Fellow eggers, a little advice on Generators please. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-27-2012, 12:02 AM   #1
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Fellow eggers, a little advice on Generators please.

Howdy, I'm new to this forum, fiberglass RV's and in fact RVing in general. I just purchased my first RV, a 17' Casita Liberty Delux. Picked it up in Rice, Tx, and drove it home three weeks ago. So I guess my first trip is now complete. I learned some lessons (like not to leave the water hooked up when temps dip below 20 degrees overnight). And I now have a whole list of questions, the first one is regarding generators.

I intend on using the Casita (mostly) for boondocking, so a good generator is in order. I have done some research on various generators, and as you all know, space is a limiting factor. I'd like to be able to run the AC, and other various appliances, but I'm not sure how much generator I need. I've seen Honda and Yamaha generators in the 2000 watt range, but they seem really expensive compared to other brands in that range. What makes those ones worth nearly double their off brand counterparts? If 2k is insufficient, then would it be better to get one 3k watt generator, or two 2k watt ones in parallel?
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:39 AM   #2
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Hi Rob, welcome to the forum and congratulations on your new Casita. They are a fantastic product.

To run the AC while boondocking a generator certainly in order. The genset of choice is the Honda EU2000i which will handle starting most 13500btu AC's. Casita installs a hard start capacitor with the AC as I recall so you should be good to go. If not or the capacitor is ineffective I believe a larger one can be installed. However, many people rarely use the AC but still boondock, and use solar to recharge the batteries from the previous night. Changing the interior lights to LED is generally the first recommendation for power conservation. I buy the China mainland ones on eBay.

The Honda is the most popular, as reliable as the Yamaha and parts are available countrywide. Some of cheaper ones are working out well but a few hundred dollars more pays for a lot of reliability and peace of mind when you're miles from a service center.

There is a vast wealth of information and many experienced hands here on the forum who will be quite willing to answer any questions you my have.
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:16 AM   #3
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No experience but have looked at them too.. General comment is the Honda is quieter than many of the less expensive ones too.
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Old 01-27-2012, 06:25 AM   #4
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The Hondas and Yamaha's are twice as expensive because they are twice as quiet. The 2000 watt should be adequate, but do you really need one? They are heavy- 50lbs and require gas. I bought one and have yet had the need to use it, it stays home for emergencies.

There are several threads here on solar and LED conversions where you can boon dock without power for days. Other than your a/c and your microwave, everything else can operate off your battery( or batteries, now may be a good time to install dual) and a 40-60 watt solar panel on your roof will keep the batteries charged.

You will find your water use could be your restricting factor in boon docking!
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:27 AM   #5
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yup, i would test things out first. you can get a tickle charger solar panel real cheap. if your like us, we are gone doing stuff most of the day.so the solar can be charging the batteries all day with no drain. find out how long your charge lasts for you. you might be way ahead money wise to add another battery and a solar panel
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:50 AM   #6
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Just as a side note, a generator will not make you the most popular guy in the campground. Even the Honda and Yamaha generators have a good growl when under load. Like others, I'd encourage you to see if you really need AC, if not the price of a generator buys a lot of solar panels.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:32 AM   #7
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Thanks for the advice on the trickle charger for the battery, and I am already looking into the led bulb replacements. I hear what you're saying about not needing the generator, and I don't figure I'll need the generator too often, but we do spend a lot of time in hot climates. Is there really that big of a difference in sound between various generators of the same wattage? When I read most of the specs of the off brands, they list about the same decibel levels as the Honda and Yamaha. Of course the method of measuring those sound levels can be vastly different, and the noisier ones can be fudging the numbers so they "look" similar to the better brands. I'd love to be able to see them all (and hear them all), in one location, but I can't find anyplace that caries more than one or two brands at a time, and NO place Ive found lets you run them.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:34 AM   #8
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If you go to a Yamaha dealer or a Honda dealer they will run the unit before you buy, the other brands are unknown.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:40 AM   #9
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You will find your water use could be your restricting factor in boon docking![/QUOTE]

I hear ya on that one, but my wife and I are used to camping, and using very little water. I didn't get the extended water tank, but I can carry lots of water in my TV, plus I can make water from virtually any source.
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:51 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Thomas G. View Post
Just as a side note, a generator will not make you the most popular guy in the campground. Even the Honda and Yamaha generators have a good growl when under load. Like others, I'd encourage you to see if you really need AC, if not the price of a generator buys a lot of solar panels.

