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Old 22-11-2012, 02:31   #1
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Fischer Panda Generators.

Hi all, does anyone out there have any experience or view on the Fischer Panda gen sets, and in particular the i series 5000i .

Cheers Gordon.
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Old 22-11-2012, 03:03   #2
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

Gordon,
Heresay only! A friend of mine has one in his Irwin and hates it. I can't say why, but would be happy to put you in touch with him.
gts1544 - George
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Old 22-11-2012, 03:27   #3
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

If you search the archives, you will find a large volume of information from FP users, most of it negative.

Another useful source of information are the various ARC gear surveys which complied the failure rate of different items of equipment on the ARC.

FP generators are quite innovative and produce a lot of power from a small and light package. The light weight is a big advantage on a catamaran.

On the other hand, they are notoriously unreliable, to the extent that there are some reports owners simply throwing them away after a couple years of trying to get them to work properly.

Another thing we hear a lot is that the U.S. dealer is very helpful and goes to a lot of trouble to get the units he sells to work.

I think that if you can tolerate the weight, you would be better off with something else. The truly gold standard of small marine gensets is the Northern Lights, based on the superb Lugger low-speed diesels which they make in-house. Northern Lights makes a pretty compact 4.5kW low speed unit which will be heavier than the FP, but will be considerably lighter than the smallest low-speed gensets from other manufacturers like Onan/Cummings and Kohler.

Naturally, an 1500 rpm 3-cylinder diesel like you find in the NL is going to be a lot heavier than the little one-cylinder Kubota in the FP, and the NL is going to cost probably double, too.

You will probably not want to consider the Kohler or Onan low-speed gensets, because the smallest they make are 6.5kW (based on 8.5kW 110 volt models, so everything is oversized), which is still much heavier. I have a 6.5kW Kohler which is pretty nice -- extremely quiet and smooth running, but not as nice as the Northern Lights.

If you can't deal with the volume and/or weight of a low speed genset like the Northern Lights, then if I were you I would still look at one of the 3000 rpm two-cylinder gensets from Onan, before resorting to a FP.

There are even other gensets based on the one-cylinder Kubota EA-300, like the NextGen, which are simpler and thus probably less likely to break down, than the FP.

Which is all just my opinion -- YMMV. You should do your own research -- Google is your friend. There's a lot of first-hand information on CF, too.

A few examples of owner reports:

Fischer Panda: The Final Chapter

Panda 10kw generator failure | Adagio Journal

Good luck.
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Old 22-11-2012, 04:26   #4
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

5000i. Not just a gennie but a variable speed gennie with inverter. Brave man, to sign up as Fischer Panda's crash test dummy.

In the words of Dirty Harry.."How lucky do you feel?"
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Old 22-11-2012, 05:01   #5
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

I think Dockhead put it quite well.

The F-P looks great on paper, light weight and quiet but it seems this is achieved by a very complex design that, when it works it's great but when it doesn't, depending on the problem, can be very difficult to repair. One issue may be maintenance. Since they are fairly complex the maintenance requirements are demanding and can lead to the problems if neglected. Seems like some users have no problems and love them but more than a few have problems that they are never able to solve and give up in disgust.

I have personally spoken with the US F-P dealer on other equipment they sell and can confirm that they are very helpful and very dedicated to supporting the units and keeping the customers happy.

Also really like the Northern Lights. If you can tolerate the price, weight and size they seem to be very reliable and long lived.

Another option to consider if your AC power requirements are occasional and modest is to go with a Honda EU2000i portable. The down side is they are gas powered so you would have to deal with all the issues of gas engines and have a place on deck to run the unit.
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Old 22-11-2012, 05:18   #6
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Also really like the Northern Lights. If you can tolerate the price, weight and size they seem to be very reliable and long lived.
By all accounts, Northern Lights is the Rolls Royce of marine generators . . .


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Another option to consider if your AC power requirements are occasional and modest is to go with a Honda EU2000i portable. The down side is they are gas powered so you would have to deal with all the issues of gas engines and have a place on deck to run the unit.
A very important point. For most cruisers who are not running air conditioning off genset power, a Honda suitcase generator is going to do the job for a tiny fraction of the cost and hassle (plus weight and bulk) of installing a diesel generator. For a catamaran, especially, this has a lot to be said for it. Bunch of solar plus a suitcase genny will do a really good job
If you have enough solar, you probably won't need to run the genny every day.

If you're running aircon off a generator, then you'll have to go with a diesel genset. But this task is even less suited to a highly stressed light-duty Fischer-Panda genset -- a one-cylinder Kubota running at redline for hours at a time to run your aircon is not a recipe for carefree, trouble-free service. If you're going to be running the genset all night for this purpose, then you really, really want a heavy-duty low-speed generator.
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Old 22-11-2012, 05:37   #7
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

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If you're running aircon off a generator, then you'll have to go with a diesel genset. But this task is even less suited to a highly stressed light-duty Fischer-Panda genset -- a one-cylinder Kubota running at redline for hours at a time to run your aircon is not a recipe for carefree, trouble-free service. If you're going to be running the genset all night for this purpose, then you really, really want a heavy-duty low-speed generator.
I think that one can even run air con on a Honda if the unit is not too large and don't plan to run it daily and all season. I am going to give it a try anyway.

