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Dave_E 09-16-2014 01:53 PM

generator a good idea?
Hi Cruisers,

The wife and I are pretty sure next year we'll do the anchor thing at least once. But to to even attempt it in my mind, you need to have a way to make electricity. We're not sure about spending the money and rigging the boat with solar panels or a wind generator. It has been suggested by a few of my power boat buddies to just get one of those tiny Honda generators. Do any of you have or had a generator? Pros and cons? Our cruising would always be a mix of anchoring and going to marinas (for now). Thanks.


mr_f 09-16-2014 02:14 PM

Re: generator a good idea?
Dave, how long do you plan to be at anchor, how big is your house bank, and what power do you expect to use?

Unless you have dramatically different power needs than I do, I would be surprised if you needed (or even wanted) a generator for a few nights at anchor.

JonEisberg 09-16-2014 02:16 PM

Re: generator a good idea?

Originally Posted by Dave_E (Post 2195601)
Hi Cruisers,

The wife and I are pretty sure next year we'll do the anchor thing at least once. But to to even attempt it in my mind, you need to have a way to make electricity.

No, you don't... and, you already have the means to "make electricity", it's called your engine... :-)

I'd suggest holding off on getting a Honda, until you actually feel the NEED to have one... I swear, I think many of the folks out there running the damn things are doing so simply because "Well, since we have the freakin' thing, we might as well USE it..."


FYI, there have been numerous threads on this subject... I know the Search function here is next to worthless, but you might still give it a whirl...

IStream 09-16-2014 02:18 PM

Re: generator a good idea?

Before anyone can give you an intelligent answer, you need to figure out your typical power consumption per day, your house bank battery capacity, and how long you plan to stay at anchor without running the engine to charge.

For example, if you use 100 Amp-Hours per day and only stay at anchor for one day at a time and have a 300AH battery bank, you'll be just fine as it is because you won't drop below 50% state of charge. If you're willing to run the engine an hour or two per day to charge and have a high output alternator, you can go indefinitely at 100 AH consumption per day. If you don't want to run the engine or use more per day or have a smaller battery bank or stay on the hook longer, you'll need some charging source but how big and what type depend on other considerations.

The Honda EU2000 will put out 13 amps for as long as you keep it gassed up but that's a lot of noise for a long time. A few hundred watts of solar can supply a similar amount of current and do it silently but won't help you much if you sail in the winter in the PNW.

etc, etc.

Alex W 09-16-2014 02:23 PM

Re: generator a good idea?
Even if you don't know your exact power consumption you do need to at least list out the major consumers of power. If you have even a half decent battery and no fridge you should be able to live at anchor for many days without solar.

The first step is a battery monitor to understand how much juice is left after a day's worth of cruising.

You don't need much solar if you don't have a fridge, just a little bit goes a long way. Our boat has a 30 watt panel (2.5 amps at 12 volts) and more than covers our needs for summer cruising. If I were buying today I'd probably buy a 50-60w panel just for a bit more overhead. I don't plug in the boat for about 6 months of the year, even at my home dock.

THEFRENCHA 09-16-2014 03:12 PM

Re: generator a good idea?
Better safe than Sorry!
I have one Just for peace of mind ...Even with battery monitoring and solar panels...accident happens and draining a battery happens fast.

In my experience , not being able to start the engine can really ruin a nice cruise.

So mine is in a locker ...just in case ! and knowing that it is here helps me sleep better and fully enjoy the cruise

capttb 09-16-2014 04:05 PM

Re: generator a good idea?
I carry a Honda 2000 companion model but the primary usage is to make more hot water, no matter how frugal, on day 3 your 6 gallon supply is exhausted. Takes my 27hp diesel forever to make a hot tank if I can't put a load on it. So I run the Honda for an hour every three days or so from 1000 to 1100 hours. Frankly, I felt stupid sitting in a crowded mooring field with the diesel on Fast Idle to charge batteries or make hot water. Anyone that complains don't get a Christmas card this year.
And if the noise bothers me I can always put it in the dingy on a long painter and let it float over by Jon's boat.;)

tempest 09-16-2014 08:22 PM

Re: generator a good idea?
What do you need power for if you're just going out once in awhile.

For light at anchor you can use candles and oil lamps.very cozy. A small Flashlight if you need to look for something.
refrigeration. I have it, but I load up on ice and the refer goes off when engine is off.
TV...DVD, computer?..pretty low power draws..just don't run down your starting battery

So other than the anchor light.. the water pump might be your biggest draw, and that doesn't run much.

If I'm anchored I typically turn everything off. If I need to charge the batteries, I'll run the engine. I would add a small solar panel before I carried a generator.. unless you're going out for extended periods of time.

Cons...gas, fumes, noise!

Delezynski 09-16-2014 08:48 PM

Re: generator a good idea?

On our boat we have refrigeration, nav stuff, VHF, SSB, HAM radios, lights, computers and other items. We have a 300 Ah house battery bank. In 2000, I DID add solar power at a much higher cost than it is now.

We departed for full time cruising in 2004 and returned to the US in late 2008. This past year (AND the year before) we cruised full time for almost 6 months with one (1) 85 watt solar panel with no problems.

IN ALL THAT TIME we NEVER had, or needed a generator!

A small solar panel & controller would be FAR less $ than a generator and also not bugg your neighbors at anchor! :laugher


Faster 09-16-2014 09:03 PM

Re: generator a good idea?
We cruise/overnight for 6-8 weeks every summer. In the past, we had a mediocre alternator setup, and found we needed to find a marina to plug in once a week or so. Last year we upgraded our alternator and only plugged in if we happened to be in a resupply location AND needed to charge up the bank or had a lot of devices to get caught up (phones, Ipad, etc. - perhaps 2 or 3 times for the season) This past year we set up a 100W solar panel part way through the summer and didn't need to plug into shore power again - even when in a marina. This, too, in one of the best sailing seasons (minimal hours on engine) in years.

Our investment in solar was under $600... what would a generator cost? and the fuel to run it? and the annoyance to others? A Honda 2000 goes for $1200 and stays thirsty. That money can go toward more convenient alternatives like a high output alternator, good regulator, and/or solar.

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