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Old 04-21-2017, 04:48 PM   #1
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Caribbean Shore Power

We are planning to take our Marlow 57E from St. Thomas to Grenada and I am concerned about connecting to shore power in the marinas along the way. We have the standard US 50 amp twist lock system and understand that making the connection to the european three round plug system is considerably more complicated than just an adapter. Would love to hear from people who have successfully dealt with this problem.
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Old 04-21-2017, 05:51 PM   #2
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Greetings,
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Old 04-21-2017, 06:42 PM   #3
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Once you leave the Virgins you are leaving the 60 hertz, North American 220 shore power. Beware. Sometimes you will find what look like North American plugs. But they may not provide North American power. You need a multi-meter and the ability to determine hertz.

St. Lucia's Rodney Bay has a couple of docks which are North American 220 and 60 hertz, but even there the majority of slips are European 220 and 50 hertz.

Note, the 50 hertz is the problem. Some appliances will not work with 50 hertz. Thus for those marinas that provide a step-down transformer you will still have to deal with the 50 hertz.

If you are just doing a tour of the Eastern Caribbean I suggest you find a battery charger that accepts European 220 v and 50 hertz. Use this to charge your batteries and then use your inverter to power the boat. This is called the poor man's isolation transformer. Many of us from North American have two separate inverter / chargers and thus use one to charge and the other to invert. Note, the inverter/charger connected to the European shore power must be set to charge only, otherwise it may pass through the 50 hertz 220 power.

Many of the trawlers staying in the eastern Caribbean have isolation transformers, expensive. These will convert European 220 to North American 220, but they do not change the hertz. We along with most others have bought appliances which can accept 50 hertz.

Because we have an isolation transformer we can connect our shore power outlet to the European 220. But our washing machine requires 60 hertz so we still use the two inverter/chargers.

We also have installed a separate shore power inlet, 30 amps, to connect directly to the European 220. This powers only two duplex outlets on the boat. We use this when we store the boat for the summer. It runs a dehumidifier and has the ability to run a small 20 amp charger. Reason for the separate shore power inlet is that it is fool proof, and by that I mean I don't trust the boat yard guys to deal with European power coming into the central panel. One mistake and they can blow up the appliances.


Now, a simple explanation of the difference is that North American 220 v power is a three wire system with two 110v power lines and one ground. North American is 60 hertz. European is also a three wire system, but it has one power line, one neutral, and one ground. Thus the single power line transmits 220v power. (This is similar to North American 110v.)

Note Peaks (Boat Yard) in Grenada has 110v power but it is 50 hertz. Don't know about St. David's. If my memory is correct the small marina in Prickly Bay is 220v European.

What do you do? I cannot suggest you use adapters to plug European shore power into your main panel without an isolation transformer. More than likely this would be a major problem unless your panel is wired to isolate the input to solely the charger. Figure out how to power a charger and then use your inverter. Thus the separate 30 amp shore power inlet by passing the main panel.

It is easy to make your own adapter - plug that is. Buy a North American 30 Amp plug and a European 16 amp plug. Both are three wires. Just wire normal, the European will be marked L (load/live), N (Neutral) and G/E (Ground). Connect these to the North American equivalents. I don’t believe you will find a commercial adapter, too much risk (liability).
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Old 04-21-2017, 07:03 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterRat Pat View Post
We are planning to take our Marlow 57E from St. Thomas to Grenada and I am concerned about connecting to shore power in the marinas along the way. We have the standard US 50 amp twist lock system and understand that making the connection to the european three round plug system is considerably more complicated than just an adapter. Would love to hear from people who have successfully dealt with this problem.
What do you have in the way of generator and inverter? How long can you go without shore power?

Unfortunately, the correct and complete fix to it all gets very expensive and requires a lot of rewiring and may even still have issues with certain equipment. I think others are posting some mid level solutions that have worked for them at moderate expense.
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Old 04-22-2017, 07:19 AM   #5
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Yeah, what Marty said

That's pretty much how I survived two years in Europe.
I had a European Outdoor Power cord, one end got plugged into shore power the other end went to a power strip with powered by Variable volt Fridge/freezer, a work light on the boat so I knew I had 220v power and a 220V charger.

