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Electric Connections & Conversions in French Polynesia

By doina — last modified Feb 22, 2012 02:59 PM

Published: 2012-02-22 14:59:28
Topics: Equipment
Countries: French Polynesia

New comment 22 Feburary 2012

The original post offers the correct solution. Better yet buy an auxiliary battery charger that is compatible with European voltages and 50hz. A transformer will not change the frequency. One must consider the risk to equipment using the wrong frequency. It may fail weeks later when it is most inconvenient.


Original Posting 26 March 2008

We have been reading "Noonsite" in preparation for a Pacific Crossing later this spring. Regarding a step-down transformer to adapt our US 110/60 power to the Polynesian standard, I recall an article in the Feb. '07 CRUISING WORLD describing a European transformer used on construction sites to power 110v power tools. This looks like a good solution as the transformer is housed in a plastic box making it somewhat water resistant. I have looked for this type of transformer on the internet with no success. Any suggestion as to where I might find this type of unit?

Your email was forwarded to me as regional editor for the South Pacific and because I cruised French Polynesia for 4 years. You are smart to think about the possible problems now as it is always a bit late when your electrics just got damaged in the marina!

French Polynesia is a special case as far as electricity goes since they use 220-240VAC but use 60 Hz like the US (not 50 Hz like Europe!). Things do change so you might want to contact the marinas where you plan to stop to ask them exactly what voltage and what frequency they provide. Things have changed quickly lately and some marinas do provide 110v AC. If the frequency is right, then a simple transformer will work. The difficulty is the frequency.

Perhaps you could contact Cruising Word or get a hold on their Feb07 issue as they probably give the full details of that European transformer ...

Another possible lead is to post your question on the SSCA discussion board as many cruisers had the same problem as you. The only time I connected to shore power in FrPol was at the Raiatea boatyard for haul out and they provided 110vac/60Hz as I can recall. My advice is to only connect your battery charger to the shore and use all your 110v AC appliances via your inverter ... that way, you only have 1 piece of equipment at risk!

Hope this helps,

Luc Callebaut, Noonsite

From: Brian Bradfield

A 220vac to 110vac transformer - perfect for a USA boat is made by Taylor Transformers in England

You need the 4kvh portable tool transformer which has a 17 amp circuit breaker on the 220vac side and a 34 amp breaker on the 110vac side. Cost about 240 sterling pounds.