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Old 21-06-2006, 18:54   #1
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Genset Recommendations

First a little history. I like refrigeration. We have convenient front opening fridge/freezer and stand alone freezer. A couple of our criteria for selecting the right boat were that we wanted ice cubes in our drinks and fresh water showers.

We bought a 38í catamaran that filled those needs plus comfort and safety quite well.

The boat had an old Hatz one lung 220 v 50 Hz 3.5 kW genset when we bought her. We changed the alternator to a 4.2 kW 110 v 60 Hz and have been happy so far. The down side is the little 1 lung Hatz is squealing like a seized bearing & I donít think it is worth finding the obsolete parts to rebuild her.

I have several options including but not limited to:
Get along recharging with the engines
Put a new diesel (Kubota?) in the loop
Buy a new modular unit in a nice sound attenuated box (i.e. Panda, or NexGen)

I donít have AC. I do have a couple of 53 watt solar panels and a wind generator (which also died last cruise) but having real 110 v for the microwave and the occasional power tool is nice. Also, the genset charges the batteries SOOOOO much faster and fuel efficiently than the engines that I think it makes sense to get a new, quiet one.

In short, my question is to those with modular, housed units of about 3.5 to 5 kW. Who has had good luck with what? What horror stories should steer me away from a particular make and/or model.

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Old 21-06-2006, 19:09   #2
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Most of what I knwo for sure is the following:

Panda = lots of trouble. It might not be the worst but has a wide range bad reputation. My own 2 cents is that it has to be poor Q/A. And clearly lacking customer service.

NextGen (I know the VP of sales. He used to live near me when he was a mechanic.) = very good. Top dollar. Best. Maybe too much money.

Kabota egines = very good (at least for the engine part). NexGen uses them.

Whole other direction. Beef up the insullation and add a 150 watts solar, more if you can. If you don't need AC then it should be possible to make ice. The water maker is maybe the deal breaker on power. I would consider the added maint. and other assorted hassles. Avoiding a generator is just a bit less for things to worry about and go wrong.

Low rpm deisel is the one standalone issue to look for. You'll probably need to be in the 4 kw range to get anything that will last.
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Old 21-06-2006, 19:18   #3
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Sunspot,
We are very pleased with a Kubota based DC genset that we got from the Watermaker store in San Diego. It has a 140 amp alternator that makes short work of battery charging and runs freezer and watermaker at the same time. Then we use a Xantrex Prosine 2000 inverter to run AC appliances (but not the AC obviously).
The Kubota (called Kestrel) fits behind our engine in the engine room and so gets the benefits of the soundproofing. It is decently quiet and takes about 1/8 GPH of diesel. The only downside of this particular model is that it doesn't hand-crank. But with the compression release, we should be able to start it on very low batteries. We have a dedicated starting battery anyway.
This is our first genset, so there could be something better out there. But we are giving this one two thumbs up.
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Old 21-06-2006, 19:19   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais
Most of what I knwo for sure is the following:

Panda = lots of trouble. It might not be the worst but has a wide range bad reputation. My own 2 cents is that it has to be poor Q/A. And clearly lacking customer service.
Going to have to disagree with this statement. We put in a Panda a couple of years ago and have been more than satisified. They had some issues in the past especially one guy who flamed them but I have found their service and response to be just fine.

OTHO we needed max power in minimal space and the Panda 4.2KW unit puts out more power in a smaller footprint than anything else. If I had room to burn the a low rpm genset is the way to go.
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Old 21-06-2006, 20:41   #5
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I bought a 7kw Beta genset from Pat "Never monday" from this board. I am very happy with the genset and dealing with Pat. I highly recommend him.
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Old 22-06-2006, 05:09   #6
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Thanks for input so far. Anyone else's thought or experiences are welcome as well.

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Old 22-06-2006, 05:26   #7
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I've been avoididing this because I don't want to be blatent.

Fischer-Panda was maligned (sp) by errors at the Farymann engine plant. Farymann W15 engines are used in the PMS4000 and 4200 generators. Farymann had a quality control problem that caused many Fischer-Panda generators to fail early. This has been resolved and the current production product is of excelent quality.
There are many, many options when selecting a generator. First find several that will fit in your boat and be servicable. Next find the correct Kw rating, too low and it will be overworked, too much and it will be under worked.
Most importantly, find a unit with reliable dealer/agent in your crusing grounds or one that will support you in your travels. Write the check and enjoy the ice cream.
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Old 22-06-2006, 05:36   #8
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Pat:
Just for the record - which manufacturers & products do you handle?
~ sales
~ service
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Old 22-06-2006, 06:44   #9
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Sales:
Westerbeke
Yanmar
Universal
Beta
Volvo Penta Diesel Auxiliaries
Nextgen
Fischer-Panda
Farymann
Lombardini
Mastervolt

Service:
Anything that smells like diesel or makes volts under 1000hp and 100Kw
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Old 22-06-2006, 08:58   #10
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Pat:

Seems a shame you are so far from the watereay. I could use you on the way north and/or south. I think I better find someone in this area.

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Old 22-06-2006, 09:00   #11
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Pat - I saw a Mastervolt water cooled unit at the Oakland boat show - looked to me like a Panda copy. Can you tell me if the mastervolts are are "good" unit.. or anything about them in general?
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Old 22-06-2006, 10:11   #12
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Re: Fischer-Panda

I do not have any first hand experience with Fischer-Panda so judge this comment accordingly.

About 2 or 3 years ago I was researching various gensets to power the Solomon Technologies motors I intended to have installed in my boat. I asked the guy in charge of maintenance at Voyage Charters at Sopers Hole on Tortola his opinion. He said they had more trouble with Fischer-Panda gensets than any other piece of equipment. He said he didn't bellieve their failure rate was much worst than other gensets. But that they were "so high tech and complicated" that it was hard to find people that knew how to work on them.

This was only one opinion and things may have changed, but if you are going to be cruising in out of the way places ease of getting parts and service is something to consider.
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Old 22-06-2006, 10:57   #13
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Mark,
I can't realy comment to the longgevity of the Mastervolt units. I just picked them up this year. They use Mitsu engines so I think they'll hold up.
Sun,
I don't do the coast on a regular basis. If you need something shipped in, let me know.
Gosstyla,
I can agree that Panda uses complicated electronics, but there are few failure points. The training available and excelent manuals more than cover the units.
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Old 23-06-2006, 04:33   #14
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Thanks for all the good comments.

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Old 26-06-2006, 08:07   #15
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(Small diversion in thread): Pat, can you order parts for the air-cooled diesel Yanmar engines? You know... the diesel "lawnmower" engines Yanmar makes?

I have one now, and was curious for the sake of reference in case something goes wrong with it.
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