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Old 03-01-2010, 06:24 PM   #1
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Just found this link and I think it is very useful. For example, although the majority of Central and South American countries' power is 110V/60Hz, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and French Guiana are 220V/50Hz (but Peru is 220V/60Hz). And a few countries are 115V or 127V. Confusing for a cruiser?

Electricity Around the World

And as a bonus, he offers this Power Calculator for Generators
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Old 03-01-2010, 06:55 PM   #2
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Old 03-01-2010, 08:05 PM   #3
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thanks for info jeannep. A question from an absolute novice... What's the primary device you use to handle his wide variety? I understand the need for some kind of AC to DC converter (don't know what that's called) but how do they cope with such wide varieties of voltage and frequency?

Like all things I assume there's a continuum of really sophisicAted (and probably flakey) thru to ultra simple so what do you use??

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Old 03-01-2010, 09:29 PM   #4
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When we were getting SV Watermelon ready to go cruising, Peter rewired the entire boat. It had 220V, he rewired everything to 110V - because you can switch back to 220V with just a few changes to the system, but you can't put 110V through wires intended for 220V. So, we were "good to go" for the first few years of cruising in the Caribbean and South America (primarily Venezuela, which had 110V and was about the only place where we ever stayed in a marina). For the one or two times we were in a Caribbean marina with 220V, we had a small transformer that we carried between the boat and our apartment on the French side of St. Martin (we were either on the boat cruising around, or living in the apartment during high season and friends and family from the States were visiting).

We first had a problem when we headed for the Panama Canal and stopped in Curacao to have our boat hauled to have the bottom painted and a few changes made. Curacao back then apparently had really screwy and unreliable power supplies, with the voltage fluctuating in various places from, if I remember correctly, 105V to 127V. However, the local hardware stores had transformers that could handle the multiple voltages that we found on the island. It was a relatively small transformer with various "plugs" that one used to set the correct voltage input (these "plugs" looked somewhat like electrical staples), but we had very few AC needs.

Carrying a multimeter as you cruise is very helpful - we sure got to use the voltmeter function a lot in Curacao.

That transformer worked very well for us until we finally accepted, about halfway across the S. Pacific, that we weren't going to see 120V anymore, and Peter changed the boat's wiring from 110/120 to 220/240V. Much easier. But we kept the transformer, "just in case".

Peter says that you can find all kinds of transformers, from simple plug-in power-out to those with dials to dial the correct voltages. I just did a quick internet search, and this is the first site I found - I know nothing about the company, but at least it gives you some idea of what is out there. voltage Converters, transformers
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:03 AM   #5
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Thanks for the quick primer, very useful as usual!
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:09 AM   #6
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Go for a good transformer. Keep the boat's system completely seperate and isolated from the shore grid. It will save you many a problem, not only with transforming to the correct voltage for your vessel but also avoiding surges damaging your equipment and the risks involved with incorrect polarity. Isolating your boat from the grid also means that you reduce the risk of electrolitic corrosion.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 03-03-2010, 06:11 AM   #7
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If the boat have a 12V (or some other low voltage, like 24) DC system, (actually only the point of input from shore matters) the answer is easy: switching power supplies don't care a bit about voltage or frequency of input. If I will ever build a cruiser, I will use the power supply of a computer as the input.

I am not an electrical engineer, so there might be errors or omissions in the above. (However I did learn about switching power supply in the university, but it was in another millenia.)
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Old 03-04-2010, 11:18 PM   #8
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There are many other perfectly valid ways of thinking about this problem, but here is one.

A cruising boat should be set up with three facts:

1) Everything should run on 12V (or whatever you use)

2) Shore power should just be used as one way of filling the batteries.

3) You should have perfectly reasonable ways of filling your batteries without shore power.

Given that, it seems useful to have your boat wired for both 110 and 220 and both capable of powering your battery charger. Probably with some filter that will take care of 50/60 hz, and variable actual signal quality.

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Old 03-05-2010, 05:12 AM   #9
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I would say that it depends upon where you are cruising. Cruising the Baltic, where shore power is widely available and sometimes included in the price of the berth, it makes sense to use electricity for heating the boat and water.

Even in warmer places, shore power can be used for, say, boiling a kettle instead of flashing up the stove and raising the teye mperature in the boat.

I don't carry a lot of shore-power dependent electrical equipment but my heating, kettle and a few power-tools are essentials for me.

Ays // Stephen
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