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Old 06-10-2017, 07:04 PM   #1
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Small (Quiet) GenSet recommendation

Hi,
I have an older 20kw genset which needs to be replaced but in the meantime I was thinking about getting something smaller (5kw range) in addition to a larger set. The larger is only needed to power the 3 AC units which rarely will get used so wondering if folks had done something similar. I heard NextGen units are good, compact and quiet?

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. I have a yard evaluating the space requirements, etc so its more a question of which units are best should they say we can do the auxiliary unit.

Thanks
Arthur
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Old 06-10-2017, 07:38 PM   #2
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Do you spend many days/hours per day on the hook without running the propulsion engine?

If not, retrofitting an Alt setup designed for high-amp charging of a large quality high-acceptance deep cycle bank gives the luxury of sitting in silence when not motoring. You still may want some solar to get maximum lifespan out of the bank.

If yes, then solar alone may be enough if you have enough surface area and sunshine relative to your average AH usage per day.

Finally, many can make do with the very quiet 2kW inverter suitcase gennies, like Honda or Yamaha.

To me buying, carrying and maintaining two bigger ones seems wasteful, but that's me.
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Old 06-10-2017, 07:38 PM   #3
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You likely don't need 20 kW. On our vessel we have 3 ACs, water heater, inverter, washer and dryer, electric range, additional 50 amp charger, microwave and hair dryers as big loads. We have a 12.5 Westerbeke that with a little load management does fine.

Suggest you consider carefully what your ultimate needs are now, get that unit and forget the small and not inexpensive 5kW install.
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Old 06-10-2017, 08:19 PM   #4
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The newer generators are extremely quiet, my Onan 11kw I don't even know it is running.
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Old 06-10-2017, 08:23 PM   #5
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I had a 3.5kW NexGen on my sailboat. It was a single cylinder 3,600 rpm unit. Noisy as all get out and lots of vibration. I have 16kW Northern Lights on the big boat. Much quieter and smoother. Been thinking of a 6-8kW as a backup. I have room in the machinery space. The Fischer Panda's were very quiet. But I dont know much about their reliability. I do not want a gas engine so that rules out the little Hondas.
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Old 06-10-2017, 08:24 PM   #6
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Good feedback, I honestly don't know the exact draw yet as I just got her and she is in the yard (where they found several parts for the 20kw would be hard to get and expensive so hence this thread). She isn't small so I need to plan on the following.
AC fridge, AC washing machine (combo unit), AC dishwasher, hot water heater, plus running all her systems. Heat/cooling is currently designed Florida so likely never to stress it that much.

Im feeling a bit rushed into the decision since I haven't cruised on her yet and already need to make a call so may just see if the genset can make it through a summer then choose the right unit.

Anyone running two units? advice came from a very experienced boater but I guess in fairness I think he has a pretty large yacht where it might make sense.

AC
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Old 06-10-2017, 08:43 PM   #7
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Get a Northern Lights that is properly sized for your electrical load. We have three AC units, two 12K and a 16K, water heater and 80 amp three battery charger and an 8KW Northern Lights generator is hard to keep a proper load on it.
For reliability, economical parts, easy to work on and QUIET, get the Northern Lights. Click image for larger version

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Old 06-10-2017, 09:00 PM   #8
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Our 12kw Northern lights runs our five ACs and everything else. If we are running only two ACs,. We use the 6 kw northern lights.
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:04 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon J View Post
Our 12kw Northern lights runs our five ACs and everything else. If we are running only two ACs,. We use the 6 kw northern lights.
So you have dual gensets? Im hearing conflicting thoughts on two versus one generator.
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:12 PM   #10
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The PO put a 6 kw in the boat when she was 7 years old. The smaller generator has 500 more hours than the 14 year old 12 kw. Ib find the smaller one enough for most things and it is cheaper to run.
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:15 PM   #11
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The PO put a 6 kw in the boat when she was 7 years old. The smaller generator has 500 more hours than the 14 year old 12 kw. Ib find the smaller one enough for most things and it is cheaper to run.
Thanks,
the yard is going to try and get a decent read on draw, but in the NW in the summer our heat/ac systems are not stressed at all so may have to go off of spec. I know that 20kw is way too big as the boat originally had an electric range.
AC
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:43 PM   #12
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Ideally I would get the 20kw running and get some time on the boat to see what your real needs are before dropping $$ on a second generator. Right now it would be an expensive guess.

