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Old 10-07-2014, 09:22 PM   #99
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I agree with TobyR that there is a place for both. There is also a place for neither. I recently returned from boondock camping in downtown Raleigh, NC for 5 days. I have two golf cart batteries. My battery voltage at the start was 13.00v and after 5 days was 12.79v. Battery usage was frugal as only needed for LED lights, water pump, tablet charging and cell phone charging.

As Crawford Gene has observed, most of the motorhome crowd stayed in their campers and ran their generators about half of the time eventhough no AC or heat was needed. I was the only Airstream trailer, also the only trailer.

Dan
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Old 10-08-2014, 01:38 PM   #100
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What is the cost comparison between equivalent wattage solar, batteries, inverter and generator?
Solar wins because it is silent and has no fumes, but buying a generator might be easier.
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Old 10-08-2014, 07:44 PM   #101
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A good solar system (high quality panels, MPPT charge controller, battery monitor, AGM batteries, pro installation) will certainly set you back. My 270 watt system system came in at just about 10 dollars a watt. (Do Not Tell My Better Half !!!)

A mid-wattage system like this with a Honda 2000 for cloudy periods is a nice combination and will handle all but AC.
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Old 10-08-2014, 08:36 PM   #102
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A good solar system (high quality panels, MPPT charge controller, battery monitor, AGM batteries, pro installation) will certainly set you back. My 270 watt system system came in at just about 10 dollars a watt. (Do Not Tell My Better Half !!!)

A mid-wattage system like this with a Honda 2000 for cloudy periods is a nice combination and will handle all but AC.

You can handle the A/C now with a Magnum MSH-3012H hybrid inverter/charger. It synchronizes the low amperage 120 VAC input to the output of the inverter to start and run larger loads than a small (2000 watt) generator can handle alone.


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Old 11-12-2014, 09:38 AM   #103
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We chose Generator

When we purchased our 2014 AS International 23D - we didnt know which way to go - all the forums tended to lean towards the quick/easy solution -- generator. So that's what we did. The Honda 1000 - which is everything and more that we needed for running the TV, outlet power, charging batteries and generally just feeling like we were connected. We're Southern California campers - mostly coastal state parks - with hook ups so we're not quite stranding ourselves out in Death Valley or outside of Yosemite quite yet. But come next spring, that's the plan.

So we've found the Honda gives us 3+ hrs of charge when needed (so far just using when boondocked to watch SD Chargers games). In campgrounds we have a somewhat not-strict 10am-8pm generator time. When not with hookups we can go to 9pm usually before getting 'the knock.' In any event, what i've learned so far with generator is this:

1. you can leave it chained up inside the bed of your Tundra and have enough cord to connect AS to Tundra/Honda generator

2. you better not leave the gas cans nearby due to splash + spark + run off

3. you will get a ton of exhaust even with good ventilation in the back of the truck -- we leave tail gate window up and side window open -

4. noise IS somewhat of a factor -- when you're in the AS and tvs going you probably wont hear much, but it will sound like a car idling nearby - not the end of the world, but there's no way solar doesnt trump here and when youre in America's wilderness, the last thing you should want to hear is idling car engine (or a TV) but thats a discussion for another forum

5. 2 5gallon gas cans will last at least a month - (depending on use)

6. the getting started with the generator is super easy - add some oil to the mixture, give it a pull, starts right up - just keep an eye on your LED light on control panel (on generator) to make sure you're always in the Green and not Red. (we went Red once) and its because the Unit was not able to ventilate and started choking on its own exhaust due to lack of window openings in the bed of the truck.

7. the weight of the generator is manageable - im 37yrs old - im an avid fitness guy but even so a) the generator rarely moves from its place in the tundra and b) from time to time when it has moved, its a one handed lift - even the girlfriend can handle it with two hands if necessary.

8. Security is a bit of an issue - more so in my head that probably in reality - but we have 2 coiled bike lock type locks wrapped around the handle and a hook embedded in bed of Tundra. Overkill i'm sure, but i sleep well at night not thinking about it ...

9. The one oopsie Ive made is leaving the exhaust pointing at the bed of the Tundra - too closely and the heat eminating from the exhaust has caused a melting of the plastic of sorts - more a disconfiguration ... A bummer for sure, but its a truck, and just for visual purposes it looks distorted.

