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Snboard976 02-23-2009 11:23 PM

Portable Generator
I got great advice in my last post about upgrading my batteries to 3 12 volt wallmart 110 Ah batteries. That leaves me with about $700 to upgrade my charging solution which is currently a 55 amp alternator on the front of my 1976 Westerbeak 40.

Originally I was thinking about wind or solar, but my budget doesn't really seam large enough to make a dent in my power needs (100-150 amps per day) with wind or solar. Last night I found a few portable generators on amazon for under $200 which would leave plenty of money to buy gasoline and maybe even another battery. I know some will recommend buying a honda portable, but at $800 I could buy four chinese knockoffs for the same price.

Is there any problem using a cheapo gasoline generator to charge the house batteries aside from noise and explosion risks?

What would I need to check in the generators specs? Does it need to produce DC current? How many amps would be desirable?

What else would I need to connect a portable generator to charge the house batteries? I imagine it is a little bit more complex than hooking some alligator clips to the batteries.

hellosailor 02-23-2009 11:40 PM

The first problem is that many gensets have a limited run life, they are designed for emergency backup not regular use. The second problem is that a lot of machinery from China is junk--gensets included. Some run loud, some hot, many with small fuel tanks will also run so hot in normal use that you CANNOT refuel them until they've cooled down.

I'd rather buy a cheap parachute than a cheap Chinese genset--or anything else with moving parts.

Then there are exhaust and monoxide problems as well. Great backup for occassional use--not so great for regular use.

I'd look around for a 90-100 amp rated genset (that's all you can run on one v-belt anyway) or look for one wind charger.

sailaway21 02-23-2009 11:43 PM

I got a nice little Yamaha for under $700. Works very well.

Deadeye 02-23-2009 11:47 PM

Forget throwing the money at an offshore genny and replace that little alternator with a high-output. WAY more bang for your buck. Your revised budget allows for you to have it installed and then some: probably still enough for that genny if your heart's really set on it....

Get yourself a decent AC charger for when you're on shorepower and you'll be set.

Just my .02

scottyt 02-23-2009 11:48 PM

well the batteries are a good start

as for the genny, i had one, bought it at pep boys for 150. it worked for a while, a good long while, infact it still runs but i think the sea air got to the genny end. the problems are is they are not near as fuel effecent as a honda when it come to gas. it also had much more vibrations than a honda, and was noisier too.

i would look on craigslist for a honda, and you can find em for 700 new if you look ( the 1000I). honestly if you can break the bank and buy some solar. 200 watts will give you about 85 amps a day. just for knowledge 150 watts will give you about 65 amps a day

edit i just read you think you need 100 to 150 amps a day, you need to get some led lights, each 10 watt bulb you replace will give you about 5 amp hours back if you use the light 6 hours a day. also 100 amps a day is a lot. also you need to look at the price for a decent charger, they cost money too, and unless you run what ever genny you get for 10 hours a day a 15 amp one wont cut it. solar saves you from having to buy a big charger

PBzeer 02-23-2009 11:49 PM

I'm as miserly as anyone, but I don't have the slightest hesitation about having my Honda generator. It's something where I think you definitely get what you pay for.

scottyt 02-24-2009 12:00 AM

just a quick look here on craigslist for a honda 2000 I for 550

edit quick google search for used solar panels found this Solar Panels at very low cost, they have a 200 watt "blemished" panel for 600 bucks

if you got the full 85 amps a day based on 6 hours of light then you would be down 15 amps a day at 100 amps useage, so you would have to run a genny every 5 days using 340 amps total battery, or about 150 amps to be at 50 % ( minus never getting a 100 %charge ) discharge and still have about a day to spare

GeminiDaze 02-24-2009 12:25 AM

Look in a used chandlery.... lots of different chargers because there are people out there that have to have the latest. You can pick up a good 250 amp charger for $75- $150. Duo Gen makes a great water/wind generator. A little pricey but if you are under sail it will give you 8 amps at 6 kts, 14 amps at 7 kts and 20 amps at 8 kts if you can go that fast. When you'r in port flip it up out of the water and switch the water propeller to the Wind propeller and you are still generating the power. Stay out of the doldrums!

mdbee 02-24-2009 01:11 AM

Remember: Chinese = crap. WalMart = crap with waranty.

xort 02-24-2009 06:47 AM

more vibrations and more noise. your choice.

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