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Old 01-04-2014, 11:44   #1
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Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

I have a 44ft sport fish I live on with a gen big enough to run everything i need. The gen is the sole source of power underway (no solar/wind power). Pardon my ignorance, but when I decide to anchor out over night or for a weekend trip with no marina for electricity, is it normal to keep the gen running while underway and especially while anchored and at night? I understand i dont need interior lights and can probably get away with no AC with nice weather, but what about anchor light(does that run off the batteries?) and more importatantly: the refrigerator? In speculation, I suppose i can turn it off since we wont be going into the fridge throughought the night, but im just curious. Any advice or ideas would be great, thanks in advance.
Chip
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:19   #2
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Re: Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

You can...if you want. The big yachts do. you probably need to know what your refrigerator is 12 volts or 120.v Even if its 120 v. you could run it off and inverter if you install one. I for one would not like to run my generator 24 hours. It is still noisy and it is a lot of wear on the generator. it seems you need to learn a little more about the systems on your boat
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:33   #3
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Re: Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

If you don't mind the noise, fuel burn and shortening your oil changes, maintenance etc. run it all the time.
Boat my brother used to have the gen only returned fuel to the port tank, so if you ran it for long times off the starboard tank, after awhile it would overfill the port tank and begin pumping fuel out of the vent, so check that before you go to bed at night with the Gen running.
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Old 01-04-2014, 13:26   #4
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Re: Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

Chip,

Can you? Sure...you can do anything you want.

Should you? Probably not, because:

  • most likely, it's not really necessary
  • it's noisy
  • it ruins a quiet anchorage for others
  • it's incredibly expensive if you tally up the real costs
  • the needed AC most likely could be provided by an inverter
  • you could implement various energy-saving practices
  • it's quite possibly dangerous
Before you decide, the first thing you need to do is write down all the things you need to have running, determine whether they're 12-volt DC (batteries) or 125VAC (generator or inverter), and how much current they draw.


You also need to investigate your battery system...starting batteries and house batteries, and how they're wired.


Sailboats often anchor for days at a time without need for running a generator. A suitably equipped and operated sport fish can certainly do it overnite.


Bill
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Old 01-04-2014, 14:05   #5
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Re: Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

What Bill said.

It all depends on your power usage. If you have a load of a couple of kW or more all the time, like superyachts or working fishing boats do, then by all means, run your generator all the time. And be ready to maintain it intensively and replace it often.

If, on the other hand, your loads are mostly just refrigeration, lighting, electronics -- you will be better off running those off a battery bank, and recharging the batteries once or twice a day from your generator. It is certainly not efficient to run an 8kW or 12kW or whatever size generator you have, in order to run 500 watts of loads. Better use the generator intensively for a couple of hours to charge batts, then run off the batts.
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Old 01-04-2014, 14:10   #6
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Re: Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

After replacing the exhaust elbow on 2 identical 5KW Northern Lights gensets 3 times, at more than $200 each for just the part, I wrote to their service manager and asked why they failed (all 3 cracked)so frequently and if they had done anything about it. He replied that light loads and intermittent use is what caused the exhaust elbows to consistently fail with relatively few (around 1000) hours on them. I replied that I always loaded my genset up as much as possible and almost always ran it for about 1.5-2 hours each morning during the boating season with a short warm up and cool down period, and hardly ever ran it for a shorter period of time where it wouldn't have a chance to get temperature stabilized. He replied that even using the genset for 2 hours a day was considered "intermittent" use and since their generators were designed to be run 24/7/365, that was the reason I was going through exhaust elbows so frequently. This most recent time I chose to spend a few more $$$ and get the stainless steel exhaust elbow rather than the cast iron ones that seem so prone to cracking. We'll see if it results in longer life.

So, the generator company will tell you to run it all day every day, BUT that's not practical on a boat because you (and your neighbors) won't want to listen to it and smell it in a calm anchorage and you'd like to have a little fuel available for your main engine and you don't need that much electricity all day long.

If you don't already own your genset, I would buy one at the low end as far as size goes and plan to run it a little longer each day at about 80% load, rather than having a really big one that would power all your onboard AC loads at one time because you'll end up running it for shorter times and at a smaller percentage of it's maximum load, both of which will shorten it's life.
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Old 01-04-2014, 20:13   #7
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Re: Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

while the boat is running everything important should be able to run off batteries. engine charges batterys.

while engines not running. batteries should be able to run important things for 24-48 hours if they are sized right. run gen or engine every so often to charge batteries.

if you need a/c power on boat. for a/c, stove, microwave etc run gen as needed. inverter is better for shorter burst and lower current stuff.
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Old 02-04-2014, 09:43   #8
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Re: Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

April Fool's?
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Old 02-04-2014, 15:59   #9
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Re: Do (can) I run my Gen 24/7?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Son of a Sailor View Post
I have a 44ft sport fish I live on with a gen big enough to run everything i need. The gen is the sole source of power underway (no solar/wind power). Pardon my ignorance, but when I decide to anchor out over night or for a weekend trip with no marina for electricity, is it normal to keep the gen running while underway and especially while anchored and at night? I understand i dont need interior lights and can probably get away with no AC with nice weather, but what about anchor light(does that run off the batteries?) and more importatantly: the refrigerator? In speculation, I suppose i can turn it off since we wont be going into the fridge throughought the night, but im just curious. Any advice or ideas would be great, thanks in advance.
Chip

Is the genset gas or diesel? If former, not generally. If latter, maybe, but also not generally... unless temps and humidity are both over 95

Review the DC systems on the boat: Any "built in" interior lights? The fridge may have a DC setting? (Ours runs on DC, even when connected to AC supply, pretty much just like a computer or stereo or whatever.) Steaming, nav and anchor lights should run on DC.

You probably have two power distribution panels (or sections), one for AC stuff, and one for DC stuff...

-Chris
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