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Pierre-Andre avatar image

Inverter/charger with universal 120/240V 50/60Hz AC input support

I'm looking for a universal inverter/charger solution for my boat so that I can handle any shore power source I can run into around the world. It thus needs to accept 120V and 240V AC at 50Hz or 60Hz, and be able to convert it all to the boats 120V 60Hz AC.

I have not been able to find a single Victron product that would do that. Is there a combination that would?

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Boekel avatar image

Very simple: use a charger with wide input voltage range, and an inverter to your required voltage. this way you also have galvanic isolation (when wired up properly).

limit: only available in 12 V and 24 V:
https://www.victronenergy.com/chargers/centaur-charger-12v-24v

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Geomz avatar image

I like @Boekel's answer, and am using a similar solution.

But I also wanted something similar to what you're doing and Victron provides a pretty slick solution in the form of their Isolation Transformers. That may get you closer to what you're looking for. They're not too spendy and would provide greater power output and automatic input V/Hz detection.

My plan is to install one of those ahead of my inverter, and using it if input voltage is not inverter spec voltage.

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Of course, I just reread the isolation transformer's manual and I'm not 100% certain it'll switch between voltages?

It seems like it would/should, with the "auto" model -since the output voltage is preset (120 OR 240) within settings and the input "can be" 120 or 240 and is auto selected based on detected voltage.

Yes the Autotransformer looks promissing. The documentation is very light though. The manual is more akin to a brochure and I couldn't find installation instructions!

Most of the diagrams I've seen put the Autotransformer downstream of the Inverter while I would need to put it upstream to ensure 120V at 60Hz is sent to the boat's onboard AC. Also documentation is not clear whether it can convert the frequency to 60Hz from 50Hz.

The autotransformer does not change frequency.

Exactly the same situation I ran into :)

Alas, Victron needs some help on their manuals and thoroughness and efficacy thereof

But what I read makes it sound like it can be placed upstream of all loads (including, esp?, inverter) if for no other reason than isolation. But it's possible I read that wrong.

Plus there's some vague reference to "always guaranteed safe power" or some such thing.

But I (will) have exactly the same needs you're describing and I'm really hoping the Isolation is a quick-win solution :)

Victron has created a small marketing confusion by naming one of their Isolation Transformers "Auto" while at the same time offering Autotransformers.

Let's talk about each one separately.

The isolation transformers, including the auto-voltage-sensing one, will not step voltage down. So these aren't what you want.

The autotransformers will step 240V down to 120V for you, up to 3800kVA total continuous. This is part of what you want.

Neither solution will convert frequency from 50Hz to 60Hz. If you must have this, you should use @Boekel's approach, which double-converts the power AC-DC-AC via your battery.

Good answers, @ben, thank you.

I guess since vast swaths of the world use 50Hz (and having a 60Hz system) @boekel's solution would work best in most situations -even with the losses in double conversion.

Yeah, I'm afraid so. You can buy frequency converters, but they end up doing roughly the same thing inside, with another set of copper coils and the accompanying ~80% efficiency.

So I am curious, what are the ramifications of running a 60Hz inverter on a 50Hz mains? Will it just shut down? Will it harm the unit? Will it pass that into the AC out side?

Of course the usual disclaimers, et al, apply :)

Just curious

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Thanks Ben it’s very helpful. Question though. Is Victron’s Autotransformer a real auto transformer that shares a coil between input and output and thus doesn’t isolate?

Exactly right, it's a center-tapped single coil with no isolation. Rated for 32A on the center tap.