Advantages and Disadvantages of Marine Diesel Generators

When looking for marine generators to purchase, there are many factors to be considered. One of these factors is the type of generator and the fuel that the generator will use.

Most generators used for maritime purposes are powered by diesel fuel. Marine diesel generators have a lot of advantages over gasoline-powered generators.

For one thing, diesel fuel is much cheaper than gasoline. This means that the owner can save on fuel expenses alone. Also, diesel fuel is thicker and has approximately 15% more energy than that in gasoline-powered generators. Furthermore, diesel fuel is also less flammable than gasoline.

Aside from the nature of the fuel that is used, marine diesel generators are designed to be inherently economical. Unlike gasoline-powered generators, diesel generators do not have choke valves in their inlet systems. The choke valves create drag on incoming air, reducing the efficiency of gasoline generators. Also, due to the lower heat losses, diesel generators have a smaller chance of overheating, even if they are running for quite a period of time.

Marine diesel generators can be turbocharged with fairly simple and inexpensive modifications if needed. In contrast, gasoline-powered generators cannot pump out a comparable power increase without expensive and intensive alterations. That’s because their stock parts cannot handle the extra stress placed upon them. The engines in marine diesel generators, however, are already built to withstand higher levels of stress.

For all their advantages, marine diesel generators also have their own problems. For one thing, diesel fuel only has an 18-24 hour shelf life. Also, diesel fuel is more difficult to ignite than standard gasoline.

Also, marine diesel generators are bigger, bulkier and heavier than their gasoline-powered counterparts. They need to be because of two major reasons. First, they take a wider displacement to create the equal amount of power in a gasoline-powered generator. Second, marine diesel generators need to be tough so they could withstand the higher combustion pressures needed for ignition.

Due to the greater compression force required for the generator’s engine, starting a marine diesel generator is difficult. A lot of torque is needed to start the compression process.

Marine diesel generators are noisy. The noise is caused by the violent sudden ignition of diesel fuel when injected into the combustion chamber. Today, though, improved mechanical technology has significantly reduced this problem.

Although marine diesel generators emit very little carbon monoxide, the produce heavy, black soot. This is often caused by faulty injectors or filthy engines.

So, should a boat owner acquire this type of generator for his boat? It really depends on him. If he wants efficiency, then he should get a marine diesel generator. But if he wants a cleaner, easier-to-operate generator, then gasoline powered generators are the way to go.

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