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Old 05-05-2019, 08:16 PM   #1
Grandbanks3642's Avatar
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Generator question

Looking at boats, some have a built in marine generator some do not. My questions are does anyone know the cost of putting in a marine generator or can I just use a portable gas one? And follow up question is it advisable to use a portable gas generator on a boat?

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Old 05-05-2019, 09:46 PM   #2
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You will get a lot of arguments on both sides of the portable generator debate.

If you want to run a built in a/c with one, get a 3 kw. A rooftop rv type can usually be run with a 2 kw.

A typical 5 kw genset will cost roughly $10,000 installed.


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Old 05-05-2019, 09:55 PM   #3
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You can use a gas generator when you are anchored but you will be persona non grata to your neighbors listening to the racket from it. Diesel gensets are the proper solution.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:02 PM   #4
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Replacing my Onan 4W with Westerbake 6.7 KW with Soundsheild installed price 15.5 K. Hoping to sell 4KW Onan (880 hrs for 4K). Hope this answers your question.


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Old 05-05-2019, 10:42 PM   #5
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I would run it by your insurance company since they are rating you as a diesel boat. If you bring a gas genset aboard and use it regularly they may change your rating (cost). Also there is the CO issue to deal with as well as the storage of gas on your boat. Your boat probably doesn’t have ignition protected devices since it is a diesel boat so if you spill some gas and the fumes get into the bilge how do you get them out? A lot of people get away with using a gas generator aboard but there are risks. Just go into it with your eyes open.
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:45 PM   #6
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Anecdotally, I`d hazard a guess more boats than not around 35 ft and up have a built in generator. Including gas powered boats with gas gensets. Perhaps the proportions have changed as more boats opt for solar/wind and battery banks to suit.
If you go the standalone gas not inbuilt route, you have to store a supply of gasoline onboard. Many do that for outboards already, but mine is on kept on deck lashed down, and is a lesser quantity than you might need.
Where you locate it, for air intake, exhaust, air cooling,and weather protection will need resolving.Some people carry a Honda as back up to the diesel genset.
I think that, for good reason, most boats go with the inbuilt diesel genset. You can make it quieter by opting for the soundshield, even fit an exhaust gas/water separator. It`s likely your boat has a place one can go, perhaps even a place one originally went. Install won`t be cheap but once done it should be rewarding. Sizing is a consideration, your electric kettle may like ours draw 2000watts,if your genset is 4KW that`s a big,if brief,power draw.
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:52 PM   #7
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I just switched out my Onan generator

I picked up a used 5kw Northern lights genset this Feb and installed it last week. Check out my Advertisement for a used genset on boat parts on the classified forum. There is a guy in Georgia that has an interest in in buying a genset. He posted on my ad.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:39 AM   #8
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If you're going to run a gas generator on a diesel boat it would be better to run it on deck and don't store any gas inside the hull. But running a gas generator on deck in an anchorage isn't going to make many friends.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:45 AM   #9
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Those new 2k gas gens are almost impossible to hear at 15’. I’m certainly a genset curmudgeon but it’s hard to be mad at one of them.
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:08 AM   #10
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There is tons of info on portable gensets used on boats. Lots of good points on both sides but as any operations with risk, many posters dont really address the risks and if mitigation is possible, they just let their opinions flow....

Sound from an on deck genset can be deadened like below deck ones, hazards from CO can be mitigated from schedule of operation, gas is usually aboard for dingies so follow similar precautions, electrical wiring differences need to be addressed but again how you use it and what you power can mitigate that too...etc...etc

Make a list of every warning you get, then investigate what others have done to mitigate those hazards. At the conclusion, only you can make the decision as to how muck risk is really left and can you live with it.
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Old 05-06-2019, 08:02 AM   #11
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I got CO poisoning on a previous gas boat. It had nothing to do with the Gen, and I am not implying a portable Gen used up top, well ventilated, would cause it.

We were running an Express Cruiser with two big block V8’s with an aft canvas enclosure not opened properly. The exhaust gas while on plane can enter the cabin. An alarm went off in the cabin, so I went below deck. When I finally figured out it was a CO detector, the room started to spin and I was close to passing out. Came close to vomiting, and the headache lasted for several hours.

Again, I am not equating the OPs post to my situation, just posting this to highlight the importance of being careful with gas. A diesel emits 10 percent the CO of Gas boat if I remember that fact correctly, and it’s a heck of a lot safer from a fire standpoint.

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