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Old 05-10-2015, 09:24   #61
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

Yeah it's definitely worth it if I don't have to listen to your noisy stinky generator. Worst are the jerks that run them half the night when others are trying to enjoy the pristine quiet of a remote anchorage.
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:29   #62
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

I have a gen set, I am installing large solar panels. I need the gen set to run the refrigeration for my fish hold, I intend to never start it unless I am putting fish on the boat. My unit is quiet, but not as quiet as a solar panel, I would rather not hear the damn thing running either.
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:37   #63
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

I did all the pros and cons of generating electricity on my boat a couple of years ago. If you have the space, go with a generator, install it properly , in a properly designed system , load it properly , most importantly go with LiFePO4 Batteries. They charge fast , keeps run times down .

It all depends again on your life style and what you use your boat for , our boat is a second home for us with all the land based luxuries accept AC . We spend as much time as we can on board and plan to head south in the next year or so . There , we will very rarely see a marina or shore power. Design the system that fits your use . For us it was a generator , and we love it.

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Old 05-10-2015, 09:40   #64
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

i found the far distant sounds of hondas running in an anchorage much preferable to the sounds of untrained dogs barking at airplanes. all night long. the dogs are far louder than the gennies in real time.
as for the inboard gensets, at anchor you do not hear those at all. if downwind, you are privileged to smell and breathe in their noxious exhaust all night, which is the only way you can know they are in use.
i think there is far too much testosterone flowing in the my solar is better than your yada yada contest you guys seem to so enjoy.
try experiencing the reality . your own music will cover any sound of the hondas you complain so much about while stating you enjoy obnoxious extraneous sounds some call music while you sail and sit on anchor...
not to mention the ultraloud vhf in your cockpit which hollers day and night unnecesary words, audible to 8 boats from yours... truly...
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:50   #65
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

If you are planning on cruising out of the way places, consider that for every 10-20 hours of running a genny, you will have to replace 5 gallons of fuel. Not a problem if there is a fuel dock every few miles, but definitely an issue if you want to spend 3 months in Chagos.
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Old 05-10-2015, 10:54   #66
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

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I am struggling making a decision whether to go green to help the environment or to save money & stay with diesel generator for auxiliary power. I haven't sailed for long periods so dont have experience on needing to recharge batteries while on water (we recharge at the marina). Searching on forums, I see that many of us are using solar or wind to support extra power needs. Just wondering whether is it conscious decision to be environmental friendly or you are really bothered with noise/smell/pollution etc of generator? Is it an important factor to consider when going for longer trips?
I haven't read the other posts but this is just my two cents. We dreaded it when a big powerboat would come in to an anchorage because it meant we were going to have to listen to their genset drone on and on day and night. Some of them were muffled better than others. But it sure wasn't quiet anymore. I have one now on my new/old boat and I am trying to figure out how to get it out of the engine space. It was put in when the main engine was out so I am not sure how to do it yet. It only has 16 hours on it! But it is noisy, and yes they do create diesel fumes. If you have ever had to motor dead downwind you will know what I am talking about. It can make the cockpit unbearable. Ever been downwind of an idling boat in a marina when they are running their engine? Pretty bad sometimes.

Some gensets are very quiet though. And some ways of handing your exhaust can help with the noise. I had a Honda gas generator and I loved it but it made some noise and I was very careful when I ran it so it wasn't a bother to others nearby. I would actually dinghy away from the boat sometimes, upwind and down, to see how noisy it was, and if it seemed too noisy I wouldn't run it.

Go with as much solar as you can. It is green and quiet. Even if you have a genset it can limit the times you need to run it. But I wouldn't condemn someone because they have one, but I might suggest they run it during the day. Big powerboats won't listen, at least in my experience. They need the juice to just turn on the lights and the giant screen TV.
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Old 05-10-2015, 11:32   #67
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

My electrical plan is a three legged stool, Primary is Solar, I plan on as much Solar as needed to get my batteries full every day, I have AGM batteries so I need to fully re-charge them daily. Currently I have 750W and think that will be enough, but I can go to 1250W if I have to.
I can't see any form of power that in the long run is cheaper and easier to maintain than Solar

Second leg is a 140 amp Alt and three stage regulator, anytime I'm motoring, I plan on getting as much power as I can from the motor, but I do not plan on running the motor to the charge the batteries.

Third leg is the generator. I plan on a high output watermaker, primarily I'm looking for simple construction out of easily sourced replacement parts, nothing proprietary if I can help it.
But that means AC power, more than I can get from a reasonable bank. So if I can make 40 gl of water an hour, how many hours do I need to run the thing per week? I tried the Honda route and while that works it came with more drawbacks than I wanted and a Honda is louder to other boats than a built in gen is.

