quency? My concern would be that this
could harm the air conditioner’s compressor. Or would it be better to employ
an “inverter-based” system relying totally
on the batteries. In this case the 110-
volt, 30-amp shorepower would run a
couple of battery charger/inverters wired
in series, and all AC power would come
from the 12-volt system, including that
used to run the air conditioning (using a
“soft start” device to reduce initial loads).
What am I missing?
TOM NEALE: You’re right to recognize
some important and complex issues. You
can’t use any of the boat’s existing 220-
volt shorepower wiring because it will
overheat and may catch fire if you run
110-volt current through it. You also
should be very concerned with running
equipment on cycles per second other
than what’s specified for the equipment.
That could damage equipment and/or
cause it to malfunction. As to running AC
loads from an inverter being supplied by
batteries, it’s important to remember that
the inverter consumes battery power in
the inversion process and the greater the
AC load, the more power is consumed by
that process. They aren’t 100 percent effi-
cient. And, of course, they’re also taking
power from the batteries, which they’re
turning into AC power. To make matters
worse, the more the battery voltage drops,
the greater the power consumption. And
the more you use the inverter, the more
that battery voltage drops.
We have what I consider to be a great
inverter on our boat, and huge battery
banks, but we seldom run large loads
for long. I wouldn’t think of running
air conditioning even with a very strong
capacitor or “soft start.” There’s simply
too much draw to use it for any length
of time. (There are new air conditioners
on the market which can be run from
inverters in limited conditions, according
to their manufacturers).
Mixing European power sources and
requirements with those based on U.S.
systems presents many issues, including
size of wire runs, grounding, and others.
You can build a system that will handle
these problems, but it could really get
expensive. My advice would be to employ
a good yard or tech outfit and give them
the job of accomplishing what you want.
Annapolis is a great area to find good
people for that, as well as the equipment. Electrical issues on board can be
both complicated and dangerous if not
ASK OUR EXPERTS
Our editor at large, liveaboard and DIY
tech guru Tom Neale, creates this column from correspondence he has with
our members. This month, he’s also
gotten great advice from John Adey,
the president of the American Boat &
Yacht Council, and liveaboard cruiser
Don Casey, the author of This Old Boat.
Don’t forget to read Tom’s exclusive column, “On Board With Tom Neale,” only
at www.BoatUS.com/Magazine. If you
have a boat problem that you can’t seem
to solve and you’ve exhausted the wisdom of the Internet, be sure to search
our website for answers.
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