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Eric Soller of Westminster, CO asks:

Being from Europe, I know that the power voltage/amperage and the size/shape of an outlet are not the same every where in the world. How does Nordhavn deal with this fact? I imagine that an owner of a Nordhavn cruising around the world would want to use electric power from a shore source provided by a marina. Good Luck and thank you for sharing this experience.

Dan Streech responds:

Since we build Nordhavns for use in Europe, Australia, Singapore, Japan, and the Caribbean as well as the U.S., we frequently face this question. We also face the question in a different way when a Nordhavn designed electrically for one area thereafter cruises to a different area.

When a new Nordhavn is ordered, the buyer must decide if the boat's AC electrical system is to be fundamentally 50Hz or 60Hz. With this decision made, the generator, appliances, inverters, battery chargers and other AC items are chosen accordingly.

What then does one do when a 60Hz boat is cruising in a 50Hz country or vice-versa? In this case we install an additional battery charger which will operate from the current of the host country. One can then plug into the host country's shore power to charge the ship's batteries and operate the ship's AC items from the inverter.

Fortunately, the CRUISAIR air-conditioning unit which is used on Nordhavns can operate from either 50Hz or 60Hz. It can be plugged directly into the host country's shore power once the proper adaptors are determined and the operator is comfortable that he understands the relationships between positive, neutral and ground on both the shore and the ship and that the voltage is correct.

The hot water heater uses an inductive heating element and therefore is not sensitive to frequency. It can also be operated from the host country's shore power assuming that the voltage is correct.

Some other points to consider:

On the larger 60 Hz boats (such as the N57 & N62), we install two inverters (Trace sine wave) in a "series stacking" configuration. This allows the operator to draw 120VAC and 240VAC simultaneously from the inverter set and therefore operate items such as electric cooking and the washer/dryer from the inverters while replacing the 12VDC power used via the battery charger powered from the host country's shore power.

On smaller boats where it is not sensible to have two inverters, one should consider the use of an LPG stove/oven. On a boat which is 60Hz 120VAC only (such as the N35 and N40), one can use a transformer to reduce the 50Hz voltage from 230VAC to 115VAC to operate the air-conditioning and water heater.

One must remember that a transformer can reduce or increase AC voltage, but it cannot change frequency.

The above is only a quick summary of the various approaches to the voltage/frequency questions facing worldwide cruisers. There are several ways to "skin a cat" and numerous tricks that we use in special circumstances. I didn't even touch upon the subject of the various configurations and voltages facing the cruiser just in the 60Hz world. In actual practice, when laying out the electrical system, we consider where the boat will be traveling, what the operator's needs and expectations are and the skill levels available to deal with the complexities.


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