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Old 09-11-2002, 08:16 PM   #15
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I can understand some dislike of solar power, but if you are going to budget 3K for a generator to run everything you can get solar to do it all, but the AC.

We had 4 50 Watt 5AMP panels on the roof, with a 1250 WATT Trace inverter and 2 group 27 batteries. We rarely ever plugged in unless we wanted AC, and we even used our bread machine on a 4 hour cycle on full sun days! We carried a 120 volt dirt devil broom vac and it did fine. When we full timed, we tried to do so without many limitations. The solar let us do what we wanted where we wanted for the most part. One of the other great things we would do on travel days is to fill up the crock pot, plug it in, put it in the sink, fire up the inverter and drive. Hot dinner by the time we were ready to park for the night and the truck alternator did all the work.

So if power, without AC is your thing you may want to lean more about the solar systems that are available. They do cost more than the purchase price on a genset, but there is little or no maintence costs.
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Old 09-12-2002, 01:24 AM   #16
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More about cats and power

Great catbox suggestion, Pahaska. That would especially work well when I have the stinky old thing riding in the truck with me. It's a crew cab, but still not enough space to keep me far enough away from a catbox.

Have any of you left the cat(s) in the trailer while you drive? I'm afraid the movement might make her miserably sick and I would have to keep pulling over to check on her. (God, I sound like an old lady.)

And about solar... if I decide to go that way, where do I get equipped for it? If I bought the equipment, would that include set-up? I love the idea of solar vs. gas powered. And generators are big and expensive. I priced one at Costco today, turned white and walked away. I did the same at the digital cameras. And I forgot to ask you guys which kind of battery to buy. I knew to get deep cycle, and ended up with a 700 amp, 30 month guaranteed, Marine deep cycle battery for 44 bucks. I got it home and the friendly ex-husband asked if the posts were on the correct sides and Shoot! I don't know. I'll have to wait for daylight to compare it to my other one. I'm feeling dumber by the day.

Also, I'm not at all sure that the truck is charging the batteries. I didn't drive it far yesterday, but today it was all dead again and I've got it parked too far from the house for an extension cord, so I can't unhook it from the truck until I figure it out. Not having power in the trailer really shakes me up for some reason. It makes me feel so... I don't know... powerless.

Thanks again... Cheryl and stinky old Pesky Pester
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Old 09-12-2002, 02:20 AM   #17
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sites

I don't know if you're aware of this site but, it list some excellent camping sites..Plus other A/S news..
http://www.airstreamtrailers.com/
ciao
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Old 09-12-2002, 05:47 AM   #18
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Cheryl,
I do hope you plan on writing a book!
'On the road with Cheryl and stinky old Pesky Pester'

You first chapter is being written as we type.
All the best!
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Old 09-12-2002, 06:10 AM   #19
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Cat in trailer

I left the cat in the trailer just once while under way, for about a mile from a service station to a campground. She was frantic. I never did it again. I have an idea that it is pretty scary back there.

Get a real good leash and harness for the cat. You never know when something is going to happen while transferring from truck to trailer or vice versa. Once, it was a sonic boom. No way you can keep a scared cat in your arms without something to hold on to. With a leash, the cat can always get to safety under the vehicles if dogs suddenly appear.
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Old 09-12-2002, 11:56 AM   #20
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Gotta have my AC! The most I'd budget for AC would be $2,000 for a pair of Honday EU2000i generators and interconnect cable and 30A RV pigtail. But just for grins, lets compare two small (1500W) power systems.

I can get the Honda EU2000 for $859 with free shipping. It'll run wide-open at 1600W for over 4 hours on a 1 gallon tank of gas... (most owners report 8 hours) MUCH longer than that if auto-speed is enabled. But the point is, I can power everything except the AC, AND charge the batteries when the generator isn't providing full output for less than $900.

Now let's look at a 1500W Trace DR1512 (modified sine wave) with 30A transfer switch. It's $852 plus shipping at The Alternate Energy Store... about the same cost as the Honda generator. At rated output (1500W) the DR1512 will be sucking a whopping 165A from my batteries (Trace specs).

