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EpicAdventure 04-22-2009 03:06 PM

Portable Generators
What do people think of the portable ~1000Watt portable generators? Does anyone use them while cruising?

It looks like the 1000W generators from Honeywell are on sale for ~$350. I was debating buying one to perhaps use on a sailboat someday...

Are there any concerns with making up a short shore power cord that could plug into one of these little generators. Obviously just for small jobs -- power tool here or there etc.? Certainly not running an AC unit or anything like that.

mbradl 04-22-2009 04:58 PM

Gasoline Generators
Here are some points on my experience with small generators (owned Honda 1000 from 97 -2007 and have been enjoying Honda 2000 since)

- Run them completely out of gas before storing below - decks - you may have to do some plumbing modifications if some gasoline remains in tank that cannot be drained by opening carburetor bleed screw

-I am currently using a coiled-up shore power cord (standard plug) for plug in and because of large gauge wire and 2000 watt generator I seem to be doing okay...had a short combo cord on my last boat for the Honda 1000

-consider the Honda 2000, it isn't much bigger than the 1000 and runs for around 8 hours on economy - it is much more difficult to trip than the old 1000 (when initial battery charging done you can run vacuum etc without disconnecting loads) and one guy was running a 5000 btu ac off his last summer

-I don't know anything about the honeywell but several boaters I know like the Honda - after owning different sets from yamaha, coleman etc,
the big thing I keep hearing is noise, we also thought paying a little more for a quality generator might make sense since we would primarily be using it in a marine environment (have heard that some bargain sets go bad after corrosion issues)

Good Luck,

EpicAdventure 04-22-2009 05:31 PM

Good points. What would you be running that would trip the 1000W?

Maybe this is a stupid question. Do you always keep your gasoline stored on deck?

nk235 04-22-2009 05:33 PM

Can you use a portable generator to charge your batteries via the shore power cable? Or just to power on board eletronics?

blt2ski 04-22-2009 05:50 PM

One should be able to take a smaller genset and charge the batteries via the onshore cable. What you may find tho, is that smaller gensets like the Honda 1000W versions, is they only have a typical 3 plug 15W plug, and shore plugs are the 3 or 4 prong twist style. So some time of adapter will need to be done. If you get bigger gensets, ie 2000 wt or bigger, many times these will have the same plugs that one's std house cord would use. Along with, my cord is some 50' long, even if a portable had the proper plugs on it, I would probably make or buy a 10-20' long cord to use while the gen was running in the cockpit by the plug. In my case, a 10' cord would be plenty!

Just remember, a smaller genset ie a 1000W one, will not charge as fast as a larger one to a degree. This does depend upon your AC/DC charger in the boat. If that only charges at 800W, then your fine with a 1000W genset. if the onboard charger can do more, then a lower genset will take longer than a bigger genset.

Also, before buying a genset, figure out what you want to power. If a micro, you better have at least 2000W, an AC, figure a 3000W unit, some AC's can function with a 2000W, may can not. If you want to use a micro, wife's hair dryer and a drill, a 1000 will NOT work, and quite possile a 2000 may not either!



KindOfBlue 04-22-2009 05:50 PM

My 3 stage charger would trip the 1000 watt generator, but my 2000 watt generator does fine.

The carbon monoxide scares the crap out of me, so I use it as little as possible.

therapy23 04-22-2009 06:54 PM


Originally Posted by mbradl (Post 478665)
and one guy was running a 5000 btu ac off his last summer

Good Luck,

Since it appears that some ACs won't run on the 2000, which is the one I plan to get, do you know which 5000 btu unit the guy was using?

blt2ski 04-22-2009 07:51 PM


Originally Posted by therapy23 (Post 478722)
Since it appears that some ACs won't run on the 2000, which is the one I plan to get, do you know which 5000 btu unit the guy was using?

What you want to do, if at this time you do NOT have an AC unit, is find out how much start up watts it needs, along with the how many watts it needs to run. The start up watts is usually what kills a gen set/ AC combo. The AC may run on say 1800 watts, but it needs 2200 to start the thing up, which kills the genset. Or in your case, do not buy a 2000 wt unit, get a 2500 or higher unit since you have neither at this time.

Then also look at watts needed, if you want to charge the batteries WITH the AC on, then you would need using my above figures. the 2200 to start the ac, or get the AC going at 1800, then hook up the charger that may need say 1200. Now you need a 3000wt genset.

It is pretty simple in some senses to figure out how big a genset you need, others, you get screwed up by forgetting things like start up watts, and only look at running watts!

Hence when I bought a genset for my RV trailer back in 92, I bought a 3500 wt version. I could, and still do run most of my house when it was not in use with the RV. It is WAY to big to put on my boat, but, things to think about none the less.


mbradl 04-22-2009 11:34 PM

Gensets & AC
Marty makes some good points, the guy I saw last summer was using a 5000 BTU window unit hung in his companionway (I think he bought it from a brandsmart). I have heard the 2000 will not do a 6000 BTU unit and you might consider checking around to places that sell both Honda generators and AC units (Shell lumber in Miami) for advice from folks who have customers using the units for a week or two after a hurricane. Honda makes a harness where you can connect 2 generators together to double the rating. If you are thinking of doing a full - on Marine installation for your AC, I know Dometic has some low -draw staged start -up units that can run on smaller generators.

I have a diesel auxillary engine below deck on a sailboat and I keep my gasoline for the outboard and generator on deck - safest practice as gasoline vapors are heavier than air and can settle into a bilge forming a potentially explosive situation. Things may be different on boats powered with a main gasoline engine(s) where a good deal of ventilation (big blowers etc) are built into their design.

As far as 1000w to 2000w comparisons go I think the footprint for the 2000 is roughly the same as the 1000 with just a few additional inches and pounds for weight. These things sip gasoline so if you don't mind the expense of a few more ounces a day and another $200 for purchasing then get the 2000 - we full-time cruise and it is soooo nice to charge batteries / make ice / surf internet or watch TV without worrying about "tripping" a small generator. We loved our old Honda 1000 (there wasn't a "suitcase 2000 when we bought the 1000), but I don't understand how they are still able to sell them after the 2000 has come out. If the space you are planning to keep the generator is so tight that you have to go 1000 then get it and plan plan plan your power management otherwise live fat - be happy.....given the choice between a free 1000 and a retail cost 2000 I will take the 2000 every time.


peikenberry 04-23-2009 12:16 AM

Frankly I have always recommended against using a portable genset on a boat. Rather than write an essay here, here is the link to an article I wrote on this. Portable Generators Pro and Con.

Let me say right up front, that I do not and have not ever recommended using portable generators on boats. I personally believe it is not wise to do so. I think the safety issues outweigh the convenience. However, people are doing it. I have talked to
knowledgeable boat owners and marine professionals who think it is safe to use them. There are two sides to the issue. Hopefully the following information will help you decide for yourself.

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