How We Use Our Honda 2000 …

We’ve had a couple reader inquiries on our Honda 2000 portable generator.  We didn’t think we needed or wanted a generator, we had solar and wind energy. But sitting in Marathon, FL Keys, waiting on a weather window to sail to Isla Mujeres and the Western Caribbean, the weather turned gray.  And raining.  And windy enough that it caused our wind generator to go into “helicopter” mode and disengage so it didn’t burn up the bearings.  So no solar and no wind amps.  We were forced to run our diesel to keep up.  Not good for the diesel.

Our Energizer Bunny, our 2004 vintage Honda 2000 - looks pretty good!

Our Energizer Bunny, our 2004 vintage Honda 2000 – looks pretty good!

Other cruisers around us had Honda 2000 generators. So literally at the last minute before we left the US for six years, we ordered a Honda 2000.  And we’re SO glad we did.

The adapter required to plug our shore power cord into the Honda 2000

The adapter required to plug our shore power cord into the Honda 2000

Primarily, we use it to charge our house bank when our 225 watts of solar and KISS wind generator just can’t quite keep up.  We have a short shore power cord. In order to hook the shore power cord to the Honda, we use an adapter on the Honda end, as shown.

We sit Honda 2000 on our side deck (it would be better on an aft deck, but we don’t have one) and hook the short shore power cord to the regular shore power outlet on the boat.

Short Shore Power Cord with adapter specifically for Honda 2000.

Short Shore Power Cord with adapter specifically for Honda 2000.

After switching everything off down below on the electric panel (probably don’t need to do this, it’s just precautionary), we start the Honda 2000.   Everyone probably knows the starting process, but just in case … 1. We set the mode to “eco”  2. Turn the on/off switch on the gas cap on top to “on”.  2.  Flip the choke on the side “on”.  3.  Turn the generator on/off switch to the ON position.  4.  Pull the rip cord, it starts.  5. Turn off the choke.

Connected to the shore power cord.

Connected to the shore power cord.

Check the electrical panel for OK Polarity. Then, we turn things on the electrical panel as we want them turned on.  To charge our batteries, we turn on the battery charger.  After a minute or so, the Honda 2000 will roar and the Link10 battery monitor will show amps going in.  All good.  We let it charge for as long as we need.

One pet peeve – if we’re going to disturb the quiet in our anchorage with the Honda 2000, we always stay aboard while it’s charging.  We see others turn the dang things on and then jump in the dinghy to go to town or go snorkeling, thereby subjecting us to their generator noise but not having it impact their lives.  Grumble…  I’m sure it’s just us that this bothers, but I thought I’d mention it.  🙂

See below, for details... Duck taped foot, Lanacote! Don't let this happen to your Honda 2000!

See below, for details… Duck taped foot, Lanacote! Don’t let this happen to your Honda 2000!

If we want to use certain appliances known to be amp hogs, we’ll just run an extension cord out the window and plug directly into the Honda 2000 without the shore power cord being hooked up (why use it if we don’t need to charge the house bank batteries).  Examples are the vacuum cleaner, some power tools, the coffee maker or the hair dryer to defrost the refrigerator.

NOTE on A/C:  We have an older portable Maytag air conditioner. Trying to power the a/c with the Honda 2000 always causes the generator to go into fault mode.  So if you’re planning to use the generator for a/c, be sure to try it with a friends Honda 2000 first.  It is worth noting that we have another Honda 2000 for our 20′ travel trailer.  The trailer has a small built in a/c unit – and the Honda 2000 powers it just fine – as long as we have nothing else running.  🙂

When cruiser's couldn't fix Isla Pino's only generator, the Honda 2000 came to the rescue. Later the correct part was ordered and the village's generator repaired to the delight of all.

When cruiser’s couldn’t fix Isla Pino’s only generator, the Honda 2000 came to the rescue. Later the correct part was ordered and the village’s generator repaired to the delight of all.

We have used our Honda 2000 to charge fishermans batteries with our portable battery charger. We often get fresh fish for charging their batteries.   🙂  Once we even “loaned” it to a San Blas Islands Kuna community.  The Kuna asked the cruisers anchored at Isla Pino for help fixing their generator (the only electricity in the village).  Unfortunately the diagnosis was that a part was needed and could not arrive in time for their village fiesta that evening, so the Honda 2000 attended the local “fiesta”.

We’d recommend that you remove the feet when you first purchase the generator and put Lanacote on the screw in attachments.  When the rubber on the feet deteriorates, you can buy replacement feet, but you can’t get them out if you didn’t use Lanacote on the screw.  Ask us why one of the feet on our now 12 year old Honda 2000 is duct taped in place.  🙂

One last comment on our Honda 2000 … we always lock it on to the boat with a cable.  Opportunity theft happens, keep a would be thief honest!

Anyone have other comments on how they use their Honda 2000 generators?  Please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!  Jan


  1. Like you we can’t stand the way these disturb the quiet of an anchorage. We just left Vero Beach and you couldn’t go a hour while awake without hearing one. We couldn’t wait to leave. So we are sticking with solar and the diesel.

