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It seems that the majority of cruisers these days offer generators as standard equipment or as an option for a source of AC power while away from the dock. I have read of people adding inverters to batteries as an alternative to generators for a source of AC power. What I haven't seen people discuss are hybrid systems that use both a generator and an inverter. It seems to me that this type of system would offer advantages over either the generator or battery/invertor systems. Generators can provide endless AC power (with enough fuel) but create extra noise, burn fuel, require maintenance, and often run inefficiently when powering a small load. Inverters are quiet but suffer from AC power capacity that is limited by the battery bank.
I envision a hybrid system where an inverter connected to house batteries would supply AC power until the batteries reach a certain level of discharge. Then the generator would automatically turn on to supply AC power and recharge the batteries. When the batteries are recharged or the AC load turns off, the generator would automatically turn off. It seems like this type of system would offer numerous benefits:
1) The generator would run less often.
2) Since the generator would have the extra load of charging the batteries, in addition to whatever other AC systems demanded power, it would be operating more efficiently than when under low load conditions.
3) The generator may not be needed while under way because the house batteries powering the inverter would be charged from the alternator.
4) It would offer a level of redundancy such that you would still have some amount of AC power if either the generator or inverter failed.
I know that the hardware exists for such a hybrid system but I have not yet seen one offered in a boat. Are they out there and I just haven't found them yet or are there reasons why a hybrid system as I have described should be avoided? I'm interested to hear feedback from others more experienced than I.