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  1. #1
    Seaman PeninsulaPaul's Avatar
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    Default Generator Question

    I am, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the least knowledgeable about boats on these forums so forgive my questions if they seem silly or obvious.

    I am converting my boat to diesel, it has several things that need constant power. It has a refrigerator that can run on electric or gas, normal lights, radio, television, coffee maker and a few small electric items (clock radio and such).

    I wanted a diesel generator so I could run a "Y" line off the main fuel tank but then discovered how expensive they are, ouch.

    I have a nice generator that we used during power outages for our home that is more than capable of running everything on the boat. There is room in the engine bay and an exhaust port that I could run to the rear of the engine bay.

    Can I use a standard generator while the boat is anchored? Are there any other concerns aside from proper venting?

    Thanks for everyone's patience with my amatuer questions.
    1969 Whitcraft Coastal Cruiser 36' La Otre Mujer (The other Woman)

  2. #2
    Supreme Mariner Silvertip's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    That genset is very likely NOT ignition protected -- meaning the generator head itself is not a sealed unit. Quite possibly the starter is not as well. Installiing non-ignition protected devices in the engine bay creates a serious explosion hazard do to concentration of fumes. Just a couple of things to consider.

  3. #3
    Rear Admiral Fireman431's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    Suppose spark protection wasn't to be a concern; the other issue is ventilation. The genset needs to get enough ambient air circulating around it to keep it cool. It won't get that in an enclosed space. Marine generators are designed with additional cooling chacteristics (i.e. raw water cooled).

    Now, if you are speaking of the boat that is in your avatar, then you have more than enough deck space to place it topside and it will perform just as well there as it would in your home setting. I would only suggent keeping it covered when not in use for protection from the elements.
    2001 Carver Voyager 374 'Stick's Competition'

    Something tells me I should be on the water....

    If I answer your upholstery questions, it's only because I've been doing it 20+ years...

  4. #4
    Petty Officer 1st Class
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    There's a good chance that your boat's tank has 2 fuel pickups. It's never recommended to use a y valve for fuel delivery in case you want to run both at once, but you can run seperate lines to each. I am against running any household generator in an enclosed space- more to worry about than just venting exhaust as previously stated.

  5. #5
    Moderator Bondo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    Can I use a standard generator while the boat is anchored?
    Nope,... Very Unsafe...
    Any Grease is Better,..... Than No Grease at All.......

  6. #6
    Seaman PeninsulaPaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    Firemen431 & Silvertip, thanks for the information. Yes there is plenty of room topside and I can make a cover for it without much difficulty. Never thought of putting it topside but that makes perfect sense.
    1969 Whitcraft Coastal Cruiser 36' La Otre Mujer (The other Woman)

  7. #7
    Chief Petty Officer Bob's Garage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    If this is a gas genset then be absolutely certain that you make sure the exhaust is being handled safely. Carbon Dioxide is heavier than air and will find it's way into your cabin thru every vent and port it can find. It is also colorless and odorless and can kill you while you sleep, so be sure to get at least 1 CO Detector, more would be better.

    And remember it can kill your neighbors as well. so be aware of who is around you when you are running it.
    Member and Boat Safety Instructor with the Lakeland Sail and Power Squadron;
    www.lakelandsailandpower.info

  8. #8
    Rear Admiral Fireman431's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's Garage View Post
    If this is a gas genset then be absolutely certain that you make sure the exhaust is being handled safely. Carbon Dioxide is heavier than air and will find it's way into your cabin thru every vent and port it can find. It is also colorless and odorless and can kill you while you sleep, so be sure to get at least 1 CO Detector, more would be better.

    And remember it can kill your neighbors as well. so be aware of who is around you when you are running it.
    Not to split hairs, but the exhaust is Carbon Monoxide (CO). Of course, too much Carbon Dioxide (CO2) will kill you as well.

    A CO detector is required anywhere someone is apt to sleep (cabins, salons, bridge enclosures, etc). Get the ones that are 110v powered with battery backup. Look online and you can find them about 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of retail. Make sure they are in date (5 year replacement life) and are rated for marine enviroments. Plan on spending $25-$60 each for them. Every year we read about how 2-3 people in one boat never wake up because they had a genset running and left a hatch open and didn't have detectors. Don't be a statistic.


    A good rule of thumb would be to place that genset as far away as possible from any portholes or door ways. this allows for dissipation of gases before getting near the interior.

    Also, although it's portable, you'll want to devise a way to temporarily secure it in it's static place for the night. A running genset on the deck might find it's way overboard due to vibration and rocking. That would suck.

    Also, when running the genset at night, try to be as far as practical from other anchored boats. You don't want then annoyed with the noise or the exhaust. There are many companies that make little 2000 watt portable generators that aren't much bigger than a backpack and are quite quiet. Might be easier in the long run.
    2001 Carver Voyager 374 'Stick's Competition'

    Something tells me I should be on the water....

    If I answer your upholstery questions, it's only because I've been doing it 20+ years...

  9. #9
    Chief Petty Officer Bob's Garage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    You are correct, the hair needed splitting. Can't imagine where my brain went but it sure wasn't paying attention when I proofed my post.

