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Old 04-09-2012, 15:07   #1
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New Generator: Where to Begin

After reading and doing searches on marine generators, I'm still at a bit of a loss on where to find some good info and prices for different generators.

Here's my situation: I have a 30ft diesel boat that I live on. It has a very old mase generator, 3.8kw that is having some issues (questions for another thread). The generator is annoyingly too loud, and according to the PO, the gen was never even powerful enough to run the 16kbtu air conditioner.

I would like to look into replacing it with another diesel gen, quieter the better of course, and 4kw (that's what I've been told I would need to run the air conditioner). I assume my other power needs shouldn't be a problem (ie battery charging, stove, and fridge) if its more than the 3.8 installed.

So basically how do I verify what my true power requirements would be? And where do I begin to narrow down my possibilities and cost options?

I imagine this has been discussed before, but I've apparently used the search function to the limit of my capabilities...
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Old 04-09-2012, 15:41   #2
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Re: New Generator: where to begin

We've had success with Northern Lights in our 37' Tayana and now our trawler. We also have a Westerbeke. Both work well. The Northern Lights rep was very helpful to us.
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Old 04-09-2012, 15:53   #3
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Re: New Generator: where to begin

Check out Nextgen (Next Generation Power). 5.5 kw, mid rpm, Kubota engine, and made in Jacksonville, FL. They also make a very compact 3.5 kw that might suit your needs too.
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Old 04-09-2012, 16:08   #4
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Re: New Generator: where to begin

ERJ:

There are several 3.5-4 kw marine gensets on the market that should work: NextGen, Phasor, EntecWest and Fischer-Panda. All are higher rpm gensets that run at 2,800 (first three) and 3,600 rpm (F-P).

I know the most about the NextGen and F-P. First I would never buy a F-P. Way over engineered and if any small component fails it is likely to take the whole engine out (personal experience). The NextGen has its problems as well, but recent changes to the exhaust elbow have helped.

I have seen a 3.5 KW NextGen run and even without its sound shield the vibration and sound are tolerable. Users and my local dealer swear that it will start any 16,000 BTU marine air conditioner, but only with little else running. The A/C needs to be the only load connected when it starts. A 16,000 BTU A/C draws about 15 amps or 1,800 watts after it is running so there is another 1,700 watts or 14 amps available (but I wouldn't run at maximum for long) for other loads, like a microwave, shore power charger or water heater but not all at once.

With judicious power management you can get by fine with 3.5 KW.

A 3.5 KW NextGen will cost about $6,500 with sound shield. But if you want the best and can afford the weight and cost, a Northern Lights 5 KW is almost bulletproof. But they cost $11-12,000 with sound shield.

David
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Old 04-09-2012, 16:17   #5
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Re: New Generator: where to begin

The sound shield helps quite a bit in keeping it quiet.
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Old 04-09-2012, 17:20   #6
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Re: New Generator: where to begin

David has given you some good advice.

I, too, have a 3.5KW NextGen in a sound shield and am reasonably happy with it. But I wish it were a 5.5KW; I just don't have the space.

I have a 16.5K BTU A/C and a 12K BTU A/C. The NextGen will happily run either one and can even run both for a few minutes. But, you really can't load the NextGen to its rated capacity of 3.5KW and expect it to run continuously, especially in hot weather, with less than perfect fuel, etc.

One caution: you mentioned 'stove' in your original post. Do you have an electric stove? If so, forget it. You can't run much of anything along with the stove. An electric stove is a real power hog.

Before you decide, though, you need to think thru very carefully what equipment you need to run simultaneously, and how much each one draws. Most appliances have their power draws stamped onto a plate, either in watts or in amps. With 120VAC shore or generator voltage, amps x 120 = watts. So, a coffee pot which says it draws 8.0A will draw 8 x 120 = 960 watts.

As you tally things up, remember that you don't want to run any generator at its full rating. Best to de-rate it by 20% or so, thus a 3.5KW generator should not be loaded more than 3.5 x .80 = 2.8KW.

My NextGen begins to complain, slow down, and even stop if I load it more than about 25A or 3,000 watts.

Bill
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Old 04-09-2012, 17:29   #7
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I will do some more looking at my power requirements, and yes I do have an electric stove. However, I have no issues turning off the air to use it, or turning off anything else for that matter. I don't use anything even on shore power that consumes a lot of power at the same time as the a/c.

