generator, inverter, and converter - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-24-2013, 12:13 AM   #1
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Name: Bill
Trailer: Scamp 16
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generator, inverter, and converter

Hi!
My family prefers campsites with no hookups...usually quieter and less crowded. But we also like to bring prepared food on weekend camping trips and use the microwave to heat it up. It's especially critical for my 2-year-old, who absolutely requires his daily gallon of milk to be between 95 and 97 degrees F.
My current (goofy) solution is a marine deep cycle battery in the back of the TV, with a Harbor Freight 1500 watt inverter. The Scamp is plugged into the inverter and I switch it on whenever I need to use the microwave. There's also a multi-stage battery charger plugged into the built-in 150-watt inverter in the back of the TV, so when the car is running, the battery is recharging. But we also like to have Electrowarmth mattress heaters for the kids (on Friday at Kachess Lake in the Cascades it was in the low 40s overnight), and the combination of microwave and mattress heaters really clobbers the battery (which is why I don't use the Scamp's battery--an expensive Optima--for the inverter).
I'm planning to buy a Honda EU1000i generator. The idea is that I'll run the mattress warmers at night, and turn on the generator in the morning to recharge the battery and heat food, then turn it on briefly at dinner to run the microwave. I should be able to run everything off the Scamp's battery and get rid of the extra battery and inverter in the TV.
Now, finally, for my question: if I simply plug the Scamp into the generator, the Scamp's converter will be (trying to) charge the Scamp battery at the same time as I'm running the microwave. How much current does a converter typically draw, if the battery is close to full charge? The microwave is 1000 watts. If you try to get 1100 watts from a 1000-watt generator, what happens? The microwave is built into the cabinet above the fridge in the Scamp, so finding the plug would require some disassembly. But if I have to, I could fish out the plug and connect it directly to the generator. Also, would the battery on the Scamp charge faster if I connected the generator directly to the battery, or should I use the converter for charging? Obviously, I would prefer to run the generator as little as possible, so I want to charge the battery as fast as possible, and it seems that charging directly from the generator should be fastest.
Thanks!
Bill
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:36 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by wjquigs View Post
I'm planning to buy a Honda EU1000i generator.
...
The microwave is 1000 watts.
Is that the cooking power rating of the microwave, or the power consumption? Microwave ovens are sold by microwave output power which, in a rare display of honesty in consumer product rating, is the actual power put into the food. The electrical power consumption is substantially higher, so an oven producing 1000 watts of microwaves uses at least 1300 watts of electricity. If this is the situation in this case, the EU1000i won't even run the microwave, let alone charge the battery at the same time.

My motorhome has an 1100 watt Dometic (built by LG) microwave, which is labeled as using 1500 watts.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:38 AM   #3
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Bill, sounds like you have a working solution to your power needs now, but could be tweaked a bit. We rarely ever camp with 110v electricity, so we went with 100 watt Ransomd solar panel (works great in shade, cloudy conditions, direct sun and resists 1" hail at 50 mph) in stead of a annoying "quiet" generator, and it is made in Michigan, USA. The single battery is fully charged in just a couple of hours of early morning light from the solar panel via a smart charger to the battery. I can connect to our tow rig, which has two batteries, if I ever need back-up battery storage. Couldn't the milk be brought up to required temperature on the propane stove in a few minutes in stead of a few seconds in the power thirsty microwave? Just food for thought.
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:43 AM   #4
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Also, would the battery on the Scamp charge faster if I connected the generator directly to the battery, or should I use the converter for charging?
The generator's DC output is likely quite separate from the AC output, and (as is typical for this type of generator) is much lower than the output of the Scamp's converter/charger (which could certainly be run by the generator). So, use the generator's AC output to run the Scamp's converter/charger or a separate battery charger if you want much more than 8 amps of battery charging.

Honda EU1000i specs
Quote:
AC Output 120V 1000W max. (8.3A) 900W rated (7.5A)
DC Output 12V, 96W (8A)
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:47 AM   #5
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Couldn't the milk be brought up to required temperature on the propane stove in a few minutes in stead of a few seconds in the power thirsty microwave?
That's brilliantly simple - I was so focused on answering the electrical questions I entirely missed that.

