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Old 07-23-2012, 07:04 AM   #1
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Generator gauges?

My new to me Craigslist 4kw Kohler has been running flawlessly for half a season now. Not bad for 800 bucks. The 2 cylinder Yanmar runs clean and starts right up. My electrical panel has gauges for output voltage and even dc voltage so I know its onboard alternator is charging the starting battery.

Temp, Oil pressure, and exhaust water are set up with auto cutoff devices. No gauges.

So here is the question, do I really need gauges somewhere?
Am I going to sit there and look at them all the time the generator is running?

I was thinking of just a temp quage by my engine panel, so if I am generating while operating the boat I could moniter both engines.

What do you guys do? Does anyone have a nongauged unit?

JohnP
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:59 AM   #2
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My onan has an oil gauge on the side of the engine to check pressure on start up and a amp meter in the control box. Sounds like a good find.
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:40 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by JohnP View Post
...Temp, Oil pressure, and exhaust water are set up with auto cutoff devices. No gauges.

So here is the question, do I really need gauges somewhere?...
Do you need gauges, no: The Northern Lights gen set on our last boat did not have any gauges. The panel had a run light, engine hour meter, start/stop and shutdown bypass/preheat switch. I was going to add gauges and found that Northern Lights standard panels do not include gauges for their generators up to the 38 kW sets. We ran the generator for 10 years that way.

Are gauges helpful, yes: The Northern Lights we have now does have a full gauge set. This past winter the thermostat locked open and the generator was running cool unless it was heavily loaded. I'm not sure if I would have found the bad thermostat other wise. (I know I could periodically use an infrared temp gun in places of gauges but...) Now I am glad we have gauges.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:37 AM   #4
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Mine has low oil pressure and high temperature shut downs, voltage and amp gauges. Probably the norm for small generators.
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:40 AM   #5
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The remote panel for my Northern Lights 12KW has no gauges. There are gauges for temp, oil pressure, and voltage on the main panel in the engine room.
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Old 07-23-2012, 11:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnP View Post
My new to me Craigslist 4kw Kohler has been running flawlessly for half a season now. Not bad for 800 bucks. The 2 cylinder Yanmar runs clean and starts right up. My electrical panel has gauges for output voltage and even dc voltage so I know its onboard alternator is charging the starting battery.

Temp, Oil pressure, and exhaust water are set up with auto cutoff devices. No gauges.

So here is the question, do I really need gauges somewhere?
Am I going to sit there and look at them all the time the generator is running?

I was thinking of just a temp quage by my engine panel, so if I am generating while operating the boat I could moniter both engines.

What do you guys do? Does anyone have a nongauged unit?

JohnP
Gauges can be quite helpful, especially if the unit shuts down. You don't need them in the cabin per se, but you should have them somewhere.

Here's a for example.

My new (120 hrs 2011) Northern Lights generator shut down last trip out. We re-started it and 15 minutes later it shut down again.

Looking at the gauges very quickly pinpointed the issue to an overheat condition. I started checking and eventually isolated the problem to a piece of seaweed that was clogging the intake to the sea strainer. It was stuck in the pipe fitting at the intake side of the sea strainer.

Without the gauges it would have been a guessing game as to why the unit shut down. Yes I could have figured it out (I'm a generator technician by trade), but the gauges made it faster, and we were able to quickly get back to enjoying our time out.

BTW, on a Northern Lights generator you can specify a remote panel with gauges. Mine are mounted right in the pilothouse where I can see them if need be.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:51 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the input, but the jury is still out. As long as I have oil in it, if it shuts down I think it will be due to overheating. As far as running too cool I geuss I need a gauge for that.

My remote panel has a stop/start and an hour meter. Thats It.

JohnP
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:37 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the input, but the jury is still out. As long as I have oil in it, if it shuts down I think it will be due to overheating. As far as running too cool I geuss I need a gauge for that.

My remote panel has a stop/start and an hour meter. Thats It.

JohnP
John, why not keep an infrared heat gun with you on the boat. Shoot the HE, now you have the "normal" temp, then on a shut down you can compare. Easier/ cheaper than adding gauges?
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Old 07-24-2012, 09:49 AM   #9
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Yeah, my 5.5 KW NexGen has no gauges either, just an oil pressure and high temp shut down. I had it shut down once from an overheat (I couldn't get the newly installed raw water pump to prime) which I figured to be a good thing as it showed me that the shut off was working.

One thing I do with both my gen set and my engines (though especially my genset since it has no gauges) is right after start up I take a look at the exhaust to make sure it is pumping a nice stream of raw water. I know it could still be pumping water and overheat, but it is not very likely.
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