Does a generator beat solar? - Page 4 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-06-2014, 05:17 PM   #43
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..or see how they like Janis Joplin blasting from my stereo at 7:59 am after they stayed up to the wee hours being loud and rowdy around the campfire after being asked nicely to be less noisy since folks were trying to sleep.
Okay, I admit it, you are much nicer than me. I would have had Ozzie blasting some good ol' Black Sabbath at least an hour earlier.
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Old 10-06-2014, 06:36 PM   #44
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Ah, SilverGhost, thanks for the info on the Costco gen. really being a Champion (excuse the expression).

Gee, haven't given this much thought to generators since them 6 months I dry camped up on a mountain in the central highlands. My bunk was 12 meters from four 45KW generators going 24/7. They were smelly and loud... not Hondas for sure.

When you need the power you still need the power. Those who abuse the privilege deserve contempt. In fact, whenever I drive past them rolling McMansions I am always tempted to suppress a sneer. Because you say Solar don't mean I say potato. Yet, no sun still means no joy. Mother Nature, we love your amps, we love your ohms, but fail us and we'll drag our bones... to any alternate power zones.

I got LED's. I got no air conditioning. I hugged an ex-tree at the Petrified Forest recently. It was cold. My inner Jack Benny says first, get the solar.
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Old 10-06-2014, 06:48 PM   #45
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Does a generator beat solar?

To answer the question directly, the answer is Yes for only 2 electric power needs that I know of:
  1. To run an Air Conditioner.
  2. To run a Microwave Oven.
These 2 appliances have no alternative to 110 volt alternating current because of their high power requirements. Otherwise, my answer would be no. I use inexpensive 45 watt solar panels that are portable.
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Don’t I have to shift them around with the shifting sun? Would I want to go off during the day leaving my charging solar panels exposed to theft?
If I want my panels to put out maximum efficiency, I move them every hour of so to track the sun. Otherwise, they work sufficiently well enough to only be moved twice a day. In the places I have used mine I have left them out unattended without incident so far...
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:40 PM   #46
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Different tools for different jobs. If you need the generator because it is the tool that will do the job then that tool "beats" solar. Otherwise solar is the winner due to lower cost, less hassle, and less intrusive.

Hmmm steal the big $100 solar panel that will be hard to sell or that $1000 generator that I can hide in a cooler and unload at any pawn shop. You can't stop a determined thief but a stake and cable to secure solar panel stand, or heavier lock and cable to secure generator are probably enough to prevent the casual "walk off" while you are at the beach or store. Unless there is no one around because you are way out in the boonies.

Also nothing says you can't have both. Use solar but if you need a charge and the sun ain't getting it done due to weather, shade, or unexpected high energy consumption you can run the generator for a couple of hours and recharge your batteries.

If you need that generator to run all night long for AC it would probably be courteous to avoid rustic campground in secluded location full of tents and off grid campers. Running generator just for microwave oven seems like a waste, microwave heats stuff, so does a stove, grill, or campfire. Come on over I'll give you a can of sterno to heat your coffee with. Just don't see the need for speed of microwave when I'm camping, if I have shore power sure I'll use it but won't miss it enough to run a generator.
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:51 PM   #47
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Different strokes for different folks! You all know, no one camps exactly like YOU. Whether you can use solar or generator, is more about YOUR needs than what others think you should have.

Be nice and think about what others are asking. Be a bit sympathetic, or maybe be grateful you don't camp like they need!
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:56 PM   #48
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If you need that generator to run all night long for AC it would probably be courteous to avoid rustic campground in secluded location full of tents and off grid campers. Running generator just for microwave oven seems like a waste, microwave heats stuff, so does a stove, grill, or campfire. Come on over I'll give you a can of sterno to heat your coffee with. Just don't see the need for speed of microwave when I'm camping, if I have shore power sure I'll use it but won't miss it enough to run a generator.
Roger, Roger. Well said.

