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Old 08-29-2013, 05:13 PM   #21
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In cruising in SE Alaska this summer in 12 hours on anchor we generally used 12-14% of our battery capacity on the battery monitor representing around 90 to 110AH. We could recharge that with 1.5 to 2 hours underway the next day (100 amp alternator). That would give me about two days (48 hours) of time on anchor before being at 50% battery capacity and needing to put around 400 amps back into the battery bank. I could do that with 4-5 hours running a Honda generator (on propane) or about 6 hours underway. Our typical load on anchor was a refrigerator, a small Dometic freezer, a few lights (LED), and electronics (Sirius radio). It generally seemed that after two days, we either needed to move, plug in, or start the generator. Since we were cruising, we generally got underway to change scenery.

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Old 08-29-2013, 05:40 PM   #22
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We have 4 golf cart batteries for our utility loads on our boat. All LED lighting. For a day and a night out we can survive with our fridge running but it eats up the batteries real quick. So if we are not running daily or plan to be away for an extended period we put our big 162 quart cooler in the cockpit with a layer of block ice in the bottom and this lasts us up to 5 or 6 days before needing more. We do bring along a Champion 2000 inverter generator, $499 at Costco, and may use it once or twice during the week for a couple hours. Had a Yamaha 3000 but it was too heavy and too expensive for the amount it gets used. The Champion is quiet and runs well. It's all about planning. If I had a bigger boat I would likely want a generator.

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Old 08-29-2013, 06:14 PM   #23
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When anchored, we use about 15% of the house batteries each day to run the refrigerator and for cabin lights in the evening. So, I can usually count on three days between charges. Our anchor-outs are usually but for one day/night. ... Regardless, a battery monitor is a handy thing to have.

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Old 08-29-2013, 07:06 PM   #24
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I am in the minimalist camp, with absolutely no need for a generator. I rarely use dock power at the marina.

No need for heat or A/C, being situated in an area with mild climate.
Alcohol stove, with butane as a backup.
Changing to all LED lighting.
A small Waeco 12v fridge/freezer with extra insulation. Also have two big ice chests as backup when required.
A single portable 40W solar panel keeps the batteries topped up, although I may go to 80W to cater for a long cloudy period.
I don't even have a built in battery charger.


It's all simple & cheap, but it still keeps the beer cold, and the bilge pumps running.
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Old 08-29-2013, 07:40 PM   #25
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Wow! Some really great perspectives and advice here. djmarchand, SeaHorseII and Cpeudonym beat me to the punch on many thoughts as I read through the thread. I seriously doubt that bank is 1005 AH...660 sounds more like it.

I have a CA boat that formerly lived in Alaska. No generator, no inverter and no heat...and no signs that they were previously installed and later removed. Shortly after buying her, we added the larger house bank then the Honda eu2000i. This allowed us to hang out on the hook for a few days with the guys fishing. We'd run the Honda every other day and we had fun, but didn't need all the comforts of home. The Admiral didn't like not having the comforts...boating was too much like camping.

The boat's mostly 12V and propane, with a small 1000W inverter added by me for incidental AC loads. Having that 110V source led to the addition of new 110V loads like a second fridge. So for us it's been kind of like an "if you build it they will come" syndrome. Having the large bank required the battery monitor, having the Honda eu2000 allowed the addition of the inverter....having the inverter allowed the addition of the 2nd fridge...having the 2nd fridge allowed us to carry more perishables...having more perishables allowed the Admiral to enjoy herself more onboard and NOT feel like she is camping. So in the end, it's all a big win!! But we still have a small boat with simple systems and workable improvements on a budget.

Don't get me wrong...if I had a boat with a "real" genset and beefier systems, I'd be in 7th heaven. But given the boat I have and the way we use it, I'm happy with the result.

I had no idea diesel heater systems were such power hogs. That might be a game changer. In CA, I use electric heat at the dock and propane heat as needed at anchor. Not ideal, but in our moderate climes, it works. If I needed long term heat, I'd go the diesel route as propane adds too much moisture into the air for prolonged use.

