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Old 01-16-2009, 08:53 PM   #1
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al_in_cedar
What size generator?

Hi,
I have a new (to me) 1985 13' Sunline and I would like to get a generator for 'boondocking'. Actually, I would like to set it up better specifically for boondocking...

I have a battery, but what else should I get to prepare better for the kind of camping I would like to do.

In any case, how big should my generator be if at minimum, I would like to be able to keep the the heater working for a few days if necessary.

thanks in advance. Any other boondocking mods you can think of would be appreciated as well.

THANKS
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:55 AM   #2
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Hello AL!

Others will likely chime in, but here's what I would recommend for boondocking.

If you're planning to use electricity alot while dry camping, you'll probably need to add to your camper's 12-volt battery reserves. A fully charged single battery provides me with power for lights, fans, the radio and the water pump for an average weekend with no problems IN WARMER WEATHER. In the colder months where you need the furnace, the blower on the furnace demands alot of juice and you could run the single battery down quickly if you use the furnace alot over a weekend. So I would recommend adding a SECOND 12-volt battery. I would also advise you to get the most robust 12-volt batteries you can afford/fit into the battery tray on your coach. You won't regret that expense.

A small generator (800-1000 watts) can provide you with the ability to run all the above things AND a good battery charger to recharge your battery bank. That can come in VERY HANDY if you are dry camping for a longer period of time.

If you're wanting to run 110-volt items while dry camping, like TV's and DVD's and the air conditioner, coffee makers, etc... then you'll need that generator. The small size I mentioned above will run many of the normal household items you may be wanting to operate, but I'd prefer to have a bit MORE POWER and go with a 2000 watt generator. These can run everything on your coach EXCEPT maybe the air conditioner.

Of course if you want/need that conditioned air, you will need a BIGGER generator... something on the order of 3000 watts.

Remember that generators can be THIRSTY creatures, so plan for fuel storage.

Remember that generators can be NOISY creatures, so keep your neighbors in mind (and any campground rules concerning the use of generators) when running that generator.

Dry camping usually means not having water or sewer conections at your site. You will need a way to fill your onboard fresh water storage (or refill, as the case may be). You may need to consider FILTERING that water, too. For extended dry camping, you may need to DUMP the gray water tank more than just as you are departing the campground, so you'll need to get a portable tank (Tote Tank) to carry the gray water from your coach to the dump station for those mid-trip runs.

I am certain others (like Pat) can provide even more ideas for boondocking than I ever could. Good Luck and Have Fun camping in your Sunline!
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Old 01-17-2009, 08:04 AM   #3
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Generator

The size generator required depends on what you want to run. Our goal is to run the coffee pot, charge the battery and our electric refrige. Our generator is a TG-1200 from Northerntool.com.

It weighs 41 pounds and is about a 1*1*1 foot on a side. It is a two cycle generator, relatively quiet, capable of 1000 watts continuous output and 1200 watts peak. As well it has a 12 volt output for directly charging the battery. It costs $129. I have seen it being sold at some Walmarts and Peps Auto. I bought it due to its size, low cost and the great reviews on the Nothern site. We have a small trailer and it's worked well for us.

In addition to the Generator we have added a 1200 watt inverter to our little rig and a 75 watt Inverter. We use the smaller inverter when we're Boondocking and want to run just the Satellite receiver and our LCD TV.

In our travels we've seen two used Honda Generators, 1000 watt, for $300. This is rated as the best small RV generator though new it is comparitively expensive, more than you paid for your trailer.

If you want to run an air conditioner you will have to run a much larger generator, possibly 3000 watt due to the high starting currents of air conditioners.

Norm Milliard
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Old 01-17-2009, 01:40 PM   #4
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If you talk to enough folks, you'll probably discover that the overall favorite is either a Honda or Yamaha 2K unit. Most people with full size TT's & 5er's prefer the 2K models because they can run a microwave or hair dryer and other appliances that are rated at 1500 watts. The 1K models won't do that.

The other advantage of a 2K model is that you can run more than one thing at a time, although the microwave and the hair dryer at the same time are pushing it...

We dry camp at least 30 days a year in NY State Parks usually in blocks of 2 weeks or more so we tend to rely on the generator to keep the coach batteries charged, along with other portable devices as well as run 110vac appliances.

We have a friend who bought an Airstream Bambi and then went out and got a 1K Honda. After just a few days of use, he started telling us about the limitations he was discovering and that he wished he'd spent a bit more to get the 2K model. His experience seems to be a fairly common one among the folks we know and meet along the way.

