How desirable is a diesel generator? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 15 Old 12-16-2011 Thread Starter
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How desirable is a diesel generator?

I am familiar with the expression "don't look a gift horse in the mouth", but I'm asking for clarification if I actually have a "gift" horse or a "fleabag"?

My sailboat came with a 6kw Fischer Panda AC generator. It is loaded with "safety" switches that can cause grief if they mis-read anything; temperature, oil level, voltage, rpm, etc. These safety devices have cost me over $300 already, in addition to a new battery, and the upcoming required periodic service.

I installed a 230 watt Solar panel that keeps my 630ah house bank brimming full. The generator is only a backup at this point unless the house air conditioner is run while on hook. It may "sip" fuel, but only charges at 40 ah which seems to never peak the batteries while the main engine charges at 100ah. Several hours of motor sailing has the batteries fully charged.

Our next planned trip will be the Bahamas Fall 2012. With an excellent solar panel and normal expected motor sailing, is a generator still a desirable piece of equipment or a noisy budget hogging, space hogging piece of iron?

At this time, other than running the A/C unit, I don't see any value for a generator while cruising the Bahamas from December to May. But I'm the novice asking those of you who have experienced the Bahamas with or without a generator for your candid opinion.

Thank you,

Bill

s/v Charbonneau
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post #2 of 15 Old 12-16-2011
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IF you need AC on the hook keep it. if you dont use it, sell it depends on what you need. If I had it I would keep it for the AC that would be great at times.

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post #3 of 15 Old 12-17-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bchaps View Post
I am familiar with the expression "don't look a gift horse in the mouth", but I'm asking for clarification if I actually have a "gift" horse or a "fleabag"?

My sailboat came with a 6kw Fischer Panda AC generator. It is loaded with "safety" switches that can cause grief if they mis-read anything; temperature, oil level, voltage, rpm, etc. These safety devices have cost me over $300 already, in addition to a new battery, and the upcoming required periodic service.

I installed a 230 watt Solar panel that keeps my 630ah house bank brimming full. The generator is only a backup at this point unless the house air conditioner is run while on hook. It may "sip" fuel, but only charges at 40 ah which seems to never peak the batteries while the main engine charges at 100ah. Several hours of motor sailing has the batteries fully charged.

Our next planned trip will be the Bahamas Fall 2012. With an excellent solar panel and normal expected motor sailing, is a generator still a desirable piece of equipment or a noisy budget hogging, space hogging piece of iron?

At this time, other than running the A/C unit, I don't see any value for a generator while cruising the Bahamas from December to May. But I'm the novice asking those of you who have experienced the Bahamas with or without a generator for your candid opinion.

Thank you,

Bill

s/v Charbonneau
If the unit is properly maintained, it can/will be a valuable addition to your TOE. If not, not. We installed one at my wife's insistence and short of a few problems caused by, in one case an improper installation of the control box by the original vendor's electrician and in a second case, a defective raw water pump--that Panda acknowledged and replaced without cost after 6 years (a $400+ concession), we have rarely had a problem and those we did have were my own fault and easily corrected with help from Panda's tech's. Frankly the units are only problematic if they are not maintained--which usually only happens when they are installed where they are difficult to access or service; or, the owner/operators are too lazy to do the tasks.

Being able to fully charge one's batteries in a few hours while cooling the yacht for a few 10'ths of a gallon of fuel is pretty nice.

FWIW...

PS: For other discussions, use the site's search function for "Panda".

"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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post #4 of 15 Old 12-17-2011
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Pull the generator, but store it so see how you like not having it available. This assumes the generator is easy to get in and out.