PS. We'll be adding a 100A alternator soon and have converted almost all lights to LED. On an average day on the hook with the Admiral, we consume about 120AH with 2 fridges. With just an undersized 30A charger, running the Honda a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the evening keeps us in the 50-85% range. If we run for an hour or more, we do even better.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:21 PM   #26
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Al,

Not all heaters are energy hogs. For pure efficiency, the Wallas heater stoves are hard to beat on fuel burn and electrical usage. However, they are more electronics than burners if you ever open one up. I currently have an Airtronic D-5 (Espar) and it really doesn't put that much load on the electrical system unless you are running up to the firewall. Once the cabin is up to temp, it consumes only 1.5 amps or so on low, but during the high output mode heating things up it goes up to 6 amps. My notebook computer power supply uses more than 3 amps, so I don't view the heat as a big load, and I always shut the nav computer down when on the anchor. The thing we learned this summer with temps in the 50s or low 60s during the day, you never needed the heat overnight on days you were underway as the engine room radiated heat into the salon through the floor and was still warmer than the ambient air in the salon in the morning. I guess that's called passive diesel heat. On day 2 tied to a dock, we started the heater in the morning as we generally were looking at 51-52F in the cabin and outside.

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Old 08-29-2013, 08:35 PM   #27
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Thanks for the info, Tom. I've heard others sing the praises of the Wallas heaters. My old ER lights burned more than that!
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:57 PM   #28
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Al,

There are also those who will cuss the Wallas stove/heater combination because of the electronics. I have had two of them in two C-Dory's and they both worked well with a combined 12 years of operation. There were others with the same model stoves that couldn't get 2 years out of them without a major problem. These were used for both cooking and heat. I can say I like the Espar in my trawler application because it looks more like a heater than a computer controlled hot plate.

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Old 08-29-2013, 10:48 PM   #29
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You want to replenish batteries without using engine alternators, or genset.
As others suggest, solar is the answer,plus a wind generator, in case the sun is reluctant.
With solar, your batteries are almost always full, and live longer. I have 180w of panel, enough in sun, to feed a 12v fridge and keep batteries full.
Be sure to use good multistage regulators with the larger watt panels. Panels should be as unshaded as possible, small shading has great effect.
Watts divided by Volts = Amps. That`s theory, expect about half the output in reality.
You`ll need to top up lead acid batteries regularly, at least monthly.
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Old 08-29-2013, 10:51 PM   #30
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We have two AGM house batts a little bigger than a car (I think Group 31) and I think 105ah ea. We run the Wabasto all night and aren't low on batt power. If it was cold enough to make the Wabasto's rum constantly we probably would be low in the morning.

But now we're in WA state. We could put in another batt though. Just a little more ballast right?

And the Wabasto draws about 2 amps once started and starting only lasts a very short time. I think it's referred to as a furnace.
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Old 08-29-2013, 11:27 PM   #31
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(Steve-- Sent you a PM regarding GBs and generators)
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Old 08-30-2013, 12:52 AM   #32
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It is not necessary to have a generator. Enough has been said about how to avoid it. Try using the boat for the first year of anchoring before deciding. Many times you will move before the batteries need to be recharged.

The biggest thing is simply reduce power consumption to the minimum you are comfortable with. You have a decent battery set although it is not 1,000Ahr but rather 660Ahr. The propane stove is good, Led lights really help.
Solar definitely helps.

We have a 32' and do not have a gen. and I stopped carrying the portable 15 yrs ago. I have made changes to the basic boat electrical setup to do that. The personnal stuff you will have to sort out as you go. Some must have showers, other a good sponge bath knock the h.w. htr use in the head.

Talk to people and see their setups. Some don't care about gen use but lots do and have taken steps to avoid use of them even when they have them.
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Old 08-30-2013, 03:54 AM   #33
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If having a 120-amp alternator, what does that really mean? If perfectly matched with the engine turning 2400 RPM at wide-open-throttle, would it be producing that much? What are the odds of that? And if the engine turns at 1200 RPM, would it be producing 60 amps? ... Electricity is one of those concepts/things that befuddle me.
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Old 08-30-2013, 05:18 AM   #34
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Apart from engine on the move charging, we are self-sufficient on the pick indefinitely, courtesy of solar, (not huge), backed up with a wind gennie called and Airbreeze. It is efficient, silent enough not to bother anyone, and it all costs zip, zero, nuss-sing.
To make this possible we use no AC, have propane cooker/oven, almost all lights except running lights are now LED, (even those may become LED as replacement comes round), but underway who cares anyway...frig is 12 v, and we don't have TV. Don't want it...
If at any time in the future we found the system wanting, we would either add more solar...or, at the worst, as some others have suggested, a 2000w Honda gennie which would use the same gas we already have for our 2.5hp Honda outboard.
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Old 08-31-2013, 06:39 AM   #35
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You MUST have a noisemaker if you need to operate an air cond unit or two.

Otherwise there is no need , however the equipment selected to live aboard , not camp out, is different and very specific.

