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Old 02-15-2013, 08:09 PM   #1
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POWER Question!!!

Hello all,
I am in the process of purchasing a 55' trawler. It runs on 220/240 power. The seller (who does not live in the states) seems to think that most marinas offer 110 service. (By the way, the boat was not built in the US.) I was wondering if someone here may know if this type of power, 220/240 is commonly available at marina slips? Also, I don't understand how the amps comes into play? What does 30amp and 50amp mean and how does it relate to 110 and 220/240 service?

Also, the seller says I will not be able to use my small household appliances with the 220/240. He said that I would have to purchase 12v appliances that run off battery power? I don't understand this concept either. Also, what about my cell phone charger will that work?

Thanks for your help.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:31 PM   #2
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The short answer to your question is that 220 volt power is not commonly available. It may be available at high end marinas but as soon as you move out into the rest of the North American world it is rare. That may not be as big a problem as it might seem. You need to figure out which appliances on the boat actually run on 220 volt power. If it has a lot of non-North American appliances then it may very well have 220 volt appliances. On the other hand 220 volt services are standard in North American homes but the bulk of our household appliances run on 110 volts. A 220 volt system can be thought of as 110+ and 110- with the difference between the two numbers giving you 220 volts. If you actually have 220 volt appliances and intend to operate the boat in North America then you may want to factor in the cost of replacing some appliances and rewiring the boat to accomodate that. On the other hand you may have very few appliances (maybe only a clothes dryer or hot water heater) that actually require 220 volts.

Answering this question is going to take more than an internet group. I encourage you to find an electrician and get him to look at the wiring so he can explain to you what you are looking at.

To your specific question about your cell charger: Your cell charger may work - read the fine print on the brick. Similar for computer bricks. Appliances that are built for world sales may be designed to accept higher voltages than those built strictly for the North American market.
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:41 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by GalaxyGirl View Post
Hello all,
I am in the process of purchasing a 55' trawler. It runs on 220/240 power. The seller (who does not live in the states) seems to think that most marinas offer 110 service. (By the way, the boat was not built in the US.) I was wondering if someone here may know if this type of power, 220/240 is commonly available at marina slips? Also, I don't understand how the amps comes into play? What does 30amp and 50amp mean and how does it relate to 110 and 220/240 service?

Also, the seller says I will not be able to use my small household appliances with the 220/240. He said that I would have to purchase 12v appliances that run off battery power? I don't understand this concept either. Also, what about my cell phone charger will that work?

Thanks for your help.
Most of the rest of the world uses single phase 240 volt, 50 hertz power for households. This means that when you plug a 240 volt, single phase 50 hertz motor (like those on this boat), it will run 6/5th the speed because here, we run on 60 hertz. I don't think that will hurt but I'll defer to others on that question.

The main problem is that I believe (I may be wrong) that a 240 single phase system like on this boat has a single buss bar in the panel, which means you can't get 120 volts off of it like you can a two phase, two buss U.S. system where you can measure 120 vac from one leg of the 240 circuit to ground. So, I believe the solution is to replace the electrical panels with U.S. style two phase panels, plus switch out the outlets. You aren't going to get 240 single phase anywhere in the U.S. that I know of, so I think switching out the panels and outlets is your only option unless you want to buy all appliances, motors, etc. from someplace other than the U.S. and Canada.

The good news is that you shouldn't have to replace any wiring, as it should be mostly ok. I say 'mostly' because what powers an appliance is a certain number of watts of energy. Watts is equal to amps times voltage. If the outlet is wired for 240 volts, then to get a given wattage, you need fewer amps, which translates to smaller wire. The more amps you have to put through a wire, the larger it has to be. So, to check this, you should make sure that the size of wire going to the outlets is no smaller than 14 gauge. If it is 16 gauge or smaller, then you are probably looking at re-wiring, or definitely staying committed to the 240 volt single phase option for all ac equipment on board. Kind of a hassle, and more expensive, but not the end of the world.