Dual generators - one small and one large - are common on bigger boats. On most I'm aware of, the smaller gen gets much more use than the big gen. The small unit is typically sized to carry AC and other house loads over night. For bigger loads, the larger generator is run.

We have a 20kw as well and I don't think I've ever been able to get the loading up over 60-70%. I think a 16kw, or perhaps even 12kw with some load management would be plenty for a single generator if you wanted to replace the 20kw completely.

If you want to add a second smaller generator, I'd just make sure it can carry your base heating/cooling load. 5KW might be a bit low. 9kw might get you some more head room.

Before considering a Panda, google around and read about people's experience with them. It's not pretty.

BTW, how old is the 20kw and what brand? I'm surprised you are finding parts hard to get.
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Old 06-10-2017, 10:29 PM   #13
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It's an Onan 20 mdl4-3cr, guessing 1988
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Old 06-10-2017, 11:45 PM   #14
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Arthur

In Seattle, if Sure or Gallery Marine can't find the parts then I'd agree they are hard to find.

If a yard can't find the parts maybe it's because they'd like to do a genset install.
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Old 06-11-2017, 01:35 AM   #15
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I have a question for the generator experts......

How much more does a big generator work to provide XXX load vs a smaller generator carrying the exact same XXX load?

Kinda like a big and small engine propelling a boat the same speed.
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Old 06-11-2017, 02:05 AM   #16
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Quote:
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I have a question for the generator experts......

How much more does a big generator work to provide XXX load vs a smaller generator carrying the exact same XXX load?

Kinda like a big and small engine propelling a boat the same speed.
About the same in roughly the 20%-100% load range. Figure on 0.1 gph per kw of generated power. And that's actual generated power, NOT the capacity of the generator.

But a small generator running at 50% load will be more fuel efficient than a bigger set running at 10% load.

But is this even what you are asking? Maybe not as I re-read the question.
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Old 06-11-2017, 04:02 AM   #17
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We owned a Panda. Much of the negative chatter is not worth the time it takes to read. Like any system, so much depends upon a number of factors including installation and use. We all have seen the range of possibilities for either category.
Early Panda's had seawater cooled generator sections that were problematic so people had legitimate complaints there. Beyond that, they remind me of the European autos I spent my life maintaining. They are quiet, capable machines and are capable of very long life.
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Old 06-11-2017, 04:57 AM   #18
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About the same in roughly the 20%-100% load range. Figure on 0.1 gph per kw of generated power. And that's actual generated power, NOT the capacity of the generator.

But a small generator running at 50% load will be more fuel efficient than a bigger set running at 10% load.

But is this even what you are asking? Maybe not as I re-read the question.
Twisted,
I'd bet the additional fuel burn for a bigger one would be relatively small overall. And even if it were double, it wouldn't make much economic sense unless Arthurc was full time, long term with the boat.

Arthurc: What are your goals with the boat?
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Old 06-11-2017, 05:17 AM   #19
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Regarding fuel burn Vs engine loading...

My Northern Lights 9KW generator is rated at...

.93GPH at full load of 9KW

.51GPH at 1/2 load or 4.5KW

What that means is that you'll burn a little less than 10% more fuel per KW produced if you load the generator to 1/2 load Vs if you load it to full load.

Not bad...
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Old 06-11-2017, 06:01 AM   #20
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One thing to remember its that generators like to be loaded. Running a 12kw worth one AC and a charger could result in glazed cylinders.

Regarding panda....I had one on last boat. I was generally happy with it. It was a 6 kw. I had no real issues, other than an intermittent issue of it shutting down for now reason that I could discover. I would start it right back up and she would run for hours. The 6kw panda appears to me to be smaller than our 6 kw northern lights. Both equally quiet.

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