John
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:01 PM   #49
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The answer isn't 37 watts or 473 watts of solar. It also isn't 649 watts or 2.03 KW from a generator. We have habits and prejudices and desires. I'd advocate a light-weight engineering approach starting with 1) developing a power budget and 2) conservation.

Power Budget: If your lights draw 1.7 amps and you run them for 3 hours/day then your light budget is 5.1 ampere hours. Do the same with your jacuzzi heater and everything else. Add it all up. If you need 100 ampere hours per day then you need enough batteries for that. A rule-of-thumb is that you oughtn't discharge past 50% for durability reasons so you need a 200 ampere hour battery for a 100 ampere hour load. To recharge 100 ampere hours when you have 10 good hours of light would require 10 amps for those 10 hours. Assuming PV panels are 12 volts you'd need 120 watts worth of PV panels. If you need more PV than can be installed then a generator is a must. If you need to insure power then a belt and suspenders is called for. Note: I presumed that things were 100% efficient etc. I'd also like to take credit for this approach but it was developed during the peloponnesian war and I'm not quite that old.

Sometimes it isn't easy to measure or read the current that a device will draw. Maybe something similar from another manufacturer will provide a suitable estimate.

Conservation: LED lights have been discussed. Need a new PC? Think of a netbook instead of a super computer. Stuff like that.

Back on topic, prejudices, how do we get rid of dog owners?
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:37 PM   #50
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I'm not sure consideration of others is a lost art but I would agree there is far less consideration of others now than in the past.

I also think tolerance has become a lost art. There is too much of the "has to be my way or its wrong" attitude. I have long come to the realization you can't have it your way all the time... so you do what you have to.

When I camp in the state parks, I pick the spots where either its totally ok for any of the quiet inverter type generators or up to the ranger's discretion and then I pick the particular sites where i can angle myself where there is no one behind/next to me and I place the generator there. I might have a long walk to where the river/creek is but it muffles the sound as best can and one of the groups I camp with for years who own their own land my friend's wife she freely admits to being an opinionated b*tch was sounding iffy about me running it for ac at night....I fired it up, she was about 30' from me and she said she "could tolerate it" and then asked if she could run an extension cord from it lol.

Also have to take into consideration the climate. In the NJ lower NY and PA area it can get real hot and humid in august...and I am not giving up going camping cause its too muggy at night...so I go places where it is ok...people who don't want to hear the quiet inverter type generators running at night get to pick places where generators are not allowed during those hot/humid times of the year...problem solved.

I know a few people are never going to be satisfied short of getting their way so I just kind of disregard them... So for the OP solar does have its pluses but it wont solve all the problems in every situation so a generator sometimes can do the job...if you choose a generator then when you pick a campground that allows the use of a quiet inverter type generator, try to be respectful with it, like finding camp sites on the outer edge where someone wont be next to you and enjoy your self!
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Old 10-07-2014, 01:26 AM   #51
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I think you've pretty much hit the nail dead center Deryk.
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Old 10-07-2014, 01:53 AM   #52
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Some are more sensitive to human made sounds than others. Even a very quiet inverter generator makes some sound. Some natural sounds are masked by the quiet inverter generator. I like to listen for birds songs that might be pretty faint so I've trained my ears to hear quite faint sounds. At night I like to listen to night noises, the faint howling of a coyote, or call of a loon. I'm more than willing to put up with a little discomfort to hear these sounds.
My point is sometimes it's not so easy to be considerate and still have our own way. I've never complained to anybody about their generator, come close a couple times, but never complained.
There are plenty of people that will come into a campground with a very loud generator and expect to run it anytime they want. Two or three years ago there was a guy camped across the campground from us with a generator without a muffler. He was with a group that cooked their meals in Dutch Ovens and his camper was a tent trailer. He ran that generator every day he was there for about 3 hours.
One of things I often watch is trends, over the past few years there has more and more places that ban or heavily limit generator usage. I think this trend will continue until all campgrounds will ban generators.
A few years ago I was looking at getting a generator and after weighing pros and cons of both generator and solar, solar was the answer for me.
I would hope that readers would have gotten enough information about pros and cons for both solar and generator to make a decision that suits them.
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Old 10-07-2014, 08:54 AM   #53
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Generators are only one source of unwanted noise in a CG. While camping at Dead Horse Point State Park CG this summer (July), my wife and I (while taking a walk around the CG) noticed that the air conditioner on our camper was very loud. Not just loud, but very loud. In fact, it sounded comparable to or louder than many of the quiet generators that I have heard at various campgrounds. She almost had me convinced that we should turn off the air conditioner and suffer the heat, just for the sake of providing a quieter experience for others in the CG. Given that it was over 100°F that day, I disagreed. We finally compromised and ran the A/C only sporadically until the night time temps cooled sufficiently to rely on the MaxFan.
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Old 10-07-2014, 09:17 AM   #54
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Good point, Dave. Although I don't have A/C, I have been in a few campgrounds where others are using it, and running it most of the day. Some of those suckers sound like a plane revving for take off.

