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Old 03-02-2015, 11:37 AM   #1
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To Run or Not to Run the Generator

So not to highjack another thread, but I have a genny and plan to use it!!! Why do some of you spend all this money solar and inverters just to say I don't use my genny? What's up with that?
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:48 AM   #2
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Generators require frequent use, especially in the environment they live in on boats. Running them under load dries out any windings or other parts that have moisture and the engines will like you sooooo much better.

IMHO, you should run your genny at least an hour a month, but 1 hr a week would be even better, UNDER LOAD! Turn on air conditioning, hot water heater, and any other high load a/c components and let the genny live.
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:52 AM   #3
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We use our's, almost whenever we're out or at anchor. Even ran it 3 days strait at the dock in chub because they're genny broke down.

When we start cruising to farther destinations we'll run it less to conserve fuel, but for now we use it all the time.
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:54 AM   #4
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You won't find me saying that. I'm fine running the darn thing anytime we want AC.
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:56 AM   #5
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We use our generator for one hour per day. Half hour in the morning, and half hour at night. Heat water both times, charge batteries both times, make tea (1500 watt) in morning. Try and coordinate with using the clothes washer and the 12v watermaker but not always.

Solar and wind generator have reduced the run time by 30 to 60 minutes a day. Running the generator is not free, one gallon (one hour) of diesel is $5 US, oil at $30 US a gallon needs to be changed every 100 hours etc etc. The wind generator and solar panels have paid for themselves over the last four years. Currently the nearly constant 30kt winds have resulted in the wind generator topping up the batteries during the day so I have been making water from noon to 2 pm. And when our generator broke for two weeks we survived on the solar, wind and wing engine, but did not have hot water (but then cold here is 80 degrees F).
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:11 PM   #6
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We run our generator quite a bit, but I see where others might have some barriers to running theirs. Remember that most people do not get to choose their generator, it probably came with the boat.

Since its such a large cost when it comes time to replace, some people choose to not fix or replace their generator. For some it is just easier to either do without, or buy a portable.

Some generators are...

Loud
Noisy
Smelly
Vibrate

In our situation I chose to replace our generator when it needed a new generator end. It would have been much cheaper to just fix the old Westerbeke but for us replacement was a better option as it gave us the opportunity to avoid the issues others face with a decades old generator.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:12 PM   #7
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Yes, our NL in the sound shield is very quiet. In the ER you can have a normal conversation right next to it.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:29 PM   #8
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I run mine an hour in the AM and an hour in PM on trips. Seems to like it, it is usually at 50-70% load then. When around home run under load once a week to keep it happy.

Mine also says oil change at 100hrs, but I've taken a few oil samples at 100hr and oil was still very good. Still somewhat clear on the stick. So I'm up to 200-250hrs on oil changes. Works out to about once a year and every other main oil change, also at 250-odd hrs.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:49 PM   #9
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Down here along the Gulf Coast most of our cruising is during the summer months. I love my 2 ACs during the day and night. If I'm on the hook or away from dock the genny runs. My older boat requires lots of amps, also I don't like my starting batteries (they also serve as house batts.) being drained all night long without that charger on. Onan 8kw is in a sound shield which is as noisy as the AC compressors (not bad), helps put me to sleep!
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Old 03-02-2015, 01:01 PM   #10
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I think some of it is it is nice to have options. We just installed an inverter in preparation for the loop. We run the gen whenever we leave the dock. However when we run the math we were way ahead to install the inverter rather than run the gen for the entire loop. Factoring in an additional 3000 hrs on the unit if we run it for the duration of course.

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Old 03-02-2015, 01:46 PM   #11
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We don't have an inverter (yet) but would probably use it for the occasional microwave/convection oven, coffeemaker, or TV/stereo use when the genset doesn't happen to be running. Not much else, unless wifey want's an umbrella drink (requiring the mixer) from time to time.


That said, we do use the genset 2x day at anchor, and if we need the AC while underway. I wouldn't consider an inverter as any kind of replacement, but rather a quiet augmenter (?) sometimes when that's useful.


It happens when we next replace one of our battery banks -- 300 Ah increasing to 440 Ah -- we may put an inverter/charger on that bank. That's partly because we will be beginning to exceed the capabilities of our current 3-bank charger... not really about the inverter but seems like a useful time to address both ideas at once.


