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Old 03-19-2013, 07:01 PM   #1
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What do you use for Generating AC/DC

I'm at a crossroads here. My gen set engine is done and I have choices to make. I can either buy a new engine and retain the generator or get a new generator. This is a small generator and was installed by the PO. It is a belt drive with a Kubota twin probably 12 HP. When I contacted Kubota they said that engine is discontinued. It is a 3.5 KW gen. I don't have the need of a 6 or 7 KW genset and the 5's I've read about don't impress me.

I currently am not cruising and my house bank runs the refrigeration for a few days which is long enough for weekend getaways.

I was also thinking about solar and possibly wind. BUT, I just don't like the look of them.

I have AC but I never use it at anchor. If I do go to Mexico I'll probably need the AC. It's 1300 Watts and 19,000 BTU.

Is Solar or wind a reliable option?
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Old 03-19-2013, 07:29 PM   #2
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I’m confused, but that is most likely my fault not yours.

Is the electrical alternator belted to your Kobata AC or DC? Most marine gensets are direct drive and produce AC current. Your use of “belted” is causing my confusion.

Do you know your energy budget? How much power do you need?

Within some parameters solar and wind, or both together, can work really well.

More info will get you better answers, from more experienced people in alternative energy than me.

Mike
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:00 PM   #3
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I have a Power Ginny made on OC, CA and they are no longer in business. It has a cog belt and is designed so both the engine and generator sit sideways and have pulleys. It's a bad design and one that eats belts which are metric and very hard to find. If I changed out the engine, I'd fix that issue.

Yes, all AC only.

I think my power needs are 1500 amps a day? I'm going from memory and that's mostly a guess. I also lost my fridge so that will be replaced and might change my need.

Once I looked at mounting solar panels on the fly bridge railing or somewhere like that and I could live on solar mostly. An occasional fishing trip would top off the batteries if I went for a long cruise.

In my marina, being in Los Angeles Harbor, there are many many boats that stop here and outfit for cruising. Some from Canada but most from north of here so I see a lot of different configurations.

I'm just not fond of cluttering up a clean looking trawler. In my thinking, sailboats are clutter anyway so adding lots of things to them doesn't change much visually.

I'm just asking if anyone has good ideas for generating electricity for the house bank. I can live on my inverter very easily.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:10 PM   #4
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The best marine diesel generators around are Northern Lights but they are not inexpensive. So they may be more than you want to put into generating electricity at this point. It's been some time since I've looked but I believe their smallest generator is about 5kw, which still may be more than you need.

Should the day come when our old Onan Jurassic Series MDJE 7.5kw gives out we will replace it with a Northern Lights.

Solar can certainly work but in my observation it takes a hell of a lot of panel surface area to do anything serious.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:11 PM   #5
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I might suggest you look into a Honda EU2000 inverter generator. They are super quiet, extremely reliable and can pull double-duty in a power outage around the house or on the boat. They run in "economy mode" when on light loads and you can hardly hear it a dozen feet away. They can be found used for $500 or so, and new for around $900-$950. Really one of the better accessories I've purchased for any boat. It's really earned it's keep.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:13 PM   #6
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Should the day come when our old Onan Jurassic Series MDJE 7.5kw gives out we will replace it with a Northern Lights.
We have a Northern Lights on ours and you're right, they just purr. I was shocked when I found out what it was worth though. They are sure nice.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:16 PM   #7
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I might suggest you look into a Honda EU2000 inverter generator. .
This is a good idea, too. The argument I hear most about using Honda-type stand-alone generators is that they are gasoline powered so you have to deal with storing gasoline which is much more volatile and "dangerous" than diesel fuel.

But most diesel cruisers have a dinghy or shoreboat of some type and 99 percent of the time they are outboard powered so the owner is faced with having to store gasoline safely anyway. So I don't see carrying a Honda generator as adding any more "risk" than the owner has already with his outboard fuel.
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Old 03-19-2013, 08:30 PM   #8
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5 KW Norhtern Lights Generator - The Hull Truth - Boating and Fishing Forum

Too bad it's on the east coast......
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:05 PM   #9
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I carry a 2 gallon dinghy tank and keep the Honda topped off. If needed I could always transfer fuel from the dinghy tank. It's such a small amount of gas there is no real danger to speak of.
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:25 PM   #10
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Old 03-19-2013, 09:55 PM   #11
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I'ld 2nd the Honda I've got one & used it with my last boat that was gas power & had a 6.5 Westerbeke. The Honda would run on the swim grid & not be noticed in the solon while watching tv with the kids. I would run it all night & use less than a gallon of fuel. I'ld use the 6.5 when the Honda wouldn't carry the load - cooking mostly.
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:25 PM   #12
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Thanks for the many answers. I have seen new installations of the NL 5KW and a Panda. I also had a friend work at a store who sells westerbeke and he said not to buy one.

My friend with the NL had to remove the head and do carbon cleaning in Mexico the first year of ownership. His problem is like mine. We really don't need 5 KW. I cook with propane ans my fridge is the only electrical drain of any size. I have lights and stereo. I have watched TV once in 15 years on the hook. Too much life going on to watch TV, I think.

