Portable Generator vs Genset - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 110 Old 11-26-2007 Thread Starter
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Portable Generator vs Genset

Looking at purchasing either 2 Honda EU1000 or 1 Honda EU 2000. We have a 46'sailboat with typical loads but no genset and dont want to run engine everytime to charge house bank (6-6volt golf cart batteries). Bids on Panda (recommended by dealer) seems a crazy price vs $1.000 to $1,300. We plan to do typical BVI/Bahama cruising and dont have aircondition. Thoughts?
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Search the archives here under panda-there was a thread on the subject not so long ago.

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post #3 of 110 Old 11-26-2007
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Don't buy a Panda. They are over-engineered and break down constantly. Spent some time with one of their biggest dealers. They told me they love selling the generators because they are lifetime revenue streams for the dealer.
On genset vs. Conventional generator, others on this list can fill you in better than I. But some air conditioning units draw too much power on startup and won't start with the 1 or 2 kW portables. The 3 kW honda is $1995-getting close to the price of a genset
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post #4 of 110 Old 11-26-2007
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Many cruisers successfully use portable Honda generators, but you have to be VERY careful (gasoline and, especially, carbon monoxide fumes).

For your boat, don't bother with the 1000; you need the 2000. It will run up to a 75A charger, and that's what you need at a minimum for your 6 golf-carts.

Obviously, the diesel genset is a better choice, but it's much more costly. Panda generators are cute, but they've suffered from a LOT of problems. They have recently improved their service and support, but I'd stay away from them.

Look at the NextGen or other small Kubota-based generators.

Bill
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post #5 of 110 Old 11-26-2007
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What has air conditioning have to do with it? Do you WANT air conditioning? If so, the Hondas won't cut it. You'll need a 4 KW genset (and I hear a lot of knocks against Panda...but as I'll never buy one, caveat emptor.)

If you don't want airconditioning, then "typical loads" are best met via solar/wind charging, with the Honda EU2000 as a backup, or as a means to run occasional heavy loads (ShopVac, drill, big fans, Koolatron, emergency pumps) without imposing on the inverter.

Because you'll have an inverter, right?

The Honda EU2000 is a beautiful thing, and it allows small boat owners to have some luxuries by providing via charging of the house batteries or directly 8-10 amps of cheap, dependable AC. But on a larger boat it is at best a supplemental thing to solar/wind/alternator. It's part of a bigger puzzle that dare I say takes a holistic approach to energy generation, and could see little use (until the boat shorts out and you need it to call for help on the radio, or to run a spotlight on your sails), or it could be used a fair bit, if you want to run appliances or tools with it.

Imagine being on the hook and power washing your deck. A Honda EU2000 can do that. So can an inverter, but not nearly as efficiently. Eight minutes of running a 700 watt microwave in the galley, on the other hand, is more or less an inverter task, as is energizing the boat's AC plugs so you can charge up hand tools, VHFs, the kids' DVD player, the laptop and what have you.

If you go to remote places on calm days, hauling a Honda might make a lot of sense...imagine cold food on the beach of some deserted cay, or maybe a line of Christmas lights to illuminate a seaside tryst...putt, putt, putt....

There's several recent threads that discuss the role of portable generators. As primary sources, they are strictly small potatoes. But as backups to the backups, or as portable ways to do stuff that would kill your house banks in short order, they are great value, especially on a bigger boat that has the room to store them and the deck on which to lash them.
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post #6 of 110 Old 11-27-2007
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i have been thinking of a cheap way to get some air conditioning on my boat at the mooring also. i am not sure of loads and how much the generator can take but was considering one the the 2000wt generators from honda and one of the 5000 btu portable a/c units found at walmart or similar stores. they vent out through a hose which you can stick out a hatch. cost i have seen 300-400 dollars. plus you have to buy the honda generator. some places list the info on how much energy they use but i am not sure how that equasion goes.
i assume the startup and running wattage would have to be less than 2000 watts. (if using a 2000watt generator)
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post #7 of 110 Old 11-27-2007
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One thing you have to realize is that the power rating of generators is for RESISTIVE loads. If you are using inductive loads, like motors, the generator rating needs to be about twice the load. For instance, a 2000 W generator can probably run 20x100 Watt light bulbs... but a 1200 W microwave oven would probably fail to operate.

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post #8 of 110 Old 11-27-2007
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The power factor thing can be a real problem when trying to charge batteries through a normal charger...ie, using the generator's 120VAC into the charger's AC input. The charger presents a very high inductive load to the generator which, as mentioned above, would require a disproportionitly larger generator. But the solution to that, although counter-intuitive, is to add a couple of 25w or so light bulbs in parallel with the charger....the change in power factor more than offsets the effect of the extra load. Alternatively, a better solution would be to add an AC capacitor rather than the bulbs...either a 'motor start' or 'motor run' variety purchased at an appliance store....Sears, for instance.
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post #9 of 110 Old 11-27-2007
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Good advice for those of us still on the electrical learning curve.
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post #10 of 110 Old 11-27-2007
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Folks are probably tired of hearing me say this, but I'm going to repeat myself nonetheless:

The U.S. Coast Guard and ABYC recommend strongly against using portable gasoline generators aboard recreational vessels. Carbon monoxide poisoning is the greatest threat, as is risk of fire.

Please don't anchor ANYWHERE near other boats if you plan to use one of these on deck. Nothing ruins a peaceful anchorage quite like an air-cooled portable genset.
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