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Old 03-02-2015, 02:26 PM   #12
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I think running the genny and having solar can be a great combination - not one that is mutually exclusive. We run the genny to power AC/heat, hot water (when not under way) and to recharge the batteries. Typically 1.5hrs in the morning and 1.5hrs in the evening. However, the last 10-20% of the battery charge takes 1-2 hours *after* bulk charge is complete to top them off properly. Being on a mooring most of the time, I don't have the luxury of shore power to provide the relatively small amount of power required for that final topping off. To help the batteries live longer I am planning on installing a single 100watt solar panel. My total outlay for the solar will be less than $300. I expect it will pay for itself in less than 2 years.

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Old 03-02-2015, 02:32 PM   #13
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In the summer I tend to only run the generator for an hour or so in the morning for hot water and battery charging.

In the winter I run it an hour, sometimes two, in the morning and the evening. The furnace draws a lot of amps cycling on and off all night.

When I have guests on the boat I run the generator more...it's easier than trying to educate them on power management.
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Old 03-02-2015, 03:29 PM   #14
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I just replaced an electric stove with propane. I am almost finished installing 3-150 watt semi-flexible solar panels on the bimini. If anchored more than 24 hrs I had to run the genset to charge batteries and run the stove. I may be able to go a week without running the genset in the summer if conditions are good. My Kohler is pretty quiet in its sound sheild and sound proofed ER. I just like not running the genset.
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Old 03-02-2015, 03:43 PM   #15
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Another angle on the run or not run is the noise issue. Quite frankly, I've heard folks run gen sets through the night to accommodate running A/C or underwater lights. We saw this a lot in Mexico. We try to be conscientious of others in the anchorage and will not start our gen set until we see activity on the neighboring boats and we never run it past 9 PM at night.

We have 6 8D AGMs for our house bank so we can go a couple days without running the gen set. Unfortunately, we have a standard household fridge that eats into that bank more than I like, a more efficient unit as well as solar panels is in the future for me.

Another thread also brought up the issue of running the gen set when operating the boat. We tend to leave the generator off when running unless we need to make water or use the washer/dryer. One less thing to worry about IMHO.

In all, we ran both the engine 850 hours and the gen set 850 hours over the last cruising season.
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Old 03-02-2015, 03:57 PM   #16
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There's more than meets the eye as usual.

Different people, different cruising styles, different climates, different budgets, different boats, and other issues all affect genset issues.

The worst reason to not run one is the fear running the genset wears it out...to the point where decay is beating usage.

Other than that....cruising in general needs a rough plan on how it is gonna go and the genset is just one factor. But there will be times when it can't be run...and what are the alternatives and times where you don't want to run it for a variety of reasons.

For serious long term cruisers...both the main engine(s) and the genset will need rebuild/replace.

Based on my style cruising and trying to space major capital replacements/purchases as far apart as possible gives me a rough idea of either how much I can run them or when will they need replacing based on use.

I think running one hard once a week is good if you aren't laying up the boat for more than several months...more than that and I would follow the recommended long term storage directions.
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Old 03-02-2015, 04:06 PM   #17
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Funny tidbit from my boat: Both engine and gennie are within about 100hrs of each other. And this while main and gen are almost never on at the same time.
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Old 03-02-2015, 06:02 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psneeld View Post
There's more than meets the eye as usual.

Different people, different cruising styles, different climates, different budgets, different boats, and other issues all affect genset issues.

The worst reason to not run one is the fear running the genset wears it out...to the point where decay is beating usage.

Other than that....cruising in general needs a rough plan on how it is gonna go and the genset is just one factor. But there will be times when it can't be run...and what are the alternatives and times where you don't want to run it for a variety of reasons.

For serious long term cruisers...both the main engine(s) and the genset will need rebuild/replace.

Based on my style cruising and trying to space major capital replacements/purchases as far apart as possible gives me a rough idea of either how much I can run them or when will they need replacing based on use.

I think running one hard once a week is good if you aren't laying up the boat for more than several months...more than that and I would follow the recommended long term storage directions.
Good points. With the way my gen set is set up you can bearly hear it outside and not at all inside. It is in the cockpit.
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Old 03-02-2015, 06:14 PM   #19
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We have a gen sep and it is very quiet.
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Old 03-02-2015, 06:27 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kchace View Post
I think running the genny and having solar can be a great combination - not one that is mutually exclusive..... the last 10-20% of the battery charge takes 1-2 hours *after* bulk charge is complete to top them off properly. Being on a mooring most of the time, I don't have the luxury of shore power to provide the relatively small amount of power required for that final topping off. To help the batteries live longer I am planning on installing a single 100watt solar panel. My total outlay for the solar will be less than $300. I expect it will pay for itself in less than 2 years.Ken
You won`t regret adding solar, it will get that last 20% into the batts. It needs virtually no maintenance. I use the genset as needed for the eutectics, but for day trips solar will feed the 12v fridge.
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