I forgot to mention, I own a small gas generator I use on the fly bridge right now. I need to get past the gas generator. It's not as nice as the Honda inverter however. Those are really nice. I use that to run my battery charger to charge up the house bank.

I'm going to look again at small generators. Does anyone know anything about Phasor Marine Generators? They have smaller gen sets in the 4 KW size as does Westerbeke. It's been over 10 years since my friend worked there. Maybe they have improved their units.

It's either that or replace my engine on the one I have.
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Old 03-19-2013, 10:51 PM   #13
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Thanks for the many answers. I have seen new installations of the NL 5KW and a Panda. I also had a friend work at a store who sells westerbeke and he said not to buy one.

My friend with the NL had to remove the head and do carbon cleaning in Mexico the first year of ownership. His problem is like mine. We really don't need 5 KW. I cook with propane ans my fridge is the only electrical drain of any size. I have lights and stereo. I have watched TV once in 15 years on the hook. Too much life going on to watch TV, I think.

I forgot to mention, I own a small gas generator I use on the fly bridge right now. I need to get past the gas generator. It's not as nice as the Honda inverter however. Those are really nice. I use that to run my battery charger to charge up the house bank.

I'm going to look again at small generators. Does anyone know anything about Phasor Marine Generators? They have smaller gen sets in the 4 KW size as does Westerbeke. It's been over 10 years since my friend worked there. Maybe they have improved their units.

It's either that or replace my engine on the one I have.

Wow! Westerbeke and Northern Lights bashed. And based on heresay.
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:09 PM   #14
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Old 03-19-2013, 11:13 PM   #15
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I'm going to look again at small generators. Does anyone know anything about Phasor Marine Generators? They have smaller gen sets in the 4 KW size as does Westerbeke. It's been over 10 years since my friend worked there. Maybe they have improved their units.
Several of the 45' charter fishing boats on my dock have these to power AC units when they are running charters. So far they have done well with both models running them 12 hours a day when they have charters. Talked to the company tech rep about the smaller one. His comment was that you need to run them with 50% plus load all the time or the engine temps drop and you will carbon up the head.

3.5 KW Generator

5 KW Generator

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Old 03-20-2013, 07:28 AM   #16
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We use a 4kw Kohler, I picked up on Ebay, inexpensively because the engine would not run. The engine is a Yanmar 2gm, which is also discontinued. The yanmar gm series is very well supported partswise.
It turned out the fuel rack in the injection pump was frozen and after freeing that up the engine ran. New belts and a rebuild of the sea water pump and I was good to go.

It has been running since and works great.

The point is even though the Kubota engine on your genset is discontinued I bet the parts are available to rebuild it or repair it.

Might be the easy way out if you are mechanically inclined.

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Old 03-20-2013, 09:50 AM   #17
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My gen set engine is done and I have choices to make. I can either buy a new engine and retain the generator or get a new generator.
Please pardon my use of irony for a humorous result. I mean nothing by it... BUT...

Perhaps the use of synthetic oil would have extended the life of your genset.

*cue the band*

(Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I'll be here all week. Please don't forget to tip your waitresses and bartenders... and you should try the veal. I hear it's fabulous!)
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:54 AM   #18
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I share the concern about running an oversize diesel genset. Cygnus has a 7.5 Onan but all the house loads (minus Air Conditioning) run on one 30A main. The PO removed the A/C so until I replace that, I can never run it even at 50% load.

I used a Honda EU2000 on my previous boat, and will bring it aboard this one, too. Not real keen on having to store more gas, but as long as I have a gas dinghy engine I'm storing it anyway. I ran the A/C all night on the Honda, or cooking or water-heating loads, but never together. It's a pain to find a convenient (and safe!) place to run it, but it's a viable option.

I have no problem shutting off one large load so I can run another, so for me, anything over about 3KW is unnecessary, and risks under-loading the engine. If the Onan dies I'll replace it with something smaller.
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:24 AM   #19
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Please pardon my use of irony for a humorous result. I mean nothing by it... BUT...

Perhaps the use of synthetic oil would have extended the life of your genset.

*cue the band*

(Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I'll be here all week. Please don't forget to tip your waitresses and bartenders... and you should try the veal. I hear it's fabulous!)
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Old 03-20-2013, 10:53 AM   #20
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Why not opt out of a genset completly?

Since your electrical needs are modest, what about a larger house bank?

If you calculate the electrical usage, then build a house bank sized accordingly and use a large frame high-amp alternator with smart regulation for recharging. Use an inverter for smaller loads as needed.

Then you will have the same result, without extra noise when at anchor. You will just have to calculate your longest time between running the mains on your boat to properly size your house bank.


In our case, we can comfortably stay anchored up to 6 days before initiating a recharge cycle by starting the main and moving to a different anchorage.

Our use is approx 100AH per 24/hrs, so 600ah in 6 days - house bank is around 1400ah. This includes typical lighting/tv loads as well as running a 12v freezer in the cockpit.

We find the typical time at anchorage rarely goes more than 4 days, so this has been a very practical solution for our cruising style.
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