Portable generators - Fiberglass RV


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Old 02-13-2020, 03:08 PM   #1
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Portable generators

Please advise as to a wise choice for a relatively small to medium size portable generator. I have a 17 ft Casita and presently use a 60watt solar panel I place outside and chase the sun. Because I often find myself at campsites w/o power hookups for perhaps weeks at a time, I need a generator to supplement. Power needs are not extraordinary but solar alone not adequate.
Honda generators in the 2000 category seem a little pricey. Is the Harbor Freight generator dependable? Are smaller generators OK or should I continue looking in the 2000 range?
Thanks
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:29 PM   #2
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I have a Honda 1000. It is very quiet ( sort of ).
Since I bought a couple 40 watt solar panels, I have left the generator at home. If I needed a generator, I'd get the Honda 2200 so I would have enough power to run a small electric heater during a power outage at home.
I'd stick to Honda for reliability, parts and service.
Remember you will need to run the generator from time to time and that it requires oil changes, gas goes stale, etc. and you have to carry gas for it.
I'd be inclined to get more solar and battery.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:39 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Remember you will need to run the generator from time to time and that it requires oil changes, gas goes stale, etc. and you have to carry gas for it.
I'd be inclined to get more solar and battery.
Yes! I received a generator from a neighbour for nothing because he left it unused for several years and it wouldn't run anymore.
I got it running and thought there, now that expence is covered!
Then I left it for several years now,,,, probably needs a ton a help again to run. It did save a fridge full of food through during a power outage.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:39 PM   #4
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We bought a Westinghouse 2200 at work for our mobile lab, it has worked well for us.
https://www.amazon.com/Westinghouse-...6803Q10EYZHNF7

A lot cheaper than the Honda.
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:43 PM   #5
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I’m sure it’s no bargain but there was a guy at Quartzsite with a Honda 3000 that was easily the quietest generator I have ever heard. He was all-in with a permanent mount and no solar, but I was impressed enough with its stealthy purr that I sought him out to ask about it later in the morning. (He’d repainted it black, so I had no idea it was a Honda.)
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Old 02-13-2020, 03:53 PM   #6
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Unless you want to run A/C or microwave, I think a Honda 1000 works as well as the 2XXX for recharging the battery. It's much lighter. Still noisy so I hate to use it. I really need more battery and more solar....
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Old 02-13-2020, 04:18 PM   #7
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I would buy a larger solar panel - NO generator , NO hauling gasoline , NO noise , No exhaust fumes , Less expensive
We used a 100 watt Renogy solar suitcase with our 17 ft Casita
Never had an issue .

To me a generator is just one more thing to maintain .
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Old 02-13-2020, 04:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
I would buy a larger solar panel - NO generator , NO hauling gasoline , NO noise , No exhaust fumes , Less expensive
We used a 100 watt Renogy solar suitcase with our 17 ft Casita
Never had an issue.
You’ve mentioned this in several threads and I don’t doubt you a bit. But I think it would be helpful to also share more about your power consumption, devices/appliances and the sorts of weather and locations you camp in for comparison.

Considering the number of generators I saw running next to 100w panels in Quartzsite (with clear weather and zero shade from trees) I’m guessing you may be above average with regard to power conservation.
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Old 02-13-2020, 05:13 PM   #9
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Youíve mentioned this in several threads and I donít doubt you a bit. But I think it would be helpful to also share more about your power consumption, devices/appliances and the sorts of weather and locations you camp in for comparison.

Considering the number of generators I saw running next to 100w panels in Quartzsite (with clear weather and zero shade from trees) Iím guessing you may be above average with regard to power conservation.
Usage was confined to LED lights , running roof fan for short periods of time and the furnace in the morning to take the chill off while getting dressed . We do not carry a bunch of electronic equipment that needs constant charging
I did not keep accurate track of power usage cause there was no need

Our camping season was from late April to early October in Minnesota , Michigan , Wisconsin and Canada .
If I set out my solar panel first thing in the morning my battery was usually charged up by late in the morning
One time in six years I did have to borrow a generator to charge my battery but that was after four days of clouds and rain.

