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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 02-18-2007
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DC Generator Choices

When specifying my new Hunter 49, I opted out of the Fischer Panda 12kW AC generator, since my planned cruising does not call for air conditioning and I foresee no AC loads that cannot be handled by my planned 840 AH house bank and an inverter.

As a back-up to solar panels and a wind generator, my thoughts are to install a small DC generator, such as the Fischer Panda 4kW.

I like the significantly higher efficiency DC gen sets offer. However, my previous generators have all been AC, so I have no experience and need some input. Have any of you experience with DC generators onboard?
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Old 02-18-2007
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No, but I evaluated the issues of space, flexibility, fuel and usage, and I decided to go with more batteries (8d AGMs x 3), solar panels, an alternator upgrade and a Honda EU2000. I'm working quite hard not only to duplicate systems (within reason), such as genset AND wind-up starter, solar panels AND separate windlass battery, but also to run a fairly energy-efficient boat (manual pumps, super-insulated fridge/freezer, water heater from the heat exchanger, LED lights).

This isn't always possible for everyone, of course. I have the space and a positive incentive to put three times the usual battery capacity plus a fairly high end inverter/charger. I also carry 140 gallons of diesel. But my goal is not to run the engine often to charge the battery banks, but to charge underway whether via alternator or panels. The Honda is good for running power tools at anchor, or to lay a charge if the panels, controllers or alternators go phfft. I'll already be carrying gas for the outboard, and ten gallons will keep it running for two days straight. That's a lot of amp/hours for a easily stowed piece of gear.

As for your needs, perhaps you should check out the WhisperGen http://www.whispertech.co.nz/main/marine/ It really is a different approach, and I can see a lot of benefits in the marine application.
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Old 02-19-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valiente
As for your needs, perhaps you should check out the WhisperGen http://www.whispertech.co.nz/main/marine/ It really is a different approach, and I can see a lot of benefits in the marine application.
Thanks for your input, Valiente. I have rather thoroughly investigated the WhisperGen, and even drove down to Seattle for a hands-on demonstration last October. It is quite efficient, burning .75 litres per hour while producing 850 Watts, but it is rather large: 45.0cm wide, 50.0cm long and 65.0cm high for this output. By comparison, the Fischer Panda 4kW DC generator produces more than four times the power while burning about twice as much fuel and occupying less than two-thirds the space: 40.0cm wide, 59.5cm long and 40.0cm high.

Fuel is not my primary concern, since I have diesel tankage for 840 litres (222 gallons), but the electrical generating efficiency of the Panda Fischer and its more compact size argue in its favour.

(edited to insert decimal points in the dimensions)

Last edited by Sequitur; 03-03-2007 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 02-20-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sequitur
Fuel is not my primary concern, since I have diesel tankage for 840 litres (222 gallons), but the electrical generating efficiency of the Panda Fischer and its more compact size argue in its favour.
I hear that. I went from a 33 foot fibreglass racer to a 41 foot steel motorsailer and the difference in approach to space allocation is almost ridiculous. I actually have just over half your tankage (perhaps ironic?) but I certainly have space to spare to stow "accessories". I think the standard diesel genset makes sense for you given your needs.

I have heard, however, some knocks against the reliability of Panda Fischer products. Admittedly, this was on Usenet, and therefore is perhaps worthless baying, but you might want to check them out, reliability-wise, a little more deeply.

I have the space for a WhisperGen, but I don't have the need to run that elaborate a set-up. I'm more the "Pardeys with a disco ball" approach.
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Old 02-20-2007
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Valiente/Sequitur... I have heard the same knocks on F-P and had a good friend who had in warranty service issues with them on his A/C generator. I don't think their reliability is any worse than anyone else but when you are paying a premium price for a premium product you do not expect service hassels. Don't know anything about their DC products.
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Old 02-20-2007
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I rely on Internet scuttlebutt (although this can sometimes be suspect or vendetta/"anti"-marketing-related) and on the "Where Credit Is Due" portion of Practical Sailor.

Marine gear is still one of the few situations in which you can actually meet the manufacturer. I've bought about a grand's worth of blocks, track and sheaves from Bill F., the president of Garhauer, because he and his wife (both of whom look past 70 and are very quiet people) attend the Toronto boat show in an COMPLETELY unflashy booth with plain wooden tables and a limited selection of gear. You rummage about, express amazement at his low prices/high quality and order custom gear. He gives you a carbon copy of your order, runs your card on an old-style "plate" printer, and eight weeks later you receive big packages ready for installation.

I love it. I've turned on a lot of cruisers to their stuff, and the only problem is that their booth is hard to find because they have no promo signage. Just heaps of gear with improbably small numbers (handwritten on little stickers).
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Old 02-26-2007
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Panda DC genset

I've had the Panda 4KW DC generator (AGT4000) for several years now and absolutely love it. You really should have a large battery bank that can accept 280-300 amps @ 14 volts to take advantage of it--I have 4 x 4D AGM Lifelines. It it is extremely fuel-efficient (matches its output to the charge acceptance rather than being fixed to a specific RPM because of 60cycle AC) and I've found it to be completely reliable. The only problem I had was with documentation. When I changed fuel filters and got a little air in the line, my documentation didn't match my set and it took a number of phone calls to Panda to finally figure out how to bleed it (which was actually pretty easy). The only other drawback is you need to install it pretty close to the battery bank or you will end up with huge cables (I have 4-0 going between the bank and the generator).

Cheers,
Mark
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Old 02-28-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mkfcdl
I've had the Panda 4KW DC generator (AGT4000) for several years now and absolutely love it.
Thank you for your input.

After much investigation and deliberation, I bit the bullet today and ordered the Fischer Panda 4kW DC unit.
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Old 03-01-2007
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I concur on Garhauer

I sold my small Chandlery in June 2005. As a business Garhauer offered only a small commercial discount, making it difficult to sell their products. However, their quality was excellent, only had one order which was muffed, and quickly corrected. WHere possible, I have purchased Garhauer for my own boat.

quote:I've bought about a grand's worth of blocks, track and sheaves from Bill F., the president of Garhauer, because he and his wife (both of whom look past 70 and are very quiet people) attend the Toronto boat show in an COMPLETELY unflashy booth with plain .

on little stickers).[/quote]
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Old 03-03-2007
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Sequitur:

Congrats on the purchase. I think you'll be really happy with it. You may have to search a bit to find someone qualified by Panda to install it. I bought mine from a dealer on the Gulf coast that had the most generator sales in the nation--but he had never sold or installed one of the AGT 12v generators until mine. Everything worked out fine regardless.

Cheers,
Mark
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