Zanshin I Fischer Panda LPE 5000 Generator

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Fischer Panda control panel Fischer Panda control panel
Fischer Panda control panel
Fischer Panda LPE5000 Fischer Panda LPE5000
Fischer Panda LPE5000

Electrical power is always a scarce resource on boats. The running lights, anchor lights, inside lights and instruments all use DC electricity that needs to be replenished. Most boats have an alternator (sometimes even 2) hooked up to the main diesel engine which supplies quite a bit of electrical power to recharge the batteries. But the main engine is not run much during passages and doesn't need to be run at all while anchored. It isn't efficient to run the main engine in neutral gear just to recharge the batteries for a couple of reasons - mainly that it is inefficient to run a big engine just for the alternator and that diesel engines last longer when run under a load. Alternate sources of replenishing electrical energy can also be used, such as solar energy and wind generators, but they don't always work and certainly cannot come close to providing the high amperages required to quickly recharge batteries.

For this reason larger boats and those used as live-aboards tend to have a built-in generator. In my case it is a Fischer Panda 5000 LPE diesel generator, which uses a small Kubota 1-cylinder diesel engine to run a generator that produces an alternating current of 230V/50Hz (identical to normal European household current) to the boat. At this voltage the generator produces a constant output of 4.2kVa (kilo volt amps). 4.2kVA is 18Amps @ 230V; or 4200 Watts - which is the amount of energy that 42 100Watt bulbs would use, or enough to run quite a bit of heavy load systems including the air conditioning and/or the microwave.

Having AC power available is great, it means that one can run typical household devices such as vacuum cleaners, battery chargers for various devices, power drills, espresso machines and mixers, etc. This is a luxury that most boats don't have, as the electrical systems are 12V DC. The downside of this luxury is that it is only available while the generator is running or the boat is plugged into shore power; or if one is willing to spend a significant amount of spare change and install a large inverter.

The main use that I put my generator to is for charging the batteries. Until I put in my wind generator, I ran the generator at least one hour a day to replenish used energy. I measured my energy consumption and found that almost all of the power went to my freezer, and after that the next highest consumer was the refrigerator. The generator only uses a little over 1 liter of diesel per hour at full load, which is quite efficient.

Once every week or two I will run the generator for a longer period, this allows the batteries to not only charge but also to get saturated and fully loaded. The saturation and trickle charge of the batteries takes a long time at low load, but during this period I fire up the watermaker, which uses almost ALL of the generator's output to make fresh water from salt water. This keeps the generator at a steady high load for the whole period and makes best use of the fuel.

The pictures on the right show some of the generator components. The panel is self-explanatory, but the big control box is required when using the generator to fire up certain devices, notably the air conditioner and the watermaker. Both of these use large electric motors which require much more power to start up and get moving than they do once they have come up to speed. This is sort of like me, in the morning. Exhaust systems on boats are also different to their counterparts in cars; it can be dangerous to have the same type of extremely host exhaust pipes inside a boat that run under cars. But since boats have an inexhaustible supply of water around them, they can use that to cool the gases coming from the engine. Thus you will always almost always see mixture of water and gas pouring out of a boat with the engine (or generator) running; the water will be lukewarm to warm after having cooled the exhaust gas.

Upon return to the boat and re-commissioning her after storage on the hard I found a serious issue with the exhaust system - Now I've contacted a dealer and will most likely need to sail up to St. Martin in order to get this repaired, otherwise I'll have to dispense with my espresso due to the power consumption... I've detailed the issue on this page.

The second picture down on the right has the sound enclosure removed from the generator and one can also see the silvery material surrounding the generator. I added this Whispermat material and it made quite a different to the level of sound coming from the enclosure. The sound enclosure from Fischer Panda does a good job and the Whispermat does the rest, now I can barely hear the generator when it is running.

Downloadable Manuals page - Fischer Panda LPE5000 Manuals

630 views since 2017-02-04, page last modified on 2017-02-19.