I will openly admit I am not a proponent nor a fan of generator usage when camping . We have had to endure listening to generators run all day so the generator owner can go sightseeing and return late in the day to a cool trailer
Some generator owners are considerate individuals but many are not , at least in my experience .
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Old 02-13-2020, 06:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Brightbluesky View Post
Please advise as to a wise choice for a relatively small to medium size portable generator. I have a 17 ft Casita and presently use a 60watt solar panel I place outside and chase the sun. Because I often find myself at campsites w/o power hookups for perhaps weeks at a time, I need a generator to supplement. Power needs are not extraordinary but solar alone not adequate.
Honda generators in the 2000 category seem a little pricey. Is the Harbor Freight generator dependable? Are smaller generators OK or should I continue looking in the 2000 range?
Thanks
Seriously consider Champion Inverter 2000 generator. It costs $499 at Cabelas vs cost of a Honda. I've seen it on sale for much less. The Champion weighs about 45 LBS, and has a great reputation. It's louder than the Honda, but still within acceptable db levels. You'll not regret purchasing this product. Here's a link to Cabelas so you can check out specifics and reviews. Champion also has a great support staff.

https://www.cabelas.com/product/CHAM...2.uts?slotId=0

I bought a Champion 3800 Generator for my BF 19 several years ago. It was a reliable generator requiring minimal maintenance. I plan to buy a Champion 2000 for my "new" BF21, in addition to a solar system.

Things to consider before purchasing any generator: how will you transport it? If you will be locating it on your tongue or on the back of your trailer, you'll need to weigh the trailer, loaded for camping, and the tongue to determine the safest place for it while under tow.

You want to get something that will support your most power hungry machine or appliance - which will be your AC or Microwave. Will you be using it for your AC? If so, consider your ACs starting, as well as running, watts. If your AC requires more than 2000 watts to start, does your AC accept a soft start kit? If not, you can get an RV specialist to wire the AC for a soft start. But will that still work with only 2000 Watts?

Having said that, I have never needed to use my AC when off grid. At that point in time, I wanted to be able to use my AC in an emergency. I am no longer concerned with that potentiality.

But, I regularly used the microwave for frozen vegetables or a Frozen Dinner entree, which is something that solar will not support. I'd arrange to recharge the battery when cooking dinner.

One final note: I definitely support having a backup generator. When I go camping, I want to cover all my bases.

Good luck with your research.
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Old 02-13-2020, 06:26 PM   #11
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It all starts with what you want to run. Do you want to run AC? How about microwave, or big coffee maker? Hair dryer? Etc. Its the large loads that get you. For light loads, a 1000 watt unit would be fine. I'd be tempted to get the 1600 watt generator at Costco, $499, with a Yamaha (good) motor. Costco gives members a great guarantee.

If you want to run AC, you need something bigger. We got our 2800 watt Champion at Costco, same great guarantee.

Assuming you will run refrigerator on propane, no AC, no microwave, no 120V furnace/box heater, then a 1600 watt that I already mentioned is a good choice.

Harbor Freight? Read the reviews on line. Better than most would expect. You MUST get an inverter generator regardless! the open frame units are way, way, way too noisy.

Last few trips, I just took the Renogy suitcase 100W solar panels. But no running the AC.

The bigger generators are heavy. In my case, the 2800 watt Champion is right at 100 pounds. Try lifting that out of the truck (not as bad as it sounds), then try lifting it BACK into the truck from the ground (that is a lot more work).

Honda and Yamaha generators are considered the best, and are priced that way. So if you want the best, go for one of those. If you can accept a not quite top of the line generator but still a good solid unit then Champion is pretty good. Some lower cost units will have Yamaha engine, which I mentioned.
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Old 02-13-2020, 06:27 PM   #12
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Something to consider is deep cycle batteries charge slow. Having more powerful generator won't make them charge faster. It will probably be louder and certainly use more fuel.

