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Generator Help


Jasonob

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Hello all, looked through the forum and was having trouble locating a discussion on this topic. Looking to do some boon docking on our way south for the winter. As of now, our 5er is a stock unit with a single 12v battery and converter. There is no generator or inverter. When purchasing the 5er, the salesman told us that it had the gen prep and one could be installed. Im having trouble locating information to prove that this is true (the salesman wasn't the most trustful).

 

We are wanting to install a generator but are at a standpoint.

1. We are not sure if the 5er is actually prepped for a Generator. There is room in the front basement next to the batteries, but it is not enclosed. Any suggestions on ways to find out if it would be possible?

 

2. Is it worth the expense to add a inverter and generator to the basement, or would it be better to grab a couple honda inverter generators?

 

3. This is a simple question, but can't find the answer. If we do go the route with inverter generators. Would they plug into the ac adapter that we normally use shore power for/

 

Thank You

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Hello all, looked through the forum and was having trouble locating a discussion on this topic. Looking to do some boon docking on our way south for the winter. As of now, our 5er is a stock unit with a single 12v battery and converter. There is no generator or inverter. When purchasing the 5er, the salesman told us that it had the gen prep and one could be installed. Im having trouble locating information to prove that this is true (the salesman wasn't the most trustful).

 

We are wanting to install a generator but are at a standpoint.

1. We are not sure if the 5er is actually prepped for a Generator. There is room in the front basement next to the batteries, but it is not enclosed. Any suggestions on ways to find out if it would be possible?

 

If it was factory prepped, there would be an enclosure for the gen to sit inside, a connection box for the electrical, and almost certainly a transfer switch between the junction box and the breaker box. These need to be accounted for in your costs.

 

2. Is it worth the expense to add a inverter and generator to the basement, or would it be better to grab a couple honda inverter generators?

 

​With portables, they're available for other locations, and typically get better fuel economy. A built-in is usually set up with remote start, so convenience. A built in is usually higher power, also.

 

3. This is a simple question, but can't find the answer. If we do go the route with inverter generators. Would they plug into the ac adapter that we normally use shore power for/

 

With an adapter, yes.

 

Thank You

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Hello all, looked through the forum and was having trouble locating a discussion on this topic. Looking to do some boon docking on our way south for the winter. As of now, our 5er is a stock unit with a single 12v battery and converter. There is no generator or inverter. When purchasing the 5er, the salesman told us that it had the gen prep and one could be installed. Im having trouble locating information to prove that this is true (the salesman wasn't the most trustful).

 

We are wanting to install a generator but are at a standpoint.

1. We are not sure if the 5er is actually prepped for a Generator. There is room in the front basement next to the batteries, but it is not enclosed. Any suggestions on ways to find out if it would be possible?

 

2. Is it worth the expense to add a inverter and generator to the basement, or would it be better to grab a couple honda inverter generators?

 

3. This is a simple question, but can't find the answer. If we do go the route with inverter generators. Would they plug into the ac adapter that we normally use shore power for/

 

Thank You

Not knowing more about your configuration makes it difficult to offer relevant advice. Do you have an idea for what your power requirements are? The only time I really need to crank my genset is if I want to run my AC and don't have shore power available.

 

If having your AC on off the grid is a prime consideration, then a genset is probably your best and only option. If you are looking to do anything else (run electronics, microwave, etc), I feel like it is better to invest in storage / inverter / solar first.

 

If you decide to invest in a genset the portable generators are cheap and easy - but not necessarily as convenient as having a genset that is fully integrated into your camper with remote start, monitoring, etc. Only you have a good feel for the level of integration you want and your budget. Those little honda 2000w units are quiet and efficient so there is definitely something to be said for them, but since I have a diesel it's not the best option. I have a pretty noisy diesel genset that is very efficient, but I really don't use it very often.

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As far as "cheap" generators go, those in the $300-$500 range, they are noisy as all get out. If you boondock within 300-500 yards of your neighbor you will have lots of very unhappy neighbors. An exception is, if those neighbors have noisy generators too, then you are OK.

 

A Honda 2000 watt generator is pretty quiet, but costs around $1000. Note that the 2000 watt will not run your air conditioner. The 3000 watt Honda, needed to run your a/c, is considerably more expensive.

