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Need your thoughts on Generator usage.


rving4us

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This concerns your generator usage. We just retired and are waiting on the house to sell so we can go full time. We are planning a trip from SC to the West coast and up to Alaska starting in May 2016. Our fifth wheel trailer does not have a built in generator. we do have the champion 4000/3500 genny that camping world sells, but it seems a little loud to me on the outside. We are willing to purchase an inverter type generator for quietness if need be. My question, on a trip like this, would you use the truck stops, walmart, or rest areas enough to justify the expense of the new genny? I know a lot of you have been traveling for years and would really appreciate your opinion. BTW we would only use these type stops when in route somewhere and didn't want to take time to hunt an rv park.

Thanks again,

Cary

 

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Since you already have a genny, I don't know that another grand for an inverter type would be money well spent. At a truck stop, the running rigs are probably going to drown out the sound of your champion, and as long as you only ran during "acceptable" day time hours, I can't see it being a problem.

 

That being said.. I will forewarn you about the West coast. Them folks are pretty serious about their campin' and it can be quite difficult to get park reservations on the fly. Some of the state parks get booked out nearly a year in advance. I know they only take reservations for the current year so you have to be prepared to make your yearly plan as soon as reservations open. Private parks are probably different, but for the stat parks.. be prepared.

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Personally I'd not worry about a generator for a few nights in truck stops and such, we never used enough power when boondocking overnight to make it worth starting ours. You won't see a lot of battery recharging over the truck-trailer connection but it should be plenty to keep up with a night of boondocking.

 

If you are planning on more relaxed stays on the trip and there are likely a number of great boondocking sites along the way then a small quiet inverter/generator along with a good way to charge your batteries is probably worth having. We were happy with our 1000 watt unit but we had an inverter to run our microwave, with no inverter you might be better served with a 2000 watt unit.

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If you are thinking of running your air conditioner then the small generators are out of the question in most cases, you'll need a pair of 2000s or a 3000 to deal with that big a load.

 

We did a lot of blacktop boondocking going back and forth the northern tier of states in the summer and got by with no air conditioning. We were in the truck for the hot part of the day and just used our vent fans at night.

 

Probably your best bet is to pull up the Weather Underground and look at the usual temps for the times and places you expect to stop and see what you are going to be seeing.

 

For example, Fargo, ND last April:

 

http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KFAR/2014/4/10/DailyHistory.html?req_city=Fargo&req_state=ND&req_statename=&reqdb.zip=58102&reqdb.magic=1&reqdb.wmo=99999

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Stanley, My main concern would be the heat in the west during the summer months. Having never been not sure what to expect.

thanks

 

With the Pacific winds It's fairly mild. Southern Cal might be a bit warm, but heading North, the worst you might run in to on a rare day might hit 90.. but that's pretty atypical.

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While when we first started full timing we envisioned doing a lot of boon docking and staying in Walmart parking lots, we quickly found out we much preferred staying in a full hook up RV park. After the first couple of months we always stayed in RV parks except for a few nights when we parked at a friends or relatives house.

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You might consider a solar system to help maintain your batteries. At least 200 watts (400-600 is much better) with an MPPT controller. Have an inverter installed so you can run your microwave and other electronics when at an overnight stop. As for the generator you will need 3,000 watts to run an A/C unit. When you are doing a quick overnight it would be inconvenient to say the least to take your contractor type generator out of the storage bay, hook it up and fire it up to get power. Keeping it in the back of the truck improves security but you still have to go outside to take care of it. One thing to consider is to buy a new generator that's quiet and has remote start.

 

When you get into state/government type parks a quiet generator would be preferred as no one likes the loud thumpers.

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Not sure how far west you plan, but daytime camping at a truck stop or walmart wont be worth the time as you wont get a wink of sleep. So night stays in route are the usual stay overs at walmart and truck stops etc. Near the west coast above mid cali, night temps drop into very comfy temps. The pacific is a huge body with cold water. The rotation of the earth, brings weather inland from the water unlike the east coast which bring weather from inland to the water. Which............is why the local saying is "only fools and newcomers try to predict the weather in Oregon. :)

 

I have a pair of the Honda 2000i generator and the parallel cable. Though I have not hooked them together, using them is a true pleasure. They are so quiet and the idle down feature for low usage is awesome.

 

Personally, the real comfort of camping is in the details. Things like a generator if it is too noisy, can ruin the experience when it is running. To each their own of course.

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The other issue is that of securing that generator. It very well can walk away in the middle of the night if you are in any type of parking lot or rest stop. In our first 7 years with a 5th wheel we never used our Honda Genny on overnight boondocking.it traveled in a secured tool chest in the rear of the truck. All meals were on the stove top, we had no invertor so no TV, a little lighting to read etc.

