“Even if it is running perfectly, nobody wants to listen to a generator run all night.”
After spending many years sailing and camping on a boat in Texas and on Lake Travis, I knew one thing for sure. I wanted the option to have the AC on at night. When you sleep on the trampoline or on deck it is fine, but being down below is just uncomfortable without the ability to cool the boat, for most of the year, in Texas.
So having the ability to generate the power needed to run the boat when away from the dock was a base requirement for our new boat. But have you ever used a generator on a boat? or RV? There are a number of things that I really do not like about them. Let me count the ways:
1.) Generators are loud, really loud. Even if it is running perfectly, nobody wants to listen to a generator run all night. And depending on the boat, sometimes you get to listen to the fuel pump run all night too. In the case of a monohull often the generator is right next to a cabin, inside the boat. In this particular Jeanneau, it is located right next to your chest in the port after cabin.
2.) Generators stink. They pump out stinky fumes and toxic gasses that make them downright dangerous to run at night while you try to sleep.
3.) Generators are unreliable. They require ongoing maintenance and I can’t tell you how many times I had trouble getting one to start or even just stay running.
4.) Your neighbors get annoyed by your loud, stinky generator running all night. It’s a sailboat, the whole point is the peace and quiet, if I can’t have that I should just get a powerboat! Haha, just kidding.
5.) The stove on a boat require alternate fuels, like propane, which is dangerous! Propane is very combustible and is heavier than air, should there be a leak guess where it collects on the boat? Then your bilge pump turns on and BOOM! Who wants that?
Looking for a solution I ran across a new product called Integrel. Basically it is a special high power alternator that attaches to the reliable main engine on the boat and charges a battery bank which you can use to run everything on the boat. In nearly the same space as the generator I am going to have 21kWh of Lithium-ion based batteries from Torqueedo. That much battery capacity will enable running the entire boat with the AC on overnight on the hottest nights of the year. Then in basically the time you would be running the engine to motor out and get the sails up, the bank will be fully charged and ready to go again. The added advantage is that diesel engines prefer to be run under load. Running a propeller barely loads the engine and it basically never gets up to operating temperature. So this additional load will actually be better for the engine. Neat.
“While I was at the Annapolis boat show I got the chance to get on a boat that had the Integrel system installed and speak with the owner. He loved the system, this is such a simple and obvious solution for a boat.”
Pricing wise it is a bit more than the generator option from Jeanneau but comes with all the advantages mentioned above. This is definitely the system for me and will be added to the boat once it gets here. A no brainer. Now I just need to trade out the gimbaled propane stove for an electric one!
While I was at the Annapolis boat show I got the chance to get on a boat that had the Integrel system installed and speak with the owner. He loved the system, this is such a simple and obvious solution for a boat. He graciously walked us through the systems and installation, pulling up seats and boards to give us the full view. This boat was up north and in cooler water so I’ll have to get some more battery than he did but I was glad to get a chance to see the system in action.
Then we moved in to the demonstration. Right from the get go it was obvious the system is smart. It comes on gradually and you can hear the additional load on the engine. Then as it runs it gradually increases the load until peak generation power is achieved. It is fun to watch the meter showing the power being routed to the batteries. We watched the charge level climb and then got int the real demo. The owner of the boat went topside and shut down the main engine. The AC continued to run and keep us cool, but there was no engine noise! It was amazing to sit there and hear nothing but the AC blowing just like we were plugged into show power. This system is going to be perfect for Austin weather.