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Old 06-02-2020, 01:46 PM   #1
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Generator Replacement

So it looks like my 8Kw Diesel Kohler generator is about to be condemned. The Kohler shop has even called in Kohler techs who are about to give up on this 20 year old unit.

As I'm looking to potentially repower, I'm looking for suggestions. Another Kohler, or another brand?

Thoughts??
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Old 06-02-2020, 02:28 PM   #2
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I recently replaced my generator. Went with Northern Lights 6kw. With sound shield and controls, was around $13k. Size mattered so I also looked at the smaller genny's such as Fisher Panda and NextGen. Decided they were not in the same league. I did not compare Kohler.

I did see some online references to premature rust-out of exhaust elbows NLs. I did some research including talking to Bob Senter, their tech support guru. NL went to a higher quality SS elbow some time ago.
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Old 06-02-2020, 02:37 PM   #3
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My understanding is the Next-Gen are really either 2,800 or 3,600 rpm generators. In the larger models, they are Phasor Marine generators.

A local Yanmar shop I use sells Onan and Phasor.
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Old 06-02-2020, 03:09 PM   #4
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NL generators are considered the workhorse of the industry: simple, solid, dependable. But nothing wrong with Onan, Westerbeke or Kohlers. NextGens are a bit low end but for the money can't be beat.

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Old 06-02-2020, 03:18 PM   #5
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Phasor 8 kw are based on Kubota D1005 3 cyl Diesel engines and 1800 RPM. Nice unit. At the time I ordered mine, they were short on those engines so mine came with a D1105. I don’t have a sound shield because it’s in the ER which is already shielded. In the ER, 1 foot from the fully loaded engine block is 92 dB.
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Old 06-02-2020, 03:37 PM   #6
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I don't have experience with them, but Fisher-Panda has their I-Series that is variable speed inverter based like the current crop of 'quiet' gasoline powered portable generators.

Seems to be the only marine diesel generator manufacturer doing so yet. Their advertising claims a U.S. voltage model is available starting at 4kW (i5000 NEO) but I haven't found it for sale anywhere. The Panda variable speed is what I've been researching for my boat, having removed an ancient Onan 8KW.
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Old 06-02-2020, 04:12 PM   #7
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Following. We have a NL 5kw that needs a rebuild. I'm thinking id rather go smaller than throw good money after bad. I'll be interested to hear what you settle on.
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Old 06-02-2020, 04:17 PM   #8
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I have a feeling that the Kohler dealer is going to attempt to bill me for the labor spent ultimately throwing my generator away, which is frustrating. I don't love paying for nothing. The other side is, I might get lured into a replacement as they attempt to recoup their costs from the new sale and install. Like taking the profit from the sale of the new unit to cover the time and labor of the old unit.

I don't love the idea of getting rail-roaded into a new Kohler when I already had a very difficult time finding anyone to work on the old unit.
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Old 06-02-2020, 04:42 PM   #9
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Hi Shrew,

While I'm not ready to throw my 4-year old Kohler 6EKOD genset overboard just yet, I'm having a REAL hard time supporting a computer-controlled genset that throws esoteric error codes like "locked rotor fault", with the only troubleshooting suggestion in the manual for that particular no-crank error is to "call you local Kohler distributor". Really? And this isn't the first time the $%^& thing has failed to start mid-cruise. Or failed to shutdown upon command! Honest-I had to hunt and peck and remove the fuse upstream of the shutdown solenoid to shut the ^&(_)(*&&^ thing down. NOT IMPRESSED with modern Kohler generator products. If mine was near end-of-service-life, I'd have it balanced on my rail, poised for a trip to the scrap yard.

My previous two boats each had Northern Lights generators aboard. All worked every time, always, whenever called upon to start and run. NEVER an operational failure. Easily serviced, easily owner-maintained w/excellent manuals and parts lists, responsive service and parts available everywhere from AK to SoCal. Hold in preheat button for a few moments, push the start button, boom. Off they went.

Just my $.02.

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Old 06-02-2020, 05:04 PM   #10
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When researching last year, I came pretty close to a Fisher Panda. I even found one lightly used at a place in Florida. I was impressed by the water cooled power head.

