You would not be asking the question, if you had made a list of electrical equipment
, both 12v and 230v. You should do that before doing anything else.
Typical 230v equipment
on board a largish cruising boat:
chargers for phones and laptops
hot water heater
Obviously, a generator
will run any of these. Besides that, a generator has the extremely useful function of charging
Some of these things can be practically run off an inverter
Those are things which are either small loads, or large loads run for short periods of time. Things which are large loads run for extended periods of time: air conditioning
, watermaker, washer/dryer, hot water heater, electrical heaters -- are not practical or possible to run from an inverter.
For large loads run for brief periods: kettle, microwave, power tools -- you want a large built-in inverter.
If you don't want the ability to run things like that, then you can get away with a small, perhaps not built in inverter, for the chargers and the TV.
It all depends on what equipment you will use, in what way.
Even though our boat has a generator, I find the electric
kettle and microwave to be so extremely useful on board (among other things, they reduce the hazardous and somewhat awkward use of propane), that I am planning to install a large built-in inverter sometime this year.
KISS principle or not, I wouldn't want to be without the generator. There are different circumstances, where you want 230v power on board, beyond what an inverter can provide. Air conditioning is far less useful, if you can only run it on shore power
. And you save your main engine
from the potentially damaging job of charging
your batteries at anchor
. Besides that, you have a backup redundant way to charge your batteries, should something happen to the main alternator
, which is a frightening thought since all of our navigational equipment, autopilot
, nav lights, etc., depend on having power.
That's why a typical large cruiser, designed for autonomous use away from marinas
, will have a generator and
a large, built-in inverter.
But if you really want to be without those complications, then, of course you can live without 230v power on board, or even 12v power. If you really wanted to go whole hog, you can buy oil-fired navigation
lamps to light your cabin
, and you can steer by hand and use a hand-held battery-powered GPS
. Only you can decide what items of electrical equipment you need or want.