Generator life expectancy?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by b_arrington, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. b_arrington

    b_arrington Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    729
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    Assuming proper care, what's the life expectancy of a diesel generator?

    I'm looking at a 2015 boat with a 6kW Kohler generator with 776 hours. It looks like its had proper maintenance, but I'm not sure sure what the meaningful service life is. Any ideas?
     
  2. BillK2632

    BillK2632 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 25, 2009
    Lake Norman, NC
    1999 185 Bowrider,
    Mercruiser 4.3, Alpha I
    I think the key to a generator is to use it. I can't speak specifically for the diesel models, but I had a gasoline 5E I ran it all the time and never had problems. I also knew a fella with a houseboat, his gasoline Kohler had 5000hrs on it with no problems - just maintenance. 700+ hours on that generator tells me it worked and the owner used it.
     
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  3. Irie308

    Irie308 Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    879
    May 28, 2013
    CT
    2004 420 Sedan Bridge, GHS Hydraulic Lift
    Dual Raymarine E120W
    AB Mares 10 VSX with 30 hp Tohatsu
    Cummins 450C 8.3 L Turbocharged
    We purchased our previous boat with less than 40hrs on the gen (05 dancer). After 5 seasons we sold it with over 800 hours. It never skipped a beat aside from from having to replace the fuel pump twice in those 5 seasons. Changed the oil at the recommended intervals and kept up with the zincs and impeller. Our new purchased DB has 120 hours on the onan gen. Looks as if it was recently replaced. Not sure due to defect or neglect but doubt it was over used.
     
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  4. b_arrington

    b_arrington Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    729
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    On this boat the main engine has 500 hours and the generator 776. I understand the owner purchased it to do the great loop and with that done is now selling it. I would guess that they kept the generator running for AC and to keep the reefers cold. 500 hours on a Cummins diesel doesn't bother me in the least. As I said, I wasn't sure about the genny.

    I think it's a good point that, as with most marine stuff, it's better to have it be used and maintained vs. let it sit.

    For my own purpose the generator would probably be used more as well. I expect to be hanging on the hook in the summer with some AC going.
     
  5. yobub

    yobub Active Member PLATINUM Sponsor GOLD Sponsor

    198
    Jul 29, 2016
    Chicago
    1998 400 Sundancer
    Cat 3116's
    My diesel 1998 7.6 Westerbeke has about 5300 hours on it. Works fine.
     
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  6. The Bill Collector

    The Bill Collector Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Jun 2, 2008
    Tacoma, WA
    450 Sundancer
    3126 Cat's
    As with most Gen's it is use it or lose it... More die from lack of use, not overuse.
     
  7. fwebster

    fwebster Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor PLATINUM Sponsor

    Oct 6, 2006
    Middle Tennessee ; Panama City Beach, FL
    1996 450DA
    3116 Caterpillars
    Lack of use, sea water drips and leaks and failure to maintain generators are the prime causes of generator failure.

    I frequently run a 55 Viking sport fisherman for the owner who is a friend. The last time I checked the bilge & fluids was in early January and the generator had 10,600 hours on it. Ran fine and looked new. On this particular boat, the power steering and autopilot drive pumps are AC powered so the generator runs full time when you are running the boat and because the women folks don't sweat or shiver, the generator runs anytime the boat is away from her slip.

    Generator engine hours isn't a real worry but you still need to do a mechanical survey on the generator that includes running it under full load for an hour or more, doing lube oil analysis and coolant analysis.
     
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  8. Irie308

    Irie308 Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    879
    May 28, 2013
    CT
    2004 420 Sedan Bridge, GHS Hydraulic Lift
    Dual Raymarine E120W
    AB Mares 10 VSX with 30 hp Tohatsu
    Cummins 450C 8.3 L Turbocharged
    btw, i see you are located in our regular summer hang out. What are you looking to upgrade to, dancer or bridge?
     
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  9. b_arrington

    b_arrington Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    729
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    Yes, we're in Port Jeff harbor. We spend most of the summer hanging on a mooring at the south edge of the northwest mooring area, just outside Setauket harbor. We hang with my inlaws on their '98 270 DA.

    I rather wish it weren't the case, but I'm looking outside of Sea Rays for one of these. Its the only type of boat I can find with a single engine that cruises at 28 mph, that can also sleep 4.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    That’s a beautiful boat.
    I’ve had my boat for two summers now and being kind of fuel conscious I was initially reluctant to run the genny a lot when I first got the boat.
    Then I realized how fuel efficient the diesel generator is and I started using it a whole lot more.
    We usually spend a day on the hook at least once a week. Although I don’t usually run it when we first drop the hook, I usually start it up when my wife starts putting lunch together so she can use the microwave and then keep it on until we get back to the dock later in the day so we can keep the AC blasting in the cabin and the water heater going for showers.
    I’d probably keep it on all day, but don’t want to listen to it running.
     
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  11. b_arrington

    b_arrington Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    729
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    We want to spend more time traveling and on the hook to a generator will be pretty key for that. We spend most weekends out on the boat in summer. My wife gets overheated pretty easily due to a health condition, and it's not good when that happens. For that reason we're going to have AC on the boat. The one I'm looking at has 3 units; 1 for the cabin below and 2 for the helm deck. It will be essential when sleeping out, and she can have a place to cool off during the day.
     
