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Want to understand the risks of using a portable generator on your boat?

LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
The author is someone I've come to greatly respect - for both knowledge and ability to share it.  Once you read this article, I doubt you'll use a portable genny on your boat.

https://gilwellbear.wordpress.com/category/boat-technical-topics/equipment-topics/portable-generators-not-for-boats/
Post edited by LaRea on

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    PickleRickPickleRick Member Posts: 3,920 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Seems like most of those issues are caused by improper usage, no common sense, poor judgment, plain negligence and lack of co2 detectors.  

    I for one will be using mine all summer strapped on the platfrom, on the hook, in an open cove with my cabin c02 detectors.   

    Ive discussed in detail how not to store these things and how not to operate them in the generator threads.  Ive discussed the vent and carb issues as well as potential spill issues. 


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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    I guess if you can 100% guarantee proper usage, common sense, good judgment and good CO detectors, along with never having any unknown wiring fault or unexpected problem with the genny, all the time every time, there's nothing to worry about.  For the rest of us, it's a lot to consider.  
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    PickleRickPickleRick Member Posts: 3,920 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Most wiring fault would come when

    running generator while anchoring up( why would you do that??)

    Or running an extension cord from genset to shore or dingy and potentially dipping into the water(again why????)

    Or touching the metal case while operating(most of us would run non conductive plastic case inverter generators)


    Extra precaution should be taken when running any potential fire, co2, fuel spill or electric shock source on a boat. From a grill to a radio to generator to the propane tank lights  we used to fish with as a kid.



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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    edited May 2020
    Most wiring fault would come when

    running generator while anchoring up( why would you do that??)
    Most people that use a genny use it ONLY when anchored, especially for a raftup.  Hang out all day, fire up the genny to charge batteries and run the microwave or AC.  When else would you be away from shore power long enough to need a genny?

    When do you use yours?
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    PickleRickPickleRick Member Posts: 3,920 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2020
    I dont anchor up with anyone.  We have countless sandy beaches , surrounded by thousands of acres of undisturbed forests.  If we socialize we gather with small groups of family or close friends.  You just dont see anchored up groups on our lake often. You will see party islands or beaches.

    That being said if i did anchor up running a genest on my bow (stupid) or running one on my swim platfrom(only place i run it) would not be an option. i only have a stock small fv235 platfrom.  The ladder cannot be accessed when my genset is in running position.  I also dont allow the family to swim while the generator is running in case of fault. When multiple boats anchor up you are not always pointing into the wind, Co2 can be just as deadly in the co(k pit as it can be the cabin.

    Secondly, when kids and even adults(some possibly drinking) are crossing boat to boat there would be potential for someone getting caught in the cord or falling over it.  Some how knocking it loose and into the water could be deadly.

     
    My genset is only run at night to run the AC or while we are cooking.    Never while swimmers are in the water or near by. 

    We prefer solitude over social gathering so bow rails touching is not an issue for us.   We sleep on the hook.  We have no marina, no slip.  We launch and come back when the weekend is over.  Our lake trips are an escape into nature and away from civilization.

    If i was approached by the dnr at night id shut the genset off before allowing them to tie up or potentially board.  Not just because of shock risk but so conversation can be done easily.  A quiet generator isnt quiet when the AC has it loaded. 
     I doubt they would side board my boat anyway, id need to greet them at the platfrom, side boarding on many of our boats is difficult due to the freeboard. 

    Due the the close proximity of boats anchored up i wouldnt suggest running an engine or marine genset while anchore up.  Again, the co2 factor with so many boats any wind change could fill multiple boats to dangerous levels.

    After a couple died on our lake due to co2 poisoning it makes you think twice.  

    More people are probably shocked each year due to faulty wiring using shore power at the marina than on a portable generator.  Even if you have uscg approved genset/wiring it's still not wise to assume you're free of all danger.
    Post edited by raybo3 on
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    J3ffJ3ff Member Posts: 4,070 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I run mine on the swim platform... but I've also got two CO detectors down stairs.. and would never run it overnight... if it's hot and there's no cool breeze, forget it, back to the dock and inside to the AC... can almost always pick your night for camping out on the boat. Would never rough it with the heat.  The one time I took the boat to cape cod, there was always a dock with power waiting for the overnight, DockWA (app) makes it super easy. It's just money, AC running all night on the dock power is worth it!!
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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    Ohhhh ... @PickleRick you said "anchored up."  Now I understand you meant "rafted up" meaning tied up with other boats.  And I get that you are a knowledgeable boater who takes the right precautions.  But I still wouldn't bring a portable genny onto a boat.  
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    rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Mine has factory and was on the must have list. I don't use it a lot, do try to cycle it often but when you do want to use one, awesome to have.
    I did experience one scare- had the camper pack.  up going down the river...very back portion down...that co2 was somehow being drawn into the cabin or the wind was blowing from the stern faster than I was going and the sensors were going off...scary stuff.
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    reneechris14reneechris14 Member Posts: 3,134 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The article is very good and explains a lot of the risks with the use of the portable genny on a boat. I think a lot if people don't understand electricity to begin with then add CO and things get dangerous. Everything in your house goes to a rod that sticks in the ground out side your house but on a boat in the water there is no place for it to go. now and the fact that some people can't distinguish between 12volt and 120 but they can drive a boat?? thanks for posting larea
    2005 Rinker FV342  Pawcatuck river,Ct
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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    While we're on the topic ... Honda has a recall on some of its small generators. 

