I know. I know... Our 2006 23 foot Safari with the factory solar system served us well on our 80% of the time off the grid. So far off that at times radio reception was minimal.
The purchase of the 2014 25 foot International did not have Solar. It also did not come with the batteries that the Solar Systems use costing around $300 each, but much superior than those that are standard equipment. As I had discussed on our Boondocking our new trailer, which meant getting the trailer ready for the 2015 season to continue our off the grid camping. Solar or Generator became an... issue.
I spent 8 years with my batteries charging with the Solar System. Worked well for 80% of our needs. The 20% had to be regulated:
Water Pump to faucets
Non LED lighting in the 2006, but in the 2014
ONLY 12 volt
service was practical
Fan over the stove top to vent
Fantastic Fan use to ventilate air to heat or cool the interior
The 2014 has wonderful LED lights. We still use them as if they are draining our batteries. Now with two flat screen televisions... 12 volt
is not of much value to those and some boondocking situations can receive a signal... IF you wanted to watch the news, weather... or polka dance contests in color.
The 2014 has electrical outlets... everywhere! Obviously focused on electrical hook ups at a RV Park camping, which I totally understand.
First thing I did... yes, I did consider getting a Solar System installed for less than the factory cost and with more wattage. Starting around $1500 +/- and probably does not include the $600 +/- batteries.
EU2000i Honda Generator for around $1,000, after a 10% discount since they were not selling well in August and needed to move some along...
This break in trip brought us some below freezing weather in Wyoming. Pulled out the Honda, fired it up and ran it until we had charged the batteries and ran the furnace fan. Maybe a half a gallon or less in gasoline. The less load, the less RPM on the generator. This got me thinking... about "adding" Solar to the mix and why I decided NOT to ADD A SOLAR SYSTEM.
West of Buffalo, Wyoming, listening to a radio station about 100 miles away, the weather report was rain and sleet, freezing temperatures, over cast skies and just basic lousy weather on the horizon. From our camping spot above Buffalo I could see the fog over the town and we were in partly cloudy at higher elevation. Then... I discovered the limitations of Solar and why I will stick to the generator.
I was able to easily connect the generator to the trailer. These Honda's ARE quiet. I had it sitting on the tail gate of the tow vehicle and idling away current to the trailer. It could easily be sitting on a plastic milk crate or on the ground... Television. Batteries being charged. All of the 12 volt
and 120 volt current we would have asked for. The Solar System could not deliver... anything, under these circumstances. Running the furnace would have quickly run our standard batteries down below minimums. This was September 1st... not late October or December! This was an area we would have expected upper 50's at night and mid 70's during the day.
As I sat thinking of the "cost" of the generator, I had to rationalize my spending the original purchase price.
-A Solar Panel may or may not increase the value of my trailer.
-I can sell the trailer and keep the generator to sell or use afterwards.
I liked the generator option. It would sell easily and for a fairly high percentage of my original cost.
-A Solar Panel and batteries deliver 12 volt and maybe some inverter 120 volt.
-A Generator delivers both for the cost of fuel. Maybe not the amperage for running the air conditioning, but everything else.
I liked the generator option.
-A Solar Panel is working every day in the sunlight. Not as well, if at all on cloudy days. Never at night when a furnace would have its most likely demand on the 12 volt system.
-A Generator works anytime, anywhere. On high demand use, it operates and charges the batteries with the excess power. Using "eco-throttle" cuts fuel use considerably with minimal power needs.
I liked the Generator.
-A Solar Panel has been paid for and working while getting sun light, charging the batteries while you are doing something else. Although will FULL hookups, it is not needed.
-A Generator costs less than $1.00 per hour. (I tried to find the fuel use for load in the manual while typing this, but could not. I will add it when I can find it again.) Cost of fuel and the output of the generator per gallon/hour seems very reasonable, considering the minimal hours it would need to operate over the camping season off the grid.
I liked the Generator. For the cost difference of the Solar Panel and Generator I do not need to run the generator every day, every time I am camped and the furnace is not needed in Las Vegas in July. In Las Vegas I am connected to the grid at the cost of the RV Park daily camp site.
As you can see in my experiences... the Honda generator is fairly light, portable, quiet running, has a resale value, uses fuel only when I need it and gives me 120 volts to use, what would otherwise be two worthless HDTV's.
AND if I want... I can purchase a second generator and combine them to run a jukebox and the air conditioning and the wife can take out the hair dryer...
During a hail storm, the generator is safe. It will not blow off the planet from a Wyoming wind on the interstate. It may need servicing or repair some day, but so does a solar system.
... am I missing something? Lately I have no concerns with Global Warming or Change from CO2 emissions. I am more concerned with cold and wet if you ask me. If this is your criticism of my running a generator... look at that vehicle pulling tons of metal behind YOU... so lets be fair.