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Old 08-25-2019, 12:08 PM   #1
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Quiet Genset

Looking for advice on a very quiet genset for a 34' Mariner Orient Europa trawler. Not really sure how much power I need - just running a single AC unit, fridge/freezer and small appliances (toaster, microwave, coffee maker). The boat already has an 1800 watt inverter. Plan to install a diesel powered genset in the lazarette under the aft cockpit to keep it quieter in the salon and far from the master berth up front. Any suggestions for something really quiet would be appreciated. Thx!
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Old 08-25-2019, 12:19 PM   #2
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Several factors make for a quiet genset installation:

1. Pick the smallest genset that covers all continuous loads. Not so much for sound but for loading and cost.

2. Put it in a remote place. Well you have done all you can about this one.

3. Use a 1,800 rpm 3 cylinder genset. Higher rpm gensets produce a high pitch sound that is more annoying than the 1,800 one. Also 3 cylinders is a lot smoother than 1 or 2. 4 cyl is ok but too big for your needs.

4. Put it in the factory enclosure.

The Northern Lights 5 KW meets all of these but others do too.

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Old 08-25-2019, 01:04 PM   #3
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Iím pretty sure that the Northern Lights is the quietest in that size range. That is from memory based on their advertising.

Iím also remembering that the 5KW and 8KW are the same physical size.
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Old 08-25-2019, 01:26 PM   #4
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Also use isolation mounts to mount the frame to the hull, and use a gensep to separate the exhaust gas and water
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Old 08-25-2019, 01:43 PM   #5
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The NL 5kw is the most socially acceptable small gennie, and a pretty well made unit. But it is probably more capacity than you need, and 350lb. It will do the job, but so would one in the 3.5kW range and the 3.5 would be lighter and smaller. But certainly less social from a noise and vibe perspective.

Got to figure out how important the noise and vibe issue is to you.

On my ride, I have an old NL 5kW and it is pretty social. But we tend to run it a few hours in the evening, then once boat is chilled down and dried out, shut it off right at sleepy time. Boat stays comfortable for 6-7hrs.

So if I had a noisy gennie it would not screw up sleep.
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:19 PM   #6
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Also use isolation mounts to mount the frame to the hull, and use a gensep to separate the exhaust gas and water
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Old 08-25-2019, 02:45 PM   #7
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I was once shopping for a small "night generator" to run AC primarily. I was quite impressed with the Cummins Onan "Quiet" series. Easy to get serviced, and I saw some in action on a few boats. In addition, in my case, I also had an Onan 20KW main genset.
I know some folks quite happy with Phasors as well. These things in enclosures are so quiet you could have them on the other side of a bulkhead and not hear much, if anything.

I don't like the idea of a generator in a cockpit lazarette, but that is swayed by having seen a few such and they were all rusty messes.

You want something that is rated for all the loads on the boat going at once, and then up a KW or two. That way you don't have to screw around with load management.
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Old 08-25-2019, 03:11 PM   #8
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You want something that is rated for all the loads on the boat going at once, and then up a KW or two. That way you don't have to screw around with load management.
Sizing to run everything or not depends on the boat. For a lot of boats, that leads to installing a too-big genset. To equal my 2x 50A/125V shore power setup (which can run everything on the boat simultaneously) would require a 12kw genset. Realistically, I could run everything on a 10 or 11kw I think.

However, I've got a 6.5kw and never really wish it were bigger. It's not terribly uncommon for me to end up firing up an A/C unit just to keep enough load on it even if I don't otherwise need the A/C. It's enough to run all 3 A/C units and the water heater (with background loads like the battery charger). That's pretty much full load, but it's also fine to run the microwave if I turn one of the A/Cs off. The electric stove isn't an issue either with just a little bit of sane load management. I could make use of a bigger genset, but only occasionally. I'd rather have the smaller unit that's a little more efficient and easier to keep enough load on instead of having a bigger unit when I only want the extra 5 - 10% of the time.
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Old 08-25-2019, 03:33 PM   #9
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Technomadia on youtube recently installed a 4.5K Northern Lights unit and it is mouse fart quite on thier 4788 BL.
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Old 08-25-2019, 05:11 PM   #10
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From the OPs load list, a 5Kw will be fine assuming the microwave and toaster are not used simultaneously. You could not load an 8kw for proper break in. Did not see water heater or electric stove on the list.
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Old 08-25-2019, 05:46 PM   #11
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I advise reading the operating manuals before you buy. Modern generators get by fine on the most nominal of loads. It's running for extended times with NO load that is potentially damaging. As is running for extended times at full load. Lot's of urban (or should I say dockside?) legend around this. Some of the preceding posts about futzing around with load management illustrate my point.
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Old 08-25-2019, 06:13 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Technomadia on youtube recently installed a 4.5K Northern Lights unit and it is mouse fart quite on thier 4788 BL.
I have the 9Kw NL In the same boat and you can barely hear it run.

