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Old 15-02-2020, 05:17   #76
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

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I wouldn't really agree with that. With a large solar array and lithium batts, you can do anything via the inverter.


On my boat, I have an alternator which can produce 2.5kW continuously. I run washer/dryer, electric cooking, whatever off the inverter, supplied by the alternator, even without lithium batteries.


With a modern charger/inverter, which smoothly converts AC to DC and DC to AC, the form of the power really doesn't have much significance. There is no reason to have an AC generator except that they are common and available. A DC generator would be just fine too, and with the advantage that there is no need to synch so it can be variable speed.
Whatever happened to the DC generator trend that was surging in popularity 20-years ago? Your setup may work fine for you, but this is not a simple bolt on alternator. This should be a large frame alternator that takes a lot of room with custom brackets with potential side loading on the crankshaft and requiring more robust belts and pullies. This setup will create a lot of heat that needs to be evacuated. And we haven't event started with voltage regulation and the fact that to provide 2500w continuous requires an alternator that is rated much, much higher. Essentially, what you have done, is to bolt a generator powerhead onto your main engine. That's fine, but a different setup than a standard alternator setup on a typical sailboat with a 50hp diesel and passive engine ventilation.
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Old 15-02-2020, 12:34   #77
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

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The NextGen was about $2000 less than the NL. I just felt the NL was a better value despite the additional cost. In the research I did, I just didn't think it stacked-up to NL and also wondered if the NextGen might raise an eyebrow at resale, at least in the Trawler resale market.

Finally, I'll note that my first route was to find a lightly used generator. I found several used FPs. Not a single NL. Makes me wonder if folks swap FPs for something else. I didn't find evidence of swapping NLs. Matter of fact, asking used equipment resellers where I might find an NL elicited a chuckle a few times


Yes in a trawler with tons of space and payload NL probably worth the extra price. In my moderate displacement fast monohull sailboat an extra 100-200 lbs in the stern would make a big difference
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Old 15-02-2020, 13:50   #78
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

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Yes in a trawler with tons of space and payload NL probably worth the extra price. In my moderate displacement fast monohull sailboat an extra 100-200 lbs in the stern would make a big difference
Totally agree. I actually think the weight differential is about 300 lbs all in.
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Old 15-02-2020, 14:02   #79
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

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Whatever happened to the DC generator trend that was surging in popularity 20-years ago? Your setup may work fine for you, but this is not a simple bolt on alternator. This should be a large frame alternator that takes a lot of room with custom brackets with potential side loading on the crankshaft and requiring more robust belts and pullies. This setup will create a lot of heat that needs to be evacuated. And we haven't event started with voltage regulation and the fact that to provide 2500w continuous requires an alternator that is rated much, much higher. Essentially, what you have done, is to bolt a generator powerhead onto your main engine. That's fine, but a different setup than a standard alternator setup on a typical sailboat with a 50hp diesel and passive engine ventilation.

My boat was originally built with two alternators, one of them a heavy duty school bus alternator.


Retrofitting one can be pretty easy to pretty hard depending on how much space you have and what kind of engine you have, but in many cases it is not a big deal. Yanmar for example make brackets and pullies for second large frame alternators, for many of their engines. In this case it really is a bolt-on operation.


A heavy duty alternator is an absolutely great source of power and dirt cheap compared to a generator, even with an elaborate installation. Worth a certain amount of trouble for many cruisers.
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Old 15-02-2020, 14:36   #80
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

Our boat came with the crappy FP and I had to pay someone to haul it away. In the space we could not fit a 6kW NL with soundshield but we did manage it with a custom made sound shield. Later, we completely removed the soundshield as the genset runs better, we get much better access for maintenance and it is very quiet since they tuned the air intake.

What I mean is this: if the boat did have an assigned space for a genset, even a crappy 3,600rpm one, you may still be able to get a better one to fit.

BTW, we’re light displacement, very fast and there’s no problem with the heavier NL
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Old 15-02-2020, 20:12   #81
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

As a reference to long term value, I had 12kva and 8kva Northern Lights generators, both with 2800 hours and 18 years old. We installed 1300 watts of solar this year and didn't need both, so I sold the 12kva on Ebay. I had a price of $4k for it and it sold for $4600 in about three days. A guy drove 300 miles to pick it up.

I'm actually still thinking about replacing the 8kva as I'd prefer a brand new 6kva Northern Lights. I tested the market on Craigslist and it had 3 offers of $2500 within days. Due to timing, we had to back out of selling but it's on my list. A new 6kva is $10,500 with a sound shield. I'll save about 150 pounds, which is diddily poo, but by going to the smaller one I can move my battery bank 8' forward, which will net a huge difference in stern weight.
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Old 16-02-2020, 03:12   #82
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

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. . . BTW, we’re light displacement, very fast and there’s no problem with the heavier NL

Sure, and you have a 65' waterline. Don't compare weight sensitivity of your boat, to some one in a Bene First or a Salona or something.