 

Even with a relatively quiet Honda, please don't park closer than about 150 yards from your neighbor, if that neighbor does not use a generator. When we are boondocking we don't want to hear the constant sound of your generator. If we can "hear" it, you are too close.

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Not knowing more about your configuration makes it difficult to offer relevant advice. Do you have an idea for what your power requirements are? The only time I really need to crank my genset is if I want to run my AC and don't have shore power available.

 

If having your AC on off the grid is a prime consideration, then a genset is probably your best and only option. If you are looking to do anything else (run electronics, microwave, etc), I feel like it is better to invest in storage / inverter / solar first.

 

If you decide to invest in a genset the portable generators are cheap and easy - but not necessarily as convenient as having a genset that is fully integrated into your camper with remote start, monitoring, etc. Only you have a good feel for the level of integration you want and your budget. Those little honda 2000w units are quiet and efficient so there is definitely something to be said for them, but since I have a diesel it's not the best option. I have a pretty noisy diesel genset that is very efficient, but I really don't use it very often.

 

Thank you for the responses everybody. We have been full timing since april and primarily staying at campground with electric. Looking to expand our horizons. Of course, we would like to add a generator at the most cost efficient way possible, but you get what you pay for. I would rather spend the extra cost now and have the proper setup.

 

With that said, currently have a 5er with dual a/c's. This is the first week we have had to use both of them because of the heat outside, and the campground happens to be a parking lot type with no trees. In a typical situation we have shade and barely need to run our main A/C. So just normal use on the inside and occasional power for the A/C.

 

Currently have one 12V battery and converter, there is a second battery box already built in. I would post a picture but cant seem to figure out how to add it.

 

What do you all suggest would be there best efficient route?

 

Thank You

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As far as "cheap" generators go, those in the $300-$500 range, they are noisy as all get out. If you boondock within 300-500 yards of your neighbor you will have lots of very unhappy neighbors. An exception is, if those neighbors have noisy generators too, then you are OK.

 

A Honda 2000 watt generator is pretty quiet, but costs around $1000. Note that the 2000 watt will not run your air conditioner. The 3000 watt Honda, needed to run your a/c, is considerably more expensive.

 

Even with a relatively quiet Honda, please don't park closer than about 150 yards from your neighbor, if that neighbor does not use a generator. When we are boondocking we don't want to hear the constant sound of your generator. If we can "hear" it, you are too close.

I understand what you are saying about the cheap loud ones. We have not boondocked yet because of the lack of a generator. Have read quite a bit into it, and common thing is people not appreciating loud generators.

 

Would like to invest in the most efficient setup, and do not want to go the cheap route. Prefer to spend a little more now and have it done correctly. I have seen a few people that buy 2 of the 2,000s and link them together when needed. Only problem is I have read online, and not talked to anybody thats actually went that route.

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To add a built in Onan 5500 watt propane generator, you are looking at about $5000.00 or so with installation (assuming your trailer already has the gen prep installed). The gen prep should consist of a start switch with hour meter somewhere inside your trailer, an automatic transfer switch where the power from the generator is connected to the trailer and control wiring from the start switch to the generator compartment. The compartment may or may not have an enclosure pre-installed with the gen prep kit. If these items are already in the trailer, then the generator simply needs to be mounted in the compartment, the control wires need to be connected, the power wires need to be fed to the automatic transfer switch and the propane feed lines for the generator need to be plumbed into your propane system. This will usually require professional installation because a hole will have to be cut in the floor of the compartment to feed the exhaust out and give access for service later. This type of generator will run everything in your trailer without a problem.

 

If you want to go the less expensive route, two Honda or Yamaha 2000 watt generators can be purchased and run in parallel to supply 30 amp service. This will power one AC and MAYBE two depending on what size AC's you have and whether or not you have a power management system. (Basically, whatever you can run on a 30 amp power pedestal, you should be able to run with these two generators in parallel.) The two generators will have to be set up (put out and hooked together) when needed, they will have to be individually manually started and then you would plug your power cord into them directly with an adapter (just like a power pedestal). This set up will cost in the neighborhood of $2000.00 and will require you to carry spare gasoline as well to keep them filled.

