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Old 11-09-2016, 04:30 PM   #1
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Electricity while running?

I know this is a total newb question and I've been hesitant to ask, but here goes...

We're planning on purchasing a 35' - 40' aft cabin style diesel for a summer cruise up and down the intracoastal. We're planning on mostly traveling and anchoring during the week and staying in marinas(shore power) during the weekend.

While our engine is running, will it also be able to run the boat's electric system? ie, our refrigerator, a/c, and outlets?

Or, does the diesel generator also need to be running while underway? Can the generator run while underway? Is it ok for the generator to run 24/5?

Thanks!
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:35 PM   #2
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Generally, your generator would supply house power while away from the dock, but you can wire in an inverter to run a few things off the battery while underway. We had a small household fridge that could be switched over to the inverter while we were out. Your house lights will also likely be wired into your battery, so those should work while out. Things like A/C, water heaters, etc will likely need the generator.
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:35 PM   #3
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Engine supplies 12V to systems such as many refrigerators, lights, charges batteries...


The Generator is usually required for Air Conditioning or heating and things plugged into wall outlets, and battery chargers that feed batteries not hooked into a system where the engine alternators charge and power things.
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:44 PM   #4
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[QUOTE=lowcountry;494939]

While our engine is running, will it also be able to run the boat's electric system? ie, our refrigerator, a/c, and outlets?

DC system yes, AC system (120/240 VAC) not normally unless you have an inverter or if the refer is dual voltage 12VDC/120VAC. If you really need air cond when your moving, then you will need the genny.

Or, does the diesel generator also need to be running while underway?

Usually dont need the genny underway unless running air cond.

Can the generator run while underway?

Yes

Is it ok for the generator to run 24/5?

Yes as long as its properly loaded and maintained. Gets expensive though when you figure in fuel, maintenance, and eventual replacement costs.

Thanks!
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:45 PM   #5
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Thank you for the quick answers. This is what I figured/hoped.

Basically, at anchor, we'll just need to run the generator if we want a/c and outlets.

Thanks!
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Old 11-09-2016, 04:55 PM   #6
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Thank you for the quick answers. This is what I figured/hoped.

Basically, at anchor, we'll just need to run the generator if we want a/c and outlets.

Thanks!
Not necessarily. It depends on how you boat is equipped. Many have AC oven/stoves.

And many have little or no real house battery capacity that would allow you to anchor out for anything more than a night without running the gen or engine to recharge the house battery bank.
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Old 11-10-2016, 01:06 AM   #7
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I have Magnum MS-PAE inverters. They supply 120/240 with a single inverter. All ac power can go thru them and when switching off shore power or generator, inverter takes over the load. When shore/generator power returns, inverter charges batteries. I run an alternator on one main that keeps up with inveters so no generator needed when running mains. I easily run double door reefer, chest freezer, lights, computers, etc. on inverter power. Up to 4 inverters can be linked for 16kw. I have 2 for 8kw.
All my lights, except nav, are 120v ac. I don't like the dc light choices.
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Old 11-10-2016, 05:20 AM   #8
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Well before you purchase a vessel suggest you educate yourself on this subject by doing some reading and boat touring. For reading buy Nigel Calder's boat electrical system book and Google Steve D'Antonio for numerous articles.

For boat touring look at later model Ocean Alexanders, Nordhavns or DeFevers which should all have these three things you'll want:

Genset
House Bank
Inverter

Each of the above three have their own debate points regarding brand, size and age. Keep in mind a good RV will have the same three ingredients so the technology and equipment is well proven with a large audience.

Good luck and take your time.
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Old 11-10-2016, 06:28 AM   #9
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I also have an inverter. Ran everything except A/C from the batteries. Even ran the microwave. Granted this was just playing around with her for a while. I like the idea that my fridge goes d/c automatically. I have almost completed changing out all lighting to LED to reduce the battery use.
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Old 11-10-2016, 06:33 AM   #10
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Basically, at anchor, we'll just need to run the generator if we want a/c and outlets.
Hot water is another that often requires genset time, although there are alternatives to solving that.