Another advantage of the Honda eu2000i is that it delivers clean power that is safe to use for computers and other delicate electronics.

We've brought the generator along on various outdoor events, and had plenty of power to run whatever was needed.

One final thought: we also rely on our Honda 2K for power at home during power outages. It has enough oompf to keep the home refrigerator going plus a few lights and more so that we can resume a reasonably normal existance. Our stove is propane, but needs 110vac to control the gas safety switch. Won't run at all without 110vac. We heat with wood, but rely on a small 110vac blower to distribute warm air throughout the house. I would not be happy with a 1K unit during an extended power outage.

For boondocking, an adequate water supply is a must. Plus you need to be able to get it to your rig and then into your water system. We carry a 6 gallon water tote all the time plus 200' of white RV water hose. The state parks we camp in have water spigots every few sites, and I can generally reach the spigot with that amount of hose. The 6 gallon tote is a good alternative if you just need a few gallons here and there, but if you're doing showers, etc., carrying a full tote of water gets old real fast.

For extreme dry camping, we have 3 additonal 5 gallon water totes available to us.
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Old 01-23-2009, 12:47 PM   #5
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All of the comments posted earlier I do agree with. We have the Yamaha 2400 and are very happy with it. We purchased it so it could run the Trailer, especially the A/C and to use as backup power at home. If you plan on using the Generator to run an A/C unit, I believe you will find the Yamaha 2400 was designed with that in mind. In fact, from what I understand, it will run between 80% and 90% of the 13,500 BTU units currently on the market. With that said, since your trailer is a pre 2000 model, you may need to have a soft start kit installed in the A/C unit if you want to be able to run the A/C on your trailer.
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Old 01-31-2009, 01:10 PM   #6
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We have two Honda EU2000i and they work flawlessly! I'd recommend them to anyone. Havent owned a Yamaha, but everyone I talk with that have one love them like us Honda owners love ours.

If all you were going to do was use the generator to recharge the batteries, then just go with a small unit like Norm recommended or if you're going to be using it all the time, pay a little more and get the reliability of the Honda EU1000i

Our Honda 2000 will run the a/c, but it doesnt like it. We got the parrellel kit and have a second model if we need it, but I'm acutally thinking this was a waste as we've used it once in Triple digit heat while camping in Death Valley, other wise it's just sitting in the bed of the truck.

A good set of batteries, especially 6-volts parrelleled or even better yet, a few solar panels to recharge the bank of batteries will probably save you money in the long run.

Check out AMSolar if you want to see about seriously setting your rig up for boondocking. A full solar set-up will run you a bit of money, but if you were going to be boondocking fulltime, then they'll pay itself off in a year or two. Otherwise, just go with a generator and recharge your battery bank.

First thing first is a good set of batteries. I'd recommend AGM (Abosorbed Glass Matt) as they are maintenance free, sealed and require nothing to maintain them. We've had our bank of Lifeline 6 volts for two years and never once had a problem.

We came home in July of 2008 and up to that point, we had boondocked 151 days of the year. That was up from 2007 where we had boondocked 113 nights total for the year.
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Old 01-31-2009, 02:29 PM   #7
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Batteries

I'm not an expert on Batteries but we have a pair of 6 volt Trojan 105's in our motorhome and they are now 12 years old and have never blink. They do require the occasional addition of distilled water.

I have been amazed by their longevity. We use our motorhome about 7 months of the year and never a blink.

Norm Milliard
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Old 01-31-2009, 03:38 PM   #8
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Hey Norm, that sounds like you have a stellar set of batteries. I have talked to and heard from more RVers who have year after year worked on and maintained their batteries before they finally moved up to the AGM's

Once they do, they all swear by them for their maintenance free longivity and strong power output
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Old 01-31-2009, 04:31 PM   #9
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Amazed

I'm amazed myself; 12 years is a long time for a battery. I do have a Wizard charging controller on my batteries that bumps the charging voltage up to 14.1 volts every now and than.

They are the original batteries with our 1997 Bounder motorhome.

Thanks for the info on the solar panels. I intend to get some with our next trailer. I also looked at the mat batteries, expensive.