I also assume there will be times of bad weather that the Solar just won't keep up, maybe on passage or just a run of bad weather, then the generator will be run to charge batteries.
Then once in a blue moon, the no-seeums or Mozzies show up, and I and the wife will not be eaten alive, on those rare occasions I've been known to up anchor and seek a place down wind and by myself and crank that generator, close up the boat and not donate anymore blood.
But I will not be the guy who runs the thing, just because I have it.


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Old 05-10-2015, 11:33   #68
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

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Three 250W panels right on top of the davits, mounted side by side of course.
I may if necessary add two more on top of the Bimini. those would be much more likely to be shaded.
Thanks A64.

I was hoping you had come up with a better mousetrap.

Assume side by side meaning the long axis of the panels aligns fore and aft. For my boat the davits are fairly low so that would mean the panels would be hanging pretty far off the stern to leave room to board up the stern ladder. Also don't think they would handle that much weight. At some point guess I'll need to upgrade the davits if I'm going to add more solar. For my boat with a center cockpit to make as much headroom as possible the bimini top is too close to the boom and any panels on top would suffer.


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Nexgen has been trouble free, and will provide more power than my boat can handle, it's a 30 amp boat and if I inadvertently pull more than 30 amps, the boat CB trips not the generator CB.

Only issue with the Nexgen is if you have the sound shield, you must have a blower fan to pull air through the shield, the Bilge blower hose NexGen provides is wholly inadequate, it's that cheap vinyl hose every one uses, but if you try to pull hot air through it, it collapses under the vacuum when the hose gets soft and pliable from the heat, and the convoluted ribs that any bilge blower hose has reduces air flow.
I used 3" aircraft scat hose, that holds it's shape and has much less resistance, so more airflow.
I'm sure based on performance I had before I changed hoses, the scat hose is the reason I can pull 30 amps out of it without any problems.
Nexgen supplied everything, they left out the Racor fuel filter in my kit though, I didn't call them about it, just didn't worry about it, but everything else was there, even wire to connect the blower.
I went with the Nexgen because of the size and weight, price wasn't as big an issue, I'm sure a Northern Lights would be smoother and quieter, but they are much heavier and larger, beside I don't need 50 amps, my normal load with both AC's running and my battery charger is about 20 amps, or 2/3 load on the generator.
If you go with a Nexgen, pop for the sound shield and buy four extra engine mounts and double isolate it, the engine is on rubber mounts in the sound shield, but mount the sound shield on another set of motor mounts to further dampen vibration, and make the plate you mount the generator solid as you can, other wise it can become a sort of sounding board and amplify vibrations.
Good info on the Nexgen. Same for me, the size and weight are the issue and 3.5KW is more than enough for my needs.
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Old 05-10-2015, 11:53   #69
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

I would never clutter my boat with solar panels , just my 2 cents but i hate the look of them on a boat , I bought my boat with a KISS wind generator , even took that off and sold it here . Theres already enough stuff on a sailboat to walk around . I like to keep my decks as clear as possible .

Run my generator for an hour a day if Im underway on auto pilot with all electronics running , on the hook I may charge an hour every second day ...maybe . I only use my generator to charge batteries thats it . Burns a 3/4 a gallon an hour, I carry two hundred in my tanks on board , goes a long way . I can stuff around 225 amp hours into my batteries in an hour of running

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Old 05-10-2015, 11:54   #70
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

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I love the smell of diesel in the morning...

I used to stand watch on a submarine. we also used solar in the form of a nuclear reactor.
Was your reactor fission or fusion?
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Old 05-10-2015, 12:52   #71
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

Regarding generator noise, I spent years as a live-aboard in FL and the Caribbean 30-35 years back and don't recall this as a significant problem. I love the natural peace and quiet as much as the next guy and back then my hearing was a whole lot better than it is now.

I have docked in marinas with a powerboat next door running an air con with the cooling water flowing 24/7. Sure on a quiet night it was quite audible but it just sounded like splashing water to me and not that offensive.

Anchored out, at least in the Caribbean, there were very few nights when it was calm and windless enough that I could even hear another boats generator and even when I did, unless the boat was very close it wasn't that loud. Once I went below I could seldom hear them at all, no matter how quiet the night.

Now I'm not talking some guy setting a Honda on the stern and running it all night but a muffled, water cooled built-in gennie. My wife has always assured me that my annoyance threshold is generally very low so not sure why this noise is not a bother. Maybe that particular sound is like fingernails on a blackboard to some and just not to me.

