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post #1 of 81 Old 04-05-2016 Thread Starter
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Portable Genny

Is it necessary to purchase a portable generator? If so, which would be the best? I heard Hondas are pretty good
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post #2 of 81 Old 04-05-2016
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Re: Portable Genny

A generator is only necessary if you need a source of electrical power greater than batteries or solar power can provide. If you have, for example, two deep cycle batteries and an engine with an alternator, and you're only going to be away from shore power for a couple days, you can manage without one, even if you have refrigeration. The key question is, how much power do you need, and where else might you get it?

Most sailors find alternatives to an auxiliary generator. They're noisy, especially if you run them at night, they're gas hogs, and there are usually better alternatives.
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post #3 of 81 Old 04-05-2016
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Re: Portable Genny

I've lived on my boat for almost 2 years without a generator, so it's definitely not required.

What do you use power for on your boat? Sailing at night, lots of electronics, music, fridge, ???


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Re: Portable Genny

I would not leave port without my trusty Honda 2000 on board. But, my needs are different from those with engines with charging alternators. I converted to electric propulsion eight years ago and no longer have a diesel engine or alternator. I use the Honda for occasional charging of my EP batteries and also for motor sailing on the occasional windless days.

That said I use the Honda for so much more. I carry 120 volt tools that can be powered by the Honda. Including things like a wet/dry vac that makes cleaning the bilge a snap. Also helps with other boat projects. I also use it to power a Dive compressor so that I can easily clean the boats bottom no matter where I am anchored. IMO at 48 lbs it is cheap insurance that you will never have to worry about battery bank not being able to start your engine. You can also easily carry it back on land should you or someone need it to get through a storm induced black out. After eight years the Honda 2000 is the only generator I would recommend. It is just a reliable workhorse IMO.
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post #5 of 81 Old 04-06-2016
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Re: Portable Genny

Why do you think you need a portable generator? For most of us, a decent battery bank plus maybe an inverter does the job.
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post #6 of 81 Old 04-06-2016
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Re: Portable Genny

I've cruised & sailed for well over 40 years and never once needed a generator of any kind. Alternative energy (solar), direct 12V DC devices, a good alternator, a properly sized battery bank and LED lightning have aided us in avoiding a generator...
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Re: Portable Genny

With better alternative energy producers available, and more energy efficient technology, today is a good opportunity to go the other way - both on shore and on the water.

In our home, with more efficient appliances - vast reductions in power requirements for lighting, we're using less power all the time. And that reduction has taken place even while adding an air source heat pump(to supplement wood pellet heat) to our demands.

Boats are using lower power dependent devices like tablets for some tasks. Refrigeration has become more efficient, lighting has sliced amp hours needed.

Today there is an opportunity to add strategic conservation steps to this more efficient technology - cut onboard energy requirements and enjoy more freedom to sail more miles.

Sailboats can enjoy an even higher quality of life on the water today free(er) of fossil fuel power generation.

Tom Young sailing a 1961 38' Alden Challenger, CHRISTMAS out of
Rockport, Maine.
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post #8 of 81 Old 04-06-2016
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Re: Portable Genny

Maine-you live in Maine. I think you mostly cruise N.E. Think that has impact on your (quite educated) choices.

F- Maine knows more then anyone here about boat wiring/batteries/circuits. Strongly advise doing an energy audit before deciding. Look at Maines writings first. Strongly advise be honest with yourself about present and future boat use. Then decide.

Would note:
1. Hate any above deck generators. You will lose friends in any anchorage you will visit. If you decide to get one please, please, please don't run it before 9a or after 6p. ( between 9-6 you should be sailing anyway)
2. They run on gas. Another hazard. Another thing to feed. Another fire hazard. Spills are dangerous and not good for gelcoat.
3. They are meant to run on land. A hassle on a boat in salt. Another tank of gas. Another thing to maintain.
4. Problematic to run underway. Problematic to store below deck and not good for them to always live above deck. Box shaped things are hard to store as are any "this side up" things.

