Inverter charger and generator

As part of the original fit of the Moody, it had come with an inverter, long since removed by a previous owner, and an HFL generator, which had been scrapped soon after our purchase because it didn’t work and was uneconomical to repair. The entire cooling system had corroded on the original 10.5 KVa generator and although it had a little over 700 hours, it had clearly always been problematic. It was also very noisy with ill fitting sound proof panels and we knew that we would have the same level of problems as the previous owners.

So the generator was removed and we considered our options.  The generator had been sized to allow for all three air conditioning units to be on at the same time without causing an issue. We don’t expect to be running these very often at all and certainly not all three! We suspect what had happened to the generator apart from inadequate maintenance was that it had always been run at a low load hence causing problems with the engine that forms the core of the generator.  Now despite the fact that we still have all three aircon units, a large microwave, watermaker and several other potentially high energy use items, we didn’t think this justified over-specifying the generator. But of course, we would need to cope with higher loads at times…..

A quality inverter charger was a good solution since it would seamlessly top up the power output from the batteries.  This works fine when the high load is for a short period but needs to be watched if this lasts a long time.  No-one wants to drain the entire battery bank in an hour!  This allows the generator to be specified as a little lower power output which means it will more often be used at a reasonable load for the generator. I also means that you need to have good battery monitoring in place and more on that on another post.

Looking at a ten year timescale, we knew we needed to buy a quality product and two in particular stuck out for us: the studer, which had been bought by some good friends of ours ( Clare and Vic on Njord) and the Victron. imageThe victron had some good features but the Studer seemed to have a better reputation for quality.  The clincher for us was the global support network.  They are both good but there are several times more dealers and repair centres for Victron, so in the unlikely eventuality that we had a problem, it would be easier to repair.

Then we started looking at the generator.  We did a lot of research on line and came down to a short list of Northern Lights, Kohler and Onan. There was little to choose between these but the supplier of our electrical systems were also Onan dealers and this helped to sway our minds.  The fact that the generator was a difficult install which required it to be taken apart and taken in pieces to the engine room before being rebuilt was an added complication.image By choosing Lindsay at Seapower who works closely with Ollie, meant that this could be done without invalidating the warranty on the generator.

The install is incredibly neat with a remote digital panel on the flight deck that Maria considers our new electrical panel to resemble.  Having spent some time with Lindsay, I have to say we are happy both with our choice of generator and supplier.  Lindsay has taken care making sure that our install will be trouble free for as long as we have the boat. One additional feature we added was to have the hot water from the cooling system feed the hot water boiler.  The generator creates a lot of heat and it seems a shame to throw that away into the sea when it could be used o provide a useful source of hot water for us.  It also means that we have redundancy in the hot water if the heating element breaks.

Sorry the pictures are all a bit boring, the key here is that everything is done under the surface so that the boat is powered well at anchor, at sea or in a marina with limited power.

Actually, an advantage we have found straight away in the Marina is that we no longer need to worry about switching off the electric fire when we want to boil the kettle.  Previously this always tripped the switches but now the boat can support this for a short time from the batteries and then recharges the batteries later.  We think this will be quite useful when we are away for small intense loads like the kettle or microwave although we need to be careful about the rate that we deplete the batteries as well as the amount of power we take out.

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