So I'll need a bank of 8 batteries (400+ lbs) to keep discharge rate down to a bit over 20A each and get about 4 hours run time (the Honda's least) at the Trace's rated output.

Now... lets talk about recharge. With the Honda, I have to walk outside and pour a gallon of gas in the tank.

On a good day, I can count on about 4 hours of peak power from sunlight out of solar panels. I'd need four 75 watt panels for 5A at 15V each per battery to recharge at 20A. So if I had an 8 battery bank (worst case Honda run time), I'd need 32 panels, which are about 2' X 4' and $500 each.

A $900 inverter, $400+ worth of batteries, and $16,000 and 256 sq ft (more than twice my roof area) of panels, plus the cost of mounts and a good sunny day everyday, and I'd have a solar system with almost the same capability as the $900 generator with a good source of gasoline every day.

This exercise in number crunchin' just shows a realistic comparison of solar energy to petroleum based (I don't work for the petrochemical industry) and why solar has never caught on.

About the most inverter I'd want on a two battery system would be a ($314 plus shipping) 500W Trace 512, which draws 43A at rated output, leaving maybe 7A from a battery pair for a couple of 12V lights while it's running at 500W, and leaving no less than 92A from a 135A vehicle alternator to charge the two vehicle batteries (diesel) and two trailer batteries while underway. It would be a nice addition to the Honda.

That would handle the Dirt Devil or other similar small appliances, such as a crock pot, but certainly not a hair dryer or microwave (I have a gas stove and oven, so the MW isn't a big issue). The big problem with this model is that the transfer switch is only 15A, so I'd have to downgrade the 20A GFCI for the kitchen/bathroom/outdoor circuit to 15A to wire it in there, where it would be most useful.

Just my thoughts and ramblings on the solar vs generator issue and inverters. Feel free to point out any errors in my thinking.
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Old 09-12-2002, 12:47 PM   #21
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You might want to check www.rvsolarelectric.com for a more realistic view. Eight (8) batteries would not be needed. According to their info, four (4) 6 volt batteries would put out over 400 amp hrs. Panels come in various sizes and some types are more efficient than others. I don't see where you would need 32 2'X4' panels according to their info. One thing that I do agree with is that two of the EU2000 Hondas wired together have been mentioned in this forum before and seem to work. Best of both worlds for me would be to use a couple 75 watt panels, an inverter and then supplement with a small generator. During warmer months, I would camp in areas that have 110 v. available to take care of the AC rather than taking along 2 generators. If the money is available, go for it.
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Old 09-12-2002, 02:01 PM   #22
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Craig,
The point of the exercise was just to show what kind of solar system would be required to equal one small generator... not necessarily to determine how much one needs. Perhaps I should've said a "fair comparison" rather than a "realistic comparison."

A battery's amp/hour rating is dependent upon discharge rate. It provides significantly fewer amp/hours at 25A discharge than it does at 5A discharge (i.e. less than the one-fifth time you might assume). And its amp/hour capacity goes down even further when a 1500W inverter is pulling 40-80+ amps per battery.

The 8 batteries I spec'd were just to get 160 or so amps at 20 amps per battery for four hours (660 amp/hours). Whether you need that much is another issue... that's what the Honda provides on a tank of gas.

If you discharge a battery at 20 amps for four hours (or at 80+ amps for somewhat less than an hour due to capacity reduction with higher current), you have to recharge it with at least 20 amps for four hours (actually about 10% more). And four hours (or 4.4) is an average estimate of best peak sun. So you need to charge EACH battery at at least 20 amps during the day if you discharge it at 20 amps for 4 hours at night. It'll take at least 4, maybe 5, panels to charge each battery at 20 amps on a good day, to put back the 80 amp/hours used per battery.

Now certainly, if you use the inverter at 1500 watts for maybe 15 minutes or so per day (42A/H) along with other usage (fans, lights, water pump, etc), you could probably get by with four 12V batteries (if you were willing to discharge them at 42A each) with one 75W 15A/5V panel each (80 amp/hour charge capacity). That's still over 3 times the cost of the generator. For battery life, I'd prefer a lower discharge rate, but as Brett testifies, you could use 2 batteries at 82 amps discharge during peak inverter use, with four 5A panels.

