Does a generator beat solar? - Page 2 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-05-2014, 08:04 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by peterh View Post
We have 105w of roof-mounted solar on our Scamp 5er, and it does a good job of keeping up most of the time. Our trailer offers two things we can't use when we're dry camping: the microwave and Lynne's electric blanket.
The key words in the above quote are "most of the time". I have a 100W roof mounted panel so theft is not a concern but sometimes the trailer is not in the best position to maximize the solar. I have also experienced times when we had plenty of sunshine but dust and dirt buildup on the panel prevented a full charge. Ice and snow have also had the same effect. I have thought of carrying a ladder to aid in cleaning an maintenance on the panel as well as other roof maintenance.

So far most of the time has been a workable situation. Unless I need the use of the furnace a lot, solar gets the job done well.

I will probably get a generator some day. I could run the AC when it's hot and in cold weather I could use the furnace more. Until then the solar is a huge plus and I'm glad I installed it. The thought of adding a generator and gas can to the equipment I carry concerns me.

Adding 60 pounds or more of generator and fuel in an already full pick up would be a challenge.
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Old 10-05-2014, 08:35 PM   #16
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Another thing about generators that puts me off them is the smell of their exhaust.
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Old 10-05-2014, 09:10 PM   #17
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If your solar does not keep up can't you just hook up your TV and let it run for 30 min to help charge the battery's?
Just a thought then you would not need a generator.


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Old 10-05-2014, 09:12 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Mary F View Post
Another thing about generators that puts me off them is the smell of their exhaust.
Exhaust is flat dangerous. A few years ago a couple guys died sleeping in a tent close to an RV with a generator, I believe that happened in Yellowstone. Every year several people die from CO created by generators.

I use a portable 65 Watt solar panel. The only time I had a problem was when I left the panel stored one day too long. The best thing to do is control power usage, LED lights made the biggest difference for us.

With my single little 74amp hour battery I can go for 3 to 4 days without recharging longer when I'm not using the furnace. The only thing I use the house battery power for is lights and the furnace fan. Recharging of electronic devices is generally done with the TV. The Tow Vehicle doesn't usually sit for more than 2 days a time. When we do go someplace it's a good time to charge computers, and kindles.

A generator to me would be an extra cost, weight burden, and something more to fuss with, change oil, play in grease. And don't forget generator hours or you're in trouble.
As was said I've never seen solar panels banned or hours of use restricted.
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Old 10-05-2014, 09:26 PM   #19
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When we had our 13' Scamp, I mounted a 100 watt solar panel over the front window, and although it could swivel angles up and down, I never adjusted it and it always fully recharged our group 27 battery, no matter what the weather was like. We now have a Lil Snoozy, and I have 2 100 watt flexible solar panels that are going to be mounted on the curved front part of the trailer, so I can keep them clean without a ladder. We also have a Yamaha 2000 watt generator that just sits around doing nothing. IMHO even the quietest generator breaks the silence that I am seeking when out camping.
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Old 10-05-2014, 11:55 PM   #20
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Neither is much good at night after "quiet time" has started!
No really, I would say it depends on your camping style.
In our case, we have had very little use for either.
It seems the only real use for a generator would be A/C.
How many solar panels would it take to run A/C?
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Old 10-06-2014, 12:27 AM   #21
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I have both! a 100 watt panel fixed to my roof(I plan on making a folding panel 100-120 watt this winter if I get some OT in so I can move it around for more sun.) and a Yamaha ef2400si generator for air conditioning...yes you can't run it everywhere but so far all the spots I have gone to were ok with running the quiet kind at night.

I lucked out this year didn't need it once and I am happy. Most of my trips are 2-3 nights so even when I get stuck in the tree's for camping replacing your interior lighting with LED's and limiting running the furnace you are fine. If I needed extended run time for heat I would fire up the generator in the afternoon for a few hours while I am there to charge the batteries if they aren't getting sufficient sun on the panels(overcast days do happen)
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Old 10-06-2014, 03:08 AM   #22
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Interesting thread as everyone has different styles of camping. Some are totally against a genny, some carry and use them and some are into solar 100%. All are choices we make for where we all do our camping. I use both a genny for the microwave and solar for the battery. A genny for topping your battery takes way too long as a gennys DC output is very small. If you were going to do that you would be way better off plugging in a battery charger to the genny as it puts out a lot more amps. Back in my motorhome days, with no solar, I would run the engine every three days for twenty minutes or so to top the batteries off, and at 100 amps output it always worked.
To the comment of someone dying from exhaust from a genny running while in a tent I feel bad but I have to think the tenters made a bad decission to where they put it up. In all my 30+ years of camping if you're more than 20 feet away from someones genny the exhaust shouldn't be an issue. If the wind changed I would get a whiff or two of exhaust but that was it. The sound was more noticable but not bad as no one ran them to long. Just my 2 cents worth folks.
Anyway, any time you're camping it's still quieter than being at home
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Old 10-06-2014, 05:50 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by floyd View Post
Neither is much good at night after "quiet time" has started!
No really, I would say it depends on your camping style.
In our case, we have had very little use for either.
It seems the only real use for a generator would be A/C.
How many solar panels would it take to run A/C?

