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Thread: Inverter Or Generator

  1. #1
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    Inverter Or Generator

    As I continue on the remodel of my 82 Gibson lazy Cruz (first houseboat) have another decision to make . Being i am going to replace my current house bank (which is old ) and i dont have a generator. Should i build a nice size house bank and go the inverter route or look for a used generator.Cost is alway a factor. What do you think.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dan's Avatar
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    Just my opinion here, but I would go generator first for sure. Not everything can be run with an inverter, but certainly can be with the gen. I only run the gen as needed while on the hook. Most of the items I want to be able to use the whole time I'm out (stereo, heads, fresh water, water slide) are 12 volt. Fridge will stay cold all day as long as there's no grandkids on the boat. Course when it's time to break out the margarita machine then I have to fire up the generator..........I mean what if you needed to fire up the margarita machine and didn't have enough battery power left?? Obviously it would be full throttle back to the dock to plug in!! Yep, no doubt in my mind.......generator.
    1986 Gibson 50'
    Twin 454 Crusaders
    Monroe Reservoir, Bloomington, IN

  3. #3
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    anybody used the l-16 batteries? 375-400 at 20 amp/hr.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator OLD HOUSEBOATER's Avatar
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    Air Conditioning requires a generator. If you want to get full value when you sell you need to have a generator.
    The fries are cold so we gave you extra.

  5. #5
    Senior Member easttnboater's Avatar
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    Do both.

    If I was building from scratch and had a bunch of money, I would have a big genny - 15kva, 220v - to pull all the loads, a small genny - 2.5kva, 110v - to pull the 110v loads when I did not want to run the big genny, and a good sized house bank and inverter with some solar charging panels.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Endurance's Avatar
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    We sometimes think of an inverter as a power source. In reality, it's a device to change DC power (usually 12, 24, or 48 volts) into AC power (usually 120 volts). The DC power that the inverter converts to AC power still has to come from somewhere. That "somewhere" is almost always one or a combination of three sources. One source is shore power. Boaters that don't stray far from a dock can manage shorter trips on battery power that they charge at the slip. The length of "shorter trips" depends on battery bank size and how frugal you can be with power. The second power source is solar or wind power. I am not a fan of wind power on a houseboat but love solar. One boater on my lake runs his boat entirely on solar power. Here is a link to his thoughts on the matter: http://theboathitch.com/solar.html If you follow his link, you'll see that he's in the desert southwest and can use evaporative cooling. But for most of us, relying entirely on the first two power sources means we go without air conditioning. The third power source is a generator. Generators are noisy, use a lot of fuel, and break often. Unless you want to run a generator all night, refrigerator management can be a challenge. But in spite of all of these drawbacks, most of us use one because they provide the power we seem to want.

    Easttnboater is right on the mark when he says you will likely end up with a generator or two, an inverter, and some solar panels. The generator provides power and charges the batteries in the day and the inverter uses some of that power to run the fridge at night. With the addition of solar panels, you can lessen some of the downsides of a generator because you can limit your generator running to a few hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. Until you take the plunge to solar panels, a second smaller supplemental generator is less noisy and uses less fuel than running a big generator.

    Even though you will end up with more equipment, getting a good generator will be your starting point.

    It's only money, right?
    Last edited by Endurance; 01-07-2013 at 06:43 AM.

  7. #7
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    I guess first i will build up a good battery house bank,with room to grow . Also am currently looking for a good used generator ,may or may not happen this year. I have two roof air on my boat that will be used when on shore power. I have access through a buddy for solar set ups. He told me he could hook me up with a very reasonable charging set up. Our main trips will be weekends and a week out a couple times a year. Changing my stove out for propane and may go with an on demand propane hot water heater. All my DC lighting has been changed out to LED. Want to go into this saving as much power as i can.
    Shoot its only money. They print more every day!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Stmbtwle's Avatar
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    You're on the right track with the LEDs

    I agree with Endurance. Batteries are STORAGE, ultimately they need to be charged and even with an inverter you can't run air conditioning. You can get by without a generator IF you don't need AC on the hook AND if you have another means of charging your batteries.

    A weekender might be able to get by with just a big battery bank and charge from shore power. Any longer than that and you'll need an onboard charging system of some sort. I love Solar and it's a lot less expensive than just a few years ago, but it still has its limitations.

    Install a battery monitor to get a real-world look at your usage. Then be honest with yourself and do your homework.

    L-16 batteries are probably better but I like golf batteries, which are relatively inexpensive, tough, easy to come by and easy to handle.
    Last edited by Stmbtwle; 01-09-2013 at 04:48 AM.
    She's a tired old barge but she's paid for... http://s71.beta.photobucket.com/user...24993.pbw.html

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bamby's Avatar
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    I happen to be doing some maintenance work for a truck-stop. Anyway in doing the work I have some interaction with some of the drivers. One of the new innovations of trucking is having apu's installed on their rigs. What a apu is in reality is an "auxiliary power unit" for the truck. These units are supposed to be very thrifty in fuel consumption. They supply air conditioning (be lacking for most boats I'm sure), battery charging, ac power, and heat. All in all though they are a pretty neat overall package. Though probably not available for a boat specific application, one probably could be macgyvered to work. I can see the feasibility of offering such units for the boating industry down the road. Here's a quick example I grabbed just to overview the technology, this ain't a recommendation for the particular unit.

    rigmasterpower

  10. #10
    Senior Member easttnboater's Avatar
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    I would have one of these - http://www.westerbeke.com/Products/p...g.aspx?id=1286 - for 110v loads during the day.

    And, one of these - http://www.westerbeke.com/Products/p...ing.aspx?id=45 - with a power take off for hydraulic thrusters front and rear and for 220v loads when needed.

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