I was talking about camping with a couple of co-workers. One said that he needed to take a microwave with him (with a tent trailer that had no microwave), and explained that this was to make baked potatoes and popcorn. He was obviously embarrassed to admit that this is why he was using a microwave, but his daughters insisted this was the only way...
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:05 AM   #6
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Hi!
But we also like to have Electrowarmth mattress heaters for the kids (on Friday at Kachess Lake in the Cascades it was in the low 40s overnight),
Bill
Bill:
  • Duvets or sleeping bags are a simpler solution than a mattress heater
  • A propane furnace can be used to keep the trailer warm when you have no hookups
  • A solar panel may be a better investment than a generator
Brian
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:35 AM   #7
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Now if your looking to buy a generator, get the 2000 watt honda or yamaha, over the 1000 watt model. Its only slightly more expensive but will be able to run the microwave, charge your batteries etc at the same time. Maybe run your air conditioner if needed.

I went with the yamahe ef2400i just because it was a little bit larger and could run the fridge at my parents house if they lost power.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:25 PM   #8
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Name: Bill
Trailer: Scamp 16
Washington
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Thanks for all the tips.
I have considered solar panels, but we camp almost exclusively in Washington where 70-foot doug firs surround almost every campsite. So I would have to constantly move it around to avoid shade and I'd have to keep the kids from jumping on it--those of you with 2-year-olds know their destructive power, especially when they're trying to "help". Also, if I'm doing the math right, the microwave probably uses 9 amps, and the inverter is probably only 60% efficient, so maybe 15 amps from the battery, so only 15 minutes of run time is going to pull 4 amp hours from the battery. A 25-watt solar panel is pretty big, and would give me 2 amps back, so 2 hours of full sun to recharge. And that's if I haven't used the mattress warmers.
We do have very good sleeping bags for the kids, rated to 40 degrees, but they still get chilly, and sleep better when they're warm. I figure when they're 10 or so I can tell them to quit complaining and cowboy up, "Camping is all about being cold!" But for now that's not an option.
True, heating the milk on the stove is probably the best bet, but I'm lazy and like the convenience of the microwave, especially since I know exactly how long to heat it to get it to the preferred temp, and that's going to require some experimentation on the stove.
Good to know about the microwave wattage. I will hook up my Kill-a-Watt to the Scamp and see how much power it draws before settling on a generator. I did consider the 2000i but I want to keep it as small and quiet as possible. Also good to know about the 12-volt vs. 110-volt current from the generator, and charging from the converter.
Bill
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:50 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
That's brilliantly simple - I was so focused on answering the electrical questions I entirely missed that.

I was talking about camping with a couple of co-workers. One said that he needed to take a microwave with him (with a tent trailer that had no microwave), and explained that this was to make baked potatoes and popcorn. He was obviously embarrassed to admit that this is why he was using a microwave, but his daughters insisted this was the only way...
Baked potatoes and popcorn can both be cooked on a barbeque...
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:52 PM   #10
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My vote is with the solar panel! More cost effective, no extra fuel lugging around and the folks camping next to you will be happy campers!!!

The big debate came up at our trailer meet this week-end when one of the parties attending fired up a small generator for a couple of hours during the day.... was pretty clear that it was not a popular item. More than one party offered them the use of their portable solar panel. One of the parties also mentioned that they were in the Teton's last week and one of the campgrounds now has a generator free loop, a trend that I have no doubt will be on the increase.
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:57 PM   #11
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My vote is with the solar panel! More cost effective, no extra fuel lugging around and the folks camping next to you will be happy campers!!!