In one campground a few years back, we mentioned the noise to a neighbouring camper running his, on a truck camper. They happily turned it off, then ran it for about 30 minutes just before bed. He said they never really thought about it, as they were used to the noise, and as long as he did not pay more for the electricity, he figured why not run it. He did agree it was more peaceful without. Nice folks who responded positively to our concern.
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Old 10-07-2014, 10:34 AM   #55
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there's lots of layers/degrees to this subject....

Derek, the description of how/when you use your generator is exactly how I would hope all campers would used theirs....unfortunately that's not the case.

I have heard quiet generators and you're right they can be very unobtrusive...unfortunately most of the gererator users I seem to camp beside is the construction worker who borrowed the genset from from his job site for the weekend camping trip.

You are off base when you say that steve and I would not be satisfied until we "got our way". That's not the case or the point. I've expereinced "hot august nights" back east(years and years of them)...and I understand the problem. In such a case "a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do". I get that but that's not what I was talking/complaining about.

I think the OP will come away from this discussion understanding that generators can fill a need and can be used as long as he gives a little thought and consideration to his neighbours/surroundings/situation before firing it up......and that's a good thing thing...as Martha would say

we're lucky, we all got wheels underneath us and we can move.....but why should one inconsiderate guy (who, given a certain circumstance, could easily live without a gen set) subject all others (who were seeking the peace and quiet of camping) to the noise?.....if nobody spoke up (like Derek and I) there would just be more and more of them.

The VERY FIRST guy....who went on the VERY FIRST camping trip did not have a generator (or neighbours for that matter)....as with so many other endeavours trying to replicate that very first instance (as much as possible/feasible) will "generate" the greatest rewards that endeavour has to offer.

Happy camping all

and for a little irony.....all that power right there.....and I couldn't plug in
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Old 10-07-2014, 10:51 AM   #56
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Francois, trust me I would complain to the rangers if someone was running a construction type generator at night... those do not at any hour of the day belong there. The quiet inverter types are much quieter. Nothing is ever perfect wherever you go.

One time we had a troop of boy scouts across from us and we were up till midnight(which for me out camping on a nice weekend is early) around the bonfire laughing and listening to music. My friends kids were sound asleep in their tents... well 7am the boyscouts were up and were loud(well thats what I was told...I sleep with earplugs for that very reason) And later that day the ranger came over and told us we need to quiet down by 10pm... but it was ok for the Boy Scouts to be loud at 7am... like I said its why I sleep with earplugs. There have been nights where I was tired and my friends band was still playing music 20 feet away from my tent...pop the ear plugs in and went right to sleep.

Yes would be nice to hear the sounds of the crickets and birds chirping but if you want that remember if there are people any where near you then you will also be hearing them.
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