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Old 10-16-2020, 10:38 PM   #1
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Generator question

I am looking at purchasing a 1988 Grand Banks 36. The boat has no generator and the Broker has advised me that it's not uncommon for this boat especially with a propane stove to go without a generator and still do the same type of cruising generator powered boats do. He says that the single engine will charge the batteries while running during the day and that with only a freezer/refrig to operate plus misc entertainment devices that I can expect two to three days battery life while on the hook. He recommends purchasing a small Honda generator for those times when when might go without running engine for more that a couple of days. Also says I might want to add a couple of solar panels as well. Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
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Old 10-16-2020, 11:13 PM   #2
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If you want AC power away from the dock you either have a generator, inverter or both. But you may not need AC. If the refer /freezer is 12v, batteries alone can give you a day or two depending on their rating and age. You want a separate starting battery that is always fully charged. Being at anchor with dead starting batteries is no fun.
It's better to have too many batteries than not enough.
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Old 10-16-2020, 11:51 PM   #3
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You can add solar pretty easily. Add some more batteries. I do not recommend the Honda genset due to it being gas powered on a diesel boat and the very real possibility of CO problems. Some people do use them but they can be dangerous. Remember the broker will tell you what you want to hear in order to sell you the boat and get their commission.
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Old 10-16-2020, 11:57 PM   #4
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I would take a hard look at a solar package. Cost is coming down, efficiency and capacity is going up. Far safer than a portable generator and or propane. Microwave oven a much better option. You could also beef up the house battery bank and engine driven charging system to give the house system more capacity. Inverter and battery technology have improved dramatically and are likely to continue on that path. The very last option IMHO is a portable generator - fueling,cooling, venting, issues just o name a few. If you go generator, have a marine generator installed by a pro!! Will add value to the boat as will solar.
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Old 10-17-2020, 12:22 AM   #5
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I would recommend a generator 1st. That should be your primary backup no matter what.
Solar or wind or whatever as a secondary. This is coming from a power hungry cruiser. If the secondary provides you with needed power, great. If it doesn’t and you dont have a generator......your screwed.

Just saying, as my grandkids say.
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Old 10-17-2020, 01:22 AM   #6
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The standard setup for the gb36 is two 4D batteries and a 1-2-Both battery switch. There’s a third 4D if you have a generator. Assuming you save a battery for morning start, the other 4D is barely enough to get through one night of refrigerator use. Carrying a Honda EU2000i is a pain in the butt. BTDT.
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Old 10-17-2020, 02:18 AM   #7
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Do you need air conditioning where you are? If so add a generator.
I used the Honda to run the small air conditioner on my boat Possum. It was a pain in the butt. If I had room, I would have spent the money for a real marine generator.
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Old 10-17-2020, 02:29 AM   #8
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The brokers advice is reasonable. Were it me,I`d prefer a diesel genset, but it depends what you want or need to power, and if the boat is otherwise good, it`s part of an overall decision to buy or not. Boat market is hot, accepting a "no genset" boat may get you a good boat with less competition. A genset fitted is expensive, be sure the price reflects its absence.
I think Flywright uses a Honda 2000 and I think he`s happy with it. You could PM him but he`s been cruising and posting less. The Honda won`t break the bank and you can use it as backup, or maybe more. Many of us carry gasoline safely for out outboards, so it can be done, the quantity may be greater but the Honda is economical. From memory,"Bay Pelican" carried one when cruising as genset backup,and Marty knew his stuff. You need some Honda users to chime in.
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Old 10-17-2020, 07:14 AM   #9
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I am in a similar predicament. My nextgen is in need of a rebuild which would entail shipping it back to the factory (per the generator tech who looked at it).

We were without all season and found we only need it run coffee maker and microwave. Given our schedule we only can get out for 3-5 days max and have a large battery bank. So rather than go thru expense and hassle of pulling the gen I am considering a small Honda for next year. I may look at the rebuild next off season but this year have other priorities.

