recreational boating in Canada

How To Choose The Best Boat Generator

It is much colder on Canada’s lakes and rivers, even during the summer months. Therefore, if you intend to stay overnight on your boat, you need a built-in marine generator to keep you warm. Smaller boats for family outings require portable generators.

If you want to get the best boat generator for your vessel, there are different factors that you should consider. For example, you need to know the power requirements of your boat, and this usually depends on its size.

There are different types of boat generators, and your choice should depend on whether you require a DC or AC type of power for your utilities onboard. As such, this guide gives you more information about the type of generator you may need on your boat.

Most brands of boat generators can serve you well if you take good care of them. There are gas, solar and diesel-powered generators but diesel engines seem to be stronger than other types

Significance Of Marine Generator Onboard

Boats consist of appliances that consume A/C power such as refrigerators, navigation devices as well as water heating systems among others. Supplying sufficient power to these appliances can be a challenge when you are out on the water.

Keeping the main engines running is a good option of powering all the appliances. However, this option is not a perfect one since it leads to noise, fumes, and increased fuel consumption. The choice of keeping the main engine running can affect your peace of mind at sea. A marine generator is ideal since it provides a quieter and energy-efficient solution while you are out on the water.

Some boats have batteries that store power generated by the marine generators. However, you can use an inverter on the ship to convert the energy from DC to AC should the needs arise.

Watt (W) is the unit that represents power, and it is a product of 1 volt and 1 Amp (Watt=1 volt x1 Amp). One thousand watts make up a total of 1kW and many generators operate at 230 volts.

Power is represented by a unit named Watt (W) which is a product of 1 Amp and 1 volt for example (Watt=1Amp x 1Volt), and 1000 Watts makes up 1kW. Ordinary generator sets usually operate at 230v therefore based on the current rating of equipment; you can easily calculate the power rating.

Best Generators For Larger Vessels Over 35 Ft In Length

Different types of marine generators are suitable for large vessels measuring over 35 ft in length. Large boats usually require more power, and they need powerful generators.

The major brands of marine generators include Cummins Onan, Northern Lights, Kohler, Westerbeke as well as Fischer Panda.

Cummins Onan

Cummins and Onan joined the power generation industry in 1920 as separate entities but merged in 1992. Cummins diesel engines are standard and like options for Ford, Dodge, or Nissan pickup engines.

Cummins knows how best to manufacture engines for recreational marine generators.   They manufacture standard generators for Hatteras, Viking, and Sea Ray yachts with a three-cylinder Kubota engine. They offer a variety of sizes.

This type of engine is probably the best small diesel motor available. If you give your Cummins generator proper maintenance, it runs efficiently at high temperatures. The engine is easy to start, and it does not make any noise.

Some people, however, raise issues about the computer control systems with these generators. However, some individuals feel that it is not necessary. Should you encounter challenges with the generator, you can get 24/7 emergency support from an extensive global support network.

Kohler Marine Generators

Kohler established in 1873 in the US, and it is reputable for making quality products mainly in the power generation sector. Kohler aims to produce smaller marine generators that deliver substantial power while at the same time minimizing carbon footprint.

Kohler marine generators are suitable for larger yachts like Azimut, and it has a good record of excellent service. Kohler uses KDI and Lombardi engines both marinized and strong.

The drivers consist of sound deadening foams, and they are very quiet, and they have a low vibration.  Though some users complain that Kohler is too electronic, the brand is the most affordable together with cheap replacement parts. The engines consist of many diodes in the circuits, and it is not just a simple machine.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights is a durable marine generator, and it enjoys a strong reputation. The company has a reputation in the electrification industry dating back to the 1960s, and its marine generators use the Shibaura engine.

The Nothern Lights generator engine has an in-house marinization system, and it comes at a high price. However, you get value for money due to its durability and ease of maintenance.

The challenge you can encounter is that the spare parts are costly and the brand is more massive than other brands. You also need to consider the space for the generator in your boat.


Westerbeke was in the marine diesel engine field since 1938, and its generators have a long history of use in big maritime organizations. The company offers standard generators for top boat companies, and they are very quiet.

The Westerbeke generator has a throttle control and mechanical governor that can help you to diagnose and solve problems at sea. The engine keeps on running while you solve problems.

Westerbeke is the only company that offers gas generators, and they are reliable if maintained well. However, the replacement parts can be costly, and there are also issues of salt clogging and cooling system.

Fischer Panda

Fischer Panda is the smallest and lightest marine generator among other brands above. The machines produce power through Farymann and Kubota, and they use freshwater for cooling.

The marine generators have a sound shield.  However, the major issue of Fischer Panda marine generators is that they have high revs of 3000/3600 rpm.

