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How much do you use your Generators?


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Not sure where to put this so I will start in the General area.


We have been living fulltime in our 38' 5er for about 6 years. In saying that we have only moved it 3 times. We are now getting ready to start traveling. Over the next two years we plan on visiting at least 25 states. On many of our stops we plan on volunteering and or workamping for at least a month. Maybe some places up to 4 or 5 months.


I am making sure that the 5er and truck are all ready to make the trip, but I have some questions.


I have only two 6 volt batteries in my 5er, I am thinking of changing them up, making them 12 Volt batteries. Yes they will be deep cycle batteries. Several question come to mind about this up grade.

  1. All thing being equal why do they use 6 volt batteries, is it just the cost?

IF 2 - 6V batteries are at 75 Amps you have to run them in series = 12 V at 75 A 900 W

2 - 12V Batteries at 75Amps you then run them in parallel = 12V at 75A 1800W

So all things being equal it would seem you get more bang for your buck running 12 volt batteries. I do understand the cost will be much different for 12V batteries over the 6V batteries. What am I missing.


Next issue I am wrestling with is should I get a generator or two?

Questions that come to mind are:

  1. Noise? Thinking about going with two Honda 2000W running them in parallel
  2. How often would I use them? We are not big fans of boondocking so my thought is we would most likely use them over night while traveling between locations. So if that is the case is it worth spend $2000 buck, I know only I can answer that question but I am wrestling with is up to 3 or 4 night on the road once a month would I use them that much? While no one is going to have an answer what I want can you at least share with me your experiences?
  3. Would I be better off getting a much bigger generator which would make quite a bit more noise and try to install a muffler and extend it down below the bed of the truck as well as maybe building a Noise hampering box, One concerns about the box is allowing heat to dissipate and also access for refueling and maintenance.

I guess the last question is with all of this is it worth it to try to get any expanded fuel take for my truck? I have been trying to consider all my options and I don't want to get a lot of nice stuff just because I can. I currently have a 24 gal tank on my truck.


Your thoughts?


Thanks in advance for your advice. This is really our first time of going out on the road as the time we have spent living it is was 4 years at one location and then a little less that 2 years at another location.


Sonny Theobald

2009 Carriage Cameo

2008 Chevy 3500 Dually


Loving God and Serving People

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The batteries rating is in AMP hours for RV use and 6v will have more. Link will give you info on 6v vs 12V

12V side of RVing



We are not big fans of boondocking

Your present 2 6V batteries should work fine for that. If they are working fine. Why spend money for 12v that are not needed.


Generators will be needed if you plan to overnight without hook ups if you want to run the AC. For $2,000 plus fuel $$ that would be a lot of nights in a Passport America campground.


I like full hook ups overnight and a Passport America campgrounds 50% off work for me when traveling Full time.

As I stop around 3-4Pm and stay until 7-8AM. Too many hours for me to run the generator and would cost me more in fuel then the PA campground.


When Full time slow down in miles per day and smell the roses. :) Where ever your destination is. It will still be then when you get there. 1 day, several days, week or weeks later.

For me 300-350 miles is a big day.


Getting a bigger fuel tank/bed mounted would be a good Idea.

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For your circumstances of not boondocking, I would recommend trying to do without a generator and see how it goes. You can always get one later. As mentioned, staying in a RV park with electric would be a lot cheaper than an overnight with a generator.


Traveling full-timers, as a general rule, don't travel for many hours a day so they wouldn't have a need to park at WalMart in the evening. We usually drove 250 miles; 300 tops. That would put us into a campground by 2-3pm. with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the surroundings.


As for additional gas....stations are found everywhere you'd want to go so I don't see a need for that either. Again, it could be added later.


When you're in the traveling mode, there is no rush. Spend a couple days in your new area even if it's not a destination. You'll enjoy traveling when you are relaxed. Best of luck!

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Two of three of my RV's have had build in Generators and for the third I had a 2000 watt gen.

