Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 09-12-2014, 01:57 PM   #1
Rivet Master
 
Ray Eklund's Avatar

 
2014 25' International
2006 23' Safari SE
Currently Looking...
Boulder City , Nevada
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 2,366
SOLAR or GENERATOR? That is the question for Boondockers...

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:

Furnace
Showers
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.

Option ONE:
-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.

Option TWO:
-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.

Option THREE:
-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.

Option FOUR:
-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.
__________________

__________________
Ray Eklund is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 02:15 PM   #2
1 Rivet Member
 
Currently Looking...
le mars , Iowa
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 8
Thanks

You convinced me...we hope to purchase our first AS next year and will be looking at Honda generators thereafter.
__________________

__________________
iowaal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 02:45 PM   #3
Rivet Master
 
dkottum's Avatar
 
2012 25' Flying Cloud
Battle Lake , Minnesota
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 7,716
Our annual trips are 6-7 months long, and range widely about the country but almost never in hot weather. Probably one month or so total without hookups.

We have both factory solar and Honda EU2000i. We are leaving next month on our fourth trip with this Airstream. The first year we took the Honda along in case we needed it and never used it. Have not taken it since.

If solar can meet your power needs it is quiet and simplifies things. No gas can, generator or power cable to mess with. No noise. When the Airstream is not used, the batteries are always maintained with no need for power cords. You may have cloudy days (may still get some charging), you never run out of gas though.

I like the solar.
__________________
Doug and Cheryl
2012 FC RB, Michelin 16, ProPride 1400
2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4X4 Ecodiesel 3.92 axles

The Truth is More Important Than the Facts
dkottum is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 03:00 PM   #4
Moderator
 
DKB_SATX's Avatar

 
2017 26' Flying Cloud
1976 Argosy 28
Alamo Heights , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,401
Images: 1
Blog Entries: 7
I already have a generator... a 3kw Yamaha inverter (heavy, QUIET, reliable.) I wanted enough generator to be able to run the AC "just in case." Thus far, having had the generator a couple of years, I've never run the AC on the generator except for tests. When it's hot enough to need the AC I find that I'd rather be somewhere that it's cool enough not to need it, or that has 30A+ power.

My Yamaha, however, offers us backup for essentials at the house in the event of power outages, and it's extremely quiet so I take it and charge the battery (singular) in our Argosy from time to time when boondocking.

The 28' project trailer is going to have solar (at least eventually) and I'm still going to have the Yamaha, so it doesn't have to be either/or.
__________________
David

Zero Gravitas 2017 Flying Cloud 26U | Il Progetto 1976 Argosy 28 Center Bath | WBCCI# 15566

He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. Sir Winston Churchill
DKB_SATX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 03:11 PM   #5
Rivet Master
 
tsunami's Avatar
 
2016 28' Flying Cloud
Brandenburg , Kentucky
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 840
Images: 20
Yes to both

Having the factory installed solar is a plus, for me, as is having a Honda 2000 generator. Seldom do I need to take the generator camping, but when I know that I'm going camping in a location that does not provide electrical power, I take the generator to supplement/augment my electrical needs. Seems better to me to have options. Having camped on the North rim of the Grand Canyon (no hook-ups) our solar worked just fine, except for the two days of inclement weather. Thats when I engaged then generator to charge the batteries. Only took about 1 hour to top off the batteries. Of course to each their own, but I like both options.
__________________
tsunami is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 03:24 PM   #6
Rivet Master
 
TBRich's Avatar

 
2006 19' Safari SE
Tucson , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 4,483
Images: 64
We have both solar and a set of Honda 2000 watt generators as well... so we are ready for anything. We don't always take both generators, but when we need AC we have that capability. For us it is the perfect combination.

On one trip we were going to be camping at several campgrounds, some with electicity and some dry camping...so we had both generators with us. We were at a campground with electric hookups but it was unseasonably warm. However, the park was full and the draw on their electical system was so severe that campers' AC unit were shutting down due to low voltage. The park host told us that if we had generators to go ahead an use them id we wanted to. So we cranked them up, and were able to be independent of thier struggling electrical system — and have AC.
__________________
TB & Greg and Abbey Schnauzer
AirForums #21900 . Membership Chair, 4C
Unit #3954
Travel Log: AZBambi...On the Road Again
TBRich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 04:36 PM   #7
4 Rivet Member
 