My biggest concern power wise as you can tell is air conditioning. It's just way to hot here in Houston most months to go without it. But I would like to do more overnight cruises and it would be great to run some little stuff and charge batteries too.
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Old 04-09-2012, 17:31   #8
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Re: New Generator: where to begin

Go with the Northern Generator (Seattle WA)...A great bunch of people who really care about SERVICE! And, they're very helpful if you have any questions or problems. I can't say enough good things about our 4.5Kw Northern Generator and their service.
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Old 04-09-2012, 17:44   #9
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Re: New Generator: where to begin

Did you mean Northern Lights?
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Old 04-09-2012, 18:04   #10
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Re: New Generator: where to begin

Sorry...I meant to say NORTHERN LIGHTS GENERATORS.
thanks!
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Old 04-09-2012, 19:52   #11
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Re: New Generator: Where to Begin

You might consider one of the inverters that has sync capability. I believe they have the ability to recharge your batteries when power consumption is low and supplement generator or shoe power when power consumption is high. Just my two cents, Mike.h
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:09   #12
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Re: New Generator: Where to Begin

I recommend a Fischer-Panda 4200. Powered by a single cylinder Farymann Deisel Engine, which should be very fuel efficient. The unit makes 34 amps of 120v, which should give you pleanty of power for you boat.

The Fischer Panda Generators are the quietest on the market...

I have owned my Fischer Panda 8KW for six years now without problems.

I have heard a number of people knock them and can't understand why. With proper care FP is a great GenSet.

The only down side I have found is that Fischer Panda Parts are not avaialble in many countries, so you should purchase their spare parts kit if you are leaving the US.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:06   #13
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Re: New Generator: Where to Begin

I have a Northern Lights 5kw with 1975 hours on my 03 H356. We are on our 10th season and use it whenever we are away from the dock. The only unscheduled maintenance on it has been a broken belt. I change oil and impellers regularly and it powers our AC which is always on. I have it in a custom sound shield and it is very quiet. Burns 6 gallons of fuel in 24 hours. Will run everything on our boat with no strain.

Have chartered three boats with FP. All three had problems. Good friend of mine had one and it seldom ran. Northern Lights is by far the best generator made. Has 3 cylinders running at 1,800 rpm. FP has 1 cylinder running at 3,600. If you can keep the FP running, which one will last the longest? Doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the difference.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:23   #14
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Re: New Generator: Where to Begin

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
I recommend a Fischer-Panda 4200. Powered by a single cylinder Farymann Deisel Engine, which should be very fuel efficient. The unit makes 34 amps of 120v, which should give you pleanty of power for you boat.

The Fischer Panda Generators are the quietest on the market...

I have owned my Fischer Panda 8KW for six years now without problems.

I have heard a number of people knock them and can't understand why. With proper care FP is a great GenSet.

The only down side I have found is that Fischer Panda Parts are not avaialble in many countries, so you should purchase their spare parts kit if you are leaving the US.
We also have the FP 4.2 KW unit, since 2002, and the only difficulties we've had, save one, were self induced. In the one case where there was an equipment problem--a manufacturing defect by a pump supplier--FP put it right without question long after our warranty had expired. With proper routine maintenance and up-keep FP's are very good units and the support from the Company has been very good.

FWIW...
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:27   #15
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Re: New Generator: Where to Begin

I have not even introduced myself, and here I am posting.

I am in the process of building/designing a fireboat under ABYC.

The boat we are building is a very beautiful hull, a very power propulsion system, and a fairly light power system. One of the elements in my power system is the Fischer Panda generator.

I have been building ships for about 30 years, and I admit that I have some things to catch up on with the small boats. I will say that I have some reservations about the FP 12 Mini that I will be using. If any of you can tell me of some specific problems that you can relate using the FP product line please share.

I have the FP 12, and two (2) 200 amp engine driven 24vdc alternators. For shore power I am using two cords of 50amp each to a Charles Iso Transformer.

Big ticket loads for me are the HVAC/Heating system, where the heat is more than ac, up to 15 amps x 2. I have two block heating systems that are 2.5kw each and a battery charger at about 25amps. There will be heated windows as well. My biggest problem with electricity seems to be in the winter months at shore power, as most of the loads that I can shift to DC have been. We have a different kind of heat when underway.
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