Primary use was charging batteries when I started the Refrig which may be the night before loading up if the RV was parked for awhile .

I often drive 400 miles if easy but white knuckle traffic will cut the miles a lot as we will stop at some wayside for napping or meal preparation with A/C comfort and hope the traffic has lightened a bit.

The most important function is a backup to some disaster or Electrical failure. I like my morning coffee, If it an electrical outage due ice or extreme winds you have to options Generator or move. But a small Generator is a lot of comfort in my living.



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  • All thing being equal why do they use 6 volt batteries, is it just the cost?
IF 2 - 6V batteries are at 75 Amps you have to run them in series = 12 V at 75 A 900 W

2 - 12V Batteries at 75Amps you then run them in parallel = 12V at 75A 1800W

So all things being equal it would seem you get more bang for your buck running 12 volt batteries. I do understand the cost will be much different for 12V batteries over the 6V batteries. What am I missing.

If you look closely, a 6 volt battery will have roughly twice or more amp-hours capacity as a similar sized 12 volt battery, making the total capacity of a pair of 6 volt batteries equal or better than a pair of 12 volt batteries.


The advantages to using a pair of 6 volt batteries versus a pair of 12 volt batteries are mechanical - you have fewer connections to go bad and only one way for current to flow through the batteries. This means with a pair of 6 volt batteries, all of the cells get charged and exercised at the same rate. A pair of 12 volt batteries divide the current flow between them. If everything is perfectly matched, each battery will receive 50% of the charging current and will contribute 50% of the current to the loads. But if anything alters the balance, one battery will work harder than the other, reducing the overall capacity and shortening the battery's life.


A pair of 6 volt batteries have half as many cells as a pair of 12 volt batteries, so for a similar total number of amp-hours, the individual 6 volt cells will be twice as large as the equivalent 12 volt cells. Bigger is better in deep cycle use, leaving more room for thicker plates, more acid, etc.


Finally there's the cost comparison. Most golf carts use 6 volt batteries for the advantages stated above, and they are a huge market, leading to efficiencies of scale that bring down the cost of a pair of 6 volt batteries compared to their 12 volt equivalents.


If you're going to switch to AGM batteries, going with 12 volt batteries is fine, since you won't have the cell watering or corrosion issues that can cause trouble with a pair of wet cell 12 volt batteries. But if you're staying with wet cells, I'd recommend staying with 6 volt batteries.

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Let me comment upon a different part of your plan, if I might. As one who has done a lot of RV volunteer positions, I'd point out that there are some state parks that will accept a volunteer for as short a period as one month, but few if any federal positions are so short and I've not heard of any paid positions that would allow a commitment of only one month.


On the battery question, Lou has already given you a very good answer that pretty much sums up what I'd have said as well.

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Here is our experience

When we started we had a 5th wheel. 2 6volt deep cell batteries and a Honda 2000 watt Genny. We used the Genny while boondocking every couple years in Quartzsite for a couple weeks, to charge our batteries if staying in a federal park with no hookups, etc. We never ran our 15btu ac unless on electric hookup. We did stop at WalMarts and were quite happy with a quiet evening. Use the gas stove for all the cooking etc. Of course we did not do this in weather requiring the AC. If it was cold enough we ran a small "Mr Buddy" heater until bedtime. We did not run the Genny in Walk Mart. It stayed locked up out of site. No use inviting trouble.

Our dually had a 35gal tank and we never ever needed an extra fuel tank. Since 200 miles a day is our limit we would fill up every day when we stopped


With our MH we still don't use the Genny all that much doing an overnight.

So I'd stick with what you have for awhile

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I'll just relay my generator experience. We started with a Honda EU3000. I got it because I wanted to be able to run the AC as well as everything else. In reality it barley ran the AC and sucked a lot of fuel trying to do it. Also, we never really needed the AC. So., we had this very large generator that had to be loaded on a rack off the rear of the camper and required 2 of us to load and unload due to it's weight. I decided to sell it and then got a Yamaha 2000. This one is small enough to easily move myself and fit's nicely in the storage compartment. We have to be a bit careful of what's running and plugged in when using the microwave but other than that all is well. I also figure if I ever need to go back to AC I can get a second 2000 and run them together.