Norm
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:04 PM   #10
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Re: Batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Honda03842
I'm not an expert on Batteries but we have a pair of 6 volt Trojan 105's in our motorhome and they are now 12 years old and have never blink. They do require the occasional addition of distilled water.
That is very uncommon. We had a set of four Trojan's in our MH and just replaced them last fall. They were 5.5 years old. We always kept the water up and they were always plugged in during the summer and winter. We replaced them with sealed batteries so we don't have to bother with the filling any more.

Jon
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:39 PM   #11
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Foul SHots

You're watching a basketball game and the announcer says 'he hasn't missed a fould shot in a month' and you know a klunk is coming. Twelve years and counting does sound like a long time. I can't say I know why or that I'm doing anything different than anyone else. I do always use distilled water and they are rarely not powered, I keep them charging when we're away with the trailer or when ever it's parked.

We're hoping they outlive us.

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Old 01-31-2009, 06:31 PM   #12
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Re: Amazed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Honda03842
I'm amazed myself; 12 years is a long time for a battery. I do have a Wizard charging controller on my batteries that bumps the charging voltage up to 14.1 volts every now and than.

Norm
Norm, you are more of an expert then you think. From my experience and all I have researched, that 14.1 volt desulfate action is part of what is keeping your system alive so long. Many have a full time charger, some have a trickle charger but key to long life is good battery maintenance. It is more then just charging. Unless someone tells you or you research it many miss a few steps along the way which are actually fairly simple.

Keep the battery solution above the cells, always.
Use a float charger to keep the battery up during none use periods.
Desulfate your battery often.
Recharge before going under 40% discharge.

Those 4 steps are the cheapest things one can do to keep a battery healthy the longest.

See this article for more on the Sulfate problems and how to get extended life.
7 + years

I have a few of these Battery minders/desulfators. Doing some shopping around you can get them for like ~ $45. Campng world also has them on sale every now and then Battery Minder Plus

They use pulse technology to dissolve the sulfate crystals which is more then just rasing the voltage to the 14.2 area. But the higher voltage is part of the desulfation process.

There are other pulse technology units out now as well. Each claim Double battery life and These guys claim even more. PulseTech

Here they talk about allmost going forever See Pulse Tech FAQ no 5

Hope this helps

John
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:45 PM   #13
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Wizards

I have Inteli-Power converters in both of our Rvs. I'm not sure how they work but the seem to do the job.

The wizard cost $25. I understand the newer converters contain this function.

Norm


Inteli-Power Charge Wizard

Inteli-Power Charge Wizard
This microprocessor Charge Wizard, greatly extends battery life. Just plug it in to your Inteli-Power 9100 series Inverter/charger, making it an intelligent power control center! Four automatic operating modes including an " exclusive" desulfation mode which reduces battery sulfation. Use Charge Wizard only with Inteli-Power 9100 Series Converter/Charger with TCMS Interface. Not for use with gel-cell batteries.

Charge Wizard Module constantly monitors your RV battery. Microcomputer module automatically monitors and maintains your RV battery. Helps extend battery life while reducing maintenance. Four mode operation, plus manual override.

Boost mode constantly monitors battery for voltage drop and quickly recharges battery or boosts power when needed.
Normal mode continually monitors power usage, provides good charging capability and reduces water consumption.
Storage mode ensures battery remains charged and reduces water boil-off during storage or long periods of inactivity.
Desulfation* mode cycles every 21 hours to reduce crystal build-up on battery's lead plates.
Status indicator light signals operating mode. UL listed. USA.
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:00 PM   #14
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Truck Battery and House Battery

Another issue is that a Motorhome has house batteries, in my case two 6 volt Trojan 105s, and a 12 volt truck battery. Both of these are charged by the Charge Wizard.

In a motorhome the Truck Battery does more than starting the engine and poweriing the lights. It provides power for the stairs, the propane valve, and certain sensors.

Interestingly the Truck battery failed after about 10 years and had to be replaced while the 105s continue on.

As a side light, shortly after we bought the new battery it lept off its mount and disconnected while driving into Chaco canyon, the best set of Indian ruins we have visited, a short road but might rough.

I was amazed that a heavy battery could bounce right off the battery tray.

Go to Chaco if you can. We also recently visited the Cliff Dwellings in the Gila Mts, in NM where they really let you walk thru the ruins, at least in the off season. The Gila Mts have numerous beautiful boondocking spots on the way into or out of the gilas, particularly on the way to Silver City from the cliff dwellings (unfortunately only rigs under 20 feet are allowed on this road).

Time to stop wandering Safe travels to all,

Norm Milliard
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