And yes, your cell phone charger will probably work as most manufacturers have accommodated all voltages in order to only have to build one type of charger for phones.

I'll be interested if someone else sees another option here.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:42 PM   #4
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Galaxy Girl,

I'll keep this dead simple. Do not, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, even consider purchasing a boat wired for non-North American wiring (220 volt 2 wire) and attempt to use it on a North American (110/220 volt 3 wire) system. Trust me when I tell you that there are ONLY two possible ways to make this work: first is rewiring the boat, for which I would budget a MINIMUM of $50K. Second is getting a universal shore power conditioner, which would be more.

Reasons: first, it's not possible to just "convert" a 220 boat to 110. EVERY single breaker panel needs replacement. EVERY inch of wiring needs changing from #16 to #14. EVERY single motor needs to be changed from 220V 50Hz to 110V 60Hz. And if you screw up, you'll either die or kill someone.

My street cred for this: I've been wiring since I was 6. My father was an electrician. My grandfather was an electrician. My GREAT grandfather was an electrician. My last big boat wiring project was rewiring my entire boat (a 60 footer), and that took A YEAR and I had a damn good guy working with me.

Look, if you are really serious about getting a boat, the first thing you need to do is to learn a ton of fairly boring things. Get Nigel Calder's book, read it cover to cover. Get Charlie Wing's book, read it cover to cover. Go to the local community college, take a diesel mechanics course. Charter a few boats and practice navigation. Get a 26 footer and hack around.

And by the way, just as an FYI, I did exactly what you want to do. I bought an inexpensive 60 footer (under 200K), with tons of room. I've put WELL OVER 300K more into it, and I'M NOT DONE. And just a cautionary tale: I bought it from a couple with two kids who thought it would be "cool" and "romantic" to have a big boat. They took it out ONE TIME, and it was clear from talking to them that the experience SCARED THE LIVING SNOT RIGHT OUT OF THEM. Handling a 60 footer is DAMN SCARY, and I've been handling boats since I was 6.

Trust me on this: find yourself a nice Grand Banks 46. Learn to handle it. Have some fun. And THEN start thinking about a bigger/foreign/older/fixer-upper boat.

Scott
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:33 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by GalaxyGirl View Post
Hello all,
I am in the process of purchasing a 55' trawler. Brand and year? It runs on 220/240 power. 50 or 60 cycle? The seller where does he live? (who does not live in the states) seems to think that most marinas offer 110 service. Where is the boat now?(By the way, the boat was not built in the US.) Where was it built? I was wondering if someone here may know if this type of power, 220/240 is commonly available at marina slips? Yes if 60 cycle Also, I don't understand how the amps comes into play? What does 30amp and 50amp mean and how does it relate to 110 and 220/240 service? Most NA marinas will have 30 amp for 110 and 50 amp for 220

Also, the seller says I will not be able to use my small household appliances with the 220/240. Uh oh, this is sounding very serious (bad), like Scott from Nanaimo says look out He said that I would have to purchase 12v appliances that run off battery power? This is crazy I don't understand this concept either. Also, what about my cell phone charger will that work? The issues are bigger than this one to worry about.

If what you say is correct, and based upon your uncertainties best you take a step back and think this vessel through a bit more.

Thanks for your help.

Please note my questions and comments is red
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:42 PM   #6
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Most marinas on the east coast have 50 amp 125/250 power receptacles...those that don't a 30 amp adapter will get you by.

Just like most homes...the 50 amp pwer is 2 50 amp 125 volt legs allowing for 250 volt appliances using breakers that span the 2 125 volt legs.

No matter what you read..just look at the shore power plugs (like on the Marinco or Hubble websites) and see what the deal really is.

How a certain boat is wired is always a crap shoot..but ultimately whatever the shore power plug says on the end of it is what it will plug into as mot many marinas let you hardwire into their power posts anymore.