I'll probably stick with 120V campgrounds myself, rather than boondock and spring for dual generators OR go solar. But the thought of no AC at rallys may change my mind.
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Old 09-12-2002, 03:41 PM   #23
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Maurice,

I will agree that Air Conditioning is great. That is part of the reason I now own a Motorhome, I have a 4KW generator that I can run as needs dictate. I would not reccomed trying to run roof ait off of solar and a 2500 watt inverter. The battery bank would require its own trailer.

The only issue I would have regarding your calculations is the fact that the trace models you reference (mine was a trace DR1500?) is that they are load sensing and operate in a standby mode when there is no load. It also would only draw the required amperage for the load it was running, not a full 1500 watt out put at all times. I will be the first s to admit there were times we still had to conserve while boondocking if we had a stretch of coludy weather, but 90% of the time it was great. We used mostly DC fixtures and fans, but the tv and vcr were normal as well as other kitchen appliances.

I would be concerned running the generators you referenced for 8 hrs at full speed, as I have heard that the smaller ones are not as robust as the bigger honda generators. You also need to factor in the maintence cost over an ownership period to truly compare the two types of power systems.

But I will agree that if AC is a requirement, the generator route is the only way to go today.
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Old 09-12-2002, 04:27 PM   #24
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Brett,
I don't think the EU Hondas have enough of a service record to determine how well they last in the long run. Like the inverter, they have a mode that idles them back under lighter or no load conditions.

What makes them attractive is the 40-something pound weight. I can lift two of those out of the truck bed one at a time, so they don't leave with the truck when it goes into town and leave the trailer without AC.

Just reading some posts on the A/S list about a fella who installed a 3000W Honda on the A frame of a 19' Bambi. Converted it to propane, added remote start, and encased it in a rather attractive housing. Interesting!
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Old 09-12-2002, 05:50 PM   #25
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Wink Redi Killowatt, Ralph Nader & Dale Evans ; on the road

Wow this has become a depressing thread for me! Is RVin gonna stay this complicated??

First Moe & Craig nothing personal, I enjoy you guys postings. It's just that I majored in comfort at A&M ...not Electrical Engineering.

And although I got nuthin' agin em, the whales and the environs are gonna havta save themselves with very little of my help.

And as for Cheryl, best o luck. I know the leastess about the mostess around here so I'll only offer a comment...No Advice!
Shakedown/shakeout cruises probably go much smoother if the Captain has at least a whit of a plan on which way he's aiming at the end of the jetties (driveway). And of course if he throws his cat overboard at the dock he'll enjoy the salt air a bit more than otherwise. Happy Trails.

Actually I am very interested (and ignorant) about generators and think that we need a separate thread on the subject.
Also a separate one on solar and other alternatives might be in order.

Hopefully the info here could be cut & pasted over at the more specific threads.

By the way Moe what size is the refer in yalls new rig?
Looks like a regular home size!
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Old 09-12-2002, 06:07 PM   #26
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Hex,

Good suggestion on the solar and gen threads, I will work to get it done tonight.

We all jumped in and took this thread off into left field

Cheryl,

I hope this has opened you up to the possibilities that await you. Just give it a good thinking, and don't let us muddle your mind with all the techno babble. There are plenty of folks who full time with no solar, no generator, no sewing machine, and little more than an atlas and love every second of it.
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Old 09-12-2002, 06:19 PM   #27
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Hex,
It's a Dometic NDR1062. Airstream says it's 8 cu ft. Camping World says it's 9.4 cu ft. Dometic doesn't say... at least that I've found.

http://www.campingworld.com/browse/s...m?skunum=16002

I'm not sure who to believe, but I know it's less than half of either of the 22 cu ft models I have at home now and it's gonna take real planning to make sure there's always enough cold beer ...not to mention be a real adjustment for the wife!
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Old 09-12-2002, 06:25 PM   #28
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Brett,
That's good advice we're trying to follow... hit the road, live in it for awhile, THEN decide what you need to buy... and not have to decide what you bought that's just in the way and needs to be ditched.
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