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Explorer01

Generator choices for charging via trailer converter

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I plan to buy a generator (inverter) to provide backup charging capability and get me through until I have solar installed on my new 21 foot trailer. I would like to avoid buying a gasoline powered generator, so I'm looking a propane fueled ones. I have found two reasonably priced ones:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-900-Watt-Propane-Powered-Inverter-Generator-RYi911LP/302703564 

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Sportsman-2200-Watt-Dual-Fuel-Inverter-Generator-for-Sensitive-Electronics/701680657

My current batteries (stock) are group 27 RV/Marine type batteries. Eventually I'll get either golf car or AGM type batteries - probably just two, but possibly four. I'm still researching a solar system...

Does it make much difference whether I buy he 900/700 watt one (Ryobi) or he 2200 watt in terms of how long it will take to charge the batteries? I guess the 2200 watt one will be faster? But I"m not sure how much the trailer converter controls the flow, anyway (should be a decent converter.) I like the lighter weight Ryobi (~25 lbs) vs he 48 lb Sportsman, but not if the Ryobi won't scale to a future system.

Any input?

 

 

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Charge rate/speed is going to depend on the charger/charge rate being used.

I think a set of portable solar panels would be a better option for your needs.

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Thanks, Bob. So the rate/speed depends on the converter that's doing the charging and not the size of the generator, if I understand you correctly...

I'm getting a portable panel, too - 160W. I do have a "solar on the side" plug.

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If I were buying one of those two, it would be the 2000 watt one but I think that you probably should check the reviews on it before you purchase it as the price is far below that of the major brands like Honda, Yamaha, or Bolly. The recharge rate of your batteries will depend on not only the output of your RV's converter but also that of the generator as it must supply enough power to allow the converter to use it maximum output. Your 160-watt solar panel will put out a maximum of 13a when in direct sun and on a completely clear day. That would leave you very little excess over what your lights & appliances will require. It will only be the excess that is ever seen by your battery. 

Let me suggest that before you buy anything, you should take the time to read Mark Nemeth's article "The 12V Side of Life" so that you have some understanding of what it is that you are dealing with. 

 

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Another point, the db noise ratings are similar to the Hondas, but if you look at the fine print these measurements are taken at 23 ft.  The Honda meets those same noise ratings at a distance of 9 ft, meaning it's significantly less noisy.

Your neighbors will thank you.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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Quote

I plan to buy a generator (inverter) to provide backup charging capability and get me through until I have solar installed on my new 21 foot trailer. I would like to avoid buying a gasoline powered generator, so I'm looking a propane fueled ones.

I am curious as to how many watts of solar panels you have room for on a 21 foot trailer. I am guessing that there is an air conditioner, TV antenna and at least one roof vent and possibly a vent for the refrigerator. I have a 160 watt portable setup and as Kirk mentioned it is only capable of providing minimal charging even when in full sun. It does serve to top off the batteries after using the generator for a bulk charge.

I am not aware of a factory produced Honda, Yamaha or Bolly propane or duel fuel inverter generator. There was a company (UScarburetion)  that sold new modified Yamaha generators (with Yamaha full warranty) that used propane, but the last time I looked I think they were only offering do it yourself conversion kits. Onan has made propane generators for a long time. I believe the smallest was 2600 watts and they were pricey. Champion makes several duel fuel inverter generators, but I think they are 3000 watt or larger and about twice the price of the 2200 watt unit you are looking at.

Edited by trailertraveler

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Thank you all for your responses. I am already full-timing in the trailer and staying in inexpensive campgrounds and it is challenging to do this on the fly.

I plan to have an installer add 200 - 400 watts of solar, depending on how much can fit. I'm just trying to get by until then and want to make the least possible investment in a generator for now. 

I'm aware that there is not much info on the newer dual fuel models coming out. Both of the ones I'm looking at have only come out in the last few months. There's an outfit back east that'll do a conversion for the Honda 2000 model, but the cost of the entire unit is $1500, and I'd rather put that $$ toward the solar system if possible. I did watch a couple of new youtube videos on the Ryobi generator and it doesn't look overly appealing, but I sure hate the thought of lugging around a 50 lb piece of equipment.

@rm.w/aview - So you're saying have the charger installed in addition to the converter, and use the charger with the generator. 

I appreciate the help!

 

 

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1 hour ago, Explorer01 said:

...I sure hate the thought of lugging around a 50 lb piece of equipment..So you're saying have the charger installed in addition to the converter, and use the charger with the generator...

The Honda 2000 weighs about 46# empty and 50# when full of fuel. I doubt you will find huge weight differences in generators of about the same watt rating.

You do not necessarily have to have another charger installed if you do not want to or do not have room to. If you have or install a battery disconnect, you can disconnect the battery by throwing the switch, plug the trailer into one outlet of the generator (provided that your converter is one designed to work without a battery as most of the newer ones are) and plug a good stand alone charger into the other generator outlet. If you do not want/need 12V power in the trailer while charging the battery with the stand alone charger, you could flip the breaker for the converter/charger off.

