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Mach1
Mach1

Posted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:51pm

Post Subject: Problem with high washing machine electrical load

Not exactly a question, but I have frequently come across articles about the problem of running a washing machine on a narrowboat (due to the high current load of the water heater). I found the link: http://powerreducer.co.uk/ when looking for a way of reducing the load created by a household immmersion heater so that it could be fully operated by solar panels during the brightest part of the day. I was wondering if this might be a way to make a 'standard' washing machine draw much less current (and just take longer to warm up) so that it could be run without having a massive inverter. Is this something which your electrical expert could comment upon?

Tony-B
Tony-B

Posted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 2:30pm

Post Subject: Problem with high washing machine electrical load

I think this device was discussed in the Canal World Web Forum a while ago and it did not attract much enthusiasm from those who know far more about mains electricity than me. My suspicion is that it is similar in operation to those external speed controllers that used to be sold for drills. I suspect it simply switches off part of the AC wave form for part of every cycle. Now this would probably reduce the current draw at any moment in time and so would allow the use of a smaller inverter but once we get into boats with washing machines the cost of a larger inverter is a very small addition. What the device will not do is reduce the battery capacity required because 1 amp for 2 hours requires the same capacity as 2 amps for 1 hour. There is in my view a far simpler way of reducing the power drawn and that is not to use the heater at all. Fit a thermostatic mixing valve to the washing machine supply and set it to your desired washing temperature. Then turn the washing machine control down to "cold" or have an electrician disconnect the heater. The machine will fill with water at the temperature you require and the heater will not come on. Admittedly you will be rinsing in warm/hot water but as you would normally be either running the engine to provide for the load or using an immersion heater on a land line I do not see this as a problem. I do not think it would do any harm to try it but Personally I would not go down that route. I suspect a boat that requires a washing machine will also want other mains electrical machines that also require high powers. Tony Brooks

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