In sum, generator is the best 'back up' we can think of -- factoring cost, installation, lack of sunny days, and 'Need it to work now' - i d rather have a 1000w (knowing that I can pair another 1000w if AC is a must have for future road trips) than take a chance that solar cannot deliver.

-Ryan
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Old 11-12-2014, 11:08 AM   #104
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~~
6. the getting started with the generator is super easy - add some oil to the mixture, give it a pull, starts right up - just keep an eye on your LED light on control panel (on generator) to make sure you're always in the Green and not Red. (we went Red once) and its because the Unit was not able to ventilate and started choking on its own exhaust due to lack of window openings in the bed of the truck.

~~

In sum, generator is the best 'back up' we can think of -- factoring cost, installation, lack of sunny days, and 'Need it to work now' - i d rather have a 1000w (knowing that I can pair another 1000w if AC is a must have for future road trips) than take a chance that solar cannot deliver.

-Ryan
I'm curious... what do you mean "add some oil to the mixture" here? Do you have some older 2-cycle generator? I think all the Honda inverter generators are 4-cycle.

I know the 1000W Hondas are enough for charging batteries, but a pair of them is NOT enough to run the AC. A pair of the 2000W one will support one AC just fine, though.
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Old 11-12-2014, 06:39 PM   #105
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New member, hello all.
I thought I'd throw in my two cents on the Generator topic.
At my former job, we used the Honda 3000is generators, and we ran them 15 hrs a day, about 4 days a week. We had 25 of them, and all got used. They were very very reliable, used little oil, started with a key, and were QUIET! A tank of gas lasted about 8-10 hours depending on load. I thought the perfect setup would be a Honda in the back of the pickup tow vehicle, (Locked up of course) Even if you're stopping at WalMart for groceries, it's nice to have power for the A/C and make a sandwich or take a nap.
The downside is it's heavy. I could wrestle one to the ground, but my back let me know it's a bad idea.
That's in my plan.
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Old 11-13-2014, 11:08 AM   #106
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There are some utility trucks working in my area right now and I saw they had quite a good setup with the generator on a sliding platform out the side of a regular height canopy. When in use outside the canopy, the canopy stays sealed and when not in use it slides back in and is covered by a door. Could work for those who want a canopy and big enough generator to run the A/C but don't want to haul it in and out of the truck.


George
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Old 11-13-2014, 03:45 PM   #107
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I'm picturing a generator like the Honda in the bed of a pickup.
Maybe with a bed topper in the "up" position. The Honda doesn't have an exhaust pipe per se, so the fumes would fill up the truck bed with fumes, I'd think. Has anyone tackled that issue, or am I overthinking it?
Slide it onto the tailgate? I wouldn't think you need to run it all night, just a few hours a day when you're needing power.
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Old 11-16-2014, 03:18 PM   #108
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There rarely can be a generator/solar discussion that does not go off the deep end and weird stuff happens. I read Sitting Duck's question and after my first day, I figured out what to look out for.

I put the Honda on the tail gate and have the topper window down. I arrange the generator according to the wind direction and the exhaust away from the interior of the bed/topper air space. First time, I fired it up off in the wilderness and saw that mistake immediately.

When hauling the Honda, I have a "laundry basket" that fits over it. I use the lid, sit the generator onto it, put a plastic garbage bag over the generator and the "bottom" of the laundry basket on top. It pushes over the truck bed and fits into a corner. Looks like some dirty laundry in the back. The plastic bag is, for me, to keep the vibration of the plastic laundry basket from rubbing into the Honda's plastic. I know, a bit excessive, but I treat my trailer the same way... just cannot find a large enough laundry basket at home to use. (Just.... kidding.)

Just some common sense and you will do fine.
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Old 11-16-2014, 03:40 PM   #109
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Going to check out Solar Panel prices...

I find the Honda generator from our first camping trip in the 2014 Airstream very convenient. It is quiet, sits on the tail gate without vibrating off of it and I did not notice any smell, odor and did not die from Carbon Monoxide poisoning. I do not understand where some people get into the polluting, noise and exhaust smell... My wife still says I seem to be normal, so will leave it at that.

