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Old 04-01-2016, 10:35 PM   #1
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Isoboost transformer: how useful?

Does anybody use one of these? They supposedly have all the benefits of an isolation transformer while boosting low shore power voltage from, say, being on the end of a long dock with a lot of other boats competing for power.

My questions: how often do cruisers in the real world see low voltage and how big a problem is it?
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:02 AM   #2
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When we were in the United States we ran across low power at a number of marinas. Especially at the end slips reserved for visiting boats. It has been years so I don't remember the percentage. The Isoboost helped in those situations.

My reason for installing the unit was to use it as a means of converting European 220 voltage to North American 220 voltage. The European 50 hertz passes through however.

Probably would not have bought one without a specific marina problem in the United States if I hadn't planned on traveling outside of the North American electrical zone.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:24 AM   #3
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I had them on my Hatteras courtesy of the PO. They were a terrific thing to have while cruising the length of the east coast, western FL and adjacent waterways and islands. Lots of 208v docks out there, as well as the fact that we were often assigned , or chose, a spot at the very end of the dock. It was nice to never have to think about it. If you don't have a 240v system on board, they're not needed.

You can accomplish voltage boost with switched taps off isolation transformers, but have to remember to switch off the boost when departing; the next dock my have full power.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:43 AM   #4
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You can accomplish voltage boost with switched taps off isolation transformers, but have to remember to switch off the boost when departing; the next dock my have full power.
Thank you both. George, can you elaborate on this? Actually a switch or does it involve physically changing connections?
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Old 04-02-2016, 10:56 AM   #5
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It is a nice EZ way to bring power to a Euro boat in the USA.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:17 PM   #6
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Thank you both. George, can you elaborate on this? Actually a switch or does it involve physically changing connections?
It normally involves a switch and a volt meter that reads incoming voltage so you can see whether you need to buck or boost.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:20 PM   #7
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Like this, only more vertical. Damn iPhone!
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:26 PM   #8
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If you do a search through the Hatteras Owner's Forum there are several guys how have done a DIY version of what Bill pictured. The transformer has to be capable of being tapped.
There's no free lunch; whether auto or manual, the watts available stay about the same, so you have less amp capacity than if you were getting the right volts straight from the dock.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:37 PM   #9
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This is all really helpful. Even with Active Captain's Defender discount, a 50-amp, 12kVa Charles IsoBoost would dent the budget, given all the other stuff I'm doing.

I'm still unclear about what equipment is at risk from occasional low voltage other than perhaps A/C gear. Trying to think what other 110-V motors I have on board. Other than motors, what's going to suffer that I can't run from the inverter?
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Old 04-07-2016, 06:32 AM   #10
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What appliances do you have?
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Old 04-07-2016, 02:58 PM   #11
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What appliances do you have?
2 AC/DC fridges (which, you're right, include motors), electric stove/oven, microwave, TV and 3 A/C units No washer drier and no ice maker at the moment.
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Old 04-07-2016, 03:25 PM   #12
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Well, I think it would be really nice to have one. My suggestion is that you go cruising for awhile and see what your real use for one might be. Do you have an isolation transformer now?
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Old 04-07-2016, 04:34 PM   #13
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Well, I think it would be really nice to have one. My suggestion is that you go cruising for awhile and see what your real use for one might be. Do you have an isolation transformer now?
Excellent suggestion. Several decisions I made before really cruising would not be made again.
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Old 04-07-2016, 05:40 PM   #14
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Excellent suggestion. Several decisions I made before really cruising would not be made again.
I was lucky when I was an eager beaver newbie to big boat ownership. I was all filled with stuff that various internet experts and boaters I knew, and myself, for that matter, were must haves. The owner of the yard/marina I was at when, and after I bought the boat gave me that very sage advice for about half the things I had on my "List of Improvements". Of course, I was a customer for life from then on.

I also liked another thing he told me when I asked of the "do-ability" of one of my longer term customizations (what scheme it was I don't even remember today):

"George, yes, we can do all that and more. The only limitations are your imagination and your check book".
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Old 04-07-2016, 07:54 PM   #15
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Do you have an isolation transformer now?
No, but I may have a deal on a nice one. My reason for starting this thread was to see if the considerably additional money it would take for an IsoBoost is worth it. The dock I'll be on this summer typically gets 208 volts and I'm told A/C use in the summer can run it lower. Trying to get a feel for how big a problem that would be and whether it would jeopardize appliances or equipment.

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Excellent suggestion. Several decisions I made before really cruising would not be made again.
Good advice from both of you. I'm actually deferring a lot of things and working on basics--new house and start banks, alternators, smart regulators, over current protection and wiring up to code. (My wife wants everything to work. ). For me, additional galvanic and stray current protection are also basic. From what I'm hearing, I'm leaning toward the plain isolation transformer for now.
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:29 PM   #16
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No, but I may have a deal on a nice one. My reason for starting this thread was to see if the considerably additional money it would take for an IsoBoost is worth it. The dock I'll be on this summer typically gets 208 volts and I'm told A/C use in the summer can run it lower. Trying to get a feel for how big a problem that would be and whether it would jeopardize appliances or equipment .
If that is the case it could be a good investment.

Or you could but a boost transformer on the dock.
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Old 04-07-2016, 10:18 PM   #17
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If that is the case it could be a good investment.

Or you could but a boost transformer on the dock.
That's a thought; thanks, Capt. I can buy the isolation transformer that I know I want now and see if the need for a boost Xformer materializes. If my math is right, it will actually be cheaper to buy the units separately given the deal I'm looking at on the isolation unit.

I'm still not clear on what the risks are to motors or other AC gear if the voltage is too low. Do they simply shut down or does it damage them?
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Old 04-07-2016, 11:51 PM   #18
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I have a Charles Iso-Boost and it has helped in at least two marinas in the Baltimore area where the voltage at the end of the t-head was down below what the 240 A/C units would tolerate. A sister boat to ours could not run their A/C units last summer and we could.

The newer Iso-Boost help with the newer shore power GFCI protection. I had to have a soft-start added to ours this winter to make it work.
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Old 04-08-2016, 06:45 AM   #19
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If you are going to be spending a lot of time on a 208v dock with AC running, I'd advise doing something. Some sort of voltage booster will pay for itself over time in longer equipment life and usability of the boat. Find out if the isotransformer you getting a deal on can be tapped for switched boost. The manufacturer can tell you this and likely give instructions how. Or spring for the boost add on from Charles or Ward's (would be worth giving the latter a call and getting their advice).
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Old 04-08-2016, 06:59 AM   #20
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If you are going to be spending a lot of time on a 208v dock with AC running, I'd advise doing something. Some sort of voltage booster will pay for itself over time in longer equipment life and usability of the boat. Find out if the isotransformer you getting a deal on can be tapped for switched boost. The manufacturer can tell you this and likely give instructions how. Or spring for the boost add on from Charles or Ward's (would be worth giving the latter a call and getting their advice).
Excellent. Much appreciated, George.
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