We do a TON of boon docking. We are out here right now and have been for a week. Between the Honda or Yamaha 2000 you can't go wrong.

Of course if you just want to keep the lights on at night then solar is also and option.

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We carry a Honda EU3000 converted to propane and in 4 years only used it once for about a hour. The thought on propane was the fuel never goes bad and we already carried propane bottles for the camper anyways. With a diesel truck, we have no reason to carry gas with us and probably wouldn't have gas with us anyway when needed. At 80 pounds, it's not light.

We also carry a 110 gal fuel tank in the 8' dually pickup box. The tank is expensive in the $1,200 cost range but well worth it. Right now we filled up in lower Mich a month ago for $1.99 and should be able to make it to Grand Forks, ND, 2 months later on that tank. Whereas fuel in North Mich is running $2.39. A $40 savings adds up over time. Also with a full tank of fuel, you eliminate fuel worries for the next 1400 miles. When you are done using the tank, you can sell it on CL and get some of your investment back.


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I have the 2 6v Trojans and on our last two 4 day dry camping trip ,I have not had to use my generator at all. we have the led lights and are aware of saving power but I will listen to the radio a lot during the day,watch TV for a 1/2 hr. or so and do what ever we want for the most part. Our friends who have the 12 v. seem to running there gen a lot though albeit I think they watch more TV than us. We do use an inverter though. HTH


Forgot thats with charging all devices throughout the trip(tablets,Ipod and phones)

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I, too, have a 2008 Chevy K3500 diesel dually. My fuel tank is 35+ gallons. Is your truck a short bed? As far as an additional fuel tank goes - I want one myself, just to be able to buy fuel when I want at the price I would like to believe is lower cost. I have a Yamaha 3000SEIB, a little heaver than the Hondas mentioned above. I use it every once in a while, but it also provides backup (through a transfer switch) to our S&B during hurricane season. I will probably up date to two 6 Volt batteries at batt replacement time.



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I am not sure where you currently live or where you are traveling, but you might want to know that there is a big difference in daytime to nighttime temperatures in most states west of the Mississippi. In Michigan, where I am from, during the summer it takes a long time to cool down in the evenings because of the humidity.


However, in most western states, it can be 85 degrees up until sunset, but as soon as that sun goes over the horizon, the temps start to drop really fast, so you will end up two hours after sunset with 65 degree temps, and might even make it down to 50 degrees by early morning. The result is that in western states, I tend to run the AC in the daytime, but end up running the heater at night!


Most of us full or mostly full-timers tend to schedule our trips so we stay in moderate temperatures, which also reduces the need to run the AC in the evening. Just something to think about. Also, my limit is about 200 miles per day, with a day or two exploring an area between driving days, even when I am on my way somewhere. Leave yourself enough time between stops so you can explore and stop at places you never knew were there, which is the whole point of traveling.

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It all depends. Not full timers. 7-8 weeks out of the year, 5000 miles total. I have a 5500W genny and when we are traveling and pull over I fire it up to run the AC, micro etc. When we get to/depart a camp site I run it while setting up, breaking down. We are now 3 years plus and I have 100 hours on the unit. Would not want to do without.

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Would help to put in Topic label that you are talking about a 5th wheel. We use our generator all the time while traveling down the road, to run the big A/C when it is 90+ outside. But that is totally different from what you are actually asking, so our comments won't be appropriate.

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When we traveled in a 5er I bought and used a Boliy 3600SI invertor genset. It weighs 77# ,with continuous output of 3,000W. Plenty of wattage to power a large air conditioner + lighting+ microwave oven.Compare the specs to Honda, Yamaha, Champion, and all other portable gensets. I've had mine since 2008.