But in the end, I found too many negative reviews on them and I was persuaded by good experience with NL and the 1800 rpm speed. And install requires main engine removal so not something to do twice.

As mentioned, cost was around $13k for 6kw. Gen was around $9600.sound shield was $1200. Control panel was in the $600-$800 range. Gen-Sep was another $400. Plus tax. If the OP sticks with Kohler, might be able to avoid some of these costs. Maybe.

BTW - fact that I found a couple "lightly used Fisher Pandas" and zero used NLs was revealing to me.
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Old 06-02-2020, 07:17 PM   #11
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The new "I" series Fisher Panda may be better, but they are too new to know yet. The 25kW were/are used on the Silentwave yachts I believe. The I-series can also be easily connected in parallel. I've no horse in this race, but would like to know more about them...

They are based on a Kubota block. I'm also interested in their DC gensets as one of the three (I think) manufacturers.
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Old 06-02-2020, 07:29 PM   #12
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Kohler to Kohler might save some install costs. Not unreasonable to charge to diagnose the existing unit,might be to encourage you buying new from them. There are probably some reusable 2nd hand parts for them too. Plenty of Kohlers in Australia where the engine brand doesn`t make one. I quite like my Onan EQD.
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Old 06-02-2020, 08:26 PM   #13
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What is wrong with the Kohler? I might help trouble shoot.
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Old 06-02-2020, 08:48 PM   #14
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I’m a true believer in Next-Gen for 2 reasons. Simplicity and they answer the phone
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Old 06-02-2020, 10:49 PM   #15
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Northern Lights. Just put 503 hours on a brand new set during a 2 month cruise. Said before...preheat and start.
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:01 PM   #16
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Northern lights!
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:30 PM   #17
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Something out of left field to consider....

I had an old 8kW Onan aboard back in 2012. It was 30 years old with 2500 hours, and although it had received basic maintenance over its life a number of folks suggested it was going to need some work before long. While it might then be fine for a good bunch of years I decided that I could soon be 'throwing good money after bad' by getting work done on it.

So I looked at replacement, and NL was the way I was going to go. Then one of the guys at the yard suggested that, provided I did not want to add air-conditioning or change to an electric galley, a large solar array and big alternators on the engine, coupled with a generous house bank, would be all I would need. And so it has proven to be. I carry a Honda 2000 that I use a few times a year, otherwise I don't miss the Onan at all.

You could get a lot of solar panels and batteries installed, and larger alternators etc, in lieu of a new Kohler (or whatever) and likely be a long way in front wrt $$$. It might not be what suits your situation, but now is the time to at least work through the option!
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:15 AM   #18
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Then one of the guys at the yard suggested that, provided I did not want to add air-conditioning or change to an electric galley, a large solar array and big alternators on the engine, coupled with a generous house bank, would be all I would need. And so it has proven to be. I carry a Honda 2000 that I use a few times a year, otherwise I don't miss the Onan at all.
Although I added a new generator as I anticipate liberal use of A/C in the tropics/Florida, I also added a relatively large 800W solar array and 700ah of LiFePO4 batteries, plus dual Balmar's on my Perkins 4.236 for a total of about 225A charging capacity. I have not used it yet as refit is stalled due to Covid shutdown in Mexico, but I'm really excited to have more or less unlimited off-grid capabilities.

BTW - I've noted with interest that all-electric boats have become increasingly popular cruising sailors. They are installing large solar arrays with Lithium banks and tossing their gas stoves in favor of induction. A/C remains elusive
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:53 AM   #19
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Many of the cheapest gas generators use a DC output and freed an inverter.

The ability to only operate at the RPM required to produce the energy reduces noise , wear and fuel burn.

Its about time the big buck gen set builders stop building 60 - 70 year old designs .

Only a bunch of noise from potential customers get them to improve their product.

A rebuilt DN 50 alternator and a new Kubota with a welder

throttle control and roll your own , cheap if you already have an inverter.
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:14 AM   #20
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Before you get too far with Fischer panda, go read about owner experience. Cruisersforum is a good spot because many got used on sail boats. Itís one of the more hated products that I have ever read about.
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