Once inside the boat...who knows how it's wired..if the guy says you can't use 220 appliances it may be that the shore power even though it's a 50 amp may not have a panel that allows pulling 220/250 volts...but that doesn't mean a relatively easy rewire wouldn't allow it.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GalaxyGirl View Post
Hello all,
I am in the process of purchasing a 55' trawler. It runs on 220/240 power. The seller (who does not live in the states) seems to think that most marinas offer 110 service. (By the way, the boat was not built in the US.) I was wondering if someone here may know if this type of power, 220/240 is commonly available at marina slips? Also, I don't understand how the amps comes into play? What does 30amp and 50amp mean and how does it relate to 110 and 220/240 service?

Also, the seller says I will not be able to use my small household appliances with the 220/240. He said that I would have to purchase 12v appliances that run off battery power? I don't understand this concept either. Also, what about my cell phone charger will that work?

Thanks for your help.
You need to be extremely careful here.

From your post I'm suspecting that the boat you are looking at is wired for 220 volts phase to neutral (which is a european standard) If that the case none of the AC powered "stuff" in your boat will work.

As was posted above the wire might be too small to convert to 120 volt service.

This could be a very big, very expensive project to take on. This would not be the kind of project that a layperson would be sucessful at.

You need to verify what voltage the boat is actually wired for prior to purchase. If my suspicions are correct it WOULD NOT be as simple as separating out the phases as some have suggested above.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:18 PM   #8
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GalaxyGirl,
Your not ready just yet to buy. Please do some more homework like you are doing here before you buy. The cost if you make a mistake may be your entire investment. Get your broker and surveyors to bring you up to speed. Keep asking us and any others with boats and yes there are many excellent books on systems.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:27 PM   #9
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You are way too inexperienced to own a boat like that. Get something smaller until you learn little things like shore power, 12V, gas vs. diesel, maintenance, etc. Read Chapman's. Take a USPS or USCG aux course.
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Old 02-16-2013, 12:06 AM   #10
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GG
The boat you appear to be looking at has a 10,000W isolation transformer, which can likely be configured to use 110 VAC in North America and is a nice component to have. Likewise, your 12 Kw Westerbeke genny can probably be adjusted to deliver 'normal' USA power.

When you ship back to USA, have some work done in Florida (cheap labour rates) and get cost estimates there from a good marine electrician for a couple of options. One would be full conversion to 110V & 60 Hz. As others have noted this likely will require rewiring, new switchpanels and also new appliances. Ideal, but could be rather expensive.

Another option is to retain existing 220 V & 50 Hz systems, but add some new 110 V capacity. This could include a new 110 V switchpanel (additional to existing panels, not replacing them), a 110 v battery charger and some new wiring and USA power outlets. This way you get to use small kitchen appliances, USA chargers etc. If/when your major existing 220V appliances (refrigeration, washer/dryer, TV's etc) fail then you can add additional 110V circuits when you replace those items in USA. I am doing this in reverse as I refit my boat - wired for USA when I bought it, but now being configured to have additional/new 220V & 50 Hz items.

First step you should take is to make an full inventory of the 220 VAC equipment on board. This at least gives you a list of what might need to be replaced eventually. Include the make/model and note from the little stickers on the back or bottom what voltage and frequency it can tolerate. It will certainly say 220 V & 50 Hz. If it can take 110 V and 60 Hz as well you can retain it, however you ultimately choose to have your electrician configure the AC system.

Your Freedom 2000 inverter probably cannot be changed to 110V. But keep it to run legacy 220V equipment that you dont need or want to replace straightaway. Add a higher capacity 110 V Inverter as well, over time you will add enough appliances to use its capacity.

You can consider switching to 12 V appliances, but often they are more expensive or less efficient. But you should change as much of your lighting to 12 V LED as soon as practicable since it dramatically reduces the load on your 12V battery bank.
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Old 02-16-2013, 05:57 AM   #11
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You need to supply a lot more information about the boat. Does it have an isolation transformer as the previous poster implied? If so what make and model is it?

