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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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Old 07-18-2009
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rented generator: Need ground?

Hey all,

I'm looking at an afternoon event on my 32' islander (1978) and need some good ol' a/c juice.. fairly high draw.

I was just going to rent a generator, but a friend of mine mentioned that there might be some dangerous static build up on the generator if it wasn't properly grounded.

Is this true, and if so, is there a way I could go about grounding it through the keel somehow (d/c wiring?)

Thanks
Matt
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Old 07-18-2009
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Grounding the generator certainly would be the prudent thing to do, and wiring it to the keel would be effective. My catamaran doesn't have a keel, but it does have a grounding plate for the dc.

When I first started cruising, I didn't know where the ground was on my boat, so I just attached a length of wire to the generator ground and tossed it overboard. A little rednecky, but effective. Someone mentioned that you could electrocute nearby swimmers that way, but the same is true for any ground on a boat. Besides, I think it's much more likely that electricity would slowly dissipate through the wire, instead of building up on the generator.

As I continued cruising, I observed that no one I met bothered to ground their generator. And I too got lazy, and stopped grounding my generator. You should however be concerned about carbon monoxide. Make sure the generator exhausts downwind, and that its exhaust is not getting caught in an eddy created by a bimini, etc.

Also, I don't know why you need so much electricity for your event, but even the quietest generator is going to effect the ambiance of being on a boat out on the water. If you have to have a lot of juice for your event, maybe it would be best to stay at the marina and connected to shore power for the event.

Scott
Gemini Catamaran Split Decision

Last edited by NautiG; 07-18-2009 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 07-18-2009
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It depends on what type generator and how it is wired - some have floating grounds and inter-connecting that type to your existing Dc ground can cause the precise problem you are trying to avoid.
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Old 07-19-2009
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Hey mattdpeterson,

I'm a Matt Peterson too. Matt B Peterson. Whaddaya know about that?
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Old 07-19-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattdpeterson View Post
... a friend of mine mentioned that there might be some dangerous static build up on the generator if it wasn't properly grounded.
"Dangerous static build-up?" Can't say as I've heard of that before.

There's really nothing "magic" about a portable generator. They're the same technology that the power company uses. They're the same technology that's been used to generate power ever since Tesla and Westinghouse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mattdpeterson View Post
Is this true, and if so, is there a way I could go about grounding it through the keel somehow (d/c wiring?)
How are you going to use this generator? If you're going to be using it with your boat's electrical system, I would imagine you're going to use your shore power connection. If so: Everything should be grounded, as well as it can be in water, anyway, sufficiently. If it's not: Your boat is mis-wired.

As NautiG cautions: Even the "quietest" portable generators are pretty damn noisy and they generate a significant amount of exhaust gases, incl. carbon monoxide. You're going to want CO detectors in encloses spaces.

Jim
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