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Old 27-09-2010, 05:09   #1
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Poor Man's Genset (Is This a Crazy Thing To Do?)

I've been wanting a genset for awhile. Solar doesn't do much for me this far north (Finland) and I tend to prefer to anchor where there isn't alot of wind, so wind generators aren't optimal.

But dedicated marine gensets are rather pricey.

There are more and more inexpensive air-cooled portable diesel generators on the market. E.g. the following can be had for around 600 euros:

What I'm thinking is to get one of these and install it in one of the lazarettes, with the intension of running it with the lazarette hatches open, and with the exhaust vented out in similar fashion to a Wallas heater (probably using Wallas parts), with fuel taken directly from the main tank, and with the shore power cord plugged in to its AC output. It's electric start, so should be fairly user-friendly.

It would be a tad bit noisier than a dedicated marine genset, but tolerable (about 70db).

(And before anyone suggests it, no I won't have either gasoline or propane on my boat, so the typical small Honda generator is out)

My only concern is heat. Not sure just how much air cooling is needed for one of these, and whether it would be enough to just have the hatches open or whether a bilge blower would be needed.


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Old 27-09-2010, 05:36   #2
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Unless so rated, it will NOT fare well in an enclosed compartment.

Just curious, why no gasoline? If handled properly, it is as safe as any other fuel... In fact Honda sells an "extended run" fuel cap that connects to a standard 6 gallon outboard type marine fuel tank.

If you are dead set not to have gasoline, look for a small used water cooled marine diesel set. Pretty common to find them here in the US for $1200-1500 in good condition

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Old 27-09-2010, 06:12   #3
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My knee jerk reaction is that a lot of "marine grade" stuff (although over priced) has a lot of desirable features that you really don't realize until you've opted for the non-marine grade version. One of the first ones I could imagine would be corrosion and heat build up.

I think as long as you'd be willing to run it on deck and have it rust away in a couple of years as a worst case scenario, than it sounds great.
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Old 27-09-2010, 06:14   #4
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That style unit is Much noiser the you may think, Glad I am not your neighbor
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Old 27-09-2010, 06:32   #5
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You will need much more than a bilge blower to keep it adequately cooled. You will need direct air flow unless it's out in the open.

If you think 70db is tolerable for anything more than a few minutes I am glad you are across the sea and won't anchor near me. I own a contractors generator that makes an awful racket (for home use only -- would never take it aboard) and it is rated 69 db. Each 3db increase is DOUBLE the perceived sound level. That makes this more than six times louder than a Honda or Yamaha 2000 watt inverter generator (55-60db). The tone and vibation isolation level are also factors that will affect how annoying ths unit is. Much of the noise comes from valves and other mechanical vibrations, not all of it comes through the exhaust. The Honda and Yamaha inverter units have been designed very carefully in this regard and are very easy to live with.

I could understand not wanting to carry gasoline if you were operating a warship, but flammable liquids and propane can be handled safely on a recreational boat and since you are concerned/aware of the dangers that should not be a problem.

The vast majority of boat fires are caused by electrical problems. Why don't you eliminate electricity instead?
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Old 27-09-2010, 06:47   #6

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Dont know what the diesel unit runs but wondering if you couldnt do the same thing for the same price marinizing (sp) your own unit. Some outfit has been selling westerbeke 8 hp slow run diesel engines on ebay for $1250. Add a water pump">raw water pump and heat exchanger, riser etc to diesel, attach choice of electric generation methods, and maybe a refrigeration pump. Enclose it and insulate and vibration damp it well. That would seem to me to be a more favorable end result for your money.
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Old 27-09-2010, 07:41   #7
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Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
You will need much more than a bilge blower to keep it adequately cooled. You will need direct air flow unless it's out in the open ...
Indeed, you’ll need combustion air, plus a lot of cooling air.

Caterpillar has a good application guide on Diesel (generator) Engine Room (compartment) Ventilation:

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