Mastervolt’s learning curve at the VOR
AMSTERDAM ~ For Mastervolt, a global provider of off-grid marine electrical systems and components, the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race is a non-stop learning curve. The seven 20.37m (66ft) carbon-fibre sailboats carry identical Mastervolt power systems. Mastervolt monitors each round the clock. As the VOR heads back to Europe for a June finish in Sweden, crew feedback has been crucial to optimize their systems, says Mastervolt.
Improvements have included small changes, says Dennis de Beer, Mastervolt’s Application Engineering Team Leader. Such as changing the sound “low-voltage alarms might make so they don’t disturb sleeping crew members.” Mastervolt can optimize power performance and conditions by changing settings in the CZone digital switching technology or power systems. Mastervolt says it provides “the power to be independent” anywhere off the grid. The 38,379-mile VOR is a huge 24/7 challenge for the company as its participants battle grueling ocean conditions that take their troll on boats, sailors and power systems.
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Volvo Ocean Racers carry fast-charging systems around light-weight batteries that can safely discharge up to 80% of their capacity. They can be fully recharged in about one hour by two Mastervolt 150A alternators hooked to the auxiliary Volvo 75HP engine.
The system powers anything from the canting keel to the navigation lights to the onboard water maker. As a rule, teams carry out two charge cycles every 24 hours. The system monitors that the engine is used for power charging, not propulsion.
Mastervolt has a 24-7 VOR help hotline and uses trained crews in onboard electrical efficiency. At each stopover, the boats are serviced by a Mastervolt on-site technical staff. When the race ends in Gothenburg, Sweden, in June, the company will have evaluated and provided a comprehensive assessment of each system’s performance. “The feedback and data from this race will be invaluable to us,” said De Beer. “The extraordinary conditions of the race and the data will help us as we develop the next generation of on-board power and management products.”