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Old 07-05-2014, 17:14   #1
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Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

I am about to upgrade my generator, and need to choose between the 2 makes. The Westerbeke is slightly higher output, and is simpler to install, and the Northern Lights has simpler exhaust and raw water connections but the raw water impeller would be harder to access. Both are in the 5-6kw range.

Is there any other reason to favour one make over the other, eg, reliability, etc?

Thanks for any advice!
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Old 07-05-2014, 17:30   #2
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

Not from any real experience with either but my research on CF and many blogs over last 5 years clearly suggests Northern Lights is the way to go over the Westerbeke.

Cheers.
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Old 07-05-2014, 17:31   #3
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

No comparison; Northern Lights.
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Old 07-05-2014, 19:05   #4
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

I have two Northern Lights. They really run well. I did have to change the impeller on the 8kw and it was simple, even with relatively small amounts of space. Also, the new 5kw is compact and pretty lightweight for the quality of construction.
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Old 08-05-2014, 05:37   #5
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

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Originally Posted by cinderella1965 View Post
LOL!!! NEITHER! They are so stupid overpriced its not even funny.
Look at phasor units.
Phasor Marine Generators

Phasor Marine
$7500, what are they quoting you for the NL?
The phasor uses a kubota engine.
save yourself $5000 for a good quality victron inverter/charger, new batteries, and drinks.

Here in the West Indies, they are around $9500US. I already have the inverter charger, solar and wind, but find it necessary to charge up every 3 days or so. The ambient heat/water temp keeps the fridge and freezer working. Also driving a compressor is beyond an inverter. This is a liveaboard.
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Old 08-05-2014, 06:19   #6
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

Love my next generation power generator. 10hp kubota in a box putting out 5.5kw. Runs 2 ac units and the battery charger.
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Old 08-05-2014, 20:20   #7
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

If finances are not a concern buy the Northern Lights.

They have for one a far better generator end. The Northern Lights units use the Martathon Magnaplus generator end. The best made.

The westerbeke os a OK generator, and a good value. The Northern Lights generators are excellent generators but they command a higher price.
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Old 08-05-2014, 20:49   #8
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

I have always had great support from NL in Seattle and their distributors
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Old 08-05-2014, 21:15   #9
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

Last year Connie and I deliverd a 55ft power vessel from Cabo San Lucas to the Portland OR. area. On this boat everything was electric! stove, ect. ect. To use anything you had to run a gen set. There were 2 gen sets aboard. A 12 KW older style Onan in a sound box. And a 15 KW Northern Lights in a sound box! Either would run everything on the boat, but the Northern Lights was so much smoother and less noisy by far, so we ran it almost all the time !! We have found that the northern lights gen sets we have worked with have been pretty much the best of the bunch! (except for the darn Italian 6 kw we have on our ketch which I have to go above deck to tell if it's running LOL) We think any gen set will get the job done, but the one that's makes the less noise is the one we want !!
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Old 08-05-2014, 21:31   #10
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

As an aside.... I HATE SOUNDBOXES!
The cause of so many premature failures on Gensets that are never inspected properly because of lack of access
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Old 08-05-2014, 22:14   #11
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

If a sound box stops someone from properly maintaining a gen set ! Then I believe he would most likely do a bad job maintaining it anyway ! just my 2 cents!!
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Old 08-05-2014, 22:59   #12
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

Northern Lights all the way. We've chartered many boats with them and always been pleased. Now own a boat with two of them, love them. The PNW is so full today and historically of fine boat building and Northern Lights is popular with those builders for far more than just their location.
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Old 09-05-2014, 01:02   #13
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

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If a sound box stops someone from properly maintaining a gen set ! Then I believe he would most likely do a bad job maintaining it anyway ! just my 2 cents!!
Problem is that I have seen many installations where it is impossible to remove sections of the covers, without disconnecting plumbing or cables.
Then.... A small drip leak in a hidden sender creates a build up of electrolytic action that erodes an exhaust fitting.

I am in favor of insulating the whole ER and being able to climb around an open Gen.
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Old 09-05-2014, 10:12   #14
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

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Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Problem is that I have seen many installations where it is impossible to remove sections of the covers, without disconnecting plumbing or cables.
Then.... A small drip leak in a hidden sender creates a build up of electrolytic action that erodes an exhaust fitting.

I am in favor of insulating the whole ER and being able to climb around an open Gen.
best solution by far --if possible.
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Old 09-05-2014, 11:48   #15
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Re: Northern Lights v Westerbeke?

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best solution by far --if possible.
But even better is to insulate and seal the whole engine room, THEN put a genset in a soundbox inside THAT And on rubber feet.

The only problem with that setup (which is what I have) is that you might once in a while forget to shut down the genset because you forgot it was running . . .


Concerning Phasor and other cheap one-cylinder gensets versus three-cylinder heavy duty sets like the Northern Lights -- it's a question of priorities. You save money and, more importantly for many of us, weight -- with the one-lunger rototiller motor jobs. They are good enough for occasional use and they will last longer than suitcase generators (mostly).

But for real long term use, you can't beat the heavy duty ones. They are much quieter, much smoother, and will go for thousands of hours. My Kohler is rated for continuous use -- as prime power. The tradeoff is cost and weight (lots of weight -- my 6.5kW set weighs about 500 pounds with the sound shield). Not worth it for everyone. But if you spend months a year on the hook or on a non-powered mooring like I have -- worth its weight in gold, and no way would a light-duty Kubota-powered job be any kind of substitute.

Among heavy duty three-cylinder marine sets, Northern Lights has clearly got the best reputation. The Lugger engines are supposed to be masterpieces of engineering. But I am very happy with my Kohler as well -- it is Yanmar powered and hasn't given me a bit of trouble which wasn't caused by my own stupidity -- 13 years old and still going strong.

One more tip -- if you have a charger/inverter with power limiting feature (it supplements genset power with inverted power to "shave peaks" from your power demand -- you can use a smaller genset than your maximum expected load and run the genset more efficiently. And at the same time saving money and weight. If I were building my boat all over again, I would use the smallest Northern Lights set, which puts out 4.5kW at 230v. I would use my charger/inverter to cover the occasional shortfalls of power over 4.5kW.
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