Keep in mind, most dry-camping areas have quiet hours where you cannot run a genset. It is impractical to try to run an air conditioner with batteries for a power source.

Batteries, todays AGM 12V true deep-cycle battery can provide as many amp/hrs as 2 AGM 6V batteries, when you hook 2 6V batteries together you do not multiply amp/hrs x 2. When you hook 2 12V batteries together you DO multiply amp/hrs X number of batteries.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Quality deep cycle batteries are made by several manufacturers. I like Trojan either in 6v or 12v. There is not much difference between them and remember a 12v is just two 6v in one six cell case. The chemistry and physics are the same, your math is not quite correct as the guys have pointed out.


I base whether to go 6 or 12v on the amount of space I have and the Ah I need and which battery would give me the max for what I want. So let's use a common battery tray size, 27. You can get six volts in 27's or 12v in 27. So now the question is how tall, high is the battery compartment. Trojan makes a great 115# J185H 12v that is 18" tall and 215Ah. They also make a great size 27 6v that is 95# and 360Ah and 15 - 16" tall. These are true deep cycle for industrial applications such as fork lifts, floor machines etc. in my old coach I had room for 3 size 27's and 24" of height. I went with the 3 12 volts, 460Ah. 7 years later they are still going strong. On the new coach I have room for 3 27's but not the height - about 20" so I went with 2 360Ah 6 volts. They are on their 3 Rd year.


Generators: 4,000 watt onboard but 480 watts of solar charges the 360Aah batteries just fine each day, I use about 30 to 40 amps per day. Takes about 2 hours to replace that used the day before and I get a complete adsorption cycle = longer battery life.


I know several people in 5'ers who use 2 2,000 watt quiet generators, in tandem when needed and are very pleased. These are becoming very popular around here. But, as has been pointed out almost every campground I have been in including USFS and National Parks have quiet hours, no generators. So if you can't plug in and need AC you have some decisions to make. If you get a huge battery bank you need the charge capacity to recharge it through the adsorption phase, unless you like buying batteries.


If using a generator you need a converter - charger capable of restoring your batteries. For most 30 amp systems 4,000 watt is the magic number. For 50 amp systems 7,000 watt or 1 AC and 4,000 watt.


We just did a 7 day stay at 7,000' , partial shade, each morning we had 12.7 volts (full charge) and never used the generator. The solar would get up to about 22 -24 amps, theoretical is 27. Solar is quiet.


Life is tough!

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We have done the same sort of "gig" you are talking about. For 12 years we have traveled, volunteering in State Parks, National Parks, Church Camps etc. The longest we stay in one place is probably 2-3 months and what is usual is 1 month to six weeks.


We have been VERY blessed during our time doing this.


In reference to the generator question, the biggest use we have is

  • stopping long the side of the road to have lunch. We may run the gen to make coffee, heat up our meal, run the A/C, to stay a little cool.
  • AND several times we will run it when we have had to charge our batteries -- once when the serpentine belt broke and another when the alternator went pooey.

Both of these time we were in the BOONDOCKS and if we hadn't of been able to do this, we might have bee marooned along the side of the roads.


Perhaps one "Honda type would do it. IDK. I DO know that 75% of the time we have used it, I was VERY glad to have it. IOf course my situation was a little different. We have a motor home and it came with it.


We have also used the generator when the electricity went out in the campground we were staying in a freak ice storm broke down many high-wires and it took several days before the lines were R&Red. This was again a very rural park and it was good to have heat & lights.


Make the best decision you can, have fun and BE BLESSED!

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To the OP,


Here is the generator we're planning to buy: http://www.championpowerequipment.com/products/inverters/100263-3100w-3400w-dual-fuel-inverter-generator/


Costs less than a single Honda 2000W and should be able to handle all our needs. Also, can use both gas and propane (propane is better for us as we want to avoid having to carry a 3rd kind of fuel around -- our tow vehicle will be a diesel -- and also because propane doesn't turn into gello while in extended storage gunking tanks, carburetors, etc).





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