Beware of advice from "house" electricians, no matter how long they have been playing with toy boats.

You have many options and the vast majority of them do not require "rewiring" the entire boat or replacing all the breaker panels.

So far the best advice you have had (until this post) is from Insequent, take the boat to a good marine electrician in an area where European power distribution on recreational boats is as common as seawater.
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:41 AM   #12
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No matter what you read..just look at the shore power plugs (like on the Marinco or Hubble websites) and see what the deal really is.
This is really, really bad advice, because all you are doing is compounding mistakes that may have been made by a previous owner.

When it comes to boat electrical systems, the ONLY way to be sure is to have a QUALIFIED person inspect them.

Scott
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:46 AM   #13
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GG
The boat you appear to be looking at has a 10,000W isolation transformer, which can likely be configured to use 110 VAC in North America and is a nice component to have. Likewise, your 12 Kw Westerbeke genny can probably be adjusted to deliver 'normal' USA power.
Actually, both of these statements are misleading.

Transformers have a design frequency. If the transformer has been designed for 50 Hz operation, you cannot necessarily use it on 60 Hz. You will need to check the specifications.

As for the genset, it is non-trivial to convert a 50 Hz genset to 60 Hz, and it may require replacement of the actual generator end.

To say nothing of the fact that branch circuit wiring in North America requires three wire (Hot, Neutral, Ground) number 14.

All in all, as I said in my post, this is not a project for someone without A LOT of experience.

Scott
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:14 AM   #14
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Is GG a troll?
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:18 AM   #15
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Is GG a troll?
Funny you say that... I was wondering the exact same thing.
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:38 AM   #16
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GalaxyGirl, I've been following your posts both hear and on Cruisers Forum.

I mean this in the most constructive way.... you really need to hire someone to help you with your boat purchase. The magnitude of the mistakes that you appear to be making are monumental. None of us are born knowing all about boats, and it takes a very long time even for the most adept. You appear committed to going straight to a big boat even though 99% of the world gets there through successive boats over many years. That's fine, and I commend your determination and commitment. But without a dedicated consultant to help you through the process you are likely to make huge costly mistakes. The power system on the boat you are pursuing now is a prime example.

Google Steve D'antonio. Perhaps you can retain him. Or ask for references for a buyer's broker who will be working for you, not the seller. Another option is Bernie Francis. Whatever someone costs you, it will save you 10x over in avoided disasters. Otherwise you are a seller's dream come true for getting rid of whatever lemons they have.
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:49 AM   #17
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Galaxy Girl,

I'll keep this dead simple. Do not, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, even consider purchasing a boat wired for non-North American wiring (220 volt 2 wire) and attempt to use it on a North American (110/220 volt 3 wire) system. Trust me when I tell you that there are ONLY two possible ways to make this work: first is rewiring the boat, for which I would budget a MINIMUM of $50K. Second is getting a universal shore power conditioner, which would be more.


Scott
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:20 AM   #18
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Question Just Wondering ?????

With Soooo many boats available in N.A. why would one want to open this can of worms .......... I know Valentines Day has just passed but it may be better to find something other than a boat to love jp
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:31 AM   #19
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+1
-2

All boats wired in Europa are wired with 2.5 mm2 ~ AWG 14

All motors will work on 60 Hz without problem, my experience from bringing my Tools, Washing machine etc. from Europa to Brazil (60 Hz)

In previous posts I read a lot off internet nonsence.
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Old 02-16-2013, 11:38 AM   #20
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In previous posts I read a lot off internet nonsence.
+3

The real issue is that the OP doesn't know what questions to ask yet. Assuming the boat in question really is wired to a European standard there's ways of dealing with that which don't come close to needing to rewire it. Since she (the OP) seems to have done a drive by thread I think we could let this one die.
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