A guide to superyacht shore power and systems
Written by Simon Osborne
Connecting your superyacht to shore side power systems is desirable, providing a cost effective and environmentally friendly solution, as well as resting the on-board generators, helping their lifespan increase. Running shore-based power is therefore the preferred choice for yachts whenever possible, but it’s not always as simple as just connecting the power.
A number of factors need to be taken into account including the shore voltage frequency, phase rotation and quality of the power source as well as the voltage.
Shore power voltage
Voltages come in a wide variety of combinations throughout the world due to varying shore power standards, but some inductive devices such as transformers and motors require a specific voltage to keep from overheating and for optimum performance.
Shore power frequency
Perhaps the most important for superyachts – shore power frequency comes in two varieties; 50Hz or 60Hz. Depending on where your yacht will be berthing, will depend on which shore power frequency is used. For example, the Caribbean is widely known to provide 60Hz power frequency, whereas European boats are known for requiring 50Hz.
50Hz is not the same as 60Hz
You will need to know if your yacht is 50Hz or 60Hz, which can easily be checked by using a voltmetre on any outlet on the boat. You will then need to ensure the Hz are the same; so if the shore power supplies 60Hz and your yacht has 50Hz, it is not a good idea to connect.
If you run motors on a lower 50Hz frequency that are designed to run on a higher 60Hz frequency, the motors may run slower or use higher current. Also, a 60-Hz transformer being run on 50 Hz will draw more current and run ‘hotter’.
So if you do connect up, you will probably find that once you plug everything in, all your motors will turn faster and burn out, frying all your compressors in systems such as HVAC and other electrical equipment.
The solution - Shore power converters
A shore power converter, or similar piece of equipment, is a simple and popular solution. With this piece of equipment, you will be able to accept a wide variety of shore power voltage and frequencies and output to a power that conforms to your yacht’s designed voltage and frequency requirements.
Providers of shore-power converters
There are many companies who provide electrical equipment especially for shore power/power generation, such as shore power converters, special purpose frequency converters, switchboards and other products. Therefore your yacht can find the product it needs to hook up to any power source when shoreside, letting the generators rest with the other equipment functioning on the correct power source, eliminating any risks or negligence.