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Old 03-12-2018, 12:25   #1
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Built-in generator runs but no power??

We have a built-in Fischer-panda 4kva generator which has given largely trouble-free service for several years (serviced regularly) but now although it seems to start and run ok - it is not producing any power. Various stuff which was plugged in to it just stopped.

Does anybody have any useful insights as to where to look for a fix??

We have solar, and a wind generator, and at a pinch can top up the batteries with the main engine - but having a working generator is a definite plus!

We are both reasonably handy, but are at a loss here - the manual provided is little more than a parts list.

Thanks!
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Old 03-12-2018, 13:35   #2
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Built-in generator runs but no power??

Check all of the capacitors in the control box. If they go bad you’ll get no power.
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Old 03-12-2018, 13:48   #3
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

Agree with Sailmonkey. Likely something in the control box. Could be a capacitor. Make sure no relays vibrated loose. That happened to us once and it was simply a matter of pushing it back on the connections. Is there a separate breaker in there? Can you (carefully) use a multi-meter to test if current is flowing through? My guess is that it's something in there.
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Old 03-12-2018, 14:13   #4
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

Thanks - we’ll have a look and report back!
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Old 04-12-2018, 08:25   #5
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

It is likely that the rotor has lost its residual magnetism which is necessary for an asynchronous generator such as the Panda to function. This happens occasionally if the generator has been shut down while under a power load. The good news is that the situation can be rectified with a 9v battery, some jumper wires with alligator clips and a little patience. The procedure is detailed in Section C.4.1 on page 90 of the Owner's Manual which can be found (click on) here. S'not hard. BTDT...


FWIW...
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:05   #6
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

First, check the generator terminals for an output. That should be the easiest and most practical place to start, then go to the next logical point to check. Keep your troubleshooting systematical it saves time and can eliminate unnecessary procedures and costly errors.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:07   #7
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

I own one of these generators and I work on them for a living.

The caps do go bad. You'll need a multimeter that can measure capacitance to check them. Do be careful to discharge them first by shorting across the terminals.

However, the most common problem I've seen with these generators is that the stator fails. To check you will have to disconnect the various stator windings and measure their resistance. The manual gives the procedure for doing this.

Stators are expensive, about $2k, and you'll have to remove the generator from the capsule to replace it. It's generally easier to do on the bench rather than on the boat.

Anywho, diagnosing problems with these generators is not easy. You might want to get a pro involved.
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:41   #8
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

I agree with capacitor issues. I had similar issue as you describe. You can test capacitors with a multimeter. They are located in a silver box separate from the contained genset. I haven't called FP in a long time but they walked me through it on the phone .
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Old 04-12-2018, 12:38   #9
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

FYI.

Weblink to Fischer Panda's website with troubleshooting charts:

https://www.fischerpanda.de/content/...Rev2.1_eng.pdf

https://www.fischerpanda.de/content/...Rev2.1_eng.pdf

All the best.
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Old 04-12-2018, 13:11   #10
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

I agree with svHyLyte. It is most likely and least costly that it has lost its magnetism. I have tried the same on a Northern Light generator. Just follow the manual. It is fairly simple
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Old 04-12-2018, 13:36   #11
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

Check fuses and capacitors. If it is a DC output type also check rectifier bridge--but this is not comments for a specific brand. Some have a constantt voltage citrcuit, others just use a governor.

It sounds to me like a blown fuse or dead capacitor.
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Old 04-12-2018, 13:44   #12
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

If your generator has lost or reversed its polarity you will need to "flash the field", if that's the case follow the manufacturers instructions and disconnect any leads that may be connected to any equipment that could be damaged while doing this procedure. I've worked around many generators and have never had to flash the field, usually had to replace the brushes or send it in for repairs. Let us know what you find...
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Old 04-12-2018, 14:11   #13
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

Thanks all. Slow progress - located the control box, which is (of course) accessible only to double jointed midgets with high pain thresholds. Locating such a creature could take a while.
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Old 04-12-2018, 16:46   #14
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

Quote:
Originally Posted by sainted View Post
I own one of these generators and I work on them for a living.

The caps do go bad. You'll need a multimeter that can measure capacitance to check them. Do be careful to discharge them first by shorting across the terminals.

However, the most common problem I've seen with these generators is that the stator fails. To check you will have to disconnect the various stator windings and measure their resistance. The manual gives the procedure for doing this.

Stators are expensive, about $2k, and you'll have to remove the generator from the capsule to replace it. It's generally easier to do on the bench rather than on the boat.

Anywho, diagnosing problems with these generators is not easy. You might want to get a pro involved.
Agreed from first impression the two most likely issues are the capacitors or the loss of residual magnetism for self excitation [in which case the machine need a DC bump]; I often needed to DC bump an old 1940 vintage Westinghouse 35 kW genny on our hydroelectric power plant at our remote cabins in the mountains as the magnetism would dissipate if the machine was not run for several months; we would use a 12 volt automotive battery and jumper cables to bump start that genny and over abundance of required current potential but it got the job done. We just kept the battery and cables adjacent to the exciter so as to not have to go find them in the dark of night upon arriving in the family retreat.


