Join Date: Jul 2002
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Gensets vs Inverters
Ray, based on your planned itinerary (ongoing cruising, ICW first but later the Caribbean), I think you''d be putting a lot of money and weight into - and taking a lot of space out of - your boat in order to have gear you will only occasionally wish you had. We used all the gadgets you mentioned in 2000-2002 on that same varied cruising route while relying on a Freedom 1000 watt inverter. There are ''those days'' on the ICW when the bugs are super small and get everywhere, and the heat sticky and relentless...but it''s not unreasonable to use a slip for a portion of just the maintenance costs of a generator at such times. Moreover, folks often tend to go north in the summers and travel the ICW in the Fall/Spring when frontal weather patterns provide frequent breezes and the weather is less oppressive. Once you depart the U.S. you''ll find the Trades to be a huge help in making the boat habitable in even mid-day hot weather. Better you think about a good bimini and awning arrangement, I think.
However, it''s important that you work your energy equation thoughtfully (e.g. see either of Calder''s two reference books) and be sure you''re sizing each piece of the electrical equation to be compatible to the overall system. Know your average daily consumption, understand the small span of actual stored amp/hrs that you can routinely use from the house bank(s), insure your alternator is capable of recharging the bank(s) over an acceptably short period of time, and use a smart regulator to help you with all this (the Link 2000R is excellent gear, e.g.). Alternators in particular can be a troublesome piece of the equation, eating belts, wearing bearings, etc. Plus the heat often kills the less stout ones; they become *very* hot at high output levels.
You''ll find a variety of (relatively) small gensets available, altho'' typically they are intended for DC power solutions (watermaker, battery charging). Your 12,000 or 16,500 BTU A/C unit will require a bigger, more conventional genset, I fear.
Good luck on The Plan!