All Systems Go: Things to consider in AV/IT refits

Mar 21, 2019 by Jason Roberston

All Systems Go: by Jason Robertson

Yacht guests are often thrilled to find they can summon a massive 100-inch TV from a recess in the wall with the touch of a button or simply by voice command.

But fully automated controls that open blinds, close curtains, and lift TVs and projectors have been around for some time. Today’s tech-savvy superyacht owners are raising the bar, seeking the newest AV/IT and automation systems to enhance and simplify routine operations at increasingly sophisticated levels.

For example, many superyachts are upgrading to state-of-the-art temperature-control systems that allow for custom temperatures in each area. Also, scented air systems that can be fully controlled and customized are increasingly being installed in air ducting on board. Owners and guests are flooded with memories when walking into the study and smelling leather or the faint hint of a cigar, or entering the cinema with the sweet scent of popcorn filling the air.

Planning an AV/IT upgrade during a refit requires careful budgeting and realistic time frames. Working closely with a shore-side AV/IT installation company that has experience working on yachts will save much time and money.

Often refits do not start until the boat has been in the shipyard for two or three weeks. By the end of the yard period, with the departure deadline looming, there is much frenzied work in trying to get the boat put back together.   

This is when  mistakes happen and systems are not properly checked. If possible, plan for an AV/IT upgrade to be completed at least two  weeks before departure. This will allow enough time to iron out any bugs and last-minute-hiccups that may arise.

Here are some things to keep in mind during an AV/IT refit:

  • If you’re working on a boat built in Europe, you’ll likely be running on 230V AC. If you happen to be doing a refit in the U.S., you’ll need to ensure all equipment is 230V compliant. TVs, printers and domestic appliances may need to be sourced from Europe, or you’ll need to install a 110V supply.
  • If at all possible, run fiber optic cabling. Fiber optic cables are not susceptible to RF (radio frequency) interference or EMI (electromagnetic interference), and provide the highest speeds with the lowest latency.
  • Older yachts do not have adequate cooling and ventilation provisioned. Installing a proper chilled-water AC unit that allows control of humidity is the way forward. The life and reliability of all your AV/IT equipment will be prolonged with cool, dry air.
  • Power generation on a yacht is rarely smooth and constant. Having all the AV/IT equipment run off a UPS (uninterruptable power supply) will ensure that it is protected from voltage spikes and surges, and will guarantee it to run smoothly and reliably.

Jason Robertson, director of technical crew placement agency Robertson ETOS (, has more than 17 years of combined AV/IT and ETO experience on board megayachts. Comments are welcome below.