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Old 01-04-2015, 06:41 PM   #1
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Space Heater and Generator Question

Admittedly, I am an electronics neophyte, electric shop being the only class I ever failed in Junior High, there I admitted it!, So before floating this out to you experts I attempted to search the "forum" certain the question has been addressed before...couldn't find anything, so here goes.

While boondocking, rather than using the furnace we decided to use our Yahama ES2000i generator to power a small space heater to warm the coach- think we were trying to conserve the batteries. However, each time we fired up the heater the generator went into overload mode and consequently went down. By the way, little else was drawing power at the time, no lights were on, no water pump, etc. nada... This is, as I said, a very small heater, 120V, 60Hz, with current under maximum continuos draw of 12.5 amps, and power variable from 0W to 1500W (this really sounds like I know what I'm talking about, huh?, really not a clue, but reading from the heater owner's manual).

Anyway, my question: If this generator can power our home's freezer when the power went out, why would it overload with this small space heater?
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Old 01-04-2015, 06:55 PM   #2
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I have a 2000i different brand generator. It has no problem with a 1500 watt heater with built in fan. try yours with a different heater, is it the generator or heater problem?
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Old 01-04-2015, 07:08 PM   #3
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Try running the heater on a lower setting like on low or medium...
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Old 01-05-2015, 05:38 AM   #4
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The Yahama ES2000i is rated for 13.3 amps continuous, and your space heater draws 13.6 amps at 1,500 watts; so you are overloading your generator.

Most electric space heaters use 750 or 1,200 watts on low, so you might be able to use a lower setting. However, you will probably have to avoid using other 110 volt AC appliances when your heater is on.

Your propane furnace provides more heat and uses less current when boondocking. Then, you can use your generator to recharge your batteries during breakfast or lunch.
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Old 01-05-2015, 06:56 AM   #5
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The total draw of the heater and the small load of other appliances in the trailer are combining to overload the generator.

A modern freezer requires only about 8-10 amps to start up, and then only 2-4 amps to run. Significantly less than the continuous 12-14 amp draw of a space heater.

Also, the process of running a generator to power an electric heater is a fairly inefficient way of space heating.

If you are going to run a generator, you might as well use the furnace. The generator powers the converter, and the converter powers the furnace and keeps the batteries charged.

The generator then has a little left over to power the TV or other small appliance.

We prefer to use a propane catalytic heater that requires no electricity.

This comment will not doubt start a debate on the safety of these heaters, but modern units are equipped with a variety of safety features, that when coupled with a little common sense, render a perfectly safe and convenient solution.


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Old 01-05-2015, 07:22 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdalrymple View Post
...that when coupled with a little common sense...
There's the disconnect...:-)
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:15 AM   #7
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Your converter when charging the batteries uses enough power so that the generator will not run a space heater on the high setting. The heater will run on the low setting but why bother? The low setting doesn't provide much heat. The furnace is more efficient at turning fuel into heat.
We use our generator to supplement our solar system to charge the batteries.
We camp off the grid frequently so we got an Olympian catalytic heater. It produces heat without using electricity. It is just the thing for warming up the trailer in the morning without running the generator. I don't use it when we are sleeping.
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:19 AM   #8
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I am always amazed at the lengths some people will go to to avoid using propane!

#1 using your propane furnace is actually less expensive than using a generator to make electricity to run a furnace, #2 you probably have more propane carrying capacity in your tanks that you have in a five gallon can of gasoline and #3 propane is safer to use than gasoline. Bottom line, there is no good reason to use your generator to heat your trailer. Save the generator for charging up the batteries after running your furnace all night long.

As for your original question about overloading the genny, is it possible you were running the fridge on electric as well? If so, that added to the genny's load.
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:55 AM   #9
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Agreeing with everyone else, using your furnace off the battery is your best heat source when boondocking.

We did this for 3 cold days, and 3 colder nights, camped at Padre Island NS last year. Had to leave only because we were out of propane for the generator and the furnace.

If we had topped the propane tank off before we went to the beach, we could have stayed longer.

The battery will run your furnace. It really will.

You can run the generator to recharge in the morning, or turn your engine on to charge both batteries.


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Old 01-05-2015, 11:42 AM   #10
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Lets go to the other season...Summer. What size generator do you need to run the air conditioner?
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Old 01-05-2015, 12:11 PM   #11
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Another advantage of using your propane powered furnace instead of an electric powered space heater is that your furnace distributes the heat throughout your AS with ducted outlets. The space heater sits in one location and doesn't really spread the heat out evenly throughout the interior space. I save my electric powered space heater for RV parks where we have full hook ups. I use my propane powered furnace when we're dry camping with no hook ups. Then, I use my generator during the day to recharge the battery. Our 2001 Safari only has a single battery. It does a good job of running things so long as we use our generator about an hour in the morning and another hour in the afternoon or evening (avoiding quiet times). We returned from 4 nights on the beach in Northern CA yesterday. Temps ranged from upper 30s at night to 60 during the day. It was cold enough to need the furnace and we used it as described. We were very comfortable. Just make sure you have at least one full tank of propane.
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Old 01-05-2015, 07:43 PM   #12
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Thanks to all who responded, we are most appreciative for your input and the insight you provide.

Obviously we are newbies and learning something new everytime we venture out. Hopefully, one day we will be able to actually answer someone's question, rather than being the "poser" ( being the undisputed king of the parenthetical phrase, I couldn't resist the dating phrase, most of you younger folks not appreciating the phrase "poser"). Anyway, thanks again to all!
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:14 PM   #13
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Glad to hear you are at least CAMPING!!!

You learned a very valuable lesson. Keep the Furnace on... run Genny in morning and evening to recharge Batteries... If Batteries are too weak, there are 'fixes' for that as well.
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