The big debate came up at our trailer meet this week-end when on of the parties attending fired up a small generator for a couple of hours during the day.... was pretty clear that it was not a popular item. More than one party offered them the use of their portable solar panel. One of the parties also mentioned that they were in the Teton's last week and one of the campgrounds now has a generator free loop, a trend that I have no doubt will be on the increase.
Carol, I could not agree more. In fact I changed my signature line while you were composing your last post. I have moved sites more than once because of generators..
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wjquigs View Post
Thanks for all the tips.
I have considered solar panels, but we camp almost exclusively in Washington where 70-foot doug firs surround almost every campsite. So I would have to constantly move it around to avoid shade and I'd have to keep the kids from jumping on it--those of you with 2-year-olds know their destructive power, especially when they're trying to "help".
I camp mostly on the Pacific North West so I understand the tree issues and why having it mounted is not the best but I have a solid stand for it to keep it in place when kids are running around. Be surprised though how often I can just stick it up on the rock guard or on the roof of the trailer no stand needed even though there are a lot of trees around. Also have a foam wrapped cover for it when not in use and secure it up against the front of the bathroom wall with two small cords to keep it out of harms way.

Keep in mind the kids will only be 2 for a year & that goes by fast!
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:38 PM   #13
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Why solar is better

Quote:
Originally Posted by wjquigs View Post
Thanks for all the tips.
I have considered solar panels, but we camp almost exclusively in Washington where 70-foot doug firs surround almost every campsite. So I would have to constantly move it around to avoid shade and I'd have to keep the kids from jumping on it--those of you with 2-year-olds know their destructive power, especially when they're trying to "help". Also, if I'm doing the math right, the microwave probably uses 9 amps, and the inverter is probably only 60% efficient, so maybe 15 amps from the battery, so only 15 minutes of run time is going to pull 4 amp hours from the battery. A 25-watt solar panel is pretty big, and would give me 2 amps back, so 2 hours of full sun to recharge. And that's if I haven't used the mattress warmers.
We do have very good sleeping bags for the kids, rated to 40 degrees, but they still get chilly, and sleep better when they're warm. I figure when they're 10 or so I can tell them to quit complaining and cowboy up, "Camping is all about being cold!" But for now that's not an option.
True, heating the milk on the stove is probably the best bet, but I'm lazy and like the convenience of the microwave, especially since I know exactly how long to heat it to get it to the preferred temp, and that's going to require some experimentation on the stove.
Good to know about the microwave wattage. I will hook up my Kill-a-Watt to the Scamp and see how much power it draws before settling on a generator. I did consider the 2000i but I want to keep it as small and quiet as possible. Also good to know about the 12-volt vs. 110-volt current from the generator, and charging from the converter.
Bill
Bill
  • It is true that many campsites have trees (we camp in Washington too), but we have found that some sites have more sun -- if you have solar these are the ones you would choose
  • You can locate the solar panel on the roof as we did, so no problem with tripping over it Ladybug goes solar! - Escape Trailer Owners Community
    www.flickr.com/photos/27335095@N08/8492394469
  • We have a GoPower RV95 which can produce 95 watts and is 52" by 24" in size and is mounted on our roof, and we have a little 13 foot trailer!
  • It is your choice whether to have the battery storage, solar power and inverter power needed to run a heavy electrical load -- there are people on this forum who are able to run 2000 watt inverters from batteries using solar power
  • I believe propane is a more efficient way to generate heat than using a generator or solar panel for the purpose
  • We use our propane furnace to keep the temperature above about 60 deg. F when it is cold outside and the furnace does not have to run very much -- don't need electric blankets!
  • Even the best generators are noisy!
  • It costs as much for a generator as a good solar setup, and then you still need to buy gasoline!
Brian
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:53 PM   #14
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Trailer: 2008 13' Scamp
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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
The big debate came up at our trailer meet this week-end when one of the parties attending fired up a small generator for a couple of hours during the day.... was pretty clear that it was not a popular item.

One of the parties also mentioned that they were in the Teton's last week and one of the campgrounds now has a generator free loop, a trend that I have no doubt will be on the increase.
So I'm not the only one that noticed that generator running away in the middle of other trailers and wondered why? What do you need it for at this time of day? But I was too polite to ask, that's a first

Yeah, when they asked, generator or no generator I thought great, hope this continues to other campgrounds. But, believe it or not, someone in the generator loop was running a "contractor" type generator and the racket was still audible in the no generator loop Oh well, it's a start.

As the price of solar panels keeps going down and more people start finding out how well they work I hope generator usage will decline. As one who bought my first solar cell over 20 years ago I can't believe how inexpensive and good they are now.
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