For a summer cruise in ICW territory, you may well (quickly) find you prefer running the AC (or ACs) while underway. Especially if you and/or some of your crew (and/or pets) may be "indoors" during much of the trip. Cabins can get pretty darned toasty, otherwise, and it can make a decent difference when you arrive at a marina and already have interior living space all cooled down.

Since you're still shopping, check out threads on cooking (propane vs, electric, etc.) to inform yourself about pros and cons of each. If you decide on electric cooking, or if your boat choice ends up coming with that even if you're ambivalent, you'll likely have to run the genset during meal prep times. (FWIW, that's not a disadvantage for us, since we also use that time to charge the batteries and heat water.)


Check for threads on fridge alternatives too. Some run AC/DC units, some have AC only and need an inverter, etc. and you'll want to be sure you understand the pros/cons of each.

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Old 11-10-2016, 06:46 AM   #11
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We have twin alternators and with an inverter we can easily run all onboard sytems while underway, including the microwave. We do however have a propane range and no air conditioning. As stated in earlier posts, AC and likely an electric range would require that the genny be running to use these. You will really need to understand the boats systems and capabilities before purchase.
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:03 AM   #12
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A very common question. I addressed it in one of the blog posts from our last trip. It gives a very basic overview of our typical electrical usage while travelling. As they say, YMMV. But I think our experience is pretty typical.
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:38 AM   #13
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These are all great responses. Very exciting about learning all this!
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Old 11-10-2016, 07:46 AM   #14
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I like the idea that my fridge goes d/c automatically. .
Ditto on the ac/dc refrigerator....now, if my ice maker was also ac/dc, I wouldn't have to use the genny at all! (While running, that is.)
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Old 11-10-2016, 08:53 AM   #15
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One other note on the water heater. Most boats are plumbed to heat the water while underway from the main engine. So if you take your shower soon after your days travel, no need to start the generator for hot water.
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Old 11-10-2016, 08:59 AM   #16
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Most boats are plumbed to heat the water while underway from the main engine. So if you take your shower soon after your days travel, no need to start the generator for hot water.
Good point! In my case, I have warm water about 24 hours after shut down.
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Old 11-10-2016, 08:59 AM   #17
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lowcountry, in your learning, you will see "AC" used as a short form for both air conditioning, and alternating current. It can get pretty muddy when both are being discussed at the same time.

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Old 11-10-2016, 09:02 AM   #18
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One other note on the water heater. Most boats are plumbed to heat the water while underway from the main engine. So if you take your shower soon after your days travel, no need to start the generator for hot water.
My water stays hot for hours after the engine is shut down.

Many marine refrigerators run on 120 volts AC when it's available and switch to battery power automatically. This is what you want.

If your boat has a propane stove, your electrical needs can be met with an inverter and a bank of four batteries (plus the engine starting battery). This does not include air conditioning though.
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:11 AM   #19
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With few exceptions, my boat is factory wired for AC electricity and I only have a few things that are on the DC load.

We star the generator before we start the main engines and the genny runs until we are plugged into the marina. At around 1GPH diesel consumption per hour it will such down some fuel but going to bed when the room is 65 degrees is well worth it!
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:47 AM   #20
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I know this is a total newb question and I've been hesitant to ask, but here goes...

We're planning on purchasing a 35' - 40' aft cabin style diesel for a summer cruise up and down the intracoastal. We're planning on mostly traveling and anchoring during the week and staying in marinas(shore power) during the weekend.

While our engine is running, will it also be able to run the boat's electric system? ie, our refrigerator, a/c, and outlets?

Or, does the diesel generator also need to be running while underway? Can the generator run while underway? Is it ok for the generator to run 24/5?

Thanks!
Yes the generator can be ran 24/7. As the others said, it depends on how your boat is set up. All my appliances are 120 so the generator goes on before the mains come on and runs until I reconnect to shore power how ever long that may be. I have ran 6-71 Detroit Generators for 6 weeks straight without taking them off line on tug boats. They like to run. The current ship I am on we have been running the generators for 6 months straight and won't be shut down until our yard period in December. For those who may be wondering we change the oil every 2800 hours. Yes 2800, I do not understand why some here say every 100 hours or each season for oil changes.
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