I figure most of the RV campgrounds these days have electrical hookups, and if not then I'd more likely be boondocking on my own. I'm not a big fan of campgrounds anyway. If anyone can hear the generator then Im WAY too close to them, and likely should move on.

I've considered solar, but in order to run the 110V stuff, I'd need a good bank of panels, plus several deep cycle batteries, which will all add bulk and weight, and would cost even more. I suppose I should develop several kits depending on the type of camping we plan to do. One of those being with a generator, one solar, and one for electrical hookups. Thanks for helping move my thought process along!
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:24 AM   #11
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I would venture to say the advertised db levels of the major brands at least are a reliable indicator of relative loudness. As an acoustical measurement of sound pressure levels, and the decibel is not a linear but exponential unit. They are measured at specific distances i.e. 3 meters, but finding that info can be difficult. With a db meter app on your smartphone you could measure it yourself.

Try a YouTube search for videos of generator comparisons, otherwise don't get hung up on a db or two. Once running the genny for AC in hot weather most people are doing the same. The hours of operation are usually the issue in campgrounds. Boondocking, the gen can be placed 25-50 away using suitable cable and a baffle can be placed to reflect sound away from the trailer which will have a noticeable effect.

In other words, the Honda, Yamaha and perhaps the Robin/Briggs and Stratton are the recommended brands for running AC, all still manufactured in Japan (wisesales.com).
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:42 PM   #12
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I would focus on Rogers point above that it is exponential. A difference of .1 db is not .1 greater (10% of 1.0) but a multiple number of times greater. And the higher you get the bigger the jump between numbers. I may be pointing out the obvious or being redundant to some readers but I felt it was important for those that may have skimmed over it.

Cheers,
Mark
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:46 PM   #13
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Hi Rob,

You are correct. unless you spend all your time camping in the mountains there will be times when air conditioning is an absolute necessity if you want to sleep. There is no battery or solar system that will run an air conditioner for very long. I had owned a trailer for about three years before I got a generator and I wish I had done it at the beginning. I once got caught at a rest area along I-5 in the Central Valley when it was 107 degrees. I had only slept about two hours the night before and I ran out of steam. I had the air conditioner but no generator. That was a hot one hour nap. You don't have to run a generator every day but having it available is valuable.

I bought a Yamaha ef2400is (2400 watt) generator from Wise Equipment about four years ago. At the time they had the best price on the internet. It was still over $1,100. It was the smallest one I could find that was advertised to have the capacity to start a 13.5 rv air conditioner. It was also the lightest and quietest one that would do that. I love it. It weighs around 70 lbs. That is still enough to throw your back out but it is way better than one that weighs 150 lbs. You will have to be lifting and moving your generator around.

$1,100 is not cheap but not having to fear extreme weather and run down batterys is makes the whole experience much more enjoyable. I figure that I got a lot more value dollar for dollar on that generator than I have on a lot of other things I have spent money on.

A couple of notes: when you get a generator get some kind of cable lock to secure it when it is being used. That prevents someone from just being able to grab it and throw it in a vehicle and take off with it. Nine out of ten of them are not going to have tools to cut a cable. Also when you are not at the camp secure the generator out of sight in your trailer or vehicle.

Cheers,

Bruce
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Old 01-27-2012, 01:12 PM   #14
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Name: Rob
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Originally Posted by Roger M View Post
I would venture to say the advertised db levels of the major brands at least are a reliable indicator of relative loudness. As an acoustical measurement of sound pressure levels, and the decibel is not a linear but exponential unit. They are measured at specific distances i.e. 3 meters, but finding that info can be difficult. With a db meter app on your smartphone you could measure it yourself.

Try a YouTube search for videos of generator comparisons, otherwise don't get hung up on a db or two. Once running the genny for AC in hot weather most people are doing the same. The hours of operation are usually the issue in campgrounds. Boondocking, the gen can be placed 25-50 away using suitable cable and a baffle can be placed to reflect sound away from the trailer which will have a noticeable effect.

In other words, the Honda, Yamaha and perhaps the Robin/Briggs and Stratton are the recommended brands for running AC, all still manufactured in Japan (wisesales.com).

Thanks for the tips. I just downloaded "smart tools" for my android that includes a dB meter, bubble level, height and distance meter, compass, and several other innovative tools that will come in handy on my RV adventures! Once I get a generator, I'm going to have to build myself a collapsible baffle like you described. I love modding things, and have already done several mods to the trailer, and have several more planned. I guess that's a good topic for another thread though.
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