Do you use a generator when off grid?

Converting Cargo Trailers into TTTs

Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby jay87lx » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:34 pm

How many of you use a generator, like a small Honda to power up if you arent at a campsite with shore power.
Do you still use a few batteries to keep the gen from constantly running?
How loud are they?
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby flboy » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:55 pm

jay87lx wrote:How many of you use a generator, like a small Honda to power up if you arent at a campsite with shore power.
Do you still use a few batteries to keep the gen from constantly running?
How loud are they?


I use solar with 3 Deep Cycle Batteries and a 1500W pure sine wave inverter for primary power and use the small Honda 2000 Generator only to run the Air Conditioner or in situations where I need to supplement the solar like last weekend wher my spot only had partial sun.

I use 12VDC for all lighting , fans and etc.. The Inverter provides AC power from the batteries to run the fridge and any other household appliance I take with me.

The Honda 2000 is the standard for quiet generators.. all the others compare to the Honda. They are very quite and do not disturb others nearby. I can't hear mine when it is running in the bed of my truck when I am inside the trailer.
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby jay87lx » Mon Nov 13, 2017 8:58 pm

flboy wrote:
jay87lx wrote:How many of you use a generator, like a small Honda to power up if you arent at a campsite with shore power.
Do you still use a few batteries to keep the gen from constantly running?
How loud are they?


I use solar with 3 Deep Cycle Batteries and a 1500W pure sine wave inverter for primary power and use the small Honda 2000 Generator only to run the Air Conditioner or in situations where I need to supplement the solar like last weekend wher my spot only had partial sun.

I use 12VDC for all lighting , fans and etc.. The Inverter provides AC power from the batteries to run the fridge and any other household appliance I take with me.

How long can u run the fridge or ac on battery/inverter . Then how long does it take the gen to recharge the batteries?
Sorry for newb questions. How loud is the gen?
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby Bill n Robi » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:19 am

Dual batteries, portable solar, 2400w Yamaha converted to run on propane.
Can't always count on sunshine in the woods. Sometimes too hot in desert. Sometimes generator hours are limited in campgrounds. I camp to enjoy myself and relax, not to suffer but I don't like to interfere with other's enjoyment either. Mine is same dB as Honda, no fumes because of propane , mounted securely on the tongue for antitheft and can not hear it inside.

My 80w panel is not enough, but I got such a deal that I live with it's limitations. I installed a battery switch so I can charge one with the solar while the other is on the generator so I don't have to run more than an hour a day - unless we need the Air Conditioner.
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby tony.latham » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:35 am

We avoid campgrounds for several reasons. One of which is the thrum of generators. Camping in a noisy environment makes little sense. (But in Idaho/Montana you don't need an air conditioner to camp. Just more elevation. So I'm spoiled.)

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Solar is dead quiet and I have yet to run out of fuel for my panels. :applause:

Tony
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby flboy » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:11 pm

In run out of fuel for the panels every night. ;-)

The panels only work half the time or less depending on the time of year, location, cloud cover and etc., so the trick is to have the proper panel and battery ratio (for the most likely conditions) or just have a small generator to supplement as needed. I chose the later because panel/battery formula has too many variables for me. I got it close enough for the best circumstances and use the generator as needed for the other times (usually only a few hours after the sun goes down to top off the batteries for the night.)


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Current Build CTC:
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=65498
Old CTC Build (sold)
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=50647
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FASF-x9ofMY - Interior
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb-pvBbyyBs - Exterior
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby Rainier70 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 7:50 pm

[quote="Bill n Robi"]Dual batteries, portable solar, 2400w Yamaha converted to run on propane.


May I ask where you got your conversion kit? Thanks
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby McDave » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:08 pm

I have my generator on the tongue. Also a 100ah deep cycle that can be charged from Tow Vehicle, power center on shore power and power center with generator. Solar is coming soon! I have a Norcold refrig., LED lighting, Vent Fan, TV, Stereo, work lights, motion sensing light and pump, and a small 150wt inverter. The fridge has priority and I could go a few days without charging if it was only fridge or when ambient temps are low. But right now I need to charge for about 1hr in am and then I "top it off" for 1hr in evening. I hate to run it before 10am or after 7pm if I can see other people around. Since I need it for Air Cond mostly I charge off Tow Vehicle early am or late night. I definitely need more battery Ah and plan is for 300-400 ah and 300 wt of panel. My gen. is big and loud but it is what I have, in fact I have 2 of them. I managed to quiet it down a lot but it is 11hp Tecumseh and the engine just rattles and echo's between T.V. and trailer. Tow vehicle isn't a lot quieter but no engine noise just low tone dual exhaust. If I just need to charge in am I use TV. In evenings it's HOT. So I run gen. and Air Cond and charge battery, watch the news, power any 120v stuff needed, etc. but only for about 1 hr. after sundown it cools off and if interior is cooled off we're good.