Now in our MH with solar we still rarely need to run the Genny on those kind of overnights. And we have only 3 panels.

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Consider the cost of running a generator overnight to power your Air Conditioner.

 

First off you will need at least a 3000 watt generator to run one AC. A pair of 2000 watt generators connected in parallel work too.

 

Next consider how long you will be running the genny. If you are overnighting you will be running the genny at least 8-10 hours, maybe 12-18 hours. So for the portable generators mentioned in this topic, you will need to set up some sort of external gas tank. There is info on the internet on how to connect Honda's to external gas tanks.

 

I'm not sure how you travel. There are folks who drive all day, pull into a Walmart at 8-9pm eat & sleep till 6 am and do it all over then next day.

 

Then there there are folks who travel like we do. We usually pull into a Walmart at 3-5pm and don't leave until 7-9am. That means for us we would need to run the genny for 14 hours, or as much as 18 hours. If you figure running the AC will burn close to 1/2 gallon fuel per hour, then for a 12 hour stay you use 6 gallons of gas at $2.50-$3 a gallon (west coast prices). That is at least $15 to park at WM. When it is hot we opt to find an RV Park, preferably a Passport America one with 50% off for $15-$20/night. While we really dislike RV Parks we stay in them in hot weather.

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I want to add a comment about loud generators. You mention going to Alaska. There are lots & lots of boondocking opportunities in AK and along the route to/from AK. There are few things that make boondockers (who either don't run a generator or use it as little as possible) madder than to have someone drive in and park 50-100 yards away with a loud generator. To top it off they sometimes crank up the generator during late afternoon/evening or morning hours while others are sitting outside wanting to enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside. Even a 2000 watt Honda at 50 yards is loud enough to be disturbing to those wanting the quiet of the out of doors.

 

So please opt for a quieter inverter generator.

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Thanks for the reply's. We have never stayed anywhere other than an rv park, but was thinking on the lines of maybe not finding a park for one reason or the other. I'll probably just save the money and take a chance.

Thanks again.

Cary

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On the west coast night time temperatures drop considerably even in the desert. In the winter you can have 75F during the day and 40F at night. Even in the summer the night temps drop to the point where it's easy to sleep. All you really need is a fan going, usually.

 

But I agree that boondockers take their quiet time seriously. If they even have a generator they usually only run it for an hour at breakfast time and an hour at dinner time. You may decide to simply go for it on the theory that you'll be gone in the morning but you'd be surprised how quickly word spreads about inconsiderate generator use.

 

Solar panels are almost ridiculously inexpensive now. We did 4 of them (640 watts) and the spendiest charge controller on the market (the Classic 150 at $650) and we're still under $2,000. Quiet and very good on the battery bank.

 

We still run our genny in the mornings for breakfast. Not so much in the evening. And we never go to sleep with the generator on even at a truck stop.

 

WDR

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You could look into adding a bigger muffler to your Champion generator, but it probably is a waste of $$,

they are just a noisy generator.

 

I used to use a set of Honda 2000i generators in parallel for my travel trailer to run the A/C AND you can

use a chain or cable & padlock to secure your generators to the frame of the trailer.

 

I went with the Honda 2000i because of weight, they each weigh about 30 pounds an amount I can pick up even

with a bad back where a Honda 3000 weights about 135 pounds. More than I can pick up on my own to load in

the truck bed.

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I am quite satisfied withe the performance of my Boliy PRO 3000SI invertor generator. If it ever quits I plan on buying the remote electric-start model. It ran my 15,500btu air conditioner/heat pump with enough energy remaining to run the microwave and lights simultainously. It weighs 79# full for gas and oil. Some folks say they do not have a support system, but anyone who will work on a Honda will work on a Boliy.

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We used this exact generator to power our sleeper for two years. It's loud, yes, but no one has ever complained in truckstops or Walmarts. I'm sure in a camping situation, however, it would be enough to prompt a call to arms.

 

Although no one has ever touched the gen, we do use a locking bicycle cable to secure it to the frame in certain situations (parked at a dark dock, etc).

 

This gen gives us 12 to 15 hours of power on a 3-gallon tank, and that's using the rooftop a/c, microwave, big fridge, TV and satellite.

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The HD site list the noise on one generator as

Operational volume (dB) 63

It does not say at what load level or at what distance, or A or B scale.

When you add two 63 dB sources together the resultant noise level is 66 dB.

 

Also, they weigh more than the Honda EU2000i.

 

I guess they will work for a while and then you toss them in the junk pile.

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