Generator vs Car - Page 3 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 03-07-2009, 10:24 PM   #29
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Although I'm typically with Penney and Mike on this one, there is an option... install a generator on your tow vehicle engine. I had considered installing one on my Excursion's V10 at one point. The Power-Tek generator is just the first brand I found doing a search; I know there are a couple of others.

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Old 03-08-2009, 12:22 AM   #30
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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.
I disagree on the product manager stuf -- There is a real and fundamentally different animal in the inverter-based vs conventional generators.

Here is Honda's explanation:

"First, the generator's alternator produces high voltage multiphase AC power. The AC power is then converted to DC. Finally the DC power is converted back to AC by the inverter. The inverter also smoothes and cleans the power to make it high quality. A special microprocessor controls the entire process, as well as the speed of the engine."

http://www.hondapowerequipment.com/product...verteradvantage

The inverter-based generator (IBG), relatively new in the market in the last decade or so -- Since the frequency is produced by the inverter electronics, the engine can be run at any rpm sufficient to supply the actual Wattage for the load. Generally they can only be found in relatively small sizes, 6.5KW or less. There may be an upper limit to inverter technology preventing larger generators.

"Portable engine-generators may require an external power conditioner to safely operate some types of electronic equipment. Small portable generators may use an inverter. Inverter models can run at slower RPMs to generate the power that is necessary, thus reducing the noise of the engine and making it more fuel-efficient. Inverter generators are best to power sensitive electronic devices such as computers and lights that use a ballast."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engine-generator

A conventional generator skips the rectification and inverter stages described above and puts out 120VAC more or less directly from its windings and must run at a certain rpm to produce 60Hz.

Likewise, an automotive alternator initially produces AC at varying frequencies and that is rectified to produce DC -- They are came into standard use in the '60s as the solid state components for rectification became available.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternator

The Cadillac alternator mentioned likely gets the AC directly from the alternator, before rectification, but was probably unable to run a shaver or anything else with a motor because of the frequency problem unless the engine was held to a constant rpm that would allow the alternator to produce 60Hz (aka 60 cycle back then).

BTW, the low noise levels associated with the various small inverter-based generators comes from at least three things:

1. Only runs at rpm required for load
2. Internal parts designed to operate quietly
3. Enclosure and muffling designed for quiet

The inexpensive open-frame conventional generator sets can be after-market modified for #3 above, but not #1 or #2, so they remain relatively noisy. #1, esp with eco-mode IBGs, also results in less fuel consumption.

BTW, if one connects an inverter to a tow vehicle electrical system, one has then created an IBG! Alternator>rectifier>inverter... If one taps into the alternator output before the rectification stage (the diodes), one has a conventional generator.
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Old 03-08-2009, 05:40 PM   #31
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RE: Using Tow Vehicle to Charge a Battery. I found this rule when looking at Big Bend Nat'l Park web page: Generator use is permitted in designated areas between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Idling vehicle engines are considered generators in this regard.
I am assuming one an idle vehicles from 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. but not before or after. Interesting and a good Rule.

Solar would seem to keep the battery charged, we have kept ours topped off (if not using the shower) with a small foldable solar charger/maintainer we had gotten from NorthernTool. A larger Solar Unit would do really well as many have posted about in the past. See solar charger on front of the Scamp in photo below:
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Old 03-08-2009, 09:18 PM   #32
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Ok... just so you understand how hard it is to get a grasp on technology sometimes. I realize everyone has a right to post but at the same time one should understand that you don't always get the right answer. As witnessed by conflicting replies here. So...

Honda's are inverter generators because they generate AC (like I assume an automobile alternator does) but since it cannot be sine waved into exactly single phase 60hz it must be electronically converted (bridged) into a direct current (DC) free of cycles per second restriction so that it can then be rectified once more to put out exactly 110-120v AC at exactly 60cycles per second single phase so that I can run my microwave and other household appliances.


I told you I was electric dumb but this is pretty convoluted if you think about it. AC to DC to AC

I'll take statics and strength of materials anytime over OHMish laws and stuff like that... weird.
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Old 03-09-2009, 05:00 AM   #33
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Interestingly, when I was looking at the 6.5KW Honda (Inverter), it has about the same noise specs, idling and at max load, as the small one, in one case even a dB less!

"I told you I was electric dumb but this is pretty convoluted if you think about it. AC to DC to AC" and then one uses the AC to run a smart converter or battery charger to produce controlled DC for battery charging...

So, now it's AC>DC>AC>DC which is an offensive amount of overhead inefficiency to some of us!
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Old 03-09-2009, 07:11 AM   #34
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Interestingly, when I was looking at the 6.5KW Honda (Inverter), it has about the same noise specs, idling and at max load, as the small one, in one case even a dB less!

"I told you I was electric dumb but this is pretty convoluted if you think about it. AC to DC to AC" and then one uses the AC to run a smart converter or battery charger to produce controlled DC for battery charging...

So, now it's AC>DC>AC>DC which is an offensive amount of overhead inefficiency to some of us!
This is the point I was making earlier in this thread.
It sort of depends upon what one considers "efficient" to be.

Sometimes just getting the job done takes a priority and there is often more going on here than first meets the eye.

There is no "Free Lunch" where clean,cheap power is concerned.
Solar looks good but is certainly not free to start-up.
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Old 03-09-2009, 10:02 AM   #35
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I am not sure why all the fuss over DC to AC to DC or is it AC to DC to AC to DC which all may be true but the Honda 2000i comes with DC Terminals - the DC terminals may ONLY be used for charging 12 volt automotive type batteries. With an Accessory: DC Charging Cord for charging 12V Batteries, it makes this fuss what? Moot/Academic.

Using the DC charging cord via the DC terminals on the Honda, no need to use the AC to run a smart converter or battery charger to produce controlled DC for battery charging...is the point I would like to make.

Using a cord from the 12v system of the tow vehicle to directly to the trailer battery would be simular to using the Honda DC charging cord.

For a nominal fee (compared to the cost of a Honda) one could use something like this 5 Watt Solar-Powered Trickle Charger to keep RV battery charged. I am tempted to order one myself. I like this review of the product: "I use this to keep the battery charged on our tent trailer. It seems to produce enough power during the day that we never have to worry about lighting or even the heater fan, which is a big draw. I leave it attached in storage also. The battery is always at a full charge, and ready to go."
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/sto.../ProductDisplay?
R=200305091&storeId=6970&productId=200305091&in_me rch=1
I have something more like this 1.8 Watt Solar-Powered Battery Maintainer.
http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/sto...&in_merch=1
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:17 AM   #36
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Using the DC output to charge a battery is exactly like using one of the old tranformer-based, pre-Smart Charge converters -- It can and will overcharge and boil away your battery if left unattended long enough -- What it is doing essentially only the absorption stage of smart charging, never using bulk charging to get the deed done quickly (8A[at]12VDC upper limit) and never going into a float stage to get the deed done correctly, taking a long time about it and wasting fuel in the process.

IOW, it sux unless one is willing to figure out about how long it 'should' take and then stand by to take measurements to find out 'that's enough'. I view that charging cable as almost a total waste of money (could be used to prep a dead battery for a jump start, but that would be better done with a real battery charger/jump starter plugged into the 120VAC output of the generator. I"d put the cable money towards a good Vector charger instead. I'd rather let the charger babysit the charging process than do it myself -- YMMV, of course.

The DC terminals (the bigger Hondas don't even bother to provide them) can be used for other DC applications as long as they can tolerate whatever regulation (or lack of it) exists on that 12VDC output, like powering a set of 12V trouble lights.
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