A guide to superyacht shore power and systems
Written by Yachting Pages
Last updated: 15/02/2019
When mooring up in ports and marinas around the world, a superyacht crew will always look to find an adequate shore-side power source, as this provides a much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution to the yacht's electrical requirements than running its on-board generators, in turn helping to increase the lifespan and efficiency of on-board power systems and machinery.
Running shore-based power is therefore the preferred choice whenever possible, but it’s not always as simple as just connecting the power: In fact, a number of factors need to be taken into account, including the shore voltage frequency, phase rotation and the quality of the power source. As such, Yachting Pages looks into the in's and out's of shore-side power solutions in more detai below.
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. This 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 reference, 60Hz power frequency is most typically used in the USA, Canada and Caribbean, whereas Europe, Australia and much of Europe utilises 50Hz.
50Hz is not the same as 60Hz
It's handy to know whether your yacht is more suited to received 50Hz or 60Hz power, which can easily be checked by using a voltmetre on any outlet on the boat. By using power sources with the same output, you will find that your systems and appliances run more smoothly and efficiently. For example, if you run motors that are designed to run on a 60Hz frequency on a lower 50Hz frequency, the motors may run slower or use higher current. Similarly, a 60Hz transformer being run on 50Hz will also draw more current and run ‘hotter’.
If you do connect up, you may 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.