Portable Power

Posted: February 1, 2014  |  Tag: Miscellaneous

By: John Temple

I do not have a generator on board but am thinking about installing one. I have seen some boaters using a portable generator, which isn’t cheap but costs a lot less than an installed generator. What should I be considering?
A generator can be a great addition to any boat. For some people, batteries cannot supply enough inverted power to run some appliances; hot-weather boaters can’t run the air conditioning unless they are at the dock; a water- maker can barely run off batteries and an alternator. The other issue of not having a generator is based on your battery bank and how long you want to stay on the hook for refrigeration, toilets, lights and entertainment.

Since your question is about adding a generator or using a portable, I will assume your needs aren’t too large. If you need more than 2,000 watts, I would suggest going the installed generator route. You will need to provide ventilated space, two water through-hulls, exhaust and wiring. For a portable generator, you will need space to store it outside and carry gasoline. Installing a generator on your boat has many advantages and big costs: Plan for an absolute minimum of $5,000 and probably closer to $10,000, depending on how much of the work you do. The portable generator is $1,000 plus a little extra for a marine cover.

A portable generator I hold in high regard is the Honda 2000i. It is the quietest of all the generators I’ve been around, which is why it is our generator of choice on board. It’s important to remember to start it up and then plug in your power cord. Also, be careful of noise rules where you are and respect them, point the exhaust away and charge those batteries while running a fridge.

When we are not on longer cruises, we keep the generator at home. Recently, we had a six-hour power outage at home. We were watching the football game with a lamp on as if nothing happened.

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