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Old 28-02-2021, 15:02   #1
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Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

Hello, everyone! We just got our first generator-inverter, a Westinghouse WH2200iXLT (2kw). Never used a portable one like this. Can I start it up and connect it directly to my shore power receptacle?

The generator/inverter has 2 x "standard" 120VAC receptacles, and I've got a heavy duty adapter (yellow, same gauge as shore power cables, 12AWG), with a 3-prong 110VAC male end one one side and the standard 30-amp, 3-prong female end on the other side (same as the "duck bill" end of the shore power cable).

It'll be called upon to run just a handful of loads: charging our 4 house batteries (AGM 110Ah), the fridge (typical built-in fridge in a 37' cruising sailboat) on low setting, and intermittent running of the potable water pump, shower sump, and electric toilet.

So, is it as simple as starting it up, then using the adapter to connect it, just like with shore power? (I realize I've only got 15amp or so available, but that seems to be no problem at all, given our loads.)
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Old 28-02-2021, 15:07   #2
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

Yup! That simple; done all the time.

Some portable gensets ground to neutral which creates a warning but can be easily corrected.
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Old 28-02-2021, 16:28   #3
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

2 notes.

first, portable gen is highly frowned on and should never be used. it's simply not safe and people die from co2 posioning. that and the added issue of storing flammable gas. so if you decide to use it make sure you have working co2 meters and pay great attention while it is running...

2nd all of those loads you mention are likly DC. so the only thing the gen is doing is charging the batteries and running the battery charger. so you need to know how big the battery charger is and if it's even usefull to run the gen. if you only have a 20a charger you are only using 300w from the gen and it'll need to run all day long. and using then gen is a waste of time and noise. where as if you have a 80a charger you can run 1-2 hours a day and get the same power back into the batteries.
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Old 28-02-2021, 16:52   #4
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

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Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
2 notes.

first, portable gen is highly frowned on and should never be used. it's simply not safe and people die from co2 posioning. that and the added issue of storing flammable gas. so if you decide to use it make sure you have working co2 meters and pay great attention while it is running...

2nd all of those loads you mention are likly DC. so the only thing the gen is doing is charging the batteries and running the battery charger. so you need to know how big the battery charger is and if it's even usefull to run the gen. if you only have a 20a charger you are only using 300w from the gen and it'll need to run all day long. and using then gen is a waste of time and noise. where as if you have a 80a charger you can run 1-2 hours a day and get the same power back into the batteries.
Good point about the possible small charger, but itís hard to take someone seriously that doesnít know the difference between CO and CO2
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Old 28-02-2021, 17:38   #5
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

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Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
2 notes.
...it's simply not safe and people die from co2 posioning. that and the added issue of storing flammable gas. so if you decide to use it make sure you have working co2 meters and pay great attention while it is running...

2nd all of those loads you mention are likly DC. so the only thing the gen is doing is charging the batteries and running the battery charger. So you need to know how big the battery charger is and if it's even usefull to run the gen.
Thanks for the input!
The portable gen/inv will always be run outdoors, in aft-most end of the (aft) cockpit. The adapter I spoke about is only maybe 20" long, so the unit will necessarily be near the shore power connection, at the port helm station. So no worries about CO poisoning.

Yes, you're right that those are DC loads, running off the batteries. I was just trying to give a feel for the actual, overall load requirements.

The 4 x 110Ah AGM batteries are brand new, and along with them we installed a new 60A battery charger, which the contractor assured me was more than enough.

We don't yet have a battery monitor, though. That's the weak link. I plan to just run the gen/inv for an hour or two each afternoon and listen for the battery charger's fan switching off. Then, we'll switch-off the fridge overnight, each night.
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Old 28-02-2021, 17:41   #6
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

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Good point about the possible small charger, but itís hard to take someone seriously that doesnít know the difference between CO and CO2
well I'm an electrician not a chemist...
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Old 28-02-2021, 17:54   #7
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

Considering most dinghies are powered by flammable gasoline as well, I think generators don’t represent a risk that most aren’t already taking.