    I did a lot of research on this, talked to a lot of experts and the theory that running your diesel to charge your batteries while at anchor is just an old wives tale. Once your engine is past the break in period there is nothing wrong with doing this. Intact diesel run stronger longer when they are ran more often not less. Also look at the actual amps gained per hour of running. I believe the Honda 2000 puts out 13-15 amps so maybe you can get 40 amps max from a charger while a 75 amp alternator puts out around 40-50 amps. Going with a serpentine belt and a 125 amp alternator will probably get you to 90-110 amps.

    The key is to not run the engine at idle bump it up some. We idle at 900 rpms and will bump up to 1200-1500 to charge. And then open up the engine to wide open throttle for at least 10 minutes next time you are under power. Talked to many people that have engine driven refers that have done this same thing for years and have thousands of ours on the diesel without a rebuild.

    Fair winds,


    • Thanks Jesse! That’s not what our diesel mechanic told us, but he did tell us to run the diesel wide open for a few minutes every time we fire it up and also just before we shut it down to rev it up full throttle. Our diesel is 30 years old and still going strong, and I don’t know any better, so we use the Honda for charging. You are absolutely right about the amps going in are much higher with the alternator than the Honda. But the boat next to us in Boot Key Harbor ran his diesel every night and every morning and it was MUCH louder and more disturbing than the Honda. For every cruising sailboat, there are different opinions – that’s what makes our lives so interesting! Cheers! Jan

  2. Jesse,
    The DC output of these generators is not used, generally. The boats battery charger puts out much more amps if you use the AC output to run the charger. My 40A house charger really puts out 40A.

    Also these generators are much more efficient than running the main propulsion diesel for charging. I agree about the noise, but running a larger engine makes noise too, just a lower tone.

    • Jesse K on s/v Smitty says:

      The DC output isn’t used but the amperage they generate is a factor. Your typical battery charger draws 10-14 amps to put out 40 amps of power. So a Honda generator puts out 13.3 amps @ 1600 watts during normal operation, less in Eco mode. If you use any other 120 volt supply or if your charger is not on the efficient end then you will not be supplying enough amps to the charger and the result is less amps to the batteries. So at best you will get 40 amps of charging through a Honda generator at a burn rate of about 1/3 gallons per hour. (3.4 hours run time on the one gallon tank at 1600 watts at 13.3 amps per Honda’s specs) Plus the only other use for gasoline on most cruising sailboats is the dinghy motor.

      As an alternative a 26 hp diesel motor with a 75 amp internal regulator puts out 40-50 amps at 1400 rpms at a burn rate of 1/2 gallon per hour. A 90 amp alternator will give you 50-60 amps at that same burn rate. This would be at a cost of $75 to $300 dollars compared to $900 for a Honda generator. These alternators are bolt on replacements and the only extra work that should be done is running the alternator directly to the battery bank which should be an improvement made to any cruising boat anyways. Under this configuration you are a quarter of a gallon per hour more efficient at best.

      Going to a serpentine belt and a 125-150 amp alternator with an external regulator and battery temp sensor will give you 100 amps at a burn rate of 0.5-0.7 gallons per hour. This would be a more costly upgrade in the $2-3,000 cost range but it does have other benefits. This setup is more fuel efficient than running the Honda.

      On top of that you get the benefit of hot water from running your engine. You also only have to maintain one item as opposed to two.

      As to the damage to the engine side, I have had extensive conversations with RC Collins of Compass Marine (aka Mainesail on any of the forums). His own boat has circumnavigated without a generator or solar with engine driven refrigeration and has over 5,000 hours on it (IIRC), mostly from being run at anchor. He only added solar to keep the batteries topped off while at his mooring. He actually recommends taking running your engine to charge your bank into account when sizing your solar panels. First decide how long you are willing to run your engine each day and your power production from that and then add solar to makeup the difference.

      Just some thoughts and info.

      Fair winds,


      • Tom Grover says:

        Hi Jesse,
        You really need to look at what the rating is on your charger. If it is rated at 40 amps max, that is all you will get. If you have a charger rated at 100 amps you will only get 88 amps at 14.4 volts. How did I get those numbers? The generator is rated at 1600 watts continuous at 120 VAC. Most chargers have an efficiency of around 80%, some higher, some lower. That means if you put 1600 watts in you only get 1280 watts out. So if your charger can accept the full 1600 watts at 120 VAC input the best you can expect is 1280 watts at a charge voltage of 14.4 VDC = approx 88 amps. If your charger is only rated at 40 amps, that is all it will put out so your engine mounted alternator at 75 amps will put out more than your 40 amp charger will. So you may wish to install a larger capacity charger to take full advantage of the Honda 2000 capabilities. Hope this helps.

  3. A Honda Generator is something we’ll definitely buy just before cruising. Tons of folks swear by these things. Thanks for the info!

  4. Jim Allen says:

    I just bought a propane motor for my dinghy so I wouldn’t have to carry gas. So I am wondering – how noisy are the propane generators?

  5. We met a captain who hung his portable generator from the boom to cut down on vibration and noise inside the cabin.

  6. Thanks so much Jan. This is very helpful. I think I’ll make up a cord just like yours.

    • You can buy 30 Amp to 20 Amp adapters from West Marine. I have one so I can plug the boat into a regular household outlet if a 30 Amp isn’t available.

    • Glad it helped Brandon! Sometimes I don’t think to mention the things we use regularly – but when we were making outfitting decisions, the information would have been useful. If you have other questions, please leave a comment & if we have firsthand knowledge, I’ll be glad to write it up. Cheers! Jan

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