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Old 04-04-2007, 04:35 AM   #1
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Talking 230v to 120v stepdown transformer or rewire?

Our 1976 Trade Wind Land Yacht is arriving in the UK this month - can't wait!!
We are on 230v here so can I install a UK hook up connected to a 5600va 230v to 120v stepdown transformer and hardwire that to the Airstream electricals?
The thought of rewiring throughout fills me with dread.
I have 1 aircon unit and a fridge.
I could disconnect the aircon if ness. - "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun" and all that.
Is 5600va enough
Advise would be much appreciated.
Thanks
Den and Kim
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Old 04-04-2007, 04:56 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finn2020
Our 1976 Trade Wind Land Yacht is arriving in the UK this month - can't wait!!
We are on 230v here so can I install a UK hook up connected to a 5600va 230v to 120v stepdown transformer and hardwire that to the Airstream electricals?
The thought of rewiring throughout fills me with dread.
I have 1 aircon unit and a fridge.
I could disconnect the aircon if ness. - "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun" and all that.
Is 5600va enough
Advise would be much appreciated.
Thanks
Den and Kim
Den and Kim,
Welcome to the Airstreaming life I am no electrician and haven't had the joy of having to convert a unit from US power to GB power...but if you aren't going to be using the A/C unit it may simplify things a bit. You also have to be concerned with the Univolt (power converter). I would think the easiest thing to do would be to swap it out with a correct voltage unit. If you have the older Armstrong A/C unit it is a keeper, in that it is repairable. Hopefully some of our members that have already done the conversion will chime in with their solutions. I know there are several members in NL and at least 2 in France.

Aaron
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Old 04-04-2007, 05:12 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finn2020
... I could disconnect the aircon if ness. - "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun" and all that.
Is 5600va enough ...
Hi Den, and welcome to the forum.

I think you will be able to run your air conditioner. While I am neither an electrical engineer nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn Express recently, I do know know that a safe rule-of-thumb for sizing loads in watts with respect to volt-amps is to assume a power factor of 0.6.

In other words (if I did my math right), your Airstream should should have at least 28 amps available to it at 120 vac from the transformer. This is more than enough to maintain the AC once it is running. And I believe the transformer you are proposing will allow the AC to safely pull its brief startup current.

Tom
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Old 04-04-2007, 05:17 AM   #4
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Keep in mind though that the transformer will do nothing for the power's frequency. Your air conditioner wants 60 hertz power. It is my understanding that 50 hertz power is somewhat common in the UK.

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Old 04-04-2007, 10:04 AM   #5
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The air conditioner isn't the only problem, although it may run on 50 cycles. If your AS has the original power converter (Univolt), you'll want to swap that out for a modern unit, anyway. If you do that, then the A/C is the only item that's a problem, and if it's original you might find that you want to swap it out, too, or just do without (replace it with a 12V Fantastic Fan or something similar). Bottom line is, don't swap our your power converter until you think about it carefully (115V or 220V version) or get one that can handle either. I think the Intellipower converters have a switch that converts them to either voltage.

Then you have to decide whether you want to worry about finding 110V appliances for the rest of your life, or go ahead and decide you want a 220V Airstream now. If you have the transformer on hand, you might give it a try (the one you mention has plenty of power capacity) until you're ready to go 220V.

I don't use many "appliances", but I do have a small ceramic heater that's very handy on cold nights when I'm plugged into shore power, a microwave, and some hand tools. My computer is 115/220, so I don't have to worry about that device.

You'll also find that using the outside recepticle for a light or hand drill will drive you crazy. Which reminds me, if you switch to a 220V system, you'll have to replace all the recepticles with the round pin European version--the wire is OK to use, since it's able to handle up to 600V. Someone will probably chime in and say the circuit breakers have to be replaced. They sense current, not voltage, so I don't agree with that. Maybe an expert can comment.

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Old 04-04-2007, 01:12 PM   #6
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Sorry Zep, couldn't resist...
" if you switch to a 220V system, you'll have to replace all the recepticles with the round pin European version"
Unless the UK-based life form has changed its electrical code, they do not use the round pin European version. They have another quaint little plug. I haven't been there for ten or so years, but last time I was there, that receptacle was still looking at me. You'd recognize it if you saw it, I'm sure.
But, if it were me, I'd get an Intellipower unit, try the autotransformer and see how it worked out before doing any major rewiring.
regards
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Old 04-04-2007, 01:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by herrgirdner
...Unless the UK-based life form has changed its electrical code, they do not use the round pin European version. They have another quaint little plug...
No need to apologize. I guess I need to travel more!

Zep
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Old 04-05-2007, 04:24 AM   #8
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Hi
Thanks for the advice. I don't mind changing the plug sockets - I thought I would have to rip out all the wiring and replace it with thicker ones.
When the Airstream arrives I'll have a better idea whats needed and decide then if the transformer or convertion is the right route. I didin't know anything about the UNIVOLT. Regards Den
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Old 04-05-2007, 06:03 AM   #9
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UK mains

I am in Dorset and can offer plenty of help and advice on conversions to 115 VAC and 12vdc charging. I have gone for the Sterling mains charger and Battery to Battery charger, and flexible Solars with Blue Sky controller (brilliant), pushing inverters for 115 and 230 VAC.

I have gone to the extreme of removing the generator in favour of Solar. and it works! Look under chassis and house battery charging in the motorhomes section.

I am in the process of removing the two roof AC's in favour of Kool-O-Matic fans, as I am sure thats all we need here in the UK. In the past two years we have used one AC twice and got fed-up with the droning and sitting in a shell, so switched it off and opened the doors and windows - much better!!
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Old 04-05-2007, 08:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finn2020
... I didin't know anything about the UNIVOLT. Regards Den
The Univolts from the 70's are old, transformer-based converters that use a bridge rectifier feeding big capacitors for filtering. They are essentially unregulated, heavy (45 pounds or more?), and after 20 years or more the capacitors begin to fail. You wind up with an even more poorly regulated output, with ripple, than the original. You almost have to have a battery across the output to have reasonable voltage control, even when they are new. And the can run pretty warm. Sometimes they hum loudly.

The newer converters still rectify the incoming power, but they are "switching" power supplies that are relatively well regulated, very light (5 pounds or less), use small capacitors for filtering due to the switcher high frequency, and the whole thing is small. No battery is required (still highly desired, however). They run cool. They are often dual-voltage (110/220) at no additional cost. They don't hum.

If you have a 30 year old converter, it is a no brainer to get a new one if you have the funds available.

Zep
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