Whoa, as an executive of a company that produces permanent magnet motors and gennys and associated motor controllers, rectifier/inverters power electronics, I am always amazed [read shocked] at the vast degree of mark ups that occur by the time the end product reaches the consumer. An estimated cost of $2k for just the replacement stator!!!! That got my ill attention.

We work in the motor industry reality of supplying automotive tier one suppliers and vehicle OEMs where margin expectations are modest but volumes are high. We have recently devised a 4kW system of relatively comparable performance specification to that of the nominal 3.4kW / 3.0 kW continuous rated Fischer Panda [FP] generator head, whereas for our modestly higher power system, we are projecting a cost upwards of about $130 for fabrication and assembly of the complete generator machine and about $90 - $110 for the rectifier / inverter with an expected pass through sale price to the OEMs being about $325 to maybe $400 [wishful think that] for the entire system, albeit again our system is targeted for the high volume, small vehicle electric propulsion applications with regenerative braking and to provide for the on-board battery charging, e.g., golf and utility carts. $2k is more than the price of the motor to be used for powering an electric bus, albeit those will be produced in units of tens of thousands. Time to get real.

Technically what intrigues me is the relative ease of cooling a boat's genny given that there is raw water cooling onboard a boat, whereas the EV sector prefers just air cooling / radiators being a highly frowned upon necessity; hence we design foremost to derive much less power losses within our machines so as to avail less heat dissipation requirements. Watts should go to benefit instead of adverse heat. From the appearance, the FP generator appears to be a standard radial gap induction machine, therefore the FP genny machine likely weighs in and is volumetrically about three times greater than that of the comparable permanent magnet machine [if I recall correctly our totally enclosed 4kW machine weighs in at 9 kilograms, just under 20 pounds, utilizing much less material than the heavy, old tech, induction designs and would measure in at about 4 inches in axial length which shorter length should provide downsizing the length of the PF generator packaging].

Is smaller form factor better aboard a yacht?
Seems like space is always a premium value inside a hull. There are times I wish my hull would expand like the slide-out sides or pop up tops of a recreational vehicle.

Quite certain the the efficiency of the PF genny's power conversion will be comparatively poor, but heck yachtees have lots of diesel to burn, right? I haven't priced red dyed diesel purchased at the dock recently as I so rarely utilize my engine on the boat, two minutes out od, or into the marina then it remains off. I generally don't take the boat for a sail unless there is a breeze. On my land yacht, I don't much like the out of wallet cost of filling my 45 gallon gas tank on the Chevy Suburban at $2.75 per gallon, so looking forward to converting to hybrid or all electric drive vehicles in the near future.

I am no expert in boat generator packages but Fisher Panda is a producer that I recognize and I suspect is of better than fair, good or even excellent quality.

What OEM engine manufacturers are the preferred for marine genny applications?

My experience has been largely limited to cursing them for being placed in spaces on boats that are inaccessible or engineered such that repairs and routine maintenance of components is made unnecessarily difficult. I swear their engineers have never performed worked on an installed machines or God forbid remove an engine / generator from a boat. I have a similar issue presently as to trying to access the two bolts that hold the starter motor of my JD 350 front end loader / back hoe which machine is located way up in the mountains so as to be able to replace the stater. You can't see or feel either of them. John Deere must think their starters never wear out as they seem to have desired to build the rest of the machine around them. ARGHHH. Y'all been there done that too as to sharing in such frustration. I've been told that there is some specially bent wrench made specifically for loosing one of the two blind bolts ; I would like to bend the neck of the engineer that put the bolt in that location of the engine.

Power is power, one if by land, two if by sea. And 4kW is truly modest power, certainly much less than our largest generator machine built to date which was rated at 3 megawatts, while running at only 13 rpm, that be thirteen rpm peak via direct drive from the prime mover, no gears. A truly torquey bastard. At 12 meters diameter it looked and spun like a Ferris Wheel, yet very light weight.

One earlier technology design of our motors has been used aboard US Navy ships as a replacement to a standard TEFC induction motor powering ventilation systems, I believe one ship's refitting realized something like 90,000 pounds displacement weight reduction after swapping out their original heavy iron induction motors with our Permanent Magnet machines. That being 90,000 pounds of water not being displaced ever inch the ship transited in the ocean, i.e., makes for a smaller hole, equivalent to about 11,000 gallons of sea water. There apparently being a lot of value in lightning a ship as to enhancing its efficiency of propulsion power load demand, I'm told that diesel delivered for refueling a ship at sea cost about $10+ per gallon. The Captain said he could find alternative and more beneficial uses for an additional 90,000 pounds of displacement. I suggested larger rum storage capacity [tuns] and accordingly larger daily rations for the crew. He chuckled. If the crew had heard my suggestion I likely would have become very popular. That older motor technology was licensed to a massive multinational defense contractor for military ship field of use and we haven't been aboard ships since. Montana being a long ways from the large shipyards.

So the US Navy seemed to like our older technology, maybe time to reconsider the maritime sector with our now decade newer technology. Dang, I'm getting old.

And for the benefit yacht owners. Hey, I am one.
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Old 05-12-2018, 01:32   #15
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Re: Built-in generator runs but no power??

Check the generator terminals for an output as P3sailor sugested, if you have output folow power cable it should be junction box and probably breackers inside. If you overload generator at some point, breacker jumped. I had the same situation week ago and it was easy fix in my case.
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