THe simple answer is if you can not get 220V 60hz power, don't plug your boat into shore power.
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Old 04-22-2017, 07:30 AM   #6
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You can buy frequency converters.

Frequency Converters, 60Hz, 50Hz, 400Hz | GoHz.com
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Old 04-22-2017, 07:38 AM   #7
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The Extech model EX330 is a $60 handheld DMM that does two special things. One is a non-contact AC voltage detector, useful to see if a cable is "live'. And, a built-in frequency meter. All in addition to Volts, Amps, Ohms, etc.
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Old 04-22-2017, 07:47 AM   #8
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Thanks to all for the comments!! I believe the idea of adding a 50hz battery charger and a dedicated cord may solve most of my problems and allow me to run the boat's AC load off the inverter. The boat is a power hog, 600w/hr, but mitigated by solar panels so I believe a modest battery charger will do the trick. It won't allow me to make hot water but running the generator an hour or so every day or two will accomplish that.

Taking on a major electrical rework for what will be about a five month trip cruise is just not justified
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Old 04-22-2017, 07:49 AM   #9
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You can buy frequency converters.

Frequency Converters, 60Hz, 50Hz, 400Hz | GoHz.com
This is the right concept. Basically, take whatever enters into the shore power connector, convert into DC and then drive a solid state inverter to whatever Freq and Voltage you need. I can't find any safety mark listing on their website, however; rather a red flag. Also, items like this, if not properly designed, can cause radio interference.
My current employment is both safety and EMC for power electronics, btw.
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Old 04-22-2017, 08:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by what_barnacles View Post
You can buy frequency converters.

Frequency Converters, 60Hz, 50Hz, 400Hz | GoHz.com
Wow! Years ago these converters were much more expensive.
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Old 04-22-2017, 08:30 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by WaterRat Pat View Post
Thanks to all for the comments!! I believe the idea of adding a 50hz battery charger and a dedicated cord may solve most of my problems and allow me to run the boat's AC load off the inverter. The boat is a power hog, 600w/hr, but mitigated by solar panels so I believe a modest battery charger will do the trick. It won't allow me to make hot water but running the generator an hour or so every day or two will accomplish that.

Taking on a major electrical rework for what will be about a five month trip cruise is just not justified
Water heaters can accept 50 hertz (generally) so talk to an electrician about wiring the water heater so you can connect it and the charger to shore power.
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Old 04-22-2017, 09:45 AM   #12
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Now, a simple explanation of the difference is that North American 220 v power is a three wire system with two 110v power lines and one ground.

??

U.S. 50A/250V cable is four wire: two hots, one neutral, one ground.

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Old 04-22-2017, 10:30 AM   #13
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Talking

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??

U.S. 50A/250V cable is four wire: two hots, one neutral, one ground.

-Chris
Actually, technically, you are both correct.

The 4 wire SERVICE is 240/120 with ground.
THe plug and wire are RATED at 250Volt.

Pelican did say "simple 220V system", which is just 3 wire, consisting of 2 hot and a ground.

Also, 220V is an "old school" term for US power. More recently defined as 240V. And if you want 120 also, write it as 240/120.
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Old 04-22-2017, 05:14 PM   #14
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??

U.S. 50A/250V cable is four wire: two hots, one neutral, one ground.

-Chris
Absolutely, I am cracking up. I am confusing non-marine simpler systems.

The key difference is that the North American 220/240 has two load wires which can be split into 120/110 legs whereas all the power for the European system comes in one load wire, thus 220/240v European needs to either be reduced (step down transformer) or run through an isolation transformer to "convert" it to two legs of 120/110 each.

PS, I am not an electrician, I have just had to rewire plugs for 20 years at various marinas in the western hemisphere. So if one of the guys / girls trained in this area can correct /expand my explanation I would appreciate.
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Old 04-23-2017, 06:45 AM   #15
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...The key difference is that the North American 220/240 has two load wires which can be split into 120/110 legs whereas all the power for the European system comes in one load wire, thus 220/240v European needs to either be reduced (step down transformer) or run through an isolation transformer to "convert" it to two legs of 120/110 each...
This is a pretty good explanation with diagrams.

https://www.bluesea.com/support/arti...pean_AC_Panels
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