 

You need to determine how you will use the generators, how often you will use them and how much power you will really need and then compare the costs and see which set up will work best for you. I currently have two Honda eu2000 generators and it is nice for basic needs. My next trailer will have a built in generator for more power and convenience.

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I understand what you are saying about the cheap loud ones.

 

Have read quite a bit into it, and common thing is people not appreciating loud generators.

 

Would like to invest in the most efficient setup, and do not want to go the cheap route. Prefer to spend a little more now and have it done correctly. I have seen a few people that buy 2 of the 2,000s and link them together when needed. Only problem is I have read online, and not talked to anybody thats actually went that route.

 

 

 

We have not boondocked yet because of the lack of a generator.

You really don't need a generator, inverter, or solar to boondock for 2-3 days in a row. You won't be watching your TV or using your microwave, but you can enjoy the peaceful, and scenic outdoors.

 

Your single battery if fully charged (and not previously abused) will power your lights, water pump and keep your fridge running on propane for a few days. If you have to run your furnace that will shorten the number of days the battery will last.

 

To gain some experience, while you are in an RV park, unplug from shore power for a couple of days and see how it works. This will also test your battery.

 

If you are planning on boondocking where you have to run your a/c for 12-18 hours, keep in mind the amount of fuel you will use will come close to what you will pay for an RV park site.

 

We almost never dry camp if the temps are so warm we need the a/c. I figure we are just in the wrong place for boondocking. Besides the reason for boondocking or dry camping is to be out in the country. So you don't want to be sitting in the RV with the a/c running anyways.

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It is not clear what your experience is with an RV's electric system, especially the 12V side. If you are not really experienced, then here are some web site with great info that you really need to know if you plan on doing much dry camping or boondocking:

The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1) Batteries

The 12volt Side of Life Part Solar & Inverters

Jack Mayer Battery & Charging

The following website starts off very basic. You can just scroll past what you already know and read what is new to you.

RV Dreams Electrical Systems

 

Dry camping (i.e. parking in a camping area w/o elect) or boondocking (camping somewhere w/o a designated camping spot) is more than having an couple of batteries and a generator.

 

That works for a couple days, but if you plan on dry camping for a number of days, the following is really needed:

 

-- You must have a way to efficiently recharge the batteries. Using the converter with a generator to recharge does not work well. (unless it is a new type 3 stage converter)

 

-- You really need to have really need to have a battery monitor (Trimetric is one) to track how much power has been used, how much power has been put back in when charging, and what the current charged (discharged) state of your battery is at any time. Discharging to more than 50% discharged really shortens the usable life of the battery. For best battery life, only discharge 25% (75% full).

 

Inverters, solar panels are nice to have, but if you only occasionally dry camp they are expensive. It is hard to justify the expense if you only dry camp for a few days 3-4 times a year.

 

All this stuff is covered in the links I gave above.

 

Happy reading.

 

Hope this helps.

 

BTW with our setup: solar panels, batteries, & inverter, we have dry camping and boondocked for 85 of the last 87 days (since April 26th) on our Alaska trip. We still have a month to a month and half to go before we expect to be back in an RV park. We have not run our generator yet, except for the required monthly exercise run.

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We had 2 Honda Eu2000i's with the connecting cables, 2 8D AGM battries and a 3000 watt invrter. Used 1 Honda to recharge batteries when needed, and with both Honda's connected & with the throttle in "eco" mode could run the 15,000 a/c for 10 hours or so without refueling.

My only complaints were no remote start/stop and the small fuel capacity. Later someone came up with a remote fuel tank but I never got one.

 

Ron

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Over the years we have tried multiple things. When we first decided to try a genset we bought a Honda 2000 and it would run a small ac on our small travel trailer. When we got a bigger rig with a bigger ac it wouldn't run it so I bought a Honda 3000 and quickly found out it was too big and heavy to move in and out of the truck. so I bought a second Honda 2000 and the connecting device and it ran the bigger ac unit. The next rig had a gas onboard Onan genset and it worked great, running both ac units and everything else. Unfortunately if gas was left in the 16 gal tank too long the ethanol evaporates and varnishes the carberator and the genset will not start and needs servicing. Our current unit has a propane genset and it is as nice as the gas and doesn't have the issues of ethanol gas. The downside is you need at least two 40 lb propane tanks. Propane is less energy dense than gas or diesel. The answer to your question will depend on your power needs and the frequency of use. Someone who boondocks a lot and needs a lot of power would likely be better off with a onboard genset with propane or diesel. Smaller power needs and/or less frequent use might be better served with a pair of quiet portables like the Honda 2000. Lastly there is that nagging issue of cost! A bigger onboard unit is going to cost a lot, especially if the rig isn't really already prepped. Might be cheaper to park in the CG and drive out to the boonies. Good luck in your decision making process, Best Wishes, Jay

