It’s al­ways 68 de­grees and sunny here in Maine.

No mat­ter what cli­mate you’re com­ing from, the weather is al­ways per­fect in­side our shops at Front Street Ship­yard. Come en­joy the warmth when you need the up­grades, main­te­nance and re­fit work that keep you cruis­ing around the globe. You’ll also get deep

Passage Maker - - Electronics -

un­nec­es­sary. When this se­cond large al­ter­na­tor be­comes very use­ful is when we par­al­lel the house and start al­ter­na­tors onto the house bat­tery bank. In that con­fig­u­ra­tion, we can pro­duce over 9kW of charg­ing for the house bat­tery bank. In our stan­dard con­fig­u­ra­tion, with only a sin­gle house bat­tery bank al­ter­na­tor, we have 4.5kW of power avail­able all the time. We can run air


Backup gen­er­a­tor: The com­bi­na­tion of the 6kW 240V in­verter and the 9kW of main en­gine charg­ing ca­pa­bil­ity al­lows us to have a backup gen­er­a­tor with­out giv­ing up the space. Gen­er­a­tors are re­li­able and we have never ex­pe­ri­enced a dis­abling fault,

power draws rather than peaks. It’s amaz­ing what a re­lief it is to not have to man­age loads, worry about what is run­ning when, and not have to go out and re­set the breaker mul­ti­ple times each day. Sud­denly shore­power “just works.” And there will be times when old shore­power break­ers can’t de­liver their rated out­put. I’ve of­ten seen 16A break­ers that will pop at any­thing over 12A. That’s fine too. We just set the charger draw to what is avail­able on­shore and for­get about it, know­ing we will take what we need but never more than the shore­power sys­tem can pro­vide.

The 240V power sys­tems in many U.S. and Cana­dian mari­nas is ac­tu­ally 208V. And, when over­loaded, the “240” can sag down below 200V, which can dam­age elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances. With the com­bi­na­tion of a 240V in­verter pow­er­ing the house and only the bat­tery charg­ers con­nected to shore­power, the boat al­ways sees rock-solid 240V power through the in­verter, while the bat­tery charg­ers deal with volt­age sags and other shore­power prob­lems. The Master­volt charg­ers will charge on just about any volt­age and fre­quency in the world, so it all works with­out ex­pos­ing the boat sys­tems to sags, spikes and other shore­power re­lated anom­alies.

Our boat has both a 240V sys­tem and 110V sys­tem. The 110V sys­tem has a 4kW in­verter and, if it fails, the only way to get 110V is to plug into 100V, 60Hz shore­power or start the gen­er­a­tor. With the 240V in­verter, we can still get 110V any­time with­out run­ning the gen­er­a­tor via the 240V in­verter. It feeds sin­gle­phase 240V to the 240V sys­tem just as the gen­er­a­tor would and the Nord­havn stan­dard step down trans­former will just keep pro­duc­ing nice, clean 110V out­put even if the 110V in­verter fails.

You might ask why bother with the 110V in­verter at all? It could be elim­i­nated with­out giv­ing up any ad­van­tage de­scribed here but a larger 240V in­verter would be re­quired if we gave up the 4kW of 110V in­verter. If we were do­ing a new build to­day, we prob­a­bly would opt for a larger 240V in­verter and omit the 110V in­verter en­tirely.


As men­tioned be­fore, our bat­tery selec­tor switch has three in­put op­tions: shore, gen­er­a­tor, and auto. Auto is an in­ter­est­ing con­fig­u­ra­tion. In this mode, a large 120A con­tin­u­ously rated re­lay is used to se­lect be­tween shore­power and the gen­er­a­tor. If shore­power is avail­able, the bat­tery charg­ers are run from the shore­power sys­tem. If the shore­power sys­tem fails, is un­plugged, a breaker pops, or any other fault causes a loss of shore­power, then this re­lay switches the bat­tery charger source to gen­er­a­tor.

Since the gen­er­a­tor is not run­ning, you might won­der what value there is in switch­ing to the gen­er­a­tor. Dirona is equipped with gen­er­a­tor auto-start, so, if the bat­ter­ies are dis­charged to 50 per­cent ca­pac­ity, the gen­er­a­tor starts, the load is brought on af­ter two-minute warm-up, it recharges the bat­ter­ies, the load is re­moved for a one-minute cooldown, and then the gen­er­a­tor shuts off again. The auto-start sys­tem is a sim­ple ex­ten­sion of the North­ern Lights Wavenet sys­tem.

The nor­mal use of auto-start is to take care of the bat­ter­ies and en­sure they get charged when needed rather than when I re­mem­ber. Jen­nifer and I are of­ten late get­ting back to the boat af­ter shore-side ex­plor­ing. Rather than al­low the bat­ter­ies to dis­charge ex­ces­sively, short­en­ing their life, the gen­er­a­tor just turns on and gets the job done with­out at­ten­tion.

Auto-start is a per­sonal de­ci­sion where each owner needs to weigh the risk of run­ning a gen­er­a­tor with­out at­ten­tion against the risk of al­low­ing the bat­ter­ies to dis­charge. Our take is well-main­tained equip­ment works well and, just as most peo­ple wouldn’t think twice of hav­ing their fur­nace kick on to pre­vent frozen pipes when they are not at home, we think auto-start is good for the boat. Even if you don’t de­cide to in­stall auto-start, the North­ern Lights Wavenet sys­tem is strongly rec­om­mended. We love it.

The com­bi­na­tion of the “auto” po­si­tion on the charger selec­tor switch with gen­er­a­tor auto-start/stop means that if some­thing goes wrong with the shore­power, the gen­er­a­tor will start a day or so later, recharge the bat­ter­ies, then shut down and wait un­til needed.

If the shore­power comes back, it switches back to shore­power and uses it again. We will also get email no­ti­fi­ca­tion if the shore­power gets dis­con­nected, and there are on-board alarms that sig­nal this event, but it’s still good to have backup to pro­tect the nearly $8,000 worth of bat­ter­ies. Even if we weren’t cruis­ing in 50Hz coun­tries or re­motely, where a gen­er­a­tor fail­ure would be a set­back, we’d still in­stall a 240V in­verter. In fact, we’ve be­come so de­pen­dent on the sys­tem that we’re con­sid­er­ing get­ting a spare.

In the past, we needed to run the gen­er­a­tor un­der way or at an­chor to make wa­ter, do laun­dry, or for bak­ing. We now only run the gen­er­a­tor at an­chor, ei­ther to charge the bat­ter­ies, or for ex­tended 240V loads. The 240V in­verter and ei­ther shore­power or the main en­gine can han­dle the rest.

A shore­power con­nec­tion any­where in the world is now ef­fec­tively the same as if we were in the U.S., with the added ad­van­tage of iso­la­tion from low or sag­ging sup­plies. And hav­ing air con­di­tion­ing while un­der way in hot weather is won­der­ful.

Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Mag­a­zine

In­stalling a 240V in­verter to power the en­sures Dirona does not have to deal with volt­age sags due to the shore­power con­nec­tion.

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