The machine can wear out quickly, and it will require regular maintenance which can be costly. Diagnosing the problems can also be problematic, and Fischer Pandas are pricey. The generators are however worth the value for money since many customers have confidence in them.

Which Is The Best Generator Then?

Boats that run on diesel usually carry diesel-powered generators while those which run on gas use gas generators. Most ships that are over 26 ft. have diesel engines, and there are many advantages of diesel fuel over gas. Diesel weighs less, and it lasts longer than, and it is also environmentally friendlier.

You can power your appliances over a more extended period with diesel fuel, and the generators do not emit carbon monoxide. Diesel generators have more power due to excellent torque. Of all the marine generators, Kohler and Cummins Onan are the best regarding performance. These two brands are efficient, and they are manageable concerning maintenance, and other costs of repair.

Portable Marine Generators For Small Boats

There are different portable generators for smaller boats, and you can use them for powering things like microwaves, air conditioners, and coffee makers. The main advantage of smaller generators is that they are easy to carry and they do not make noise.

The best portable smaller marine generators include the following:

Honda EU2200i

This generator is super, and it does not disturb other people when you dock. The other important aspect of the machine is that it is fuel-efficient.

The generator gives you between four and nine hours of power on a single tank of gas. It also has proper ventilation and is safe to use on a boat. However, its weakness is that it has no fuel gauge.

WEN 56200i

This generator is quiet, affordable and it also has an inverter. The generator is portable, and it is easy to store in a safe place on the boat. The engine is efficient, and it can give you up to 6 hours of runtime on half load.

The eco mode can maximize the efficiency of the engine. The generator also has a useful safety mode that switches off when oil and fuel are running low.

Yamaha EF 2000iS V2

Yamaha marine generator is, and it has a beautiful design. The other important aspect of this particular generator is that it is fuel-efficient.

It can give you up to ten and a half hours run time on a quarter-load. The generator has a compact design, and it also has a handle for easy carrying from place to place.

The generator has a maximum of 2000 watts, and it is convenient for most boaters. The device also has a fuel gauge, and it has long run-time. However, the gas tank seems to be more significant compared to its compact design.

Generac iQ2000

Generac iQ2000 is quiet and smart, and it is an excellent engine to use in your boat. The other notable aspect of this particular marine generator is that it is user-friendly and can give you the best results.

The generator is fuel-efficient, and it can give you more than seven hours run-time with a quarter tank.  The machine has a switch to indicate three running modes namely economy, standard, and turbo.

The generator is easy to start and operate, and it also has a runtime meter. It also has a fuel gauge and status lights together with a power bar.

Telongpu Emergency Solar-Powered Generator

This particular generator is a low cost, and it is ideal for emergency preparedness. You need this machine in case of an emergency, and it gives you sufficient power of about 200 watts to charge your phone.

Telongpu solar generator can also help you to connect your radio if you run into trouble while at sea. The solar-powered generator is safe to use on the water compared to gas and oil generators.

portable solar powered generator for a boat, rv, or camping.

You can also use it to charge the main battery of your boat if it runs out of power while at sea. The generator has a compass, but you need to buy a solar panel separately.  There are other solar generator manufacturers options on the market today.

Champion 3100-Watt Inverter

The generator is convenient, and it has a remote starter unlike other brands with coil starters. You can start the generator using the remote control when you are about 80 meters away from it. It also has cold start technology that helps the engine start even under severe weather conditions.

The generator provides clean and stable power. The other advantage of the generator is that it is durable. It is also reliable such that all your electronics will be safe even if you spend an extended period out on the water fishing.

Tips For Keeping Your Boat Generator In Good Working Condition

The marine environment is harsh hence the need to continually run the generator to avoid rusting. If you run your boat generator regularly, then you will have fewer problems with it unlike just leaving it idle.

It is also essential to try to keep the generator dry to prevent it from rusting due to salty seawater. You can do this by marinizing it with Rustoleum and Boeshield T-9. It is also vital to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning to ensure safety on board.

Make sure that there is no fuel leak on the whole unit and keep a portable generator in a safe and dry locker. Like any other motor, a boat generator requires regular maintenance to extend its lifespan. You should perform regular maintenance such as changing oil, impellers, and filters as per the operator’s manual.

The other vital thing is to winterize the generator if you live in a cold climate. You can use antifreeze to fill the block.

You should also make sure that your generator gives you a 20 % safety margin after rounding up the amperage of major appliances. Lower revs (1800/1500 revolution per minute ‘rpm’) are recommendable for your engine since they are efficient and quieter. Lower revs can last longer compared to a faster revving of about 3600/3000 rpm.

If you correctly follow these rules, you will not go wrong. The brand is not a big issue as long as you perform proper maintenance of the boat generator. However, it would help if you remembered that each generator has its advantages and disadvantages therefore do your homework ahead of your purchase.