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Old 28-01-2013, 09:57   #16
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Re: Generator safety question

Leaving it running IMHO depends on your fear tolerance. We shut engines of all types down.
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Old 28-01-2013, 10:36   #17
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Re: Generator safety question

Quote:
Originally Posted by stacy View Post
while on a circumnaviation, friends of mine left their gen set on to charge their batteries while they visited a fellow cruiser anchored close by. While having drinks in the cockpit and admiring the setting they happened to look back at their boat to see smoke billowing out the companionway. Yep, their gen set caught on fire. They were able to save their boat only because they were close by.
Do you have any information on what caused the smoke? With low oil and high temperature cutout, I cannot think of how this could happen. Maybe if it were a gasoline engine with a faulty float level valve in the carb, that is the only thing I can think of where the engine compartment could be flooded with gasoline, but a diesel engine with everything contained in the fuel injection system piping and with high ignition temperature for diesel, I cannot see it happening.
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Old 28-01-2013, 11:02   #18
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Re: Generator safety question

Quote:
Originally Posted by chris.troutner View Post
You should put a dollar amount to the worst case situation you can think of (explosion, maybe?). Then multiply that by the probability of it occurring (0.01%, maybe?). That's the cost of leaving it running.

Use that dollar amount (as well as the fuel cost) when considering alternative to charging your battery pack, such as solar panels and wind turbines.
Or maybe not.

I suspect the number of generators running at any given time would be in the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions - .0000001%

Plus the dollar is not worth as much any more (US).
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Old 30-01-2013, 12:00   #19
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Re: Generator safety question

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Originally Posted by rubberfish View Post
X2 on the running of equipment 24/7.

Anyone who worries about things like this running when
ashore for groceries or drinks is just paranoid in my opinion.
+1...
one could also worry about an electrical fire if one has solar panels and a controller. One malfunctioning controller can spark a nasty situation......

Diesel GenSets are designed to run... and I would propose that most gensets are NOT run enough.... and with enough load.....

A blockage in the water cooling system should trigger a shutdown due to overheat on the generator..
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Old 30-01-2013, 12:22   #20
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Re: Generator safety question

Genset manufacturers do support unattended operation for boats and RV's, including startup and shutdown. Here is Onan's information on the subject . . . .
Easy to Install AutoStart for Your RV Generator

Worry-Free Control of Your Power Systems

  • Starts and stops the generator as required to maintain battery health
  • Will only start the generator if shorepower is NOT present
  • Automatic generator turn on to meet air conditioning demands if coach gets too hot
  • Wireless - RV owners can install themselves
Introducing the newest RV power generation solution -- Energy Command™ AutoStart . The EC-30W is the first autostart system specifically designed for RV owners to install themselves. This provides worry-free control for most Cummins Onan diesel, gas, or LP generators. While high-end diesel RVs have added autostart as a factory option in recent years, most RVers who could use an autostart system on their existing RV don’t have one. Because the EC-30W is wireless, the average RV owner can install it on their own without paying for installation. At the same time, the EC-30W maintains several features that are unique to the Energy Command family. These unique features include:
  • Detection of Shorepower so the EC-30W will only start the generator if shorepower is NOT present and batteries get low or the RV gets too hot. This allows the RVer to use the EC-30W as a back-up to shorepower in campgrounds with weak or intermittent power.
  • An accelerometer to detect when the RV moves to prevent the EC-30W from accidentally starting the generator when the RV is placed inside an enclosed space.
  • Battery backup to maintain settings in the EC-30W when power is removed. (Don't have to constantly reset the clock.)
And, Northern Lights auto start information is here: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...41642243,d.cGE

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Old 31-01-2013, 14:21   #21
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Re: Generator safety question

Quote:
Originally Posted by EzzyD View Post
+1...
one could also worry about an electrical fire if one has solar panels and a controller. One malfunctioning controller can spark a nasty situation......

Diesel GenSets are designed to run... and I would propose that most gensets are NOT run enough.... and with enough load.....

A blockage in the water cooling system should trigger a shutdown due to overheat on the generator..
Even though I don't run my diesel generator while I'm ashore I agree wth the idea above. If you consider all the potenial risks it might be best to stay off the boat fulltime. Then there are the risks ashore to tally,- traffic, crime, contagions, etc. .....maybe it's best to stay in the dinghy!
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Old 01-02-2013, 00:35   #22
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In 30 years living aboard I've had exhaust hose clamps break and the boat start filling with water and exhaust, and an electrical end fire.... And know of others having problems that safety switches aren't designed for too.
If you think modern engineering has progressed to the point that reality doesn't step in and prove things break down and don't always work as designed you might as well toss out your CO2 and fire detectors... Heck, toss those fire extinguishers my way!
There is no way I would leave a combustion source on while no one is aboard the vessel - I wouldn't call it paranoid.
After retiring as a fire medic one thing I learned is to minimize risk factors... Sure you can get hit by a car while crossing the street, that doesn't mean you don't cross the street - hopefully you learned to look both ways continually while doing so rather than watch the walk sign and say "I had the right of way!" when you get hit! LMAO
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:24   #23
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Re: Generator safety question

Do you shut off all sea cocks when going on shore for a few hours?