In other words much of the house junk will need to be replaced.

The biggest power hassle is refrigeration , and that is easily solved with an RV , or better an Amish style Servelle propane reefer.

Installation will require knowledge and care.The Servelle has thicker insulation, no electronics.

With propane aboard cooking is a snap 4 burner gymboled range and oven/broiler is OTS at sailboat outfitters.

Heat would be a Dickinson floor standard Antartic , or a second oil fired range like a Dickinson Pacific.

Neither require electric , choice is a matter of space.

Toilet,, pure mechanical with crap tank.

With LED lights interior lighting is a snap.

An 85W solar panel will assist , but requires a good charge controller.

Pressure water uses little DC power , but an OFF switch would be a good investment , and a foot pump will double or triple your tanks endurance.

The OTS marine hot water heater would have an engine loop ,good for a day or two, and/or a RV propane hot water heater for endless anchored out.

Our boat is outfitted mostly as described , sits on a mooring when required with cold beer ,ready for use .

Cruising we do not have dedicated house / start batteries , simply 2 #8D truck batteries with one secured at anchor..
We start the 6-71 with the in use (house supplier) and let it charge by it self till the voltage gets to 13.5 or 14V , then join the two batts.

Alt truck 135A with std external regulator.
IF our engine on time was very short a 3 or 4 stage V regulator would be installed.

I would recommend an SOC meter for most folks.

AC toys , radar oven , blender are handled with 1600W (2500surge) cheapo inverter under $200 and used perhaps 5 -10 min per day , if that..

Entertainment is auto AM ,FM + XM radio , tho a DC TV is aboard , for use mostly in seeing local weather .

$100 Car radios are remote control (Sony) and sound quality requires a good speaker set.

This has worked for a decade or so ,ran the loop left and right , and AICW many times with no dead batts ever.

And we Live Aboard while cruising , not camp out.
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Old 08-31-2013, 09:48 AM   #36
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It seems from the posts that much of the differences between the two camps on this issue (the no gen camp, and the gotta have a gen camp), come down to how you operate the boat, and your expectations.

We all recognize that if you cruise every day, or every couple of days, for a significant number of hours, you can probably get by without a generator and not compromise much.

You can go to great lengths to improve the electrical efficiency of your boat to minimize the need for electrical power. What this means is that you to some extent go without, or minimize the use of some of the modern conviences we have, such as electronics. (we did go to LED lighting to reduce power loads)

I chose a different route with our last boat. I recognized that at my stage in life I did not want to compromise. I did not want to "camp out" any more. What I wanted to do is to have a boat that has all the conviences of my land based home. Those conviences require electricity, and no small amount of it. To be honest I like my high speed satellite internet and phone. I like to watch a good movie in the evening. I also like a nice long hot shower in the morning. Yes, I even like my electric stove, since I have one at home.

To make our boat a true second home I decided to invest in a power generation system that would provide those conviences and not disturb the peace and quiet I also want. It was a significant investment, but one I'm glad to have made.

I can see if that we ever move to a larger boat, say in the 60+ foot range that there might become the need for a super quiet 24X7 generator. I do not have an issue with that as long as it can be done in a way that does not create a level of noise that would in it self be disturbing.
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Old 08-31-2013, 01:28 PM   #37
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I must be in the same stage in life as you. Since Bay Pelican is a power boat in a sail boat world, I am all for power, power to refrigerate ice cream, power to take a hot shower, power to wash dishes with hot water, power to make water and even power to watch TV.

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Old 08-31-2013, 02:54 PM   #38
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That must be it!! As kids growing up, we loved camping, but our parents moved from tents, to trailer, then a bigger trailer, a motor home and eventually a lake summer home. I have fond memories of those times (not the sponge baths out of a bucket), but have no desire to return to them.

I'm with you guys, sat. news, sports and communications. . . that hot morning shower, instant warm heat and electric galley, isn't something I'm willing to go without at this stage of my life either.

I know, I know. . . when that big asteroid hits the earth we'll all go back to living like mountain men. . . . But I will fight it every step of the way!!
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Old 08-31-2013, 07:57 PM   #39
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Powerboat...power.

The most annoying sounds in many anchorages are not the gensets..unless you just don't like gensets.
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Old 08-31-2013, 08:19 PM   #40
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If you need an air conditioner. you need a generator.

I'm in south Florida so in summer I really need the AC. I don't have room for a built in gen set so I make do with a Honda 2000i. It's not an ideal solution but it works for me. If I had the room for a real gen set, I'd spend the money.
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