Shore Power Solutions
Fluctuating shore power problems? Yacht Boost gives you shore power solutions.
Boat electronics require sufficient and balanced power to operate efficiently. When the power drops or spikes, it can burn out the onboard electronics which may result in costly repairs or replacements. It’s a common problem when boats are connected to shore power.
Shore power notoriously runs under the optimum requirement for yachts. Even new installations that promote 240-volt power rarely reach that level of output. When a marina is full and everyone’s plugged in with air conditioning and refrigeration units running, power levels easily drop to 208 volts and lower.
“Everyone has problems with all the uneven power; it’s just life in the boating industry,” says Gerald Berton, president of The Yacht Group. “We know we’ve got to give boats over
two hundred volts or everything will brown out. On older docks, they’re striving to give you two hundred and eight, so on a summer day, you might get a hundred ninety-nine. Now your equipment is starting to suffer and will burn out the electronics, just as if you got a sudden spike…. It’s better to have no power than a brown-out.”
The Yacht Group recently introduced the Yacht Boost Marine Isolation Transformer, a shore power solution that not only isolates electrical current from shore power, but also regulates voltage, provides surge and low voltage protection and boosts voltage to keep electrical systems onboard powered to safe levels.
“This is a two-stage booster that boosts the power up to give the power you need and will continue as the power fluctuates,” says Berton. “If you get down to one eighty-two, you lose most stuff on your boat. You will brown out and burn out the electronics. Your equipment would be trashed at a hundred seventy-four volts.”
During a demonstration of the transformer, an incoming power voltage of 182 volts was boosted to 210 volts, thus keeping above the safety threshold of 200 volts. If the dock power reaches a low of 172 volts, Yacht Boost will automatically shut off to protect the equipment on board.
On the other side of the power spectrum, “If you all of a sudden have high voltage or a sudden spike or lightning that comes through, the transformer’s reaction is immediate,”
says Berton. “When it hits over two-fifty, then it’s going to shut you down. Your boat is protected because the surge can’t go through.”
When the system does shut down— from low- or high-voltage anomalies—Yacht Boost has an auto-restart system. This keeps the transformer online to continuously protect the yacht’s electronics.
How it Works
The electronic circuitry built into the transformer keeps the boat’s power supply at the correct level. If shore power is within the 220V-240V range, Yacht Boost is equipped with a BY-PASS system that allows the shore power to directly power the boat, yet remains an isolation transformer with the booster ready to kick in to respond to any fluctuations.
Yacht Boost increases the output voltage in two steps.
STEP 1: From 175V to 209V, there is a 15 percent increase which results in output voltage from 210V to 240V.
STEP 2: From 210V to 227V, there is a 7.5 percent increase which results in output voltage from 224V to 242V.
From 228V to 253V, non-boost mode, the transformer is allowing shore power to pass through directly. In addition to keeping power levels consistent, one very important role Yacht Boost plays on board is its ability to isolate electrical current. The transformer has a shore grounding conductor connected to a shield between primary (shore) and secondary (boat) transformer windings.
“If the dock has a loose grounding wire, you can have electric current coming into your boat; your boat then becomes the ground and causes an electrical current right
in the water,” says Berton.
Fault current follows a path through the boat’s DC ground, which is usually connected to the engine and underwater fittings, and tries to find a way back to the source (in this case, the shore power on the dock). There have been numerous incidents where swimmers suffer electric shock drowning (ESD) in marinas.
Even if it’s not strong in the water, a swimmer who touches the boat then becomes
the ground. “The booster is an isolator that prevents that electrical current going from the boat to the water,” adds Berton.
Yacht Boost is available in seven sizes from 3.6 kVa to 30 kVa. The most common unit is the 12.5 kVa for 50-to 75-foot boats. Boats between 35 and 40 feet, including center consoles, typically use the 3.6 kVa transformer. It weighs 75 pounds and measures 12 inches square with a 13.5-inch height. For today’s center consoles that sport cabins with TVs and a plethora of electronic gear, Yacht Boost offers a maintenance-free, easy, Low-operation system to protect a significant investment.
Some marinas are proactively addressing older shore power systems by renting the dockside version of Yacht Boost. A boat can plug into the booster on the dock that’s
attached to the shore power. Due to swimmers suffering ESD in marinas, some states are mandating that marinas use the isolation transformers or replace their systems altogether.
By Steve Davis, Southern Boating July 2019