On the other hand, does a boat like that need a generator at all? If you're so weight sensitive, then the different between 450 pounds and 250 is unlikely to change the weather, so you might be better off with a jumbo alternator.
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Old 16-02-2020, 04:25   #83
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

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Sure, and you have a 65' waterline. Don't compare weight sensitivity of your boat, to some one in a Bene First or a Salona or something.

On the other hand, does a boat like that need a generator at all? If you're so weight sensitive, then the different between 450 pounds and 250 is unlikely to change the weather, so you might be better off with a jumbo alternator.
Well, since we arrived in FL where I have a place to put our “stuff” instead of carrying everything aboard, my waterline has come up more than 4”. When we left Panama, full of diesel and lots of water, my rudder seal was under the waterline. It was slowing us down for sure, but it is a sum of many things and the genset and 385 gallons of diesel is just one of those and a choice made. Most full time cruisers carry too much crap. About half what came out of Jedi went into the dumpster so could have done that in Panama instead and have a faster passage
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Old 16-02-2020, 05:23   #84
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

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Well, since we arrived in FL where I have a place to put our “stuff” instead of carrying everything aboard, my waterline has come up more than 4”. When we left Panama, full of diesel and lots of water, my rudder seal was under the waterline. It was slowing us down for sure, but it is a sum of many things and the genset and 385 gallons of diesel is just one of those and a choice made. Most full time cruisers carry too much crap. About half what came out of Jedi went into the dumpster so could have done that in Panama instead and have a faster passage

Yeah, been there, and done that. The accumulation of crap on a cruising sailboat seems like a force of nature


We are slightly lighter than you, but close enough to have similar experiences. I had my boat in a place where I also had a place to store stuff for the very first time in 10 years, just last summer. I guess I reduced the weight by nearly a ton, and like you, half of what I took off if not more went into the dumpster


I think one of the great benefits of racing, is that you take literally everything off the boat on a regular basis, so that you are putting stuff on only with great consciousness, rather than just letting it accumulate. This alone would make it worthwhile participating in an ocean race now and then.
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Old 16-02-2020, 06:05   #85
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

All good points on large boats. I think my main takeaway is that I don’t understand why anyone would install a FP screamer when they are limited in space and weight- when a Nextgen runs at 2800rpm (MUCH better) and IMO is much more reliable and long-lived
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Old 16-02-2020, 08:05   #86
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

I believe Nexgen is actually a US thing, not even a big company actually, smallish shop in Jacksonville Fl.
As such it’s not so widely known about and may not even be sold overseas. But they don’t have the marketing other older, larger companies have.
There really isn’t much to a Nexgen or any generator really. They buy the generator as a complete unit and the engine from Kubota, and then of course connect the two with a flat belt that allows the gearing so the Kubota runs at it’s designed RPM. Nexgen adds the heat exchanger and raw water pump, the exhaust elbow and sound shield, and control panel.
Talking to them they have a patent on the belt drive, seemed hard for me to believe, but I didn’t argue.

It’s not anything an industrious person couldn’t knock out themselves, sort of like a watermaker, but for most that can, the time expenditure isn’t worthwhile.

But to drive the lightweight gen even further, you have the suitcase generators, they are even smaller and lighter than even the Nexgen and cheaper too, they just don’t provide large output, but if you can live with 15 amps at 120 VAC max, they can be a decent solution.
I have a Nexgen, the 3.5 and it’s a great machine so far, but I use the Honda far more.
Mostly cause the Honda is cheaper and more easily serviced, and I just almost never need 30 amps AC, I use 8 amps to make water and I can charge the bank with way less than 30 amps too.
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Old 16-02-2020, 08:22   #87
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

The DC generators just never really caught on, because there just isn’t any real need. On most boats the really large consumers of power is AC, air conditioning and heating water, but the real reason is that conversion of AC to DC and back has gotten so efficient and so inexpensive that whether you have DC or AC isn’t important anymore.
For instance I can charge my battery bank at 100 amps DC at around 13 amps AC generator load, that is awfully darn close to 100% efficient conversion.
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Old 16-02-2020, 10:18   #88
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Re: Northern Lights or Fischer Panda?

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All good points on large boats. I think my main takeaway is that I don’t understand why anyone would install a FP screamer when they are limited in space and weight- when a Nextgen runs at 2800rpm (MUCH better) and IMO is much more reliable and long-lived

I agree.
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