I think Floyd hit the tent peg (nail) on the head. Personally, I would say that having a 30 amp outlet next to your trailer beats both a generator or solar panels. Then again, I live in the southern climes where A/C is a must. I do have a Honda 2000 although I have never taken it on a camping trip. I use it in the back 40 if I need power well away from the house, and I really bought it so that I could power the camper's A/C in the aftermath of a tropical storm should the power be out for an extended period. 88 degrees with the humidity in the high 80s or 90s at night isn't great for sleeping in the house. And solar panels would be a pure waste of money for my style of camping. They won't run the A/C, and I have no desire to camp in the boonies. We are more like "tourists." The camper is where we return to in the evening to eat and sleep after spending the day viewing the local sights and/or attractions.
A lot has been said here about generators being a nuisance (noise/fumes, etc.). I actually find campfires to be more obnoxious, particularly those that are left smoldering. I like to breath fresh air when I sleep. If the campers near me have smoky campfires going, it forces me to button up the camper and sleep in an artificially cooled environment rather than opening windows and running the fan. Or smell smoke all night.
So camping style would really determine what is best for each individual. Like Floyd, we have little use for either. And in the event I don't have a 30 amp connection, the battery will suffice for a day or two.


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Old 10-06-2014, 06:53 AM   #24
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I have both and use both. The generator is mostly for ac use and that is usually on stop overs en route.

The older $599 generator that Costco sold is actually a Champion that is sold at Camping World and Sam's Club with different color schemes. It is quite, capable of running a 7000btu window unit, and can be hooked together much like the Honda.

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Old 10-06-2014, 07:24 AM   #25
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Sounds like the OP was looking for people to back up his decision to buy a genny and most posters are not playing along. As with most things the answer varies with each individual’s circumstances (camping style and expectations), and probably includes a lot of possible solutions. Solar, generator, conservation, etc. are all options. We currently camp in State Parks with shore power, but soon hope to “cut the cord” and mix it up with some boondocking, or at least “dry” camping thrown in. I have a cheap (loud) generator, and if circumstances dictate I will throw it in the back of the truck and take it along.

My current plan though is to permanently mount two 100W solar panels on the roof of the Scamp, and carry a third for portable use if the trailer is parked in the shade and the roof panels are not getting the job done. I really don’t expect to need the portable panel much. My trips, at least until I retire, should not exceed a week or so in duration. I don’t have to get the batteries (dual 6V) back to 100% everyday, just keep them above 50%-60% until the end of the trip. If I have to I can pull out the portable panel every now and again while I am in camp anyway, or run the genny as a last resort. I bought my generator used and don’t have much money in it. I would not buy a cheap one new though. If I could not afford the 2000 watt Honda I would step back and buy the smaller 1000 Honda. Even the 1000 will do a lot of battery charging, and would probably do so more efficiently.
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:47 AM   #26
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Pretty much what works for your circumstances.. We use solar and it's fine. If we need more power we get an electric site.
What does annoy me about generators are some operators don't appear to understand the concept of quiet time. Last night here at Mammoth Cave National Park there were generators running at 11 pm and then again at 6am!

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Old 10-06-2014, 07:54 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Borrego Dave View Post
To the comment of someone dying from exhaust from a genny running while in a tent I feel bad but I have to think the tenters made a bad decission to where they put it up." In all my 30+ years of camping if you're more than 20 feet away from someones genny the exhaust shouldn't be an issue. If the wind changed I would get a whiff or two of exhaust but that was it. The sound was more noticable but not bad as no one ran them to long. Just my 2 cents worth folks.
Anyway, any time you're camping it's still quieter than being at home
Maybe the individuals camping in the tent were in their site before the generator arrived . I have witnessed people being forced to move from their campsites because a large class A motor home pulls in upwind of their site and the person in the class A starts up his generator (s) to run his A/C and then goes inside leaving others to deal with the noise and exhaust fumes. IMHO generators do not add value to the "outdoor camping experience"
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:22 AM   #28
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yeah, what Steve said...

he just put it WAY more diplomatically than I would: " IMHO generators do not add value to the "outdoor camping experience" ....I hate generators!

Figuring out what your power NEEDS are and how to provide for them without making any noise or smoke is a whole other hobby in itself...if you're packing a generator you're missing out on a very interesting/rewarding aspect of "camping"

if you want to travel somewhere and sleep in air conditioned comfort(they do make 12volt fans), use a microwave to heat up something (easily done in a propane oven) and play video games on your big screen TV......why not just rent a hotel room? it'd be cheaper too if you consider all your capital and operating costs.

the reason most of us go to the trouble and spend the extra money is peace and quiet....a rare commodity these days....and breathing air that does not stink...if you need all your add-ons, all the time, do the rest of us a favor and stick to campgounds with full hook-ups

I know of at least one campground with no sevices that has a "genny hours" rule....allowed only from 10am to noon.....a reasonable compromise in my book

end of rant...donning my fireproof suit
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