If I was able to do longer cruises or live aboard I would go the rebuild route
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Old 10-17-2020, 07:41 AM   #10
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Starting off with no genset is not a big deal, unless your first trip is long distance.

I would just make sure its the boat I wanted, priced accordingly for no genset.

The first place to start is battery setup. As discussed most boats are not set up for cruising. Add a good way to monitor battery usage....there are good reads on the different types on the net, both in RV boards and boating ones. People here will help too.

Then add solar right away as its always nice to extend battery life, even in the yard. Yes, between $500 and $2500 for something simple and DIY to fancy pro installed.

OK......now take some short trips and see how the batteries hold up in your usage.

To just charge batteries, a Honda genset is the way to go if you follow reasonable safety precautions. There are also many discussions on that....focus on the dangers that others point out, if you eliminate or mitigate them, not so dangerous after all.

If you need 110V to do more than run a microwave a few minutes a day say like a coffee pot, or water heater, hairdryer, etc....then pretty good chance a genset might be in your future.

Sure people will give all sorts of advice on what THEY have....just make sure they apply to you (36 Grand Banks). Suggestion a like I can run my oven all day long off an inverter....sure they have a 60 plus footer with an acre of solar, live where there are no clouds, and have more batteries than your boat could float....digest all advice based on a broad viewcof the giver.
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Old 10-17-2020, 07:45 AM   #11
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Just a question: does the GB have enough ER space to fit a diesel generator?
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Old 10-17-2020, 08:46 AM   #12
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Broker is trying to sell you a boat. As Commodave said, he/she will say whatever it takes to sell you a boat, especially if it is one that HIS brokerage has listed . . . .
Moving on. Only you can decide what type of cruising you plan on doing:
Using Air conditioners (AC's), you need a generator. Gas generator for air conditioner use in a diesel boat is a bandaid at best. Why start out bandaiding your boat?
- If not AC is anticipated, than large battery bank. Not a lot of room on a GB36, I know, I had one. Not a lot of room for solar panels either . . . at least not a LARGE array.
- Portable gasoline generators are safe IF used correctly, have CO detector, run on fly bridge, store gasoline safely, etc. But NOT the best solution.
- Is boat priced appropriately for having no genny? If doing comps from other boats with genny's, deduct $15k to cover cost of professional install of marine diesel genny on boat with no genny previously installed . . . that may be low estimate.
- Broker states batteries will last three days on the hook . . . Refer to first statement, Broker is trying to sell you a boat . . . Will say anything, etc, etc, etc
Good luck with whatever you decide, and enjoy boating!
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Old 10-17-2020, 08:50 AM   #13
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Just a question: does the GB have enough ER space to fit a diesel generator?
Yes it does. Been on one with a 7.5 KW Onan.
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Old 10-17-2020, 08:53 AM   #14
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Since the original poster apparently lives where AC is not a requirement to sustain intelligent life I would change the reefer and cooking to propane. I had a propane reefer on my Grand Banks 42 which made winter boating here in Florida wonderfully free of any generator needs for the nights at anchor.
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:30 AM   #15
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We have a GB36. Propane stove. 120 v frig/freezer, 120 AC. 1500 watt inverter, 3)8Ds, single screw, Northern Lights 5.5kw genset.

If you have DC frig/freezer, you could rough it without A/C. Especially in California.

If you have room, and are mechanical, you can find a good used diesel genset for under a grand and drop it in place.

A portable genset is a bandaid for extended cruising beyond weekends. I know lots do it, but my wife would make my life miserable without power.
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:33 AM   #16
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If all you are ever going to do is use a microwave for a couple minutes, then skip adding a marine gen or Honda, and go with a 2K inverter/charger. When time to use the MW, start the main engine, go to about 1300 rpm in neutral, and microwave away. Shutdown when done. Thats all folks!
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:35 AM   #17
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Appears OP is in Socal. AC would be nice, but mostly at dock in marina. But he will appreciate (if not need) heat though much of the winter months if plans include cruising the winter months. Of course, if Baja is in the cards, it becomes increasingly desirable. Cost to install a NL 6kw would be in the $15k+ range assuming the main engine doesn't need to be removed.

