Camper Community Forums banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
333 Posts
Over the years I have had several generators; I really don' like generators camping; mostly due to the noise and pollution, along with fuel, maintenance and lubrication (oil) hassles.
That said my current favorite is a small propane powered Ryobi, selected to effectively eliminate pollution and multiple fuel issues.. I have gotten great service life from Yamaha and several friends have had excellent results using Honda generators.
Be aware that most generators (even Honda and Yamaha) are made in china.
Avoid the cheap old school, inefficient, chinese generators that have to run (loudly) at full throttle to supply even 90 volts...the newer, quieter, more efficient, "inverter technology" generators with automatic throttle controls are better choices IMO.

I only bring a generator on extended expedition type trips; to recharge the Lithium phosphate (LiFePo4) batteries. For almost all camping and low power home, power failure needs I use LiFePo4 batteries that I recharge at home before the trip (for best life store them at 50% charge).
My current favorite is an easy to carry 50 amp hour Lifepo4 battery although I used a 35 amp hour, sealed, lead acid battery very successfully for 8 years or so to power a small inverter and 120 volt, LED tent lighting; however, I am very aware of, and tightly control my power usage while camping.

I have and have successfully used solar panels to charge the batteries but the transportation and use hassles almost always overwhelm the benefits. (I like cool shady campsites, far from maintained roads and shadows/shade rapidly reduce the amount of power a solar panel receives resulting in a need to baby sit the panels).. About the only time that I bring the solar is If I camp for a week or more in in treeless desert areas.

If I am going to be driving regularly (I prefer to base camp with little to no vehicle use), I have a DC to DC recharger to allow recharging from the vehicle but vehicles make poor (very inefficient) generators, IMO. also don't try to recharge a mostly discharged or nearly dead LiFePo4 battery from your car alternator, or do so very carefully, the load involved may harm or destroy the alternator.

For successful camping power It is best to list on paper your power need (in amps) and estimate the time per day that each device will beused. then multiply amps x hours for each and total the results giveing a daily power required estimate in amp hours. Be aware that lead acid batteries can be damaged if discharge much below 50% and plan aaccordingly. This can be used to estimate battery size (and solar panel requirement (multiply it time 1.5 for charging losses and don't count on much more than 6 hours of light per day. Be aware that many/most solar pannel makers over estimate their panel's output by as much as 12 times... (Caveat emptor)..
The amps column can be used to estimate watts to help size a generator.

...Hope it helps:
Enjoy!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
333 Posts
... While batteries and inverters are practical for do-it-yourselfers and some penurious technical folks...
many people are finding that portable power stations from makers like Jackery and Bluetti fill the portable power needs of folks who are less technically inclined;

A portable power station typically consists of a rechargeable battery, an inverter and a re-charger and sometimes a solar controller all packaged together in one box ... for a cost. Some include solar panels most do not.
If the one that you are looking at says that it will recharge from a vehicle; be aware that the a typical cigarette lighter plug is only good for 6 to nine amps or less.

If you feel that this might be something you are interested in; estimate your portable power needs for a typical trip in watt hours, or amp hours (add in at least 25% extra for growth or forgetfulness and start shopping...when you find an inexpensive power station make sure that they list the battery capacity in watt hours and/or amp hours (not just watts) along with the inverter capacity in amps to help prevent getting ripped off... chinese manufacturers play many games with their specifications... and peak versus continuous power/amps.

I, personally would not have much use for a portable power station that has a capacity of much less than 50 amp hours in a lithium battery powered unit. or 100 amp hours if it has a lead acid battery. I am just one person and take pains to limit/conserve my electric power use when camping. More people with more electric toys could multiply your power usage.

Don't get hung up on pure sine wave versus modified sine wave inverters; in my experience over the last 30 years or so; I have not experienced a need for a pure sine wave inverter. However if you have a need to power medical equipment you should consult the manufacturer to see if pure sine wave power is a requirement. (they will almost certainly say pure sine wave whether it i needed or not for legal reasons).

Be realistic; you are going to be camping with power from a battery, it is not unlimited and while it is possible to power microwaves, big screen TVs, electric blankets, etc in reality they need significant (much more than 50 amp hours of battery capacity and probably large(heavy) inverters to make them work for very long.
It is simply not practical to power an electric heater from batteries while camping; for significant heat I use a really good sleeping bag, or propane, the same as I use in the stove and occasionally a generator.