I think leaving sea cocks open is a similar risk to leaving a good quality diesel genset in good condition running for a few hours. Flooding due to a broken sea water hose is probably the biggest risk.
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Old 01-02-2013, 01:54   #24
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I'm not quite sure how a running combustion engine capable of a fuel leak, electrical fire, or forced water feed equates with a passive hose, but I guess that's why there are so many ships and captains - no two people think the same.... ~~_/) ~
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:40   #25
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On the last boat the battery bank was way big and the generator way small and it took most of a day to charge so I left it running while away from the the boat regularly. Not away away. But walking up the dock into do laundry. I also regularly checked the safety switches.
Then it was pointed out to me that in some US cities the unattended engine could be considered as a violation on the grounds of air pollution.
After that i was a little more careful and installed some solar panels.

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Old 01-02-2013, 05:23   #26
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Re: Generator safety question

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Originally Posted by sailmed View Post
I'm not quite sure how a running combustion engine capable of a fuel leak, electrical fire, or forced water feed equates with a passive hose, but I guess that's why there are so many ships and captains - no two people think the same.... ~~_/) ~
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, of course!

But a diesel fuel leak will shut down a diesel engine.

An electrical fire is no more likely from a running genset than from any electrical systems -- do you disconnect shore power and shut down all electrical systems every time you leave the boat for a couple of hours?

Hose clamps on the raw water side of the engine are frequently inspected on a well-run boat, and are doubled up -- risk of two failing simultaneously must be vanishingly small.

I reckon a burst seawater hose is probably the biggest risk -- would shut down the genset but would keep leaking and could sink the boat. It's harder to check the condition of hoses than of clamps (which is why I change mine every 4 or 5 years). But we all leave all kinds of sea cocks open when we're off the boat, to which there are all kinds of rubber hoses attached. I guess the running genset will be vibrating the hose, making it more likely to burst than ones which are still, but what are the chances? I figure this is what I have insurance for. But of course everyone is entitled to his own opinion.
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Old 01-02-2013, 05:32   #27
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Re: Generator safety question

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Originally Posted by F51 View Post
Is it necessary, good practice, or just paranoid to shut down the generator when going ashore for a few hours? I have been reluctant to leave the genset (Northern Lights 6kw) unattended, but after some experience with it, the unit seems rock-solid, so I am re-thinking the situation. It takes several hours for my small battery charger to bring the batteries back up, and it seems onerous to have to wait to go to shore. (This will be less of a problem when the new, bigger battery charger is installed, but I just wanted to get some opinions). Thanks.
Sure, leave it running. That way you can maximize the annoyance to your neighbors and you don't have to listen to it yourself.

From your neighbors' perspective, you increase the likelihood that the thing will melt down or sink your boat, thereby permanently eliminating the annoyance. So it's a win-win proposition!
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Old 01-02-2013, 13:11   #28
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Re: Generator safety question

The comment about heaters and appliances in your home is not lost on me - I never think about that stuff and never turn it off. I don't know that this is all that different.

Northern Lights makes pretty good stuff. With safety switches to shut down in case of low oil pressure or high coolant temps, circuit breakers, sounds like it was designed to allow for unattended operation. I've certainly seen enough generators run 24x7 without a operator nearby - of course, it wasn't going to burn a boat to the waterline either.

If I had run it and developed confidence in it as you have, I'd be inclined to let it run unattended for a few hours on quick shore excursions.
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Old 01-02-2013, 13:40   #29
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How complicated could it be? If you think your generator is in really good shape and you have enough risk tolerance. Then leave it running. I have less tolerance to unnecessary risk. Too much to loose.
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Old 01-02-2013, 14:24   #30
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Re: Generator Safety Question

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How complicated could it be? If you think your generator is in really good shape and you have enough risk tolerance. Then leave it running. I have less tolerance to unnecessary risk. Too much to loose.
hmm...
And you leave your charger connected to power (generator / shore power / solar) while unattended?

ANY SYSTEM CAN FAIL. With proper maintenance and care, the probability of a disaster is lessened (except for acts of god).

I would suggest that there have been MORE fires, sinking/disasters from faulty shore power connections and the resultant fire then from a Generator running unattended.

Why? How often do people check their shore power connection/cord for signs of arc and spark? At the boat end? At the shore power side?

How often are people checking their batteries and insuring there are no dead cells that, with a charger unable to sense this, result in a fire from batteries being over charged?



We can all look for sources of disaster: The whale, so magnificent, not far from the boat,




can turn into a blubbery bat on the backstay.







An interesting source of statistics for FIRES is the following from BOATUS SEAWORTHY (the insurance arm ):

(This is just a sample.. some interesting reading...... They go into details on each item. I wonder how many who are now talking about the 'danger' of running a Genset unattended have thought and checked for these items.)

Why Boats Catch Fire
One problem with a fire aboard a boat is that unlike a house where running across the street to escape the flames is an option, on a boat there’s no place to go but overboard. Unfortunately, this violates the second rule of boating: Stay with the boat. Ironically, if enough of what the boat is floating on can be brought into the boat, the fire can usually be put out. This, however, violates the first law of boating: Keep the water outside the boat.

Obviously, stopping fires from getting started in the first place is the best defense. Fortunately, the best source for learning how to prevent fires is right here at Seaworthy—our Marine Insurance claim files. The files contain hundreds of fire-related claims which Seaworthy editors have spent many hours analyzing. Here’s a rundown:

Causes of Fires Started Aboard
Click on the links below for more information:
1) AC and DC wiring/appliance - 55%
2) Engine/Transmission Overheat - 24%
3) Fuel Leak - 8%
4) Miscellaneous - 7%
5) Unknown - 5%
6) Stove - 1%
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