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Old 27-01-2013, 06:33   #1
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Generator Safety Question

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.
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Old 27-01-2013, 06:47   #2
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Re: Generator safety question

I wouldn't ever leave machinery unattended no matter what. What happens if suddenly you have a leak for instance. It's really not good practice, HOWEVER......IN THE REAL WORLD, sometimes you take the chance. I wouldn't worry about it too much considering the chances of something not happening should be to your favor. I'd say I wouldn't like to leave it unattended for more than around 2-3 hours. Does it have a fail saif switch that cuts your unit off in case there is a problem? Then in that case, I wouldn't even sweat it.
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Old 27-01-2013, 07:19   #3
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Re: Generator safety question

Yeah, safety switches to shut down in case of low oil pressure or high coolant temp. The genset is pretty well protected, and the breakers should take care of any electrical problems external to the generator, but still.... I totally get what you said about unattended machinery, but we do live in the real world, don't we?
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Old 27-01-2013, 08:05   #4
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Re: Generator safety question

I would run it without being there. With high temperature and low oil pressure cut off you have a lot of potential problems under control. Also, in real life, generators and irrigation pumps are run 24/7 as routine practice.
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Old 27-01-2013, 08:34   #5
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Re: Generator safety question

Anything fuel powered, I'd turn it off prior to going ashore; kerosene, alcohol, gasoline or diesel. Mauritz
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Old 27-01-2013, 08:42   #6
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Yeah leave it runing. That way youll never enjoy going ashore with peace of mind! I turn everything off.
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:07   #7
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Re: Generator safety question

It depends on your tolerance for risk. I wouldn't, but then I am pretty conservative with stuff like that.
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:10   #8
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Re: Generator safety question

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It depends on your tolerance for risk. I wouldn't, but then I am pretty conservative with stuff like that.
I agree with David. I would not leave any equipment running when I'm not aboard. To many what if's for my taste...
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Old 27-01-2013, 09:27   #9
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Re: Generator safety question

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.
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Old 27-01-2013, 10:34   #10
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Re: Generator safety question

I have forgotten if it is Onan or Northern Lights documentation, but one of them covers auto start to provide unattended battery charging. I would worry a lot more about it starting and stopping by itself than leaving it for a bit after determining that that it is running properly.

Anyone familiar with such unattended operation?
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Old 27-01-2013, 11:26   #11
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Re: Generator safety question

I always shut mine down when leaving the boat. The remnant of a sunk boat lies near mooring #9 at Exuma Park HQ. The owners thought it was OK to leave the generator running (for AC) and go to dinner on a nearby boat. I bet they won't do that again.
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Old 27-01-2013, 17:41   #12
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Re: Generator safety question

What years are we talking about when these generators caught fire. The man says his generator has several protecting features on it. I suspect his generator is a bit more modern with saftey built in mind. I still however, stick with the general rule of not leaving anything running when you leave a boat. In fact, the MARINE CORPS in me comes out and says to leave a man behind as a guard, and never leave any of your belongings unattended.
But if I were in a tight sqeeze, and depending on situation, I would probably take the risk and moresoe with the fail cutoff switches available.. I just wouldn't make it a habbit especially staying away for hours.
Consider this too. Ever use a gas furnace heater in your home? There is fire happening inside the covering as the nozzles ignite the gas. Pretty hairy to think that when you sleep, this furnace kicks on and off according to comfort temperature settings, even same when you leave the house, and we are talking gas. Do I shut the gas valves and referigerators everytime I leave my home? No. Would my home be safer if I did? Probably wear and tear the valve down and the plugs from pushing and pulling the prongs into the wall sockets. We all cant guard our homes 24/7 or even our boats. We can mitigate the problems with home security, Shutting off the heat switch when we leave ect...
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Old 27-01-2013, 19:56   #13
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Re: Generator safety question

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I would run it without being there. With high temperature and low oil pressure cut off you have a lot of potential problems under control. Also, in real life, generators and irrigation pumps are run 24/7 as routine practice.
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.
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Old 27-01-2013, 22:03   #14
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Re: Generator safety question

Personaly, I wait till the charging is done and the gennys shut off before I would go ashore ! Or I shut it down and restart when I return from shore ! But Im old and i don't trust to many things that run not to mess up !! just my 2 cents worth
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Old 28-01-2013, 09:42   #15
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Re: Generator safety question

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.
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