Agree with the CO hazard- so run it outside.
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Old 28-02-2021, 17:54   #8
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

I have a similar Honda I've used, however my primary need was to run the 6 gal water heater after about 3 days. Everything else seems to manage just fine off the house batteries, but wife insists on a HOT shower every am.
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Old 28-02-2021, 18:02   #9
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

First, running a quite portable generator like a Honda or you Westinghouse (59 dB @ 25%) during the day time is often more quite than the kids on the boat anchored nearby; although running it during the night is often frowned upon in anchorages. (But, I've also been in anchorages (in the PNW) where some chucklehead is running his Webasto heater that can be heard very plainly on a calm night.)

I also suspect that you're intelligent enough to run it outside the cabin and downwind of any opening ports. (Some people seem to have a problem with that concept.)

In essence I suspect you are using this in an attempt to charge your batteries. So with that premise, your model generator's output is 1800 watts nominal. At 120 VAC that's 20 amps output (nominal).

The time required to charge your batteries is dependent on the type of battery, their state of charge (how much are they depleted from 100%), and other factors such as charging efficiency of your charger. If your charger is a multi-stage charger (which is probably is) it will take longer to achieve a full charge as it transitions from bulk to absorption stages.

Now, having said all that...your generator will likely keep the batteries topped off very well, but would also may not fully charge them unless you ran the generator for an extended period.
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Old 28-02-2021, 19:26   #10
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

It takes a loong time to charge depleted lead acid batteries and continuous input to maintain SOC. That's fine when you are on shore power, but you'll need to run your generator for many hours at a time to avoid your batteries staying in a "partial state of charge" if it's your only charging source. Generators are fine for the bulk charge with depleted batteries, but you really need solar or wind for the long required absorption stage if away for more than a couple of days before getting back to shore power.
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Old 28-02-2021, 21:29   #11
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

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Originally Posted by StuM View Post
...you really need solar or wind ...
Yep, solar's next. Watch for the thread!

We plan to test things out with a "quickie" 200W system: 2 x 100W flexible panels bungied/ziptied to the bimini (https://tinyurl.com/yblm5a3c) + MPPT controller (https://tinyurl.com/ycpbktwj).

This generator is actually just a stopgap/temporary solution 'til I can get the solar installed. (We're moving from a slip to a mooring tomorrow.)

Many thanks, everyone, for the input.
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Old 01-03-2021, 03:33   #12
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

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Considering most dinghies are powered by flammable gasoline as well, I think generators donít represent a risk that most arenít already taking.
Agree with the CO hazard- so run it outside.
I don't fuel & run my dinghy, in the cockpit, so there is some difference.
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Old 01-03-2021, 05:03   #13
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

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I don't fuel & run my dinghy, in the cockpit, so there is some difference.
Unless a really big boat with a really big dingy...most take the motor off and store it on the mother ship along with the fuel. They might mount the motor before actual filling...but often not since the mother ship is usually more stable (consider getting a syphon system rather than pouring...gives you much more control of the process)

Yes, care should be taken to make sure fueling and operation are done in a safe manner but no major safety concerns once that's done.
- Only fuel the generator (or outboard) when not running. Make sure other sources of ignition are not present.
- Make sure the exhaust is pointed overboard and does not create a station wagon effect. Also make sure the heat from the exhaust isn't hitting anything (in particular flammable items)
- Install a CO detector or two is a good idea.
- Secure the generator, so a wake doesn't toss it overboard.

The people who frown on there use are mostly those who just make a knee jerk reaction without thinking it thru. Don't be stupid about the operation and it should be fine.
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Old 01-03-2021, 05:15   #14
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

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I don't fuel & run my dinghy, in the cockpit, so there is some difference.
Ah, but this was in reference to STORING it.

But if we’d rather use a more direct parallel, I’ve heard tale of some boats that use flammable gasoline for the engines that reside directly below the cockpit.
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Old 01-03-2021, 05:33   #15
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Re: Connecting portable generator to shore power receptacle

Why not lash the dinghy fore and aft alongside the mother ship near the shore power inlet, put the generator in the the dinghy and run it there? No danger of CO at that point, especially if the dinghy is downwind. Just gotta make sure the noise isn't much louder.
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