Auxiliary power - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-01-2006, 03:17 PM   #1
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Name: Aaron
Trailer: Casita Spirit Deluxe 16 ft ('Lillypod')
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Since buying a trailer weíve never camped without electric hookup, but now want to do it in order to find some nice, quiet spaces.

Iíve never owned a generator, and think of them as loud, stinky things that do the earth no good. But now that Iím reading about the little Hondas and Kipors, Iím rethinking all that!

I basically want to be able to recharge our battery so we can run the fan, the water pump, lights, and anything we might plug into the DC outlet. It would be nice also to run certain things off the AC circuit, like the coffee maker.

But I donít like the idea of a loud, smoking box annoying us and anyone camping nearby.

Anyone have any experience with portable units? (Iíve read a number of posts.) Anyone have a preference of what to consider, and what to avoid like the plague?

Does anyone out there make generators that run off propane? (Seems like that would be nice, as weíre already carrying propane tanks.)

How long does it take to recharge a deep cycle battery off a generator (1000w or 2000w)?

Solar seems too expensive a way to go, but a small generator might fit the bill. Any suggestions out there??? Anyone buy one and find they don't use it? Thanks!
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Old 05-01-2006, 07:10 PM   #2
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Name: Gina D.
Trailer: '77 Leocraft 17 & Former Burro owner and fan!
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Hi Aaron.

I use a combination of 3 ways to recharge my house and aux. batteries.

The first is solar, but it need not be expensive, especially if you are not taking the entire compliment of kitchen and electronic gadgets with you. I only use lights, and I run a laptop and a small LCD tv for an hour or two each nite. Thats about it. Not much draw.

I have 3 panels, 1 15 watt one, and 2 smaller 3.5 watt ones. My total investment in the solar is under 150 bucks, including controller. The larger panel does my house battery, and on a good sunny day, it keeps it topped off nicely, and even does a good job of replenishment should I run down to 11 or so volts at nite. I have run for over a week on the 15 watt panel without worry. Some of those days were overcast.

The 3.5 watt ones charge my little 20ah gel cells. (One panel per battery) Those are used to run LED light fixtures, my fantastic endless breeze fan and maybe the laptop. It takes almost nothing to recharge those, and they last a good long time with light use. These batteries are 100% independant of the house battery.

When these methods don't cut it, I actually hook up my pigtail from the car and charge for 45 mins or so. My engine is far quieter than my gen set, and I have had no complaints about it yet. You will have to do this a few times each day, but it works. And if you think about your car as a giant generator, it makes sense.

Last resort is my genset, and I HAVE used it for short bursts of power, and to recharge when I am the only one in earshot. I bought the genset, a small 1k watt Kipor, mostly for home use, tho it has gone in the trailer too. It takes a good hour or more to bring my house system back up to 12.5 volts if I have run down to under 11 volts. This only happens if I have the heater w/fan going all day.

I can't really use the solar if starting with dead batteries. It will NOT bring them up to snuff quickly. My driving to the site helps quite a bit, but the best is to charge before leaving and use ways to trickle a charge in at the site.

Remember, my needs are simple and I have some items duplicated in both powered and manual versions (Water pumps, heaters) or propane powered, like my fridge. When I have electric available, I feel the luxury of using the electric non esential items. When I don't I don't cry or need for thier services.. I have back ups.

If you want to run a coffee maker and AC, you'll need much more poop than I have in mine.
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Old 05-01-2006, 07:40 PM   #3
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Name: Aaron
Trailer: Casita Spirit Deluxe 16 ft ('Lillypod')
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Thanks, Gina. You're one of the most inspiring posters out here in FG trailer land.

For some reason I've never encountered one of those little gens, so I have no idea what they actually sound like. Next time we're out I should make a point of finding someone with one!

Happy trails, Aaron
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Old 05-02-2006, 10:23 PM   #4
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Trailer: 2002 Casita Freedom Deluxe / 2007 Nissan Frontier King Cab
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Anyone have any experience with portable units? (Iíve read a number of posts.) Anyone have a preference of what to consider, and what to avoid like the plague?

Does anyone out there make generators that run off propane? (Seems like that would be nice, as weíre already carrying propane tanks.)

How long does it take to recharge a deep cycle battery off a generator (1000w or 2000w)?

Solar seems too expensive a way to go, but a small generator might fit the bill. Any suggestions out there??? Anyone buy one and find they don't use it? Thanks!
As I've raved elsewhere, I have a Honda 2000. It's super-quiet. I would not own a generator if it was noisy. My father-in-law had a generator for his Prowler trailer and the few times I visited him when he was camping I would beg him not to use it. It was hideously loud.

The Honda is very, very quiet. When I was in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a couple of weeks ago I would run it for a couple of hours in the late afternoon. It charges the battery efficiently and in short order.

I bought the generator because we like to take our Casita to National Forest campgrounds that don't have hookups. And some National Park campgrounds also don't have hookups. We also stay for longer durations that would likely run down the battery without a generator.
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Old 05-04-2006, 07:05 PM   #5
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Name: Brian
Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
Alberta
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...How long does it take to recharge a deep cycle battery off a generator (1000w or 2000w)?
I don't think it matters to recharging time how much power the generator can put out, because you won't want to charge at a really high rate. The higher-output chargers intended for deep-cycle batteries only put out 15 amps, and even if you went for 30 amps (let's say you have a big battery) that's only a few hundred watts.

It seems to me that the only reasons to go for a larger generator would be
  • to allow other appliances to be run while charging, or
  • to allow for slower (and thus quieter and maybe more efficient) engine operation by having a larger unit partially loaded instead of a small unit full-blast.
The slower engine effect only happens if you have a good "inverter" type of generator, as the older conventional design must run at fixed speed to make AC power at the right frequency.
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