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Old 02-21-2014, 12:50 AM   #1
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We need a generator

Our boat does not have a generator. I am told the boat had one in the past, but I can find no evidence of that. We are not looking for the best generator in the world. We don't need one that is going to run for twenty years straight. We just need a reliable, reasonably priced, easy to maintain generator in maybe the 6-8k range. And ... we want something as quite as possible.

We don't really notice the lack of a generator now. We have plenty of battery. We have low power needs. All LED lights, fridges are new 12 volt Nova Kools, the stove is propane. But it would be nice to be able generate our own power from time to time. We are also planning to add a hydronic heat system. That would increase the power requirements a bit in fall and winter.

I have talked with the Onan folks, but their solutions run at 2900 rpm. Westerbeke's runs at 1800 and claim to be 10db quieter than "the competition". Fisher Panda claim to be even quieter. Some are raw water cooled, some are fresh water cooled.

I don't know anything about generators. What should I be looking for?
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Old 02-21-2014, 01:05 AM   #2
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Don't have a genset. Internal electrical power is driven by the propulsion engine. As long as we're motoring or connected to the electrical grid every three days, there hasn't been a need for a generator.
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Old 02-21-2014, 01:50 AM   #3
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If you need a genny the starting point is for what?

You need to start out by figuring out how many watts you need. Amperage times Voltage = watts. Total up the electrical demand and allow at least 20% overage. You may find that a Honda 2000 on the swim step by be your cheapest reliable option. In my opinion if you go with a built in genny you will want a three cylinder or greater because they run smother than vertical twins. To my knowledge all marine generators have heat exchangers and use sea water to cool the engine coolant in the heat exchanger. Exhaust is cooled by sea water. A sound box and muffler or not usually part of the base units cost and are additional . The Panda may be an exception. They are very quiet. Westerbeke is more rugged as is Northern Lights and Onan.
I know several cruisers that use the Honda with great success. I know many will voice concern over storage and carbon monoxide poisoning, however many are doing this. I've yet to anyone using one complain of any problems. You are probably looking at 10k or more with installation for a marine unit new, less than 1k for the Honda.
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Old 02-21-2014, 03:47 AM   #4
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Two opinions:

The lower RPM generators are less trouble, will last longer and have a greater "resale value" then the higher RPM generators. Northern Lights appears to have the best reputation today (I have a Westerbeke).

It is better for a diesel generator to be fully loaded (2/3rds or more) when used than to be lightly loaded. 10 kw and 12 kw generators for a 42 ft boat seem to be based on using air conditioning at anchor. Loading the generator when charging batteries then becomes an issue. A 6 kw or 8 kw generator will permit 2 battery chargers to be powered, a hot water heater to be run, as well as 1000 watts of household item to be on and still not be fully loaded.
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Old 02-21-2014, 04:37 AM   #5
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I agree with Mark at post #2: unless you have air-con that you want to run at anchor, don't get a generator. Instead, invest in a large alternator; quality external regulators that direct all your alternator charge to a House bank of 800-1,000Ah; a quality inverter/charger; and a good State-of-Charge meter. Avoid the cost, weight, noise and mtc load of a genset....it is just not needed if you install contemporary technologies in the above areas.
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:15 AM   #6
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Avoid Fischer panda gennys. I've heard good things about Westerbeke, at 1800 RPMs it should run forever. for a cheaper solution you could go with a phasor we have a small one on the Camano and love it. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Phasor-7Kw-P...71074905323%26
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:35 AM   #7
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For a boat that is well outfitted and not a power hog , the Honda will run an air cond too.

At night with low insolation a single air unit is frequently just fine.

Perhaps he could borrow/rent a unit for a week to see how well it works , could save $8000 and maint if it works.
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:45 AM   #8
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Before you decide to "cheap out" and buy a portable gasoline powered generator (Honda, etc.) do some serious research into the dangers of such generators. Many people use them and haven't had problems but the ones who have had problems are not still around to report them.

I'm not going to get into arguing on a website over the dangers, it's been hashed out before and just like guns on board and shooting intruders, nobody convinces anybody they just continue to argue.

I don't have one on my boat and won't.
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Old 02-21-2014, 07:55 AM   #9
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I have both and have used both installed diesel and portable gas gensets for years...just like gasoline fumes and propane...yes they can be dangerous but a few simple common sense actions make all of them safer than most things we do everyday.

You just have to do a little research...ask those with real experience about the how and why of their safety precautions and make your own evaluation.