One thing I do miss from our 2006 Safari... is the Solar Panel. That passive charging every sunny day provided some comfort, knowing the batteries were being charged. We noticed on a long off the grid camping that the voltage would steadily drop each day, even after a day's charging. This is more for Lewster to explain, as it is beyond my comprehension of electrons flowing around, being stored and a digital readout saying 75%... or less after a week.

The Airstream dealer had one on display and it looked huge compared to the original on our 2006... at a much higher factory installed price to get the "sticker" up there... but that I understand. But it worked well. Never thought about a generator, until we bought the 2014, without solar.

The 2014 makes a generator so easy to connect. Just plug in, fire the generator up. Well, not fire, but start it. Our 2006 did not have a television. Although it would have been nice checking out the weather report before getting off the paved roads! Some radio stations never seem to have a living, breathing DJ reading local news and we do not carry the marine radio in the desert for minute by minute weather and wave reports. This new trailer had two televisions... and rarely are we at an RV Park or where we can plug in for power. That is why Generator was needed.

As soon as the weather improves, I will be looking into a Solar System and what it will cost. I know that the Airstream is prewired, but do not know if the control panel is the one already in the trailer, or that comes with the Solar Panel. I know that the Solar Panel wiring is prewired. Our 2006 Airstream was... but someone at the Factory did not connect it. Yes. It was not connected, so the dealer spent time looking around for it. I suggested just drill a hole above the refrigerator and save everyone some trouble. They did and I lived happily ever after.

Maybe I will win some money at the Craps Table to pay for this Solar Panel and installation. I do not know if they include the batteries, or I use the International batteries that came as standard equipment. I know less now than I did. It all came down to when parked with sunlight... we were charged. But... televisions were pretty worthless without the Honda first.

As this story unfolds, I will shorten my posts as there will be less explaining and more... what happened and why.

I have the most sensitive sense of smell, other than our two Blue Heelers. I can taste mildew on lettuce while camping and smell a skunk... UP wind. My US Army experience gave me a great ringing in my right ear, so my wife can hear any high pitched sounds... and I am left with low pitches... like the Honda that just quietly putt, putts along. 100% happy with it. Now, to tackle the Solar Panel and get a sense if it will be worth the additional investment.
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Old 11-16-2014, 03:53 PM   #110
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Michael depending on the generator (or pair of them like the Honda 2000's) a comparable solar system installed by a good installer (Lew, Marvin, AMSolar) would be 4 to 6X the price.
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Old 11-24-2014, 12:51 PM   #111
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Solar

I use 2000 Honda and 190 Watt solar.
Panel on 30 ft lead wires so I can keep it in sun.
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Old 11-24-2014, 02:26 PM   #112
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I was quoted $1500 to install a 150 watt solar panel onto the 2014. I asked what I get for that which was the Solar Panel, Controller (the unit that is installed on the wall of the trailer), wiring and 6 hours labor.

I asked why so much labor? It was to wire the trailer. I responded that the trailer is prewired. Silence... I said I would be very unhappy if the International was not prewired, as it says it is on the Manufacturer's list and I would check into it. This, by the way, was the Airstream dealers service representative. He said I would have to leave it at first, for a week to ten days.

A week to ten days... why? I said I would prepay if this could be worked out. Then down to two days.

I guess at $10 a watt, the $1500 is not out of line, but panels and hardware can be found on the internet for much less. And... if I could not do it by following directions in less than six hours, maybe it is more difficult than I imagine.

There seems to be plenty of manufacturers of 150-160 watt panels and the control center with wiring on the internet. Just a bit to absorb, but when someone selling new Airstreams does not know the trailer is prewired... it gets me a bit suspicious and take it a bit slower.

My 2006 had a small, maybe 60 watt to 90 watt installed at Jackson Center when new. It charged the batteries very well. The 150 watt should really be overkill, but I should not lack charged batteries. One trailer owner commented that his Interstate standard batteries handle the charging very well and would not go to the $300 each options...

I do like the Solar Option when off the grid when I did not have easy hookup to the Honda generator off the tail gate of my Tundra. Since the trailer is new and we have only three weeks of dry camping on it... I might have to take it slow and not do something I will regret later. And... I thought this was going to be easy.
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