  12. Air O'Nautical

    Air O'Nautical Active Member

    Feb 5, 2008
    Stamford CT "Ponus Yacht Club"
    1995 400EC. Raymarine E80,4kw dome, Garmin 235 gps,
    2013 7.4L Mercruiser Blue water.
    Hurth straight shaft 630's,
    Westerbeke 7.0 BCG
    Most boat things, I like to think of time more than hours.
    Proper maintenance is key.
    Just replaced the electrical back-end on my 23 year old Westerbeke. Only 1200 hours but, had a short in one of the windings.
    I hope to get 23 more years out of the engine part that purrs like a kitten at 1800 RPMs.
     
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  13. WV 320 Dancer

    WV 320 Dancer Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    594
    Oct 28, 2018
    2003 Sea Ray Sundancer 320
    Twin 350 MAG - V Drive
    I have industrial customers that have 5 times the amount of hours on their generators. You see a ton of Koehler powers systems out in the field.
     
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  14. JVM225

    JVM225 Well-Known Member GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 8, 2008
    Farmingdale, NY
    2002 410 Sundancer, Monaco Edition.
    3126 Cats.
    The only downside to running it on the hook is when we have boats rafted up to us. Ours exhausts on the starboard side so we try to have smaller boats that people won’t be sitting on tie up to us on that side.
    Ours was brand new in April of 2016 so it’s pretty quiet, or at least quiet enough that the stereo drowns it out.
    Exhaust smell isn’t usually a problem since the afternoons are always windy and with the bow in the wind on the hook the exhaust blows back. It can still be annoying to anyone tied up on our starboard side though so that’s why we generally ask the smallest boat to tie up there.

    BTW: The previous owner replaced the generator because of several seasons of problems with the old one, most of which he attributed to under use.
     
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  15. ttmott

    ttmott PhD in OCD GOLD Sponsor

    Apr 3, 2012
    Space Coast Florida
    2006 52 Sedan Bridge
    Cummins QSM11
    The generator starts before we leave the dock and does not shut down until we get back or slipped at another marina with shore power. The generator on the 52DB is very quiet; in fact about only the raw water splash is heard outside of the boat. Later this year we will be running the generator a bit less as the boat is getting it's batteries replaced with Lithium banks and inverter/chargers which will allow the AC power systems to operate for up to a couple of days then as required, the generator automatically comes on line to recharge the batteries or we need to make water.
    Marine generators are continuous duty rated and need to be run with proper maintenance for best service life.
     
  16. rcknecht

    rcknecht Active Member

    Mar 23, 2009
    toms river,nj
    340 Sundancer 2001
    T 454 MPI
    I am on my second the first lasted 6 months... The second was only used for 40 hours... Both where Hydrolocked... I am looking for number three now... I know how I hydrolocked the first one... The second time I have no idea how it happed...
     
  17. rondds

    rondds Well-Known Member SILVER Sponsor

    Oct 3, 2006
    Jersey Shore
    2001 380DA
    Merc 8.1s (2008)...Hurth ZF 63 V-drives...WB 7.0 BCGD (2013), Garmin 8208 & 740 MFDs, GMR 24xHD dome
    These little gas engines used in generators are the same ones used in small vehicles overseas. Here's some math I've done...

    If a vehicle travels an average of 30mph over it's lifespan (let's just say), then 1 hour of generator use is the equivalent of 30 miles. So a generator with 1000 hours on it is like a vehicle with 30000 miles on it. If the generator is running at 1800rpm and powering a 3/4 load, it's probably not working as hard as the car engine does (hills, changing rpm, etc).

    Of course these numbers are just guidelines for simplicity. Also keep in mind the damp environment that a generator is sitting in is not helpful to its longevity, especially when it's used in salt water. It's all about proper maintenance and a lot of luck, and, YES exercise it regularly.
     
  18. green anchors

    green anchors Member

    156
    Sep 28, 2010
    henderson harbor, thousand islands
    2002 300 Generator, thruster
    5.7 twins bravo III
    The loop in a 270? I would be interested in details... I thought there were legs of the trip
    requiring long distance between fuel
     
  19. b_arrington

    b_arrington Active Member GOLD Sponsor

    729
    Feb 21, 2007
    Setauket, NY
    270 Amberjack (2006)
    AB Ventus 9 VL RIB
    350 Mag MPI Horizon w/ BIII
    1998 Envinrude 15 HP 2-stroke
    No, not my 270 AJ. The boat I’m looking at was used for the loop. It has a much larger range. Now that it’s done the owners are selling.
     
  20. carterchapman

    carterchapman Well-Known Member TECHNICAL Contributor SILVER Sponsor

    Mar 25, 2008
    Lake Chickamauga/Marietta, GA/Ft. Myers, FL
    2006 Sea Ray 58 DB
    MAN CRM V8-900s, Twin Disc Drives; Onan 21.5 Generator
    i have a dockmate with a '47 Jefferson, with 5000 hrs on his mains and 8500 hours on his genny...
     
    WV 320 Dancer likes this.

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