Last edited by LakeSuperiorGeezer; 12-17-2011 at 01:41 PM.
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post #5 of 15 Old 12-17-2011
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Interesting that your main generates a faster charge than the genset. That has never been my experience. For us, while we don't use the air conditioning much when away from the dock, it is a very welcome respite from time to time. Crazy humid, long, tired day, everything feels damp and 15 mins later all is better. We also have an electric water heater and a nice hot shower is the best at the end of a sweaty day. I hate taking a shower and starting to sweat again while drying off. I run the AC in the aft cabin for that too. We also use the genset to charge cell phones, iPads, etc. You may be free of these chains.

Finally, our genset is so quiet, you can hardly hear it from some parts of the boat and can whisper if you are standing right atop of it. Not so with the main running.

I can't see why you would pull it out, if already have one.


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post #6 of 15 Old 12-17-2011
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Bill-
" but only charges at 40 ah which seems to never peak the batteries " Is it spec'd to only put out 40A? And with what kind of voltage or regulation? It may not be topping off the batteries simply because it is malfunctioning, or not putting out the voltage they need.
If you don't need it and can make better use of the space, by all means travel lighter and sell it. But if that AC sometimes comes in handy, it might be worth looking into whether it can be made to work better. If it is simply wired up as a 6kW AC genset with a small capacity for DC, the answer may be to add a "shorepower" battery charger (or use the one you may have?) and convert the higher power AC output for charging.
Not all gensets have equal abilities on their AC and DC sides, some are designed with very lopsided abilities.
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post #7 of 15 Old 12-18-2011
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The generator doesn't have the capacity to charge your house batteries. The 6kw has a very small charging system designed to keep a dedicated start battery charged. The on board 110 volt charger or charger/inverter does the charging under generator power just like when you are plugged into shore power. If you are only getting 40 amps then it's a charger issue. I would learn to maintain it, fix or upgrade your charger and keep it as a back up. You will never say I wish I only had one way to charge the batteries. Also the ability to dry the boat out with the on board air conditioning for a few hours will come in handy on still days, or rainy nights.
Jay


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post #8 of 15 Old 12-19-2011
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Even the old fashioned (cheap) Trace inverter puts out at 125amps dc as a charger from shore or gen set. And 2500 watts ac from main engines alt.Sound to me like there are some useful options here if you keep the gen set.
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post #9 of 15 Old 12-19-2011
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The generator doesn't have the capacity to charge your house batteries. The 6kw has a very small charging system designed to keep a dedicated start battery charged...
Jay
I beg to differ - 6Kw is a significant generator. Without taking too many factors into consideration, let us take 6000W and de-rate by 10% for various losses. 5400W equates to a charging capacity of 450amps at 12V. Depending upon your battery bank size and battery type and charger you most likely won't be able to use all those amps.

If you have the Fischer Panda soft-start system, you can even crank up a Bauer dive compressor (running it is easy once the system is running). The genset will run 3-4 air conditioning units and could cool a 49 foot boat in the tropics (I had a 49DS in the caribbean with a 5Kw Fischer Panda which did the job).


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post #10 of 15 Old 12-20-2011
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I beg to differ - 6Kw is a significant generator. Without taking too many factors into consideration, let us take 6000W and de-rate by 10% for various losses. 5400W equates to a charging capacity of 450amps at 12V. Depending upon your battery bank size and battery type and charger you most likely won't be able to use all those amps.

If you have the Fischer Panda soft-start system, you can even crank up a Bauer dive compressor (running it is easy once the system is running). The genset will run 3-4 air conditioning units and could cool a 49 foot boat in the tropics (I had a 49DS in the caribbean with a 5Kw Fischer Panda which did the job).
Zanshin,
You misunderstood what I was saying. The OP said he was only getting forty amps charging out of the generator. The standard alternator on the generator has a very small, I believe less than 10 amp alternator designed to maintain it's own starting battery. The generator is fully capable of running a large onboard a/c powered charger or charger/inverter. The boats in our fleet that have this generator are equipped with 2.5 kw inverter chargers capable of putting well over 100 amps DC into the battery banks. My point was that his charging issues with the generator have nothing to do with the generator and everything to do with the charger he has on board.
jay


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