The plan is to size the air con steady state power draw to match the Honda's output but have the Victron inverter online to add the power boost for the extra startup power when the compressor on the air con kicks in.

My plan is to have the air con for very occasional use like those windless nights in some tropical locale when the bugs attack but it's too hot to close the hatches.
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Old 22-11-2012, 05:47   #8
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We have a 9000 btu ac unit in our midget RV that runs for days on end off of the Honda 2000. Just pull fuel from the chassis tank!!
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Old 22-11-2012, 06:37   #9
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

We have been running a FP Mini 8 for the last six years. The last 27 months have been fulltime cruising. During that time, we lost a relay twice, broke two fan belts and last month the 12v Voltage Regulator took a hike. Otherwise the unit is the best performing mechanical device on the boat.

When running the GenSet, we can have a quiet conversation in the cabin and when sitting in the cockpit, can't hear the GenSet running.

The Tech Support guys are great and normally respond to emails within 2 hours on a work day.

I also have heard negative things about this GenSet and know the first Generation Saltwater Cooled versions had problems.

One thing I have noticed is that many of the first hand accounts of people having problems with this GenSet comes from lack of use and owner error.

Being a FP owner, I have also become a little sensitive about the bad rep the unit has gotten. One thing I found was that like the comments on this post, most are second hand.

Finally, a friend mounted a Northern Lights GenSet on a sister ship to mine. It is mounted in the same compartment and takes up about 25% more room. It is also significantly louder than the FP GenSet.

If I had to do it over I would buy another FP GenSet.
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Old 22-11-2012, 07:17   #10
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

I have a Northern Lights 5kw that just turned 2000 hours. We start the generator when we unplug nd stop when we return to the dock. It weighs bout 450 lbs and burns 6 gallons of diesel in 24 hours. I had a custom sound shield made for it and we hear a hum but don't really pay attention to it. We just finished out tenth year with it. I've changed the impellers regularly, change the oil every 250 hours and have had one fan belt break and changed that. Runs like a top and we have power to spare. We run our HVAC continuously and the salon is 72 all the time either with cooling or heat.

I've had a friend on a CaboRico 38 who had a Panda. We took his boat to Florida from Kentucky lake. So noisy, we didn't run at night and were cold while trying to sleep. He also had more days it didn't work than when it did. Always needed something. I have rented several Island Packets in SW Florida with Pandas. They didn't run either! I wouldn't have one if they gave it to me. When you are out cruising, the thing you want is lack of hassle factor. Either get a Northern Lights or a Honda if you can live with the gas risks. A Panda will just ruin your fun.
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Old 22-11-2012, 07:39   #11
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

Gordon,

When I first started looking around at gensets the FP specs certainly looked good.

Researching subsequently I believe the best way to go is with northern lights. Dockhead summed it up very well in his post.

Was on board a Halberg Rassy 46 in Mackay Harbour just recently that arrived with their FP out of action chasing up a service agent.

The following is a LINK TO A BLOG that also had issues with their FP

Sequitur

How did the Paguao go that you had on the Orana??
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Old 22-11-2012, 07:41   #12
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

Phasor makes some nice low speed units (except the 3.5)
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Old 22-11-2012, 11:18   #13
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The criticism of FP in my view is misplaced and without serious foundations. One of the major blogs is about the DC AGT model and yes that's both sophisticated and the early versions were problematic. The mainstream FPs are reliable units many using FairyMann diesels ( not kubotas). Yes low speed gennys ate better but are bigger, heavier and more expensive.

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Old 22-11-2012, 11:25   #14
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
We have been running a FP Mini 8 for the last six years. .........................I also have heard negative things about this GenSet and know the first Generation Saltwater Cooled versions had problems. .................One thing I have noticed is that many of the first hand accounts of people having problems with this GenSet comes from lack of use and owner error. ..........If I had to do it over I would buy another FP GenSet.
As another FP owner - one of the original salt water ones, I support everything said here. Minehas done 2000 hours, and had been neglected for a while, and was clogged with salt crystals. It took a lot of effort to clear the water passages, but it is now working fine. It does however need to be run about once a month in order to circulate the water.

Would I buy another Yes (but it would be a fresh water cooled version!).
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Old 22-11-2012, 12:42   #15
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Re: Fischer Panda Generators.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J Clark H356 View Post
I've had a friend on a CaboRico 38 who had a Panda. We took his boat to Florida from Kentucky lake. So noisy, we didn't run at night and were cold while trying to sleep. He also had more days it didn't work than when it did. Always needed something.
I find it strange you said the Fisher-Panda was too loud to sleep with... Fischer Panda is the quietest GenSet on the market and much lower decibels than your Northern Lights. Combined with the Aqua Lifter Muffler it is virtually silent outside the boat.

On my boat as previously mentioned, it is so quiet in the main cabin you can have a quiet conversation and I regularly slept while the GenSet is running. In the cockpit you can't hear the GenSet at all, with the hatches open.

In El Salvador, we had frequent power outages in the Marina and I had to run the Gen Set a couple of times for Air Conditioning. My dock mate couldn't beleive the GenSet was running because it was so quiet. He finally noticed exhaust ports faced his boat and could see the water flowing out.

My Gen Set is six years old (2006) and I can tell you that my FP Mini 8 with its Kabota engine is performing well....
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