Electrical devices that I typically use camping;
A JBL flip 4 Bluetooth speaker; with tunes residing on my phone.
... the phone and speaker recharge from a USB port on the small inverter that is attached to the 50 AH battery...
If it rains I use my phone to read e-books from its memory (I try to camp where there is no cell or wi-fi service).
A small 120 volt in tent bug zapper (15 minutes per night, during bug season)
1 to 3 350 lumen 120 volt LED lights (0.6 amps at 12 volts each including the power draw of the inverter)
I may use a vacuum pump to vacuum re-package the foam mattress for the trip home (around 2 minutes or less)

So far I have only done test runs with the mini microwave and induction cooking hobb (they require a 1500 watt inverter and 2 - 100 amp hour LiFePo4 batteries and thus are a bit of a pain to bring.
I can bring a portable refrigerator but it needs one or both of the 100 AH batteries to run, so its normally left at home in favor of the high tech ice chest.

Enjoy!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
The Honda and Yamaha both of these are relatively quiet, roughly the same as a person conversing in normal outdoor voice with someone about 10 feet away. However, in a quiet outdoor environment, you can hear, but not necessarily understand, that person talking 50 yards or more away. Many of us dislike listening to the generator's constant drone in the quiet outdoors.
 

·
Super Moderator
5th Wheel Camper
Joined
·
219 Posts
i think a generator depends on needs, and budget. while i fully agree with the not wanting to listen to the drone of a generator, if it is planned right, one may only need to run the generator at times of great need.

i would recommend an inverter generator, if you have the money, and noise is an issue.

my plan, when my camper renovation is done, is to get a non-inverting generator that will support running the A/C in my camper, as well as charge batteries quickly. i plan on building a folding "quiet box" around the generator, as my budget just can't support an inverter generator.

if all you are doing is providing supplemental power for AC devices that don't require a lot of power, a small inverter generator may be all you need.

Honda makes a great generator, if you can afford them. Harbor Freight Tools sells some cheaper models of their own brand.

planning your generator runtime is critical if camping near other people. if you have an A/C in your camper, try limiting useage to as-needed. like if you are going for a day hike, away from the camper, and nobody will be enjoying the A/C, shut it off, as well as the generator. maybe run it long enough to cool down the camper before bedtime, and then open camper windows when the sun goes down (just a thought).
if all you are doing is charging batteries, my PowerMax PM4-100 charger/converter requires (at full output) around1200W (with a little more, for inefficiency during conversion) so for just charging batteries, in my case, i would want a generator with at least 1400W running output (not peak, that is higher watts). so i could use the HFT Predator 2000W (peak, or 1600W running) inverter generator. this is just an example.

but if i am in the mood for quiet camping, with no generator drone, several batteries and an inverter if AC power is needed, may be all i need. if you are camping around tent campers at a large campground, i would try and get by with as little generator, if any at all. in contrast, if you are camping around other RV/Campers at a campground, and they have generators running, then use as you need.

as an idea of community, check with the campground and see what they recommend, or prohibit. they may have rules about generator run schedules.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Happy Joe

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
If you look for a reliable generator for a camper trailer, motorhome, or fifth wheel should consider the Generac 7129 GP3000i. I like this generator’s PowerRush technology, delivering up to 50% more starting capacity than other portable inverter generators. It also safeguards sensitive devices and electric appliances. People will never worry about blowing up their cellphones, laptops, TVs, and other gadgets.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
333 Posts
In the decades spent using inverters and their modified sine wave electricity both camping and at home;
I have lost 2 inverters to near miss lightning strikes (always check for lighting damage to the trees before setting up your tent under them).
and one that just failed (lost its magic, bad smelling, smoke)... due to the cheap chinese capacitors used in its construction.

... not saying damage to devices can't happen just saying that it has never happened to me, and I have run devices ranging from LED and fluorescent lights through stereo systems (small and large) to a microwave oven, a portable, compressor type, refrigerator, a small induction type cooking hob, air mattress inflators/deflators and bug zappers, as well as charging cell phones, an electric razor, computers, monitors, electric power/hand tools including table saws etc. etc during remote construction and power failures along with Bluetooth speakers with no problems . I tested and use UPS's (uninterruptible power supplies) on my home computers and entertainment system (large screen TV, computer, dvd/cd player and receiver/amplifiers; which use internal modified sine wave inverters, without problem.

IMO, the issues about modified sine wave electricity are vastly over rated to scare people into paying more for, so called "pure" sine wave generation/output... don't get me wrong sine wave electricity is good; Thank you, Nicola Tesla. I just don't believe its worth paying much more to get it. (... and I intensely dislike companies and politicians that try to manipulate people through scare tactics and fear).
Modified sine wave electricity may have issues trying to run induction type motors like (probably) your home furnace fan/blower (may be noisy, if they run at all) but inverters and generators should not be expected to run them well, on modified sine wave wave electricity, due to the physics of how they work..

Enjoy!
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top