This article is an excerpt from NauticEd’s online Skipper Course, a comprehensive online sailing course for beginner to intermediate sailors to learn how to sail large sailboats 26 ft (8m) and above. Or upgrade to the Skipper Course Bundle to also master maneuvering under power and docking!

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Sailboat Generator or Large Battery Bank?

Dedicated electric generators on board sailboats are usually only reserved for large sailboats because of their weight and size. Unless there is a desire for large amounts of electricity such as for air conditioning, electric stoves, water heaters, or microwave ovens, they are generally not needed.

A generator

For “off-the-grid” situations generators can serve to charge the batteries but many times this function is left for the alternator from the engine and or solar panels.

Small 110v/220v appliances such as laptops can be run from small inverters that draw their electricity from the DC batteries by “inverting”  the 12 or 24-volt DC electricity to 110v/220v AC electricity. 

When it comes to large amounts of electricity requirements on a sailboat which is generally just air conditioning or perhaps clothes washing and drying, either a generator or a large Lithium-Ion battery bank must be onboard.

In many cases, a large Lithium-Ion battery bank can suffice to run air conditioning if the boat is plugged into shore power afterward to recharge the batteries. More recently a newer device has hit the market called an Integrel generator. Similar to an alternator, it runs directly off the main propulsion engine to quickly recharge the Li-Ion battery bank. This removes the need for a dedicated and heavy generator.

This discussion of onboard lifestyle can get pretty deep so this is left as an introduction here and revisited in the Bareboat Charter Master courses where Lithium-Ion batteries are discussed more as an almost imperative solution for the off-grid energy-demanding boating lifestyle.

You can learn more in the Skipper Course....

Knowledge and theory for longer distances and overnight sailing in diverse conditions. The Skipper Course is a comprehensive sailing course for beginner to intermediate sailors wanting to learn how to sail larger sailboats 26ft to 56ft. Or upgrade to the Skipper Course Bundle to also master maneuvering under power and docking!

Source: Skipper
Topic: Boat Electrical Systems
Authors: Grant Headifen, NauticEd Global Director of Education
NauticEd is a fully recognized education and certification platform for sailing students combining online and on-the-water real instruction (and now VR). NauticEd offers +24 online courses, a free sailor's toolkit that includes 2 free courses, and six ranks of certification – all integrated into NauticEd’s proprietary platform. The USCG and NASBLA recognize NauticEd as having met the established American National Standards.