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Old 08-06-2014, 08:01 PM   #1
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Help a newbie.. generator?

Hi all. First time Airstreamer here with a 2014 19 foot flying cloud. I will be Boondocking for some days in grand teton national park. I have a solar panel which I can plug into my battery case to charge the batteries, but I'm wondering if I need to go and buy a generator. Very new to this so not sure what the advantage would be, except for I would be able to use the air-conditioner. Thoughts? If you would get one, what would you get?

My apologies in advance for my ignorance in this area.

Thanks!
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:02 PM   #2
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What size is your solar panel in watts? Have you done a budget to analyze your power consumption? That is the only way to know if you have enough solar panel to keep the batteries up. For example, in my 25' Safari, I estimated I needed about 200 watts of solar panel, assuming I was running the furnace, which used about half of the power. So if you can get by without the furnace or the fans, maybe a 100 watt panel is enough. Fans might push it to 150 watts, but that's just my estimate.

The smaller panels are only good for maintaining charge, not replacing used charge.

Regarding the generator question, I bought a Honda eu2000i, but the equivalent Yamaha looks just as good. It came down to which one I could find used at a good price and in good condition. It seems to run my 11,000 BTU AC fine, but some posts here indicate a concern for voltage droop on AC startup damaging the compressor. I'm trying to get set up to make some measurements to determine if there is a problem there. If so, I'll buy another 2000i and run them in parallel. There are lower priced inverter generators out there, but they are not as quiet and don't have the reliability track record of the Hondas and Yamahas, at least in my opinion. You want an inverter generator because they are incredibly quiet.

Welcome to the cult, and have fun. Sounds like a great trip!

Al
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:15 PM   #3
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We have camped in the Tetons multiple times in July and August and never needed ac. It cools down right quick at night. We did have a honda 1k for computers, phones and lights.

If you do get a generator and want to use it in the Tetons make sure it is set up for high altitude use.
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Old 08-07-2014, 09:48 PM   #4
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I have recently purchased a 4000 watt/ electric start generator from Northern Tool for about $600. As to noise, this can be countered by appropriate sound absorbing baffles as the generator is mounted in the bed of my pickup. However, running an A/C unit with the generator will use lots of fuel, so, only for an hour or two in the evening is practical. I have had the Honda 3000 watt, $2000 unit, but this is marginal for one A/C in newer trailers, especially if one has an espresso maker..... 4000 or 5000 watts is better for those of us who think roughing it is when we drop the soap in the shower and have to reach down and pick it up..... Or only have five TV channels.....or forget the bug repellant. LOL


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Old 08-07-2014, 10:21 PM   #5
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You are indeed fortunate to be boondocking in the Grand Tetons. Good for you.

I do a lot of boondocking and find that I use very little power. Now I have two 6v golf cart batteries and that helps along with led lights, etc. For a typical 4 day boondocking trip my battery voltage only drops from 12.9v to 12.7v. I only use battery power for my led lights, a little tv sometimes, operating my efficient fan at night as needed, the water pump, the cell phone charger, that is about it.

We don't usually camp where we will need AC at night, so this helps. BTW I do travel with a 1,000 watt Honda Jennie, but we rarely use it. BTW it is more than 10 years old and is still very quiet and operates as new.

Step one is to buy and install a "volt minder". This is a permanent volt meter that you can use to monitor your battery voltage. I read mine every morning and write it down. I got mine (about $30) from "converters plus?", they are on Air Forums. Step two is to make sure all your lights are led. Step 3 is to determine how much battery power your fridge uses when it is operating on propane. Mine does not seem to use any power, but others fridges seem to be battery hogs. Now go camping and see how much battery power you use each day by monitoring and writing down the battery voltage every day.

If and when you decide to buy a jennie, buy a Honda or Yamaha and get a 2,000 to 2,400 watt model.

Happy Camping, Dan
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Old 08-08-2014, 12:48 AM   #6
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Gros Venture has spaces with power now. You could duck in there to power up for a night when you get low on power. I carry a generator so that we can run the furnace when it is cold and wet and keep the battery charged for my CPAP. If you do not need to run the AC the Honda and Yamaha 1000 are nice units that pack well. We typically only run the generator 3 or so times on a 3 month trip and could avoid that by going to a site with elect. after 3 days. Love the Tetons and will head back there on the way home after we finish this caravan. With light use and 2 batteries we drop at least .2 volts a day and usually start around 12.5 because we still have the original converter? With the furnace running a good bit we need to recharge almost every day. Dan has a better setup. If you need to set up some place and stay for a week you probably need the generator.
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Old 08-11-2014, 03:54 PM   #7
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You will also want to look up the quiet hours and possibly specific generator hours for the campground where you will be staying. In some national parks, the hours a rather limited.

