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Old 11-18-2021, 08:09 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Planning for 120v and 220v (International Trip)

I知 building my bus with the plan to taking it overseas to Europe and Asia.

I知 at a very early stage, but since some countries are going to be 120v and some others 220v. What should I take into account when planning my solar/ appliances?

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Old 11-18-2021, 10:37 AM   #2
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Since you will be off grid much of the time that does not matter much, whatever mix of AC-grid power appliances you like / collect along the way just gets mix & matched by inverter type.

Your main Shore Power input is your AC powered charger for when you do find a powered site overnight, which should always be universal world input anyway.

Your quiet portable inverter genset should be 240AC output, see what Honda or Yamaha offer similar to EU2200i Companion pairing.

#1 for off grid is Energy Efficiency, means avoid AC as much as possible, DC native appliances are best.

But northern Europe does offer some crazy nice appliances that sip at a tiny rate compared to greedy USian gear...

Otherwise carry on as normal, this recent thread is a good start.

https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f49/off-grid-solar-design-id-love-your-0-02-here-37614.html#post454934
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Old 11-18-2021, 01:14 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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European Power

Something most people miss about switching power grid standards is the frequency. The US is actually kind of an outlier with our 120V-240V 60Hz system. Most of the world, including Europe, is something closer to 230V 50Hz. None of your 60Hz appliances are going to run properly on it, regardless of voltages. Some chargeable gadgets (like electric shavers) are designed to charge off of either one but for the most part things that plug into the wall that aren't chargers for cordless items are not compatible.
The easiest way to handle worldwide travel is a native DC system, and I'm fond of 12V DC for RVs due to simplicity, as I've stated elsewhere. If you want the capability to use shore power, you can get an appropriate AC/DC power supply and wire it to your charger/controller to supplement any solar. Same with the vehicle alternator. If you wire your alternator into your charging system, be sure you put an isolation relay on it that's only closed when the vehicle ignition is on so you can't drain your starting battery while the engine is off.
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Old 11-18-2021, 03:08 PM   #4
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The way I would go about designing things for this use case, design your bus as a little self-contained/mostly self sufficient bubble. Most things should be DC where possible for efficiency anyways if you'll be mostly or fully off grid. Your solar system is also DC. So you can ignore the N.A./rest-of-world differences for these systems, since thats an AC distinction.


The point at which you'll have to design for different voltages/frequencies, will only be at the point you connect to the grid in these different regions (and there are more than two, we pretty much only discuss the dichotomy of 120V/60HZ and 240V/50HZ but its a bit more complicated than that worldwide).


There is more of a knowledgebase for this sort of design approach in the Marine World, since there is a large community of boaters traveling between continents than vehicle based travel.


A simple approach would be to just use two (or more) separate simple plugin battery chargers one for 120/60 the other for 240/50. This is assuming you didn't want/need traditional RV style shorepower or have high power demands that need a direct connection to the grid.


Another approach is the use of an Autotransformer in combination with an inverter/charger. The Autotransformer takes an input of one voltage/frequency and outputs another voltage/frequency. I believe this is the solution many of the RTW (round the world) marine folks use. Its a bit more spendy.
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Old 11-18-2021, 03:51 PM   #5
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Universal input devices are designed for both frequency ranges and all possible voltages.

Why I said ensure your chargers are such.

That is the better approach rather than trying to convert between them.

And yes, since the DC power stored is your "core" energy standard

you can mix and match inverter output specs as needed

but only if truly needed, they are inefficient as are most grid powered devices.

So pick up / replace your appliances as desired, whatever their input requirements may be.

If (dog forbid) you want aircon off grid, then choose that to match your genset output.
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Old 11-18-2021, 04:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dzl_ View Post
A simple approach would be to just use two (or more) separate simple plugin battery chargers one for 120/60 the other for 240/50. This is assuming you didn't want/need traditional RV style shorepower or have high power demands that need a direct connection to the grid.


Another approach is the use of an Autotransformer in combination with an inverter/charger. The Autotransformer takes an input of one voltage/frequency and outputs another voltage/frequency. I believe this is the solution many of the RTW (round the world) marine folks use. Its a bit more spendy.
Just to reconfirm, good chargers, and many quality power supplies and load devices too these days,

accept world power, universal input, e.g.

