated through the inverter.
Most marinas in the Western Hemisphere offer both 110 and 220 volt connections, so that isn't a problem. However, if you plan to live on the hook you need to rethink your plan. Solar and wind charging are just fine in theory, but also can leave you out of power after just a few days of overcast weather if your needs are anything more than the equipment can provide under the worst conditions.
As mentioned, the resale value of a 220 boat in the states will not be as high as a 110 volt boat.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
220v AC and 24v DC are both arguably better setups, if that's all the question entails. However, the ability to source compatible accessories, plug into shore and sell one's boat are going to trump the electrical engineering.
Geeeez, I'd hate to say you're living in the past... But you're living in the past!

The new kit is automatic voltage and frequency. /forums/images/SailNet_Toucan/smilies/tango_face_grin.png
Haha, yea you are right, but I was also living in Army housing as well, so you can add at least 2 more decades to that.
 

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We have solar and wind. We’re rarely in marinas. Life is very different between the two.
AC is very good for drying out the boat. Winds are commonly very light when in a marina. The AC is almost never run when on the hook but commonly run when in a marina.
Heat from reverse AC or resistance elements is deficient if cruising any cold damp climate such as Maine. We have a hydronic diesel furnace. Even when in a marina the heat is from it is much better. Unless heating using radiant electric heat the heat is even through out the boat. The interior isn’t damp and there’s less condensation on the hull and port lights. Still, condensation is the major issue in cold environments so drying packets are used. The wesbasto uses more electricity due to its pumps and fans but less than electrical heat. We turn it down at night but leave it on. It remains on underway. Of course reverse AC doesn’t do swat when the water is cold.
As regards AC even in the tropics it’s rarely on. Agree you could get by without it. If I was in the keys or Miami would want AC.
Agree you could get by without a diesel furnace but if I was going to spend any time in Maine or the maritimes I would want it.
 

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Assuming your boat is 110V: Make sure that your battery charger accepts 110V AND 220 V ..if you install an new one. That is the main concern if cruising in a 220v country. If in a 220V country, just connect the battery charger directly to a 220V source.
The calorifier, if a 220V type, will also run on 110V ... just takes longer to heat up.
 
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