I always forget what they are called but the Honda small generators and similar ones can adjust RPM's to match load. Cheap or "regular" generator typically has only a couple of throttle settings under load. Like half power and full power so even if your draw is only a quarter power the engine will be running at half throttle rather than quarter throttle. Avoid the little 2 cycle generator at harbor freight. Thing is loud, really loud. Look at the Db ratings. Suitable for running a sump pump in an emergency.

More solar is certainly good. But if one wants a generator the size is a function of use. Are you going to run the AC in the camper? Do you want it to provide backup power at home? How much draw would it take to keep your home functioning? Is all you need a battery charger every few days to supplement solar?

There are some models that allow for chaining to provide more wattage. Might be an option if one wanted to take one for most uses but have 2 for home power outages or say camping in Florida where they use AC in the tents or it becomes unbearable. More expensive to purchase 2 but each one can be smaller, quieter and more fuel efficient under light loads. Certainly an option I know some campers use.

I don't have a camping generator, tent camped for enough years and Scamp has 2 LED lights a 12 volt plug and an inverter if I turn it on. No needs a 40 watt panel can't address. Besides wife isn't going to want to be out in the boondocks long enough to make a slow deficit in charge an issue.


My house however has a 220 volt well so the generator has to be larger more powerful model than I would want to haul around. I did have a high output school bus alternator mounted to a metal frame with a Tecumseh 4 horse motor. That could charge my batteries and run my 110 & 12 volt fridge until the blue ice in freezer froze. You would have hated me if you had been around but I only used it in the national forest far from other campers. Wait I still have that! :-) Let you have it for a good price.


P.S Like he said INVERTER generators, that is what they are called!
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Old 02-13-2020, 06:44 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
It all starts with what you want to run. Do you want to run AC? How about microwave, or big coffee maker? Hair dryer? Etc. Its the large loads that get you. For light loads, a 1000 watt unit would be fine. I'd be tempted to get the 1600 watt generator at Costco, $499, with a Yamaha (good) motor. Costco gives members a great guarantee.


The bigger generators are heavy. In my case, the 2800 watt Champion is right at 100 pounds. Try lifting that out of the truck (not as bad as it sounds), then try lifting it BACK into the truck from the ground (that is a lot more work).
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Old 02-13-2020, 11:38 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
The bigger generators are heavy. In my case, the 2800 watt Champion is right at 100 pounds. Try lifting that out of the truck (not as bad as it sounds), then try lifting it BACK into the truck from the ground (that is a lot more work).
Man, I'd want no part of lifting ANY sized generator in and out of the TV every time I set camp. While I'm with Steve about trying avoid them all together, I understand the necessity for some folks.

If I had to have one, I'd want it to have a permanent home, mounted on the trailer. Likely with a propane fuel conversion kit, too.
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Old 02-14-2020, 12:12 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brightbluesky View Post
...and presently use a 60watt solar panel I place outside and chase the sun. Because I often find myself at campsites w/o power hookups for perhaps weeks at a time, I need a generator to supplement. Power needs are not extraordinary but solar alone not adequate.
I just reread this. Is there a reason youíre not considering more solar? Cost? Installation obstacles?

A single 60w panel would give anyone power frustrations.
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Old 02-14-2020, 12:26 AM   #16
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First, it's probably best to consider that demand will always rise to meet capacity.

So how much do you want to use? How much will you eventually use if you don't hit the limit? How much do you really need?

I decided to leave my perfectly good Yamaha 2000 at home. If I needed more than what was available from the batteries, I had a portable suitcase system from Renogy. And I have done a fair amount of battery charging with the truck idling next to the trailer and the batteries connected to it with jumper cables. This charges faster than a 2000 watt generator.

Now, on our new trailer, I have solar on the roof and it has been fine for everything, so far.

No running the propane fridge on 12 volts, and no AC. A 2000 watt inverter takes care of minimal microwave usage, or watching movies at night. A cigarette lighter inverter charges the phones and computer.

