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Old 04-01-2014, 18:27   #1
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Inverter/Generator permanant installation

Hi all: I've been thinking about the possibility of using a portable (gasoline) inverter generator instead of a standard marine diesel, installed in a similar location (lazarette). The advantages are they are very quiet, air cooled, and less than half the price of a similar marine diesel generator (3Kw < $2500). The only challenges I foresee are that 1) fuel capacity is minimal, you would need to come up with some way to automatically refuel the tank, or refuel it manually, and 2) you would need to ventilate the enclosure, but I don't see why a standard (or larger capacity) blower, of the type used in engine compartments, couldn't work for this.

I'm hardly an electrician or engineer, and would be interested in knowing what other people think about this? Thanks a lot. Pete
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Old 04-01-2014, 18:41   #2
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

I think the Honda silent suitcase type are often used as a lightweight stand by , by a few of the cruisers over here ( uk) but the down side is the risks with more gas / petrol on board, even with vent fans I would be worried about setting up a auto feed supply , just my opinion
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Old 04-01-2014, 19:11   #3
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

I could certainly be done, but maybe not the greatest idea. Your call.

I'd suggest following all the ABYC guidelines for a gas engine in an enclosed space. Venting is required, and you will need to ensure enough intake air to run the engine. Exhaust will be a challenge too. You will need to route it outside somehow. Your laz will also have to made ignition protected, i.e. all switched and electrical devices need to be ignition protected. There may be other requirements elsewhere on the boat with the introduction of a gas engine. CO detectors will be critical. Then there is cooling. Yes, the portable generator is air cooled, but that means it dumps all the waste heat into your laz, and you will need to get it out somehow.

There really is a reason that marine generators are set up the way they are, and cost more - they solve all of these problems.

Personally I think you'd be better off biting the bullet and going with a proper marine generator.
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Old 05-01-2014, 03:38   #4
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

Thanks for the responses so far, I just want to point out that there is more to the issue than cost. The inverter generators are very quiet, which is a big consideration. They also don't run at a fixed rpm, but rather respond to load, so engine use and fuel consumption are less. And no through-hulls, no breaker and starter panels, etc. Some serious positives. But your points are valid, I'm just wondering if they couldn't be overcome, and if the end result wouldn't be advantageous. Pete
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:35   #5
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

No idea of suitability for the way you want to set it up but I have a Honda 20i.Have had it for more than ten years and used on our boats,outback camping,and caravaning.
They are outstanding units and ours has been totally trouble free.
However if you have not already done so have a good listen to one running under load as they are not as quiet as some people think.
Chris
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Old 05-01-2014, 04:39   #6
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

The was a tragedy pn a river cruiser where a air cooled petrol gen had been fitted to boat with exhaust to out side.unfortunately the exhaust became disconnected and a mother and daughter lost there lives through co poisoning.

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Old 05-01-2014, 05:01   #7
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

A lot of boats use the little Honda generators. Most just sit them on the aft deck when running, and store them in a locker when off. The same goes for a gas can to refuel. That way there is no problem with exhaust fumes, cooling air, or gasoline fumes. Just plug it in using your shorepower cord. And they are much cheaper, around 1/3 the cost of a built in diesel of the same capacity.

Now the downside. Compared to a built-in generator in an engine room, they are very noisy. Your neighbours in a quiet anchorage will not want to listen to your generator all night, but if you run it only during the day, and only long enough to charge your batteries, you should not loose too many friends.
Compared to a diesel generator of the same capacity, they are fuel hogs, but at one or two quarts per hour, fuel cost should not be a factor.
The exhaust contains a lot of carbon monoxide, so it is essential that no exhaust fumes be allowed to enter the cabin. Ditto for gasoline fumes, both are potentially deadly.
Then there is the convenience factor, and their longevity in warm salt air.

So it is your choice. We have a diesel generator in our boat.
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Old 05-01-2014, 05:34   #8
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

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Originally Posted by wmcruiser View Post
The was a tragedy pn a river cruiser where a air cooled petrol gen had been fitted to boat with exhaust to out side.unfortunately the exhaust became disconnected and a mother and daughter lost there lives through co poisoning.

Sent from my HTC One S using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
A good example of why I personally wouldn't risk it. About 20 years ago I tried to rig up a portable generator in a basement with exhaust to the outside. Getting a leak free, durable connection proved impossible.