Not having a generator on a GB is a flaw. If priced accordingly, not having one is tenable, but make no mistake, it will affect resale and limit the pool of buyers.

My strong hunch is most power boats like this will consume around 200-250 AH/day at anchor, which is actually pretty modest. A Dometic fridge likely consumes +100 AH due to constant opening. Electronics are next biggest hog as many people leave their systems on for anchor alarms and such. For lead acid batteries with recommended 50% discharge floor, that means 400-500 AH of capacity for each day (two 8Ds for each day).

To the OP: it's probably possible to get 2-3 days of at-anchor on the batteries but would be hard on them and you'd be constantly monitoring usage. Bringing the batteries back to 100% might take 8 hours of engine running or more unless you install a hi-output alternator such as a Balmar 150A or better (probably around $2k installed, maybe more if you need new pullies and cabling)

Would definitely recommend solar - more the better.

The boat can be cruised, but you'll need to be careful about power management similar to how many sailors approach power. It's how I cruise anyway, but most powerboaters like more home-like utility access.

Good luck.

Peter
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:41 AM   #18
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We have a GB36. Propane stove. 120 v frig/freezer, 120 AC. 1500 watt inverter, 3)8Ds, single screw, Northern Lights 5.5kw genset.

If you have DC frig/freezer, you could rough it without A/C. Especially in California.

If you have room, and are mechanical, you can find a good used diesel genset for under a grand and drop it in place.

A portable genset is a bandaid for extended cruising beyond weekends. I know lots do it, but my wife would make my life miserable without power.
Before buying a new NL 6KW, I scoured the country for a used generator - there are many companies that specialize in used diesel powered equipment. I found many Fisher Pandas and a few NextGen, but when I asked if anyone had a Northern Lights, they'd chuckle and say "why do you think we have used Fisher Pandas for sale? They were swapped with a Northern Lights!"

NL 6kw with soundshield and panel was around $12k. Add in cabling, thru hulls, gensep, wiring, battery, and mounting hardware, you're well north of $15k.
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Old 10-17-2020, 10:03 AM   #19
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I agree with most of the info provided so far. The broker will tell you (almost) anything to get his sale, he is probably not your friend (in this instance). However, he is not really lying, just not giving you the best information.

Having to run your main engine as your sole source of battery recharging is a poor option at best. Unless this boat has been outfitted with a high output (aftermarket) alternator with an external controller with 2 types of temperature compensation, it will do a very poor job of recharging your house bank. Many boats come stock with a setup somewhat similar to a car. This setup is designed to put power back into a start battery and does not meet the high amperage, long term output needed to recharge ANY decent sized house bank. Even with a good high output alt system on your engine, you would need to run your engine for hours (like 6+) to hope to get your house bank back to 100% charge, which if you don't (do that regularly), you will fairly quickly "murder" your (most battery types) batteries. If you boat marina to marina and plan on being mostly connected to shore power, then fine. If you have the space to install a good sized solar array (approx. 500 watts or more), where shading will not be an issue, that could meet your needs as long as no air conditioning is needed. A good battery monitoring system is a must.
In the past I have used a Honda generator on board (different boat), but that is not a great solution. CO is a real concern, but can be dealt with safely if monitored, and planning and steps are taken to reduce/mitigate the risk. Gas storage is an issue, but again, many do so for their dinghy outboard. Just know the properties of gas, and store it appropriately (easier on some boats than on others). Do not store it in a closed compartment unless it has a proper overboard drain like a "propane locker".
Reader's Digest version, we almost bought a boat without a diesel generator. I am glad we did not. We have added solar and don't run the generator that much as a result, but when needed it is really nice to have.
Good luck.
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Old 10-17-2020, 11:42 AM   #20
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It is a matter of convenience vs roughing it. You can load up the boat with electrical stuff or not. Only your lifestyle will determine that. A lot of cruising has been done with even less stuff than that boat has.
IMO if you think you would like more equipment find a boat better equipped for your needs.
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