Protecting your marine generator

The marine environment is one of the most unforgiving settings for superyacht equipment, and superyacht power generators are among the essential machinery that can often fall victim to rust, dust and disrepair in the depths of the engine room.

Northern Lights Generators

Generators are, however one of the most important pieces of machinery in a yacht's power puzzle, but, more often than not, they are left untouched in the corner of the engine room, only to be checked or maintained when there is a problem.

Without a working power source, superyacht owners, guests and crew can be left without air conditioning, electronics, galley equipment and more, rendering the yacht useless. With this in mind, Yachting Pages presents helpful tips for maintaining yachts generators, ensuring you’re never without an on-board power source.

Prolonging the life of your marine generator

As with all equipment and machinery, there are certain steps that can be taken to prolong the life of your marine generator, and avoid problems.

Switch to shore power wherever possible

Connecting up to shoreside power is a must for any superyacht when it is berthed in a port or marina with appropriate facilities. This allows the generator to rest, adding days, weeks and even months onto its lifespan. Shoreside power is also a much more cost-effective and eco-friendly solution to powering your yacht.

However, shoreside power isn’t always as simple as simply connecting a power cable to the dockside power source. In fact, certain considerations often need to be taken into account in order to run equipment at optimal performance and not harm the on-board systems. Read our guide on superyacht shore power systems to find out more. 

Preparing marine generators pre-departure

It’s recommended that you should follow these steps before setting sail on a cruise, ensuring that the generator is properly prepared for the trip ahead.

Carry out standard checks at least once a week before departure

Make sure you review your operations manual and generators at least one week before the yacht departs to ensure you are familiar with the systems, and perform all required actions, such as oil and filters changes. Be prepared for the worst to happen, as in peak seasons, generator service centres may require a few day's wait until a technician is available.

To avoid breakdowns, it’s advisable to:

  • Check the battery is fully charged
  • Inspect and tighten all hose clamps and fittings
  • Replace all fluid levels with the required amount
  • Start the generator and inspect it for leaks or strange noises
  • Ensure the area is properly ventilated and that the generator is fully cleaned before departure
  • Attempt to start and stop the generator from all required control panels
  • Turn on all loads expected to be operated during the trip and leave for a few minutes, making sure not to overload the generator
  • Read the operators manual to identify possible necessary spare parts and purchase in advance where possible

Everyday maintenance during travel

There are also steps to be taken daily to ensure the yacht generator will stay in prime condition during its time at sea. These include:

  • Inspecting the area where the generator is located, making sure nothing has been moved or is out-of-place preventing damage and blockages
  • Regularly checking belt tension, oil and coolent levels, and the primary filter
  • Inspecting fluid levels on the generator sets and checking for leaks
  • Clearing seawater strainers of debris, and acting quickly to avoid any blockages

It goes without saying that, once a problem is discover, all required maintenance should be executed as soon as possible to avoid a generator failure whilst out at sea.

Fischer Panda Generators

Marien generator repairs and spares

Of course, in an ideal world, it’s advisable to carry extra items and spare parts for your marine generator and power sources, especially when undertaking any cruise. The type and quantity of parts will depend on how long the journey is for, and the proximity or location of nearby service centres.

Having spare parts on hand can save time yacht engineers time in sourcing and fitting broken components at sea if possible, or in having the part readily available, should a service engineer be required, allowing for a much quicker fix.

Suggested spare parts kit for marine generators

Below are some suggested items, which will be well worth having on board.

  • Primary and secondary fuel filter elements
  • Oil filters
  • Air filter
  • V-belt
  • Thermostat and gaskets
  • Seawater pumps
  • Impellers
  • Spare plugs (spark/glow)
  • Injectors
  • Fuel lift pump

Preparing a marine generator set for storage

If the superyacht generator set is due to go into storage, it’s a good idea to do a few checks and preparations beforehand. These include:

  • Wipe, clean, and lightly oil any parts that could rust
  • Drain water lift muffler
  • Remove raw water impeller and store in cool dry place
  • Drain the oil and replace with new if necessary
  • Disconnect and store the battery as per the manufacturer's guidelines
  • Touch up and repair any paint chips or scrapes
  • Check that the storage temperature is OK for the coolant

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