General thoughts- if you really,really need a genset go below deck diesel. Safer, more efficient, quieter from outside the boat, more reliable.
We lived 1 1/2y on our current boat. Have high rev 2cyclinder diesel genset. It's a lombardini which I don't recommend. When it dies will replace with low rev unit.

It went on:
During passage to top up batteries after prolonged AP,instrument, frig/freezer, a few hours of AC use due to overcast and very high,hot humid days. Otherwise it goes on once a month to make sure it works. I hate it as well but given our energy budget saw there would be rare times our high output alternator and alternatives wouldn't kept up with critical functions (cold beer, and the AP :-)).
Our current budget allows music, rare hour of flatscreen for movies, rare hour of AC to dry boat, but all dedicated boat functions (instruments, AP, radar, frig/freezer) on alt. energy with left over for the spectra Cape Horn extreme dc watermaker on sunny, windy days. Hence, very, very rare times genset really needs to be run.
So for 99.9% of people there's no need for a genset. The others are much better served by a below deck diesel unit as their usage is so high portable ones won't cut it. Alt. energy costs are such that you can do panels/hydro or wind and after a few years its about a wash. And life is so much more pleasant without an engine running. Isn't that why we sail in the first place.


P.S.- if you do do alt. think about where you are and are going to be. Our D400s are weak sisters in N.E. Unless near/offshore in 10-20 don't do much up there. Think it's the long summer days. Surprisingly the panels don't match up to the D400s when down in the eastern Caribbean. Get 1 1/2 to 2x more out of the wind then solar. Think it's the nearly 24/7 fresh breeze down there and shorter day due to winter. Anytime you have fresh water wash your panels. Makes a real difference. Had Sahara winds with fine dust. Output dropped.
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Last edited by outbound; 04-06-2016 at 10:11 AM.
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post #9 of 81 Old 04-06-2016
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I'll add carbon monoxide as very real hazard to contend with as well. But if you're not in marina may be only reasonable way to run power tools.
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post #10 of 81 Old 04-06-2016
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Re: Portable Genny

OUTBOUND Quote :
1. Hate any above deck generators. You will lose friends in any anchorage you will visit. If you decide to get one please, please, please don't run it before 9a or after 6p. ( between 9-6 you should be sailing anyway)

Not true. The Honda's are quiet. I can hear diesel generators run as much as the Honda's.

2. They run on gas. Another hazard. Another thing to feed. Another fire hazard. Spills are dangerous and not good for gelcoat.

Than I guess you don't have a dinghy engine and the carry the gas cans for that.

3. They are meant to run on land. A hassle on a boat in salt.
Another tank of gas. Another thing to maintain.

True on land, no hassle mine is 7 years old and still running strong. Only maintenance is change the oil once every 100 hours.

4. Problematic to run underway. Problematic to store below deck and not good for them to always live above deck. Box shaped things are hard to store as are any "this side up" things.


Could live in the same space your planned diesel generator . Most carry on deck, secured. Easy on a CC boat. Mine lives in a special box I built.

5. General thoughts- if you really,really need a genset go below deck diesel. Safer, more efficient, quieter from outside the boat, more reliable.


More reliable.. I guess you never owned a Panda Fisher. Pieces of junk. Won't even make a good anchor. I would say the #1 maintenance item for cruisers is the inboard generator par none. You even said the one you have is bad, loud and won't replace it with the same model..

End of Quotes

Generators are like boat types; it is personnel. It is how you use your boat, how your boat is set-up, how much money you have to put one and in and maintain it and where you cruise.

We like our Honda. Great for charging batteries when the solar cannot, when we need relief from the heat to put one AC on and run the odd 120 volt equipment. My Honda cost me $800 back on 2008. One can be had for about $1200 now. Inboard diesel generators cost upwards of $10,000-20,000 to put one in. Do the math.

Melissa Renee
Moondance
Catalina 445, Hull #90

Last edited by Melrna; 04-06-2016 at 03:22 PM.
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