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Frequently Asked Questions - Products

Most engines, including Westerbeke and Universal engines, can handle a side load of 6 to 7 horsepower driven off the front of the crankshaft (this limit includes the load of the fresh water circulating pump). The typical 6 to 7 horsepower available accomodates a DC alternator rating up to 190 amps. Westerbeke recommends a dual belt drive system on alternators rated at 80 amps and higher. Be sure to consult the specific engine manufacturer for their specifications and limitations.
Yes - however the diesel generator must be ignition protected and US Coast Guard approved. Also, it's a good idea to consult your insurance company to make sure they have no objections.
Most diesel engines are more fuel efficient than gasoline engines and they typically provide higher sustained torque output - often at a lower RPM.
Determining the correct size genset for your boat is not a difficult task, however it should be done by an experienced and knowledgeable marine electrician. The American Boat & Yacht Council's manual of standards, section E-8.18 provides guidelines to determine how much power you need. We recommend these guidelines are followed. For more information about ABYC and details on generator sizing, go to http://www.abycinc.org.
Do you want an efficient, clean-burning genset? Electronic governors deliver performance! What does an electronic governor do? The simple answer is it controls the speed of the engine (frequency regulation) – very precisely. When it comes to gensets, engine speed is very important. As engine speed changes, the voltage and amperage output of the genset changes. Therefore, if the speed is precisely controlled, the voltage and amperage remain more stable as load is applied and removed from the genset. And because the electronic governor reacts quickly to variations in load, fuel economy improves – there’s no “over-compensation” of the governor resulting in over-fueling of the engine. In other words, the engine doesn’t “bog down” when a load is applied. And precise fuel control results in cleaner exhaust too! The actual difference in performance when you compare a mechanically-governed engine to an electronically-governed engine is quite impressive. A typical mechanically-governed genset engine has a frequency regulation (speed) variance of plus or minus 5% from no load to full load. An electronically-governed genset engine has a frequency regulation (speed) variance of plus or minus .005% from no load to full load. That’s a big difference and very noticeable when the genset is operating. In many instances, you don’t hear the engine “bog down” or suddenly speed-up when a big load is applied or removed. Westerbeke includes electronic governing as standard equipment on the 11.5 BTD diesel genset and all of the D-NET models, and on gas gensets, 5.0 BCG and 7.0 BCGD. Electronic-governing is available as an option on 1,800 RPM diesel gensets (only) models 8.0 BTDA, 10.0 BTDA, 12.5 BTDB and 15.0 BTDC. The 5.5 BCD and 7.6 BTD models are NOT available with electronic governing. Remember........ ALL D-NET models include electronic governing as standard equipment! Tell your distributor or dealer you want an electronic governor on your new Westerbeke diesel genset – you’ll be pleased with what you get.
It is difficult to determine what parts you need without knowing the unit's model number. If you can’t figure out what model it is by referencing the identification tags on the engine then at minimum, the serial number is required. If you don’t know or can’t find the model number be prepared with as much information as possible when you contact your distributor. Photographs of the unit are often a good way to help determine the model number.
Westerbeke and Universal engines and generators are well known for long service life however it is difficult to pre-determine how long they will run. It is not uncommon to hear that generator sets and engines have run up to 10,000 hours with no major repairs. As a point of reference, an engine running at 1,800 RPM equals approximately 40 MPH. Therefore 100 hours equals 4,000 hours. 1,000 hours equals 40,000 miles and 5,000 hours equals 200,000 miles. Keep in mind that the environment the unit operates in, salt water verses fresh water, as well as the maintenance performed and the operation characteristics, will very much have an effect on the life of the unit. Also time takes its toll on the overall condition of the unit. A twenty year old engine with low hours is likely to have more problems than the same engine with many hours of operation. We recommend performing a compression test to determine the status of the engine. If the compression is within the service limits and the unit is in good overall condition it is worthy of having additional effort spent to make repairs. Compression that is below the service limits is an indicator that more extensive work and money is required to get it back to reliable condition. When the cost necessary to make the unit reliable and or running properly exceeds half the cost of replacing the unit it makes sense to consider replacement with a new unit that carries a new warranty.
A good rule of thumb to determine the correct power for your boat is as follows: Pleasure use - two horsepower per one thousand pounds of hull displacement (weight). Long range/world cruising - two and one half horsepower per one thousand pounds of hull displacement (weight). Example: Pleasure use vessel, hull displacement is 25,000 pounds - 2 horsepower times 25 equals 50 horsepower. A 50 horsepower engine should perform well. In this case, the Westerbeke 55D Four is a perfect choice!