Edited by trailertraveler

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20 minutes ago, rm.w/aview said:

...I was sharing my example of a proper battery charger vs the converter/charger...

Sorry if you took my post as being critical of yours that was not my intent. I was just trying to provide an option other than installing a $300+ charger since the OP seemed to want to save $ for a future solar system. Another reason for my suggestion was that a 21' trailer may not have a lot of space near the power panel to install additional equipment and does not require any installation/wiring of the equipment for those that may not want to do it themselves or pay for installation. 

Edited by trailertraveler

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Installing a seperate charger does not necessarily make it a given that you will see improved charge performance. What is being discussed as a "charger" is quite vague and makes it impossible to determine what is actually being represented as a "proper charger".

What it boils down to is "which" converter/charger is currently installed in your rig. In a 21' trailer where space is premium, many may choose to upgrade their existing converter to improve charge performance... and... sized appropriately for optimal charging (and health) of their battery bank. In newer year rigs... the installed converter may be more than adequate.

One additional factor is if or not an inverter is going to be in use. In that case.. and moving to solar, a combination charger/inverter unit may be a better choice.

But this thread is on portable generators.

As Kirk said... having a converter capable of "proper" output is just as critcal as the generator that feeds it.

When determining generator size you need to consider what your energy demands will be. Charging batteries only? So.. turning off your reefer, all lights, fans, TV, water pump, etc while you sit charging? I'm being sarcastic to illustrate the point that your converter/charger's maximum output to your battery bank is not your only consideration.

Do you have any "heavier" loads you wish to power with your generator? An electric space heater, microwave, coffee pot, toaster oven, etc? Things that could operate off battery via an inverter, but makes more sense to run off a genset when able (and often while charging is taking place).

Also as Kirk mentioned... many boondocker/dry campers will look at a 1500-2000watt generator as a minimum. A common practice is to kick over the genset in the morning to handle your heaviest loads while charging your batteries. Ie., running the electic coffee pot and toaster.

Unless your needs are specific, LP may or may not be the best choice as your primary fuel. Unless you purchase a dual fuel unit, conversion can be quite costly. $300-$500 into a conversion can buy a lot of fuel.

As pointed out, it will reduce your generators rated output by approx. 15-20%. It also requires a LOT of LP to run a portable generator for the equivalent period of time as a genset on gas or diesel. Empty LP tanks are exponetionally heavier and more difficult to transport than plastic fuel storage cans. LP output is more greatly affected by temperature and elevation.

While LP purchased in bulk and in local communities of often cheaper the gas or diesel, in "tourist" cooridors or in or around RV campgrounds, that may not always hold true.

I'm not say that LP isn't a "bad" choice, just that there is more to the equation than just that it stores forever and burns cleaner.

I would also X2 the suggestion to carefully review Mark Nemeth's "The 12V Side of Life" articles 1 and 2. That will give you a great foundation to build on in making these types of choices and as you move forward to expand your energy capabilities (solar). 

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16 hours ago, Lou Schneider said:

....these measurements are taken at 23 ft.  The Honda meets those same noise ratings at a distance of 9 ft...

Lou brings up an excellent point. There is no industry standard of measurement or generator ratings. They are set by the mfg. so comparing generators on lables and rated output alone is no clear picture of how one will actually perform. Ie., a genset may be labelled as a 2000watt, but reading the fine print, that may only be a max surge output for 90seconds or less. Sustained may only be 1300.  Other 2000watt units may have sustained max surge for 1.5+ hours and sustained at 1800watts. Be sure of what you're actually paying for.

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58 minutes ago, Yarome said:

Installing a seperate charger does not necessarily make it a given that you will see improved charge performance. What is being discussed as a "charger" is quite vague and makes it impossible to determine what is actually being represented as a "proper charger".

What it boils down to is "which" converter/charger is currently installed in your rig. In a 21' trailer where space is premium, many may choose to upgrade their existing converter to improve charge performance... and... sized appropriately for optimal charging (and health) of their battery bank. In newer year rigs... the installed converter may be more than adequate.

One additional factor is if or not an inverter is going to be in use. In that case.. and moving to solar, a combination charger/inverter unit may be a better choice.

But this thread is on portable generators.

As Kirk said... having a converter capable of "proper" output is just as critcal as the generator that feeds it.

When determining generator size you need to consider what your energy demands will be. Charging batteries only? So.. turning off your reefer, all lights, fans, TV, water pump, etc while you sit charging? I'm being sarcastic to illustrate the point that your converter/charger's maximum output to your battery bank is not your only consideration.