    Recalled EB2200i portable generator

    Name of product:
    Honda EB2200i, EU2200i, EU2200i Companion and EU2200i Camo Portable Generators
    Hazard:

    The portable generator’s inverter assembly can short circuit with the presence of salt water. This causes the unit to smoke or catch fire ...

    https://cpsc.gov/Recalls/2020/American-Honda-Recall-of-Portable-Generators-Due-to-Fire-and-Burn-Hazards
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    raybo3raybo3 Administrator Posts: 5,469 admin
    Another thing I see quite a bit is people running their genny with an anchor off the bow and another anchor off the stern. Worst thing you can do. The boat needs to "sway" in the wind to allow the vapor's to blow down wind and away from the boat...... Just say'n
    2002 342 Fiesta Vee PC Point Of Pines YC Revere MA. popyc.org     raybo3@live.com
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    WillhoundWillhound Member Posts: 4,190 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Good article @LaRea.
    Won't stop me from using mine for the odd time we do. Always by ourselves and for a half hour in the morning to make coffee and charge batteries. Stays on the swim platform. Ours does have the bonded ground I beleive but I'm going to check.
    "Knot Quite Shore" - 2000 FV270 (Sold)
    2018 Cherokee 39RL Land Yacht (Sorry...)
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    boatman37boatman37 Member Posts: 806 ✭✭✭
    We had a guy at our marina that would run his when he overnighted on the wall in Pittsburgh to run his CPAP machine but he recently sold the boat and bought a travel trailer. He had a 258 Four Winns and I think he set it on his bow but not sure. Never saw him do it but he told me about it. We do not have a gennie in the boat or portable and don't really have a need for it right now. 
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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
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    Black_DiamondBlack_Diamond Member Posts: 5,439 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Oh jesse. They had the gen IN the boat. You just can’t fix stupid. 

    Past owner of a 2003 342FV
    PC BYC, Holland, MI
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    PickleRickPickleRick Member Posts: 3,920 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Just so we are all 100% clear you can get co2 poisoning from an inboard genset. 

    Or running the boat (especially hard top or half enclosure) with the cabin door open.  

    All boats propelled or powered by or power produced by any internal combustion engine or flame should have multiple c02 sensors.  I have 2 in each cabin.  One is a dual smoke and co2 the other is co2 only.  One takes batteries the other 12v system.r
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    TonyG13TonyG13 Member Posts: 1,296 ✭✭✭✭
    Another scary thing is it doesn't even have to be a genny on your boat. It could be on a neighboring boat moored close by that you are downwind from. We never sleep on the boat without checking and using all our CO detectors. And as @PickleRick does, we have multiple units aboard, both battery and 12v.
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    [Deleted User][Deleted User] Dana Point, California, USAPosts: 0 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2020
    I have never worried one bit about running a well-secured EU2000 Honda on the swim platform during waking hours, sleeping with it running would be dumb though. My only worry is dropping it in the drink and being out a $1,000. BTW, I don't plug in the shore power cable, I power the coffee maker or (if needed) a portable battery charger directly. Pretty much everything involving fuel and electricity can be deadly if you're stupid.
    Andy
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    PickleRickPickleRick Member Posts: 3,920 ✭✭✭✭✭
    My genny is secured tightly to the hand grab rail above the ladder and double attached to two different cleats and tied off with an eye to a 3rd..  Im not worried about it falling off although I do get a dealer discount on generac genset so a replacement is the last worry on my mind.

    I won't run mine with anyone in the water so unless it's a quick microwave deal we don't turn ours on until night. I'm always worried about shocking someoene.   If you want a hot pocket for lunch everyone out of the water.  

    I set mine across the swim ladder so the platform cannot be accessed via the water.  

    We run ours while we swing on an anchor for 10 to 12 hrs a night.  The genset isn't fired up until the family is all on board for the night.  The kiddo has taken many a leak off the back platfrom without complaint of being shocked so im guessing i don't have any electrical bleed off but i still won't trust it.

    Im up refilling the genset and making my morning brew before the rest of the family wakes up.  The new 9000 btu ac sucks about a tank every 5 hrs.




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