One interesting and unplanned load was charging the battery in my new electric bike. Another was the automatic default in the fridge that switched it to DC when I wasn't looking. Both of these are significant loads.

Two more panels are sitting in the garage waiting to go onto the roof of the trailer, to up my capacity, because "demand will always rise to meet capacity".

So far, while camping, I'm not planning to do any arc welding, or to use an electric heater.
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Old 02-14-2020, 01:04 AM   #17
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My generator has been sitting idle for over a year. A friend serviced the carb, which was full of water from contaminated gas. It's now loaded with Aspen gas at $36 / 4 litres. Should be good for another two years before I need to replace it with new.

Solar is so much more appealing. My two 40-watt panels get my batteries back to full charge, usually before I get out of bed.
Pic is my carb, prior to sonic cleaning.



Aspen Fuel is virtually free from harmful substances such as benzene, aromatic hydrocarbons or olefins; substances that can cause serious health problems. Aspen Alkylate Petrol also keeps the spark plugs and combustion chamber of your machine cleaner. Aspen Alkylate Petrol contains no ethanol, meaning it can be stored for a long time without any deterioration in quality, which makes your engine easy to start even after long standstill periods. There are numerous environmental benefits, such as reducing the formation of ground-level ozone (smog) by about 40%.
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Old 02-14-2020, 05:54 AM   #18
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I don't own a generator, don't need one. LED lights, water pump, fan,... sixty watts solar is more than enough. And for the long stay with no sun, I made a cable to charge my battery while sightseeing.

If I camped in the south, in July, in campgrounds with no hook ups, then a generator would be more appealing. But there's nothing worse than someone running a loud generator right next door. Judging by the ever increasing generator restrictions, I'm guessing I'm not the only one that feels that way. On the other hand, the Honda generators are amazingly quiet, a little white noise at best. My suggestion is to check the rules where you plan to camp and spend the money on the quiet generator.

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Old 02-14-2020, 09:11 AM   #19
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I have no idea

I sort of have hankered for solar but our needs are so small I don't think I can justify one and all the work whether its a suitcase job the most sensible or mounted.

I look at generators and have hankered for one another gimmick I don't have a microwave I see no need for one! We run a Wave 3 heater the cheapest source of heat for us!

I guess if you are a tinkerer solar is the greatest thing there is but looking at the scope of things I don't want the work but I support anyone that wants all the above.

we have camped 100d weather we have never needed a/c so in our world we run power at a minimum and need hardly nothing!

Life is good

bob

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
Usage was confined to LED lights , running roof fan for short periods of time and the furnace in the morning to take the chill off while getting dressed . We do not carry a bunch of electronic equipment that needs constant charging
I did not keep accurate track of power usage cause there was no need

Our camping season was from late April to early October in Minnesota , Michigan , Wisconsin and Canada .
If I set out my solar panel first thing in the morning my battery was usually charged up by late in the morning
One time in six years I did have to borrow a generator to charge my battery but that was after four days of clouds and rain.

I will openly admit I am not a proponent nor a fan of generator usage when camping . We have had to endure listening to generators run all day so the generator owner can go sightseeing and return late in the day to a cool trailer
Some generator owners are considerate individuals but many are not , at least in my experience .
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Old 02-14-2020, 09:24 AM   #20
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mr bill

Try Mississippi in August. We did it in a tent the most miserable night ever! We weren't in Mississippi long! LOL

bob

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Originally Posted by thrifty bill View Post
I find that comfort on 100d days depend on two things: humidity and what the temperature falls to at night. I arrived at Moab, Utah in the summer to camp in my tent. It was over 100F. I figured it was going to be in for a miserable night sleeping!

Well, it turned out fine. First, the humidity is quite low. More importantly, once the sun went down, the temperature dropped a lot! It got down to 60F that night.

Camp in the summer in the hot and humid SE and it will be less enjoyable.
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