Jul , 2014
by Bell and Orders
Important Decisions When Buying a Marine Generator
Do you own a boat? Whether it’s a massive cruise boat, a yacht, a tug boat, or even a fishing boat, you’re going to need some kind of electricity on board. Not just the electricity from your battery, which can be connected to an inverter to power some very small appliances. What you need is a heavy duty marine generator that can produce enough wattage to power all of your appliances on board.
Of course, the more appliances you have, the larger the generator you will need. The size of the generator is just one of the many decisions you’ll have to make when buying a new generator. Other important decisions must be made, such as fuel source, type of current, motor type, and operating speeds.
Many of these important issues are addressed below. For some of them, only you can answer as to what best suits your budget and your boat. For others, such as current type, there’s usually only one smart choice to make. At any rate, each decision still requires your full attention before making a choice.
Choosing an Operating Speed
One of the most important decisions you need to make is on the operating speed of the motor and the current frequency itself. Standards for Alternating Current (AC) are different in America than Europe and other countries.
In America, the standard is 60 Hz, which means it completes an AC waveform 60 times per second. However, in Europe, the standard is 50 Hz.
While this difference might sound negligible, it makes a big difference and most appliances operate at one frequency or the other. You’ll need to choose a generator that produces the appropriate frequency for your appliances, which usually depends on where you live. The frequency of the electricity isn’t the only concern when it comes to speed.
The frequency of the current produced by the generator is actually determined by the speed of the motor, which is usually producing the AC as it revolves around magnets and inducts the current. A motor that speeds at 3,600; 1,800; or 1,200 RPM will create a frequency of 60Hz. Notice how the speeds are all divisible by 60. The same rule applies to 50Hz motors, which spin at 3,000; 1,500; or 1,000 RPM.
Of the 60Hz variety, the 1,200 RPM motor is the least common today, primarily due to certain emission standards. The 1,200 RPM motor is about 33 percent slower than the 1,800 RPM motor, which is the common standard today. However, this slower speed means the motor often lives longer than other generators. The most common motors are four pole motors that spin at either 1,500 or 1,800 RPM for 50Hz and 60Hz respectively. The faster options are actually smaller, lighter, but also have the shortest lifespan of all the available generators.
Choosing a generator with the best features is always the fun part. Do you know which features are important to you or which may be mandatory on your boat? Some features make life easier. For example, some generators come with additional or internal equipment that converts AC to DC through an additional outlet. This is great for those rare appliances that don’t have their own internal rectification components.
Other features are more for safety than pleasure. These features might include internal Carbon Monoxide detectors. This helps prevent a potential build-up of poisonous Carbon Monoxide. However, if you don’t choose a generator with one of these detectors, then you should take the time to install external detectors throughout the boat. It will help keep everyone on board safe. Choosing a generator with minimal emissions is also a good idea.
Choosing the Perfect Size.
Choosing a generator that’s too small means you won’t be able to power all of the appliances you need. Choosing one that is too large means you wasted money and electricity. You’ll need to find that spot right in the middle, which means you need to do the math and find out how much energy you’re using on your boat.
Your numbers may not be 100 percent accurate, but as long as they’re in the ballpark you’ll do okay. Remember it’s always better to choose a generator slightly larger than one slightly smaller than your needs.
As you can see, there are a lot of considerations when choosing the best marine generator. Each boat has unique needs, which means the same generator isn’t going to be the best for everyone.