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As has been said, there are no perfect answers. I have a small diesel genset. The advantages are that it pulls from the main (100 gallon) truck tank and sips fuel. The disadvantages are that it is heavy and noisy - way noisier than my truck even. At least if someone ever wants to get in a generator noise war with me I know I can win. :)

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The first thing I would do is get at least one more battery installed.

The second thing I would do is bite the bullet and get the largest gen set you can afford installed by some folks who know what they’re doing. Provided of course, your trailer is in fact prepped for a generator. As someone else said, if it’s truly prepped for a generator, it will have a compartment, most often in the front of the coach due to the weight, with electrical box and wires already installed.

A 5500 watt is fairly common, but there are slightly larger units that will allow everything electrical in the coach to be turned on and not be a problem power-wise.

 

We have a 5500, and we (the dear wife) need to watch having too many things turned on when both A/C’s are running. Everything she needs to make herself presentable (in her opinion) can be on (that means every single light source, hair dryer, hair iron, coffee pot, etc), but hit the microwave for a few seconds and the breaker will trip. Yes, I’ve tried getting her to change her ways… it just aint gonna happen. So, I just deal with it.

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My recommendation is a little bit of everything.......

 

1)A decent sized solar system (400+ watts depending on your loads )for when the sun is shining. This will minimize generator run time to only when it's cloudy for a few days OR if you want to run big appliances for hours.

2) A decent sized battery bank 400+ Ah

3) Magnum MSH3012M hybrid inverter or equivalent for a good sized charger of 125A+. This will allow your solar and battery bank to boost a smaller generator to run your bigger appliances while keeping the generator weight, cost, run time, and noise down.

4)A smallish generator or a pair of them....My preference is the Honda 2000 for those times when you want to run the a/c all day. The amount of money saved over the big built in Onan should cover the cost of the other components of the system.

 

My setup for the past few years has been 1110 Watts solar, 750Ah battery bank, Magnum MSH3012M, and a 1000w Yamaha generator for backup. This allows for total independence and quiet when boondocking. I think we are up to 7 nights in a park over the past 5 years of aggressive camping habits!

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  • 1 month later...

 

Jasonob

I would agree with Tanker dude, I would at least have a pare of group 27 deep cycle batteries. We

are using an Onon 5500 gas genset for 13 years now. I have logged 1300 hrs. on it without issue. I do change oil an filter at 100 our intervals and gas filter at 500 hrs. and air filter as needed. I also

put a can of "Sea Foam" in the fuel tank ever other fill up or at least before I lay up the trailer

for an extended time. I run our generator for long periods of time. Been boondocking for the last week and run the gen set for 14 hrs. on at least one day without a problem.

In your case at this point 1. additional and larger batteries. 2. 2 Honda 2000ie gensets or at

least 1 for starters and expand as needed.

I live by the premise that an RV without a gen set is like a car without a motor. We have been doing extended RVing since 1976. You don't have to use it but you can't replace it when needed.JMHO.

 

HAPPY TRAILS

roadfitter

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  • 9 months later...

The Yamaha 2400 EF2400i  literature states that it is designed for this use.  Our StarCraft TT is a 2015 with a Coleman Mach AC.

https://www.yamahamotorsports.com/generator/models/inverter-ef2400ishc/features

"This model boasts High Current output which is designed specifically to increase motor starting capability and to improve air conditioner starting. This High Current model starts most high efficiency 13,500 btu AC in temperatures up to 110° F."

I like the Honda 2000 (just looked at them yesterday), but I'm not seeing that they are rated to run these size AC's.  The paired/parallel option is great except for the cost.  Any Yamaha users who can confirm suitability for running AC (with refer and hot water using propane)? 

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