Generator vs Car - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-05-2009, 01:23 PM   #15
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Back in the Dark Ages, ei 1980s, like most times, we had a lot of Summer Vacation but not too many Buck$. To keep the battery going in our 22' 1983 Komfort Lite TT, I would at first run the pickup while the four of us used the shower with it just hooked up to the trailer. Then I rigged up an "extension cord" of two wires to run from the pickup electrical system to the battery by passing the converter/charger in the trailer. By using this when having to use the pump showering the battery would keep going until we were ready to more on to another local. It worked very well. We seldom if ever used the furnace option. Could never run the AC but being in the West most of the time, hardly needed it where it cools off greatly at night. It worked for close to 10 years until we stepped up the a C-class MH with a built in generator and by then microwave oven. We got hooked and have a Honda 2000i now. But there are always a way to get something done.
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Old 03-05-2009, 02:06 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the comments so far. I apologize if this topic had been discussed at length before - I admit I was a bit lazy but hopefully this will give it a different spin and generate different responses.

Quote:
Define CHEAP.
Generators aren't liked much in my neck of the woods, plus we prefer the isolated, more quiet, unserviced campsites ourselves, so to me, the possibility of annoying tenting neighbors with generator noise, plus having to handle the generator and deal with keeping it filled up seemed more "costly" than using up a little more gas to recharge the battery, if it meant using a car that is already there doing nothing, quieter, and with a huge gas tank. However, I'm looking for a long term solution, and I'm getting a sense that we're not talking about just "a little more gas", but probably a whole lot more for a lot less electricity. I also hadn't thought about the battery charging protocol itself. Now I'm also starting to believe that using a generator to recharge the battery wouldn't be very good either unless it ran for a long time.

As to the WHY part, my question is sort of a follow-up to my ambitious (yet perhaps questionable) quest to find a way to run a 12V DC refer, among other things, for many days on a 12V battery (link), but without using a solar panel, a generator, or chunks of ice.

Google also found this different approach for me which I found interesting. The idea is basically to keep a second battery in the car which gets recharged while driving (so the car isn't just idling next to the trailer), and just connect the trailer to it when you get back. We often leave the campground during the day to visit or to get to bike trails, so this might make sense if it actually worked. The trailer battery would only get used while we're gone.

Here's another "theoretical" question for you: Would hooking up a full battery to a depleted one provide any sort of useful charging? or perhaps negative effect? or would it be better to keep them on separate/switchable or dioded circuits?
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Old 03-05-2009, 02:49 PM   #17
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The "different approach" suggested by Daniel V. is the direction I'm leaning toward at the moment. I purchased a Honda EU2000iac last month to be able to extend our stays of primitive camping from 2-3 days, which we were able to satisfy with one Group 24 12V battery. I had the opportunity to try out the generator while camping a couple of weeks ago and found it to be too noisy. The noise was only tolerable with the generator 50' away. So, I sold the generator yesterday and intend to try something else. Solar is a good prospect but it has its own share of problems. The extra battery seems to make a lot of sense for our limited needs and will only cost about $70.
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Old 03-05-2009, 08:55 PM   #18
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I wonder if you had one of the 400 watt, 120v power inverters mounted under the hood of your TV, then a fused plug in, you could take a small battery charger and charge a battery while the TV idled! No strain on your altinator and it should charge faster. Would that be sensible or work?
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Old 03-07-2009, 07:15 AM   #19
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I wonder if you had one of the 400 watt, 120v power inverters mounted under the hood of your TV, then a fused plug in, you could take a small battery charger and charge a battery while the TV idled! No strain on your altinator and it should charge faster. Would that be sensible or work?
I plead so ignorant! I'm a mechanical engineer but an electrical dummy. I have to assume one thing though. Converting DC to AC with an inverter has to costs some energy. You cant get as many AC watts as you had DC watts. Isn't that right?

So why is my Honda called an inverter generator? Is it a DC generator inverted to AC and then when it charges my battery the voltage is inverted (converted) back to DC?
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Old 03-07-2009, 07:39 AM   #20
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"Inverter Generator" is some product manager's form of a joke. He thought it would jazz up the sales brochure and give the salesmen something else to talk about which as usual they are totaly ignorant about.

There may be some exceptions, but automobiles use a "3-phase alternator" and a "solid state rectifier" that outputs a nominal 12 Vdc. Actually 13.5 Vdc when charging.

Back in the 60s and 70s, the Cadillas Fleetwood 75 limousine had a Alternater that not only produced 12 Vdc it also produced 115 Vac. It was there so the occupants could run their electric shavers and hair dryers so it only output about 350 watts. Nothing useful at all.

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Old 03-07-2009, 08:31 AM   #21
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I purchased a Honda EU2000iac last month to be able to extend our stays of primitive camping from 2-3 days, which we were able to satisfy with one Group 24 12V battery. I had the opportunity to try out the generator while camping a couple of weeks ago and found it to be too noisy. The noise was only tolerable with the generator 50' away.
This is the first time I've read of noise issues with the Honda-type generators. We are (I think!) about to buy one for use in state parks, etc. (subject to their restrictions) when shore power is not available. We could do without, except for the need to run A/C in the summertime camping here in the land of 90% humidity. I know this is a totally subjective issue, actual noise measurements aside, but is it really that bad? Is it that it shatters your wilderness silence, or it really unpleasant to be around? With all the ambient noise in typical campgrounds during the day, I didn't think too much about it. I've certainly heard enough 4-cycle generators to know how loud they are, but I considered the Hondas (and even Chinese knock-offs) to be really quiet, even under reasonable load.