90 - 255 VAC / 49 - 61 Hz

No need for two sets of chargers.


And as you point out transforming between AC systems is stupidly dear bulky heavy and as I outlined wholly unnecessary.

In a mobile context treat the House bank as the core, AC is peripheral
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Old 11-18-2021, 04:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Just to reconfirm, good chargers, and many quality power supplies and load devices too these days,

accept world power, universal input, e.g.

90 - 255 VAC / 49 - 61 Hz

No need for two sets of chargers.
Good point, I misunderstood your earlier mention of it. Power supplies are workable but a more DIY solution than some here would probably be comfortable with. Do you have a reccomendation for a specific battery charger with wide input voltage? Do you know if Victron's chargers can do this.

Quote:
And as you point out transforming between AC systems is stupidly dear bulky heavy and as I outlined wholly unnecessary.
Autotransformer is unneccessary for charging the DC battery bank, and powering DC devices. But I believe the utility is to passthrough shorepower of one V/HZ to another V/HZ system. You may have a DC only/DC dominant system and think of AC as an afterthought, but if you look at how many people here think of there electrical systems, they basically build the bus like a house AC is primary and DC/Solar is supplemental/afterthought. This is not an approach I personally like, but its common enough here that it should be considered.

For the folks that want to power a 120V/60hz minisplit or inverter cooktop or something an autotransformer will allow them to do so from a 240V/50hz power source. There may be other ways, maybe even better ways, but this is one common and relatively simple way used in the Marine World. Another benefit I believe is if you have an inverter/charger, it allows you to use that same component with either standard. Its not a problem I've needed to solve before, so I'm just passing along what I've heard and seen.

But I agree with you that an Autotransformer will take (1) more space (2) more money (3) I think a small hit to efficiency--but then when your on shorepower efficiency isn't a huge factor.
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Old 11-18-2021, 05:44 PM   #8
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Do you have a reccomendation for a specific battery charger with wide input voltage? Do you know if Victron's chargers can do this.
I would think so, will be up front on a datasheet.

Pretty sure both the Sterling Power ProCharge Ultra and ProMariner Pronautic P series do, shared design.

Also will let you optimize setpoints for all types of bank chemistries, pretty future proof.
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Old 11-18-2021, 05:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dzl_ View Post
Autotransformer is unneccessary for charging the DC battery bank, and powering DC devices. But I believe the utility is to passthrough shorepower of one V/HZ to another V/HZ system. You may have a DC only/DC dominant system and think of AC as an afterthought, but if you look at how many people here think of there electrical systems, they basically build the bus like a house AC is primary and DC/Solar is supplemental/afterthought. This is not an approach I personally like, but its common enough here that it should be considered.
I cannot state strongly enough, one approach is correct and the other is ignorant and foolish.

As I clearly state, in the context of off-grid living.

If taking weekend trips

or driving from one powered campsite to the next, then I don't care what you do, doesn't really matter.


But, if you are living off grid, you must choose your appliances with efficiency in mind, or be ready to sit there running your genset.

You power your high amp AC loads from inverter only.

If grid power happens to be available, great, filter that through your charger keep your bank topped up, nothing else connects to grid.

The key advantages are reliability, simplicity, and safety.

Just because most yachts are incredibly stupidly designed for living off the hook does not mean our international land yachts need to be.

Bastards running a genset night and day spoiling the best anchorages for everybody else.

/rant
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Old 01-28-2022, 02:04 PM   #10
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Appreciate all your recommendations! I値l add also the answer I got from AM Solar regarding my inquiry:

添ou probably already know this, but North America and Europe use different voltage formats. In the US, you 120V 60hz. In Europe, you have 230V 50Hz. These don稚 get along. Since you are starting your adventure in the US, I assume you are using US appliances that like 120V 60hz. Because of this, I recommend making your primary inverter/charger system North American, and possibly having a secondary charger with shore cord in the European format. With this layout, plugging in while in Europe will only charge your batteries. The European 230V 50hz won稚 touch anything in your system beyond the charger.
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Old 01-28-2022, 11:01 PM   #11
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You get one universal charger that accepts any grid power worldwide.

Inverters buy standalone as needed, for specific appliance or circuit type

turn off when not used

no need for one big crazy-pricey inverter
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