I think a good starting point for identifying exactly what you would have to do would be to read all the applicable ABYC guidelines for a generator installation, and for a gasoline engine installation, including all the electrical aspects. I think you will need all the same breakers, adn in place of thruhulls you will need intake and exhaust vents, powered, to bring in combustion and cooling air, exhaust cooling air, and exhaust the engine exhaust. Exhaust typically needs to be a certain distance away from any other opening to the boat, and that alone can be a challenge

If what you are really asking is whether you can cut corners on all the safety and best practices for a generator installation, well, that will need to be your call/risk. Again, I wouldn't. All these practices are not there to torture owners, but because they actually are sound practices.

You mention noise and fuel economy as motivating factors. I think a well installed marine genset with a sound enclosure is about as quiet as it gets. The sound enclosure is a significant improvement, plus the use of a water/gas separator for the exhaust. My exhaust outlet just sounds like a drier vent, and in the salon, the AC air handler cycling on and off is much more noticeable than the generator running.

And on economy, I'll likely start a religious war by saying this, but I'm quite certain that a diesel genset will burn fewer gallons per KW generated than the very best gas powered inverter generator.

There also is the whole rats nest of insurance and whether you are opening yourself up to a denied clam, or at least a battle, should anything ever happen and you have a generator installation that I think any and every marine surveyor would consider inadequate no matter what you do.
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Old 05-01-2014, 05:51   #9
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

These Honda's infest some anchorages and, when under load, make a h@ll of loud noise, ruining the peace and quiet and the environment at the same time.

Putting it inside the boat will dampen the sound but will also lead to horrible accidents and black slurry dripping from the bulkheads and ceiling. These generators are not safe for use in enclosed spaces and can't be easily modified to become safe.

The only acceptable use would be on deck during emergencies, not for regular use.
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Old 05-01-2014, 06:14   #10
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

Kits are sold for doing just what you describe: Services

Mark
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:03   #11
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
These Honda's infest some anchorages and, when under load, make a h@ll of loud noise, ruining the peace and quiet and the environment at the same time.

Putting it inside the boat will dampen the sound but will also lead to horrible accidents and black slurry dripping from the bulkheads and ceiling. These generators are not safe for use in enclosed spaces and can't be easily modified to become safe.

The only acceptable use would be on deck during emergencies, not for regular use.
Could not agree more, especially the enclosed space idea.

Been there done that. Started with a cheaper portable generator (Generac) and even tried a Honda. They are not that quiet under load as stated above. Felt like the scourge of the anchorage every time I fired that thing up. Sold them off.

Use the money to buy a proper marine generator/inverter, install solar(more if you already have some) or a bigger alternator on your engine. Add a battery bank to support it and you will be much better off.
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Old 05-01-2014, 10:25   #12
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

Mastervolt make one that is diesel driven, all the charging and inverting is combined in one box so when it goes wrong everything is lost.

We have an Fischer Panda 12 volt diesel genny with a separate inverter. Charges at 280 amps, much more than the Mastervolt, and the inverter is a Victron 3 Kw whereas the Mastervolt is I think only 2 Kw.

Yes it does run much quieter than an AC genny and the generator can be sized much smaller because the batteries act as a source of power when for example our air con turns on. So if you go for the DC option you could have a 4 Kw DC genny and inverter. If you go for the AC option a 6.5Kw AC genny might be needed to power the same sized air con.
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Old 05-01-2014, 11:30   #13
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

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Kits are sold for doing just what you describe: Services

Mark
There is a warning on that web page that specifically prohibits what the OP describes.

"!Warning! Engine exhaust can kill you in minutes. Never operate the generator in or near a living space. The exhaust systems are designed for outbuildings and enclosures specifically for the generator only. Abide by manufacturer warnings."
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Old 05-01-2014, 11:51   #14
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

An enclosed lazarette may well indeed be considered an outbuilding or enclosure specifically for the generator or not a living space. We certainly have two fitting this description (one with a generator in it), and I have seen many boats with similar.

If the "near a living space" part is your issue, then that would rule out any type of portable generator anywhere on the boat.

I am not advocating doing what the OP wants, I just provided a link to a system that does it. I assumed the OP understood his lazarette situation and could read the instructions.

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Old 05-01-2014, 16:01   #15
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Re: Inverter/Generator permanant installation

I effing hate those Hondas running in an anchorage, it's not the noise per say , it's the revving up and back down as the load cycles that really gets my goat

Dave
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