I have a Honda 1000 and an 8.0 KW Westerbeake. Now that I have a propane stove...I rarely have the need for the 8.0 KW. With decent inverters these days...all you really need lot's of juice for is AC/electric heat and even those can be worked around and the genset is used to run a battery charger so lot's of Watts is not necessarily good.
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Old 02-21-2014, 08:18 AM   #10
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I'm not going to get into arguing on a website over the dangers, it's been hashed out before and just like guns on board and shooting intruders, nobody convinces anybody they just continue to argue.

I don't have one on my boat and won't.

I have guns on my boat.
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Old 02-21-2014, 10:23 AM   #11
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As others have said, avoid the Fischer-Panda- over engineered and over priced.

For the usage profile that you described, consider a NextGen, either the 3.5 KW or the 5.5 KW. Both run at an intermediate speed- 2,800 which keeps them from being buzzy but allow a light diesel to develop enough power to drive the generator end. They are based on a very reliable Kubota engine. I have one on my Mainship Pilot 34 and use it for occasional power on the hook including running a 12,000 btu A/C.

With the sound shield they are quiet on board, but do emit an annoying putt-putt sound from the exhaust behind the boat.

The 3.5 KW model will fit your budget including sound shield. The 5.5 KW model costs about $1,000 more but you probably don't need one that big. FWIW a 5 KW Northern Lights is about double.

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Old 02-21-2014, 10:38 AM   #12
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Get a good genset and don't look back, but what you get will be budget dictated. Make a spreadsheet and for 5, 8 and 12KW - price out the alternatives.

If you have AC and or washer dryer you'll need a few more KW. We have a 12.5 and load it up routinely. The Grand Banks Forum guys can tell you precisely where to locate in the vessel and what size the 42s are normally using.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:22 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Get a good genset and don't look back, but what you get will be budget dictated. Make a spreadsheet and for 5, 8 and 12KW - price out the alternatives.

If you have AC and or washer dryer you'll need a few more KW. We have a 12.5 and load it up routinely. The Grand Banks Forum guys can tell you precisely where to locate in the vessel and what size the 42s are normally using.
How true for the liveaboard crowd especially...I'm looking at adding a washer dryer because for 8 months when on call I'm always dreading getting a call while at the Laundromat...

When livening aboard or long term cruising...for those that like their amenities....you are on the money....(no pun..)
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:32 AM   #14
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Get a good genset and don't look back, but what you get will be budget dictated. Make a spreadsheet and for 5, 8 and 12KW - price out the alternatives.

If you have AC and or washer dryer you'll need a few more KW. We have a 12.5 and load it up routinely. The Grand Banks Forum guys can tell you precisely where to locate in the vessel and what size the 42s are normally using.
That is excellent advice

Folks that do not have generators do not realize the world of independance a generator brings to the table.

Want to take a hot shower, Yep
Wash some clothes, sure
Recharge your batteries on the hook, OK


IMHO, the only reason for a boat capable of long term cruising not to have a generator is financial.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:45 AM   #15
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Although the Honda protable is nice and quiet very lightly loaded, they roar pretty good when a real load hits them (coffee maker etc). For a nice vessel like yours a nice low RPM generator is the way to go, plus will add resale to the boat, certainly without it most will be adding the install costs in their heads and deducting that from the asking price.
Many good brands, we have the Northern Lights 5.5kw and never needed more power then it could supply.
Down side, another piece of equipment to maint just like the main's.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:53 AM   #16
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When my Honda 1000 is fully loaded and on the side of the boat opposite where you are...and 75 feet away from the boat...you can't even hear it 99% of the time...

the 2000 series is the same 59db at rated load.
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Old 02-21-2014, 11:54 AM   #17
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Get a good genset and don't look back, but what you get will be budget dictated. Make a spreadsheet and for 5, 8 and 12KW - price out the alternatives.
+4 .

Don't cheap out!! In your boat size, at least a 6kw, 1800 rpm generator in a sound shield, will add value to your boat and the freedom to hang out off the grid for weeks on end, without constantly worrying about your battery state.
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Old 02-21-2014, 01:59 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the ideas. I am talking with the local Westerbeke distributor (Gallery Marine). They do all our engine work. They are putting a 5.5k generator in a boat almost exactly like ours in a week or so. I'll swing by and see what it looks like.
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Old 02-21-2014, 02:07 PM   #19
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My Westerbeke looks like it had some neglect when I bough my boat...and it looks to be 24 years onld now...and still runs fine...granted the generator part (not engine) was replaced with a used unit 10 years ago...but I think the PO ddn't havea clue how to take care of things. Other than that replacement...I know of no maintenance done in 24 years other than the basics....
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Old 02-21-2014, 02:43 PM   #20
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I have guns on my boat.

Me too. I also invest in trigger locks and Carbon Monoxide detectors...... I choose to not "cheap out" with regards to safety.
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