Now run the stereo until all hours and I will come over and pound on your topsides (unless you look big and mean........ or drunk...... or armed).
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Old 05-10-2015, 15:19   #72
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

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Funny, when I called them about it, they said the blower can be mounted anywhere I wanted, just not directly to the shield, I wonder why?

The reason they gave me was that it would get hot from being so close to the engine heat. My reason for ignoring that is that I can't believe the heat dissipates much in the 3' run through a plastic hose. It has been working fine directly mounted for 5yrs, so I'm not too worried about it. The shield provides a very solid mount, so no problem there.

It came with a Jabsco squirrel cage blower and with the Scat hose I've run it in 90+ degree weather at 30 amps for hours with no overheating. Actually engine never overheated, I assume water cooling prevents that, but generator overheats and the generator CB pops before any damage is done,
I believe heat is what makes a CB pop, usually of course the heat comes from the electrical load, but believe ambient heat will add to that heat and pop one too.

Engine overheating from lack of cool air will never be a problem. The main reason for pulling as much cool air through the sound shield as possible is that the generator head is a pretty cheap one and the windings and connections will burn out if they get too hot. Yes, there is a heat breaker, but by the time that thing pops a few times, you have started damaging the windings and connections.

Now If I had designed the thing, we would be blowing air through it, not sucking it, as I believe an electric motor will last longer if it is pulling cool air, not hot air, but maybe since the motor is external on a squirrel cage blower it doesn't matter.

I have our set up so that air is sucked out by the squirrel cage blower mounted on the sound shield right above and behind the gen head, and another blower forces cool air into the sound shield through the baffle in front of the generator head (we have a 5.5kW, so your setup may be different). The baffle is to keep crap from being blown in. The gen head fans draw cooling air from the front of the head through to the back - so on ours, cool air is forced to the front of the head, is drawn through the head and is sucked out from above and behind.

Where did you get a 3 to 4" adapter? I need to do that in my engine room, boat is three inch hose, but I'd like to pull more air than a 3" blower will, plus when the blower goes on my generator I'd like to go to 4", you just can't have too much cooling air, can you.

I got the adapter at a hardware store. Don't remember where, but I think Grenada. They are common things - I'm pretty sure I've seen them in Home Depot.

For the generator naysayers, my intent is to not run the thing continuously, just when Solar can't keep up or to make water, plan is to run it in the morning and be done with it by Lunch, and not to run it early in the mornings or afternoons at all.
Nexgen is as far as I can tell an excellent little Gen, but if you want one to run 24/7, maybe a Northern Lights would be a better bet, I wanted to replace a Honda, not a constant running generator.
NextGen is definitely an occasional use generator. I agree that if one wanted to run one 24/7 or high loads for long periods of time often, then a heavier-duty genset like Northern Lights is better. However, for the size and weight, the NextGen is a good choice for lighter-duty use. The weight penalty alone on a similar sized NL is over 100lbs.

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Old 05-10-2015, 15:36   #73
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Re: Is generator noise & fuel smell really a problem?

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Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
If you are planning on cruising out of the way places, consider that for every 10-20 hours of running a genny, you will have to replace 5 gallons of fuel. Not a problem if there is a fuel dock every few miles, but definitely an issue if you want to spend 3 months in Chagos.
Yes, fuel is a given and most will have thought of that. The time spent away is all relative - how often is the generator run, how much fuel does the boat carry and how much competition for that fuel from the engines.

Since we easily go 6 months in out of the way places while using our generator, the 3 month time would be very easy for us.

For others, they may not make even that.

Generator noise levels are all over the place. First, any inboard generator is going to be MUCH more quiet to others in an anchorage than a Honda on deck. Second, most will be MUCH more quiet to others in an anchorage than every windgen in 20kts.

Besides those general truths, the actual noise of a generator depends on the size, the type and the exhaust handling. Most of the noise one hears is either a low thrumming coming through the water into the hulls from a very large genset deep in the bowls of a power boat. These types are rarely found on smaller sailboats.

The most common sound is exhaust water splashing. A water/exhaust separator solves this problem - putting the water exhaust below the waterline and the gas exhaust above. You will not hear one of these.

1800rpm gensets are much quieter than 3600rpm ones. An insulated sound enclosure makes sure all operating noise is kept within the boat.

So while there may be noisy gensets, this is the fault of the owner and installation, not a general truth about gensets. A 1800rpm genset in a sound enclosure with an exhaust/water separator will be totally inaudible from 5' away - if it can be heard at all.

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