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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby Socal Tom » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:52 pm

I’ve got a 1kw Honda generator an 85Ah battery recently added 100w of solar. All m6 lights are LED, my main power drain is a Waeco fridge, I can go about 24 hours before the battery charge gets in the yellow zone. 6 good hours of sun will keep me going indefinitely. The generator is for weekends I need AC, or if the weather forecast looks like I won’t have the sun I would need.
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby daveesl77 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:04 am

We have the HF Predator 2000 watt generator. Almost as quiet as the Honda, weighs 50# full and will run about 10+ hrs on 1 gal of gas running everything we have. We also have 150 watts of solar, 80ah battery and 1200 watt inverter. Finally, we have the link up to charge the battery from the minivan.

On our last trip, most of the 2 weeks were spent in heavy forest, so almost no direct sun. In addition, at that time, we only had a PWM controller for the solar (bad idea to save money and have since purchased an MPPT), so while the solar would charge, it wasn't great. We were in NFS campgrounds in WV in October, so very few people. We'd run the gennie about 50' away from the campsite, in the woods. People who did walk by were amazed that we had a generator running, as they said they could not hear it at all. Our primary power draw is the dorm fridge we run, but a few times we'd run a 100 watt crock pot and/or the little microwave. Yes, I love camping and I also love being comfortable.

Now that we have the solar in a better setup and if we have a reasonable amount of sun, we'd probably not run the generator. We already know that in Florida sun, the panels/battery combo let us run indefinately with no other source of power. The generator makes it really nice though. One or two pulls on the starter rope, and bingo we have more power than we can possibly use with our setup. This included running the fridge, the icemaker, the crockpot, battery charger, laptop and whatever. The Predator still barely got above an idle. Oh, and at night a couple of times, when we would be using more 120 than normal (inverter) and did not want to run the gennie, we'd just connect the van to the camper and charge the battery with the van.

My vote is for solar and a small generator. Add in charge circuit from the tow vehicle and then you are covered for almost anything.

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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby flboy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 7:35 am

Agree... good solar setup and a small and quiet generator will cover you in any scenario and be real efficientt.

If you can only have one or the other to start due to budget, I'd start with the good batteries and generator then add solar later... not the other way around.

That is due to solar only being available half the time and you never know where you will park and if you will have good sun all day.

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Current Build CTC:
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=65498
Old CTC Build (sold)
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=50647
YouTube Videos of Finished Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FASF-x9ofMY - Interior
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb-pvBbyyBs - Exterior
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby Bill n Robi » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:59 am

Rainier70 wrote:
Bill n Robi wrote:Dual batteries, portable solar, 2400w Yamaha converted to run on propane.


May I ask where you got your conversion kit? Thanks


https://www.motorsnorkel.com/
I actually looked into them to buy a kit, found out it was cheaper to buy the generator from them, already converted, than to buy just the generator local. The best part is the mixture control. All generators sold in the US are preset jets to sealevel by order of the EPA. When you get up in altitude, gas is not efficient and doesn't burn clean. The output from propane is water and CO2 and no smell. Also maintenance is almost eliminated. No cleaning out old gas or getting sour fuel... You can still run it on gas if you need to. Propane is not as efficient as gas, approx. 4.5 propane to 5 of gas but so far we have had no issues.

Get on their mailing list and you will get discounts...
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby tony.latham » Wed Nov 15, 2017 10:13 am

It's true. Solar only works half the time. Kinda like a generator that only works while it's running. That's why you use whatever system you've selected to charge your battery.

Speaking of which, our battery is topped off when we arrive since it's charging while towing. We're good for three days without putting the panels out.

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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby flboy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:37 pm

I am a huge solar fan and have 500W of panels and would only use solar if I didn't need the AC in Florida or could get away with it. The point is , you can crank up a generator when needed. You can't crank up the sun if it is not already available... so a backup of some sort is good to have if you need the power for whatever reason.

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Don (Flboy)

Current Build CTC:
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=65498
Old CTC Build (sold)
viewtopic.php?f=42&t=50647
YouTube Videos of Finished Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FASF-x9ofMY - Interior
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb-pvBbyyBs - Exterior
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Re: Do you use a generator when off grid?

Postby SilverStreaker » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:54 pm

jay87lx wrote:How many of you use a generator, like a small Honda to power up if you arent at a campsite with shore power.
Do you still use a few batteries to keep the gen from constantly running?
How loud are they?

I bought my generator for tent camping about 2 years ago. :)
Although, I've bought batteries for my trailer and solar is in the near future, my generator will always be included in our outings. I've got a WEN 56200i 2000-Watt that I found on Amazon. I haven't compared it side by side to a Honda but it is very quite. I've used a decibel app on my phone in the past and recall the numbers were inline with what I've seen for Honda's.
A lot of the campgrounds we frequent have quite times at night but as long as there wasn't someone in the campsite right next to us I ran the generator most of, if not all night long and have not had any issues.
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