Then you will want to make sure you are back from sight seeing every other day in time to fire up the generator for a few hours.
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Old 08-11-2014, 05:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Msmoto View Post
I have had the Honda 3000 watt, $2000 unit, but this is marginal for one A/C in newer trailers
Ms Tommie Lauer
Greensboro, NC
2015 Serenity 30 RB
Our EU3000 Honda with electric start has worked great in our last two AS trailers - no problems whatsoever running the A/C. It replaced -as the take along gen- two EU2000s. Our experience is that it is not marginal for A/C or convection microwave if those are used separately and not at the same time. The eco-throttle kicks in after start up and proves very fuel efficient; all other electrical accessories may be used at the same time with the EU3000. Another side benefit is that the 3000 is quieter at full output than the 2000s were at idle!
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Old 08-11-2014, 06:34 PM   #9
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My Newbie Experience

I am a newbie as well but learning fast. We recently spend 5 full days in Shenandoah NP with our new 2014 International Serenity. I brought a Honda 2000eu and it worked well for recharging the batteries in the morning. I would run the generator for approximately 2 hours during official operating hours and it did a good job in restoring the batteries to full charge. We used the television for an hour or two for a couple of nights as well as lights. I am learning how to manage the power issue. From my standpoint, it is much easier than managing fresh water. We did have access to a dump station with potable water but didn't need it. I do have a companion 2000 that I can bring with me but didn't feel as though I would be utilizing my air conditioning. The last two days of our trip was spent in a RV park with water and electric hook up. I am thinking about installing a solar panel but will be doing a bit more research. Good luck in your travels and by all means...make it fun....
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Old 08-12-2014, 11:39 AM   #10
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Help a newbie...generator?

We've lived and camp in Jackson Hole for 25 years. First, there is no "boondocking" allowed in a Grand Teton NP, but there is in the surrounding National Forest. By "Boondocking" I mean not staying in a campground. There are camp grounds w/o hookups in the National Park. There is absolutely ton of pure boondocking in the National Forest all around here! The Gros Ventre (pronounced Gro Vaunt) campground is big, shaded and very nice and they do have a few sites with hookups. Also Atherton Creek on Slide Lake in the National forest is a terrific, no hookup, campground.

Day time temps will be from the high 60's to high 70's. At night it'll be in the 40's. We have no air conditioning at our house and cannot imagine having to use it in our trailer, unless sitting
inside during the afternoon, which isn't likely here.

We have, but never use our Honda 2000. Keeping your batts up with solar is great. If you find you do need a generator here the Big R store in Jackson has them at fair prices. I wouldn't waste my $ again... As you just don't need A/c here unless you are confined to the Rv.

That said you'll, absolutely love Jackson Hole!


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Old 08-12-2014, 12:48 PM   #11
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You would possibly also use a generator to brew coffee (the electric perch variety) and to help run your furnace which will deplete your batteries quickly. Last September we found temps in some of the western national parks to be in the 40's overnight. The only problem was that generator use was limited to 6-8 AM and 6-8 PM. So, we got used to piling on the comforters since we did not at the time, carry a catalytic heater, which we found after the fact, to be a very good investment.
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Old 08-12-2014, 01:07 PM   #12
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What kind of catalytic heater did you get Jack46?
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Old 08-12-2014, 08:11 PM   #13
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We bought a single 2000w "Companion" Honda generator first (the model with a 30-amp outlet built in + the parallel cables so we could hook it up to another camper's 2000w Honda if necessary...and make a "party trailer") ... and waited for a while to determine if we really needed a 2nd one for AC...we ended up getting a 2nd one about 18 months later. We don't need it often, but when we do, we are very happy to have it... but then we are in SoArizona, and that makes a big difference. (Rear and street-side awnings are helpful, too.)

We also have factory solar with a relatively small factory solar panel. We really like having solar and can go several days without hookups or generator use if we are smart with power consumption and have good sunny days. We switched all the rig's lights to LEDs which made a huge difference when dry camping (the original ceiling lights were halogen which suck power). We can even use the factory inverter to watch the news, charge phones and laptop in the evenings and run the furnace if necessary...and batteries are fairly well restored the next day. We feel more limited by fresh water and grey water holding tank capacity than by battery power!
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Old 08-19-2014, 09:48 AM   #14
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We often dry camp (boondock) for periods of time that have gone as long as 3 or 4 weeks. When I had a LY moho, it had a 123-watt solar panel (along with the built-in 6.5Kw genset. Now, with the AS trailer, I have 365 watts of solar. My main area of concern for power is for my CPAP machine; other than that, I can get by with minimal power. I do have a 3000 watt generator (bought it at Harbor Freight for $250) that I use sparingly. I've used it on a hot summer day to cool down the trailer, as well as a backup for emergencies. I experienced one such emergency when I was on a course near Pahrump NV last winter and experienced a complete catastrophic failure of my 4 AGM batteries. So for 4 days until I was able to get to a battery supplier, I used the generator overnight to power my CPAP machine.
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