Do you have any "heavier" loads you wish to power with your generator? An electric space heater, microwave, coffee pot, toaster oven, etc? Things that could operate off battery via an inverter, but makes more sense to run off a genset when able (and often while charging is taking place).

Also as Kirk mentioned... many boondocker/dry campers will look at a 1500-2000watt generator as a minimum. A common practice is to kick over the genset in the morning to handle your heaviest loads while charging your batteries. Ie., running the electic coffee pot and toaster.

Unless your needs are specific, LP may or may not be the best choice as your primary fuel. Unless you purchase a dual fuel unit, conversion can be quite costly. $300-$500 into a conversion can buy a lot of fuel.

As pointed out, it will reduce your generators rated output by approx. 15-20%. It also requires a LOT of LP to run a portable generator for the equivalent period of time as a genset on gas or diesel. Empty LP tanks are exponetionally heavier and more difficult to transport than plastic fuel storage cans. LP output is more greatly affected by temperature and elevation.

While LP purchased in bulk and in local communities of often cheaper the gas or diesel, in "tourist" cooridors or in or around RV campgrounds, that may not always hold true.

I'm not say that LP isn't a "bad" choice, just that there is more to the equation than just that it stores forever and burns cleaner.

I would also X2 the suggestion to carefully review Mark Nemeth's "The 12V Side of Life" articles 1 and 2. That will give you a great foundation to build on in making these types of choices and as you move forward to expand your energy capabilities (solar). 

He doesn't address lithium though. Great info on everything but.

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1 hour ago, GlennWest said:

He doesn't address lithium though. Great info on everything but.

.... I take it back then. ;)

Edited by Yarome

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I was referring to the "The 12 volt side of life" article. Not you. If I needed a battery, would advise to look up Chevy volt batteries. Can find them separated and 12v too. Just need a modern charging system that's adjustable. 

Edited by GlennWest

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48 minutes ago, GlennWest said:

...He doesn't address lithium though...

I am certainly not an expert and do not have lithium batteries. The research I have done on them indicates that the initial investment in the batteries and the sophisticated programable high end charger required to properly maintain them is significant. The OP is looking for economical recommendations so that they can afford to install a solar system.  

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8 minutes ago, GlennWest said:

1 kwh battery, $180.00. simple bulk charging. 

How about a link? I searched and found nothing anywhere near that low priced. A LifePO4 65AH battery is $750. If it is not a 12V battery, what equipment like converters are needed and what are their sources, cost and space requirements. As I stated earlier the OP has a 21' trailer which I doubt has room for the multiple converters being mention in the ongoing discussion about Chevy Volt batteries. 

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59 minutes ago, GlennWest said:

 

55 minutes ago, GlennWest said:

It is 24v as is. Just rewire to 12v.

Thank you!

1 hour ago, GlennWest said:

1 kwh battery, $180.00. simple bulk charging. 

If I am doing the math right 1000watts/12Volts means that it is an 83AH battery and is a 4 year old used one. If fully discharged it would provide about the same AH as a lead acid 160AH 12 Volt discharged to 50%.

You say simple bulk charge, but at what voltage? No float charge? A lot of the basic converter/chargers provided in travel trailers are not programmable. Not sure you could keep one from trying to float charge other than by turning it off which I think in most cases would also shut off the converter and result in the 12volt systems running off the battery.

We are getting pretty far off the OP's generator question, hope the discussion is at least somewhat useful to them.

Edited by trailertraveler

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There is a ton of info on this forum. No need here for a redo. These batteries don't degrade like lead acid. Totally different animal. Also the Chevy Volt is a hybrid. The batteries are barely used. They literally have thousands of cycles. Also lead acid can't be pulled down much without ruining them. 30% can damage them. Lithium can be pulled down 70-80%. You get much more use out of it with less charge time. There is no float charge with Lithium. Bulk charge. Set a minimum and  maximum at high charge rate. Done in quick order. Lead acid has 3 stage charging. Takes long time to reach full charge. Has a float cycle to achieve this. I am going to buy a complete Volt battery for my camper. 18KW

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On 1/4/2018 at 5:58 AM, trailertraveler said:

I am curious as to how many watts of solar panels you have room for on a 21 foot trailer. I am guessing that there is an air conditioner, TV antenna and at least one roof vent and possibly a vent for the refrigerator. I have a 160 watt portable setup and as Kirk mentioned it is only capable of providing minimal charging even when in full sun. It does serve to top off the batteries after using the generator for a bulk charge.

It's not written they must be mounted on the coach. Some folk use solar panels on frames so they can move the panel back toward the sun.

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4 hours ago, OldMan said:

It's not written they must be mounted on the coach. Some folk use solar panels on frames so they can move the panel back toward the sun.

I know that.

On ‎1‎/‎4‎/‎2018 at 8:58 AM, trailertraveler said:

...I have a 160 watt portable setup...

 

 

Edited by trailertraveler

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