Jun , 2014
by Bell and Orders
How to Choose the Best Marine Generator – Tips and Pointers
Choosing a marine generator is about as difficult as choosing a boat in the first place. There is a lot of variety in the market, even though it may not appear so at first. Those who aren’t willing to stop and look at the little details may find themselves on the wrong end of a bargain.
The generator is often the heart and soul of any boat or marine vessel. With all of those luxury appliances on board, such as televisions, refrigerators, and stoves, you’ll absolutely need to make a good choice in generators or you’ll quickly come to regret the decision.
The task of choosing the best marine generator becomes significantly easier as you do more research and learn more about generators, boats, and what exactly you’ll need to enjoy life on the water. This is especially important if it’s your first time shopping for a generator.
Here are some very important tips for buying a marine generator that’s right for your needs.
AC versus DC
Long ago, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla fought to see whose electrical current was the most efficient. Edison supported Direct Current, or DC, and Tesla supported the new Alternating Current, or AC. As AC was proven to be more efficient, especially when it comes to preventing energy loss, it eventually won and became the standard across the country.
Most appliances require Alternating Current and those that don’t usually have their own transformers and internal circuitry for converting the AC to DC. You won’t find many high-quality DC marine generators available on the market and it’s for a good reason.
Should you run across one, avoid any temptation to purchase the unique option. Some AC generators are actually equipped to produce DC electricity.
What About Inverters?
While they perform similar functions, there are major differences between inverters and generators. An inverter will take advantage of the Direct Current that your battery produces. It will invert and amplify this current into a higher AC level. This works well for controlling smaller appliances that consume less than 3.5kW, but nothing more. A generator uses an alternative fuel source to turn a motor and actually generate an electrical current. So if you think a simple inverter will be enough to enjoy life on a boat – think again.
Type of Fuel
As mentioned, a generator requires an alternative fuel source to produce the energy to be converted to electrical energy. This fuel source is typically either gasoline or diesel. This is actually one of the easier choices to make because it’s in your best interest to just use the same fuel source as your boat or marine vessel. If it uses gasoline, then buy a gasoline powered marine generator, and the same for diesel. However, if you are working with gasoline as a fuel source, then make absolutely certain you are purchasing a spark-free generator.
Three-Phase or Single Phase
Without getting into the nitty-gritty of alternative current waveforms, it’s important to note that there is a difference amongst the Alternating Current produced by some generators. Some generators produce a single phase waveform, while other generators produce a three-phase waveform. Three phase generators are cheaper and actually more efficient. The catch is that most generators that produce less than 20kW only use single phase. If you want to experience the price difference and improved efficiency, then you’ll need to purchase a generator that is large enough.
Size of the Generator.
This also brings up another important topic: the size of the generator. It’s vital to choose a generator in the right size range. Too small or too large means overworked engine or wasted electricity. You never want a generator operating at less than 25 percent capacity and it’s best to leave it beneath 75 percent. Finding that sweet spot may require a bit of math on your behalf. Get an estimate of the power your appliances consume and find a generator that’s right for the job.
Use these pointers to choose an appropriate marine generator for your boat. Generators are never a cheap investment, so it’s important to make sure you choose right the first time.