The watermaker high pressure pump makes more noise than the generator
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Old 08-25-2019, 06:24 PM   #13
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guess I never thought of the aft cockpit lazarette as getting wet but . . . guess it's not as dry as the engine room in the salon. Thx.
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Old 08-25-2019, 06:36 PM   #14
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guess I never thought of the aft cockpit lazarette as getting wet but . . . guess it's not as dry as the engine room in the salon. Thx.
I'll caution you that mine can hardly be called a scientific sampling. If your lazarette stays bone dry in all weather and sea conditions, then have at it. Jamming it into an ER where it will have difficult access can have its own potential repercussions; you know the situation on your boat infinitely better than I do.
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Old 08-25-2019, 08:42 PM   #15
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Another vote for Northern Lights. I have a 5kw, used it for 15 years, replacing an Onan. Quieter without a sound shield than the Onan with. Ditto the comment on larzarette gensets usually being a rusty mess.
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Old 08-26-2019, 11:11 AM   #16
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Owned a NL 5KW
I purchased it from NY Generator
Originally I wanted the 6Kw however I was informed by NY Generator that the 5 and 6 were identical units. The parts lists on were identical. No use spending $$$ on the 6. This was 2008
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:05 AM   #17
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This has been my experience as well. Two generators came with the boat. The 12.5kw, as was said, equals my 50amp shore supply and will run everything aboard including three air conditioning units. However, we use the 7.7kw Westerbeke most of the time. It will run one air conditioner and most oother loads with just a little attention to load management. If the boat is very hot after a day's run we'll use the larger generator to run the three A/C units awhile to cool down the boat more quickly and then switch to the Westerbeke if we still need power.
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Sizing to run everything or not depends on the boat. For a lot of boats, that leads to installing a too-big genset. To equal my 2x 50A/125V shore power setup (which can run everything on the boat simultaneously) would require a 12kw genset. Realistically, I could run everything on a 10 or 11kw I think.

However, I've got a 6.5kw and never really wish it were bigger. It's not terribly uncommon for me to end up firing up an A/C unit just to keep enough load on it even if I don't otherwise need the A/C. It's enough to run all 3 A/C units and the water heater (with background loads like the battery charger). That's pretty much full load, but it's also fine to run the microwave if I turn one of the A/Cs off. The electric stove isn't an issue either with just a little bit of sane load management. I could make use of a bigger genset, but only occasionally. I'd rather have the smaller unit that's a little more efficient and easier to keep enough load on instead of having a bigger unit when I only want the extra 5 - 10% of the time.
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Old 08-27-2019, 05:50 AM   #18
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Quote:
Another vote for Northern Lights. I have a 5kw, used it for 15 years, replacing an Onan. Quieter without a sound shield than the Onan with
I'd invite comparison to the current Cummins Onan units.
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Old 08-27-2019, 07:21 AM   #19
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When looking at noise, don't forget, there are 2 metrics that matter. Noise in the boat and noise outside the boat. My old gas powered Onan MCCK lacks a sound shield, so it's a bit noisy in the boat (but not terrible, especially concsidering I don't typically run it for more than a couple hours at a time).

However, it's almost silent outside the boat. If you're within a few feet of the hull you can hear it faintly. The exhaust is almost silent and discharges fairly close to the waterline so the water splash isn't particularly loud. This is also helped by running 2" exhaust instead of the required 1.5". The bigger pipes lead to the discharge from the water lift muffler splashing out far more gently instead of being violently (and loudly) shot out. The bilge blowers are louder from outside than the genset. Assuming blowers off, any boat anchored nearby that could possibly be bothered by the genset noise is anchored far too close for safety.

I've heard plenty of setups on other boats where the interior noise was better isolated, but they'd failed to muffle the exhaust well or make any reasonable attempt to control water splash noise, resulting in a genset that was somewhat obnoxious from the outside.
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Old 08-27-2019, 07:29 AM   #20
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Good point. Outside our boat, the only sound heard is the swishing of the exhaust water.
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When looking at noise, don't forget, there are 2 metrics that matter. Noise in the boat and noise outside the boat. My old gas powered Onan MCCK lacks a sound shield, so it's a bit noisy in the boat (but not terrible, especially concsidering I don't typically run it for more than a couple hours at a time).

However, it's almost silent outside the boat. If you're within a few feet of the hull you can hear it faintly. The exhaust is almost silent and discharges fairly close to the waterline so the water splash isn't particularly loud. This is also helped by running 2" exhaust instead of the required 1.5". The bigger pipes lead to the discharge from the water lift muffler splashing out far more gently instead of being violently (and loudly) shot out. The bilge blowers are louder from outside than the genset. Assuming blowers off, any boat anchored nearby that could possibly be bothered by the genset noise is anchored far too close for safety.

I've heard plenty of setups on other boats where the interior noise was better isolated, but they'd failed to muffle the exhaust well or make any reasonable attempt to control water splash noise, resulting in a genset that was somewhat obnoxious from the outside.
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