    Thanks.
    Member and Boat Safety Instructor with the Lakeland Sail and Power Squadron;
    www.lakelandsailandpower.info

  10. #10
    Senior Chief Petty Officer
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    for clarification : about what kind of generator are you talking which you want to use now at the boat ? a small portable gasoline or a diesel in a container and 5-10 kw range - something like this :

    http://www.seller-keller.de/werkzeug...oduct=GD-40586

    you talk about y-lines for engine and gen as well converting the boat to diesel and that the generator was used as a backup at home, so i would say you talk about something similar to the link.

    in a boat running on diesel fuel and the gen as well fumes and spark protection are not that issue, and installing a gen which weights +400lbs on top might be a bad idea in regard to boat stability. i would install in the engine room. does the genset not has its own tank?

    when you talk about a portable gasoline gen run it on deck when you need it.

  11. #11
    Seaman PeninsulaPaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    What an awesome amount of great information, I can always count of this board to get good advice. With all this information I can safely run the generator with a few precautions and monoxide detectors. My flying bridge will not be functional, the previous owner disconnected it and removed darn near everything. I think with a proper cover and venting that would be a great place for the generator.

    The only time I will be running this will be away from the marina when we are anchored out in the Puget Sound or Strait of Juan DeLa Fuca, far from any nieghbors so the noise for others isn't an issue. The one I have is very quiet and has it's own fuel tank.
    1969 Whitcraft Coastal Cruiser 36' La Otre Mujer (The other Woman)

  12. #12
    Commander 45Auto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    I wouldn't even think about mounting a generator above the living area. As mentioned by others, CO is heavier than air. No matter how you duct the exhaust, it wouldn't take much of a leak to put everyone in the cabin to sleep permanantly.
    Any opinions expressed above are worth exactly what you paid for them!

  13. #13
    Chief Petty Officer Bob's Garage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    At the risk of offending you, you apparently haven't been paying attention! To put your genset on the flybridge is probably the most dangerous idea you could come up with. Reread my 1st post, then google "boating deaths by carbon monoxide". Do not follow thru with your plan or we will be reading about you in the paper!

  14. #14
    Seaman PeninsulaPaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    Bob & 45Auto, No offense taken, I was thinking space available and not thinking of the gas sinking. There is a completely seperate compartment next to the engine bay, it has a hole that I was told used to drain a tank directly into the water, I can use that as an exhaust port. It's the furthest point in the boat away from the living quarters and actually a foot or two under the area that I would be sleeping. Just call the flting bridge idea a "brain fart"
    1969 Whitcraft Coastal Cruiser 36' La Otre Mujer (The other Woman)

  15. #15
    Commander 45Auto's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    My generator on my 30' Sea Ray is mounted in the engine compartment, but it is water-cooled. I would guess that your portable generator is air-cooled, my main concern there would be sufficient air flow to keep it cool. You'll also want blowers and vents in the compartment just like any other engine compartment.
    Any opinions expressed above are worth exactly what you paid for them!

  16. #16
    Rear Admiral Fireman431's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    Just as a recap Paul, how big is your portable gas generator? Is it safely handled by 1 person (i.e. <100 lbs), such as a 1500 watt unit? Or is it bigger, such a 5500 watt set up, approx 200 lbs? My thoughts are:

    If it's light enough, I would store it in the compartment when not in use and put it on the aft deck during nights of use at anchorage. I would not run it in the compartment as it would not get enough ambient air flow to keep it cool. When using it at night, place it on the back deck and have some sort of clamp or hold down bolt to keep it from vibrating overboard. When you back under power, let it cool down and return it to the compartment. If it's too big to constantly relocate, secure it to a (semi) permanent location and have a canvas or upholstery shop make a nice, form fitted cover for it to keep the elements off. If your compartment is blower ventilated, you could always store an additional can of fuel there, but make sure it's in a marine rated can so if it tips or burps, you won't have raw fuel in the bilge.
    2001 Carver Voyager 374 'Stick's Competition'

    Something tells me I should be on the water....

    If I answer your upholstery questions, it's only because I've been doing it 20+ years...

  17. #17
    Chief Petty Officer Bob's Garage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    Quote Originally Posted by PeninsulaPaul View Post
    Bob & 45Auto, No offense taken, I was thinking space available and not thinking of the gas sinking. There is a completely seperate compartment next to the engine bay, it has a hole that I was told used to drain a tank directly into the water, I can use that as an exhaust port. It's the furthest point in the boat away from the living quarters and actually a foot or two under the area that I would be sleeping. Just call the flting bridge idea a "brain fart"
    You're nothing if not persistent!

    Is this a thru hull located below the waterline? Or is it going out the side of the hull? This is not a good idea, either.

    If it's below the water line, how are you going to keep the water from coming up the exhaust? If it's thru the hull, you have the same possibility of CO coming into your boat.

    I have seen boats that are rafted together and the generator has a long "hose" with a float at the end that is positioned away from the boat allowing the exhaust to be directed outside the area of activity.

    Did you google the information I suggested? I still think this is a bad idea, with very marginal possibilities for safety.

    However, you are obviously determine to place yourself and your family at risk, so, I quit. I'll watch for you in the news.
    Member and Boat Safety Instructor with the Lakeland Sail and Power Squadron;
    www.lakelandsailandpower.info

  18. #18
    Seaman PeninsulaPaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Generator Question

    Fireman431,

    The generator is about 70 lbs so I could easily store it when not in use. The back deck has plenty of space, I'll post some pics this weekend. Making something to keep it from vibrating all over the deck won't be too hard. Thanks for all the good advice everyone, forgive the brian farts and ignorance.
    1969 Whitcraft Coastal Cruiser 36' La Otre Mujer (The other Woman)

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