I probably shouldn't even post such a subjective question, but if we're likely to get the stink-eye from our neighbors in the campgrounds, maybe I'd better give this some more thought.

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Old 03-07-2009, 08:50 AM   #22
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The Honda's are quieter compared to some others. I'm thinking if you're camping in an area that doesn't have electricity, there's a good chance yours wouldn't be the only generator operating. If you're out by yourself, the only generator you'd hear is your own. How am I doing for wishy-washy? So, if you're in a populated area you'll just need to follow the posted rules for operation... I guess.
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Old 03-07-2009, 10:24 AM   #23
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Quote:
I know this is a totally subjective issue, actual noise measurements aside, but is it really that bad? Is it that it shatters your wilderness silence, or it really unpleasant to be around?

[b]...if we're likely to get the stink-eye from our neighbors in the campgrounds, maybe I'd better give this some more thought.
The objection to the Honda EU series of generators would probably come from the "Silence is Golden" fans. I consider them to be no louder than an idling car. BUT I confess to relocating my trailer on one occasion when listening to a Honda EU2000i running next to my 1st choice of site. I surmised it probably powered a medically necessary device, and harbored no hard feelings, but after a really hard workweek I was looking for more "silence"...
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Old 03-07-2009, 11:17 AM   #24
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I think the primary reason I didn't like the noise coming from my Honda EU2000iac was that it was a constant drone in the background. After about 15 minutes I found myself looking over my shoulder to see if anyone else in the campground was bothered by it. About 90 minutes of run time was all I could take and shut it off. I agree that objectionable noise is subjective. We once stayed at a full hook-up site with a pool nearby and were worried about the potential for noise. I actually enjoyed the occasional laughter and shouts from kids playing. The occasional dog barking or car engine idling also don't bother me but any noise on a constant basis raises my blood pressure. The strange part about this is that I'm hard of hearing. Go figure.
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Old 03-07-2009, 11:38 AM   #25
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The forest service campground we tend to frequent our Honda 2000 is the quietest thing going. A few of the other campers have come by and were amazed that I was running an AC. The AC is nosier than the gen.

Yes it does make a droning noise, but that is nothing compared to most gen sets available. I find it less annoying than a car idling. We find that most people who dry camp have generators, after listening to them I wish they were all Hondas. I do get tired of hearing the louder ones running for hours.
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Old 03-07-2009, 12:21 PM   #26
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The forest service campground we tend to frequent our Honda 2000 is the quietest thing going. A few of the other campers have come by and were amazed that I was running an AC. The AC is nosier than the gen.

Yes it does make a droning noise, but that is nothing compared to most gen sets available. I find it less annoying than a car idling. We find that most people who dry camp have generators, after listening to them I wish they were all Hondas. I do get tired of hearing the louder ones running for hours.
I use the Honda for three purposes

1-AC... and I truly try to avoid places where I need it.
2-microwave when I MUST have a Marie Calenders [sp] roast chicken dinner.
3-charge my two batteries for ten minutes each mid morning and just before dark.

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Old 03-07-2009, 05:01 PM   #27
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Okay, I'm starting to think this is a reasonable way to go. I like the idea of using the generator just to charge the battery periodically, and on days we need the air conditioner, that means we've already accepted a certain amount of noise already; probably no worse than most of our neighbors. I think we can live with that.

Thanks all.
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Old 03-07-2009, 05:55 PM   #28
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At the risk of not winning any popularity contests, I will quietly say - we are those "silence is golden" types mentioned. And I don't think we are rare or extinct. Were it not for physical and health issues, there are those who would be tenting who chose Fiberglass trailers as a modest 'one step up' for physical comfort, but still wish to enjoy the birds, the wind and the silence, that 'primitive' camping offers. I may eat my words sometime in the future, but we REALLY don't like being in an out of the way campground where someone is running a generator, no matter how quiet. The constant drone is NOT the sounds of nature we left our busy county road to hear.

With our baby Burro we carry two batteries, it is an older trailer so no charging while driving. We have swapped out a trailer battery with the car battery and gone for a day trip to charge it up (yes I know, you can't do this if the battery is completely dead), and we have pulled into a campground with hook-ups for one night to to recharge.

I know everyone has different needs, our trailer has a cat heater, lights and water pump, so our electrical needs are low. Looking at getting a 17' we still hope to minimize electric use when camping in out of the way places (our preference) and 'indulge' when we camp with a hook-up. Optimistically (or foolishly) we plan to use solar when we can. We frequently camp in the rainiest place in the mainland 48 and we go well 'charged', but usually we are headed for sunnier places - that's the point!

Having had my soap box say, I do appreciate those with generators who run them for very short periods of time (it doesn't give me enough time to get really steamed up! )
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