westcoastas's Avatar
 
2005 28' Safari
formerly of Tustin, Huntington Beach, Dana Point, and Laguna Beach , California
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 278
Blog Entries: 1
Ray, that was sound reasoning to me and a Honda EU2000 will be one of my first purchases once we hit the road for the first time and reach our winter destination in St. George. I know the state and number of your batteries vary, but I have two Interstate batteries on my trailer, so I was wondering what the ballpark estimate is for charging two batteries. Do you folks generally charge them first thing in the morning? Is it efficient enough to charge the batteries and use the interior outlets or is it sometimes better to bypass the trailer's converter and use the Honda's inverter capability? I imagine I will be buying the companion down the road for hot days, although I'm hoping we'll find the typical Colorado/Wyoming/etc. temps more suitable than what we're used to in Southern California.
__________________
westcoastas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 04:52 PM   #8
Rivet Master
 
gandttimes's Avatar
 
2014 25' FB International
2007 20' Safari SE
2005 19' Safari
Qualicum Beach , British Columbia
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 801
I might add that if you are going to just use the generator that you invest in a battery monitor like the Trimetric. I used to just run my generator till the batteries showed full on the idiot monitor and was very surprised to learn with the addition of the TM 2030 that they were not!
The plus that you had when you had solar was that it topped your batteries of when the generator won't. Believe me it takes a lot to top off that last 5% of battery.


George
__________________
gandttimes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 05:19 PM   #9
Moderator
 
DKB_SATX's Avatar

 
2017 26' Flying Cloud
1976 Argosy 28
Alamo Heights , Texas
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 6,401
Images: 1
Blog Entries: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by westcoastas View Post
Ray, that was sound reasoning to me and a Honda EU2000 will be one of my first purchases once we hit the road for the first time and reach our winter destination in St. George. I know the state and number of your batteries vary, but I have two Interstate batteries on my trailer, so I was wondering what the ballpark estimate is for charging two batteries. Do you folks generally charge them first thing in the morning? Is it efficient enough to charge the batteries and use the interior outlets or is it sometimes better to bypass the trailer's converter and use the Honda's inverter capability? I imagine I will be buying the companion down the road for hot days, although I'm hoping we'll find the typical Colorado/Wyoming/etc. temps more suitable than what we're used to in Southern California.
You're using an inverter-based generator's "inverter capability" all the time it's in operation, it's an integral part of its design to produce 125v AC output.

You're better off charging the batteries with the trailer's built-in converter, especially if you've installed a 3-stage converter or if the newest trailers finally come with one by default. The 12v output of the generators are limited in amperage.

I think a fair number of people run the generator in the morning to support microwaves, toasters and coffee makers. After a cold night it makes sense to charge the batteries up soon after you've been draining them with the furnace fan overnight and/or heating up the trailer when you wake up. I found this summer that if I'm not running the furnace, I needn't charge my single battery in the Argosy for 3 days, but I don't have the constant 12v loads that lots of new trailers do.

Also, I'll second gmeikle's statement that getting your batteries fully charged on the generator takes longer than you think it does. I'm putting a trimetric in the project trailer.
__________________
David

Zero Gravitas 2017 Flying Cloud 26U | Il Progetto 1976 Argosy 28 Center Bath | WBCCI# 15566

He has all of the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. Sir Winston Churchill
DKB_SATX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 06:03 PM   #10
Rivet Master
 
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,591
I have a solar system on the 20' FC that I installed. Also a pair of golf cart batteries and a Tri Metric meter. I boondock almost exclusively. I cannot recall the last time I was at a commercial campground with power hookups. I am on a trip right now, and have been out for a week. Up in Montana, Glacier park area it was cold, wet and yucky. Batteries dropped to 82%. Then it got colder, and I moved south. last night in Seeley Lake MT it was 30 and the furnace ran a lot. I am usually up reading and on the computer until 11 PM. This morning after I warmed the place up (and I don't like it cold) the Tri Metric said 62% charge. That is the lowest I have seen it read. The campground spot was shaded, so no sun yesterday or this morning. I moved again today, and the tow vehicle charge plus the solar charge brought me up to 84% right now.

I have a Honda 1000 watt inverter generator which I did bring along. In the summer I don't bother anymore, but for insurance brought it on this trip. I have not brought it out yet, see no reason to since the lowest charge has been 60%.

So although it is nice to have the generator for a real long time no sun or tow, I have never used it yet to charge batteries on either the new FC or the old Argosy. Both have golf cart batteries and solar.

I am not freezing in the dark. I like it warm, light, and like my computer way too much.

Just my experience to add to the pot.
__________________
idroba is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 06:31 PM   #11
Rivet Master
 
terryV's Avatar
 
2002 31' Classic
Currently Looking...
Monroe , Iowa
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 649
I have a 2800 Yamaha Tri Power generator. It runs on nat. gas, propane, or gasoline. At 70 lbs. it is light enough for me to lift it into the bed of my truck. It's also small enough to hide under the tonneau cover of my PU bed.

Running on automatic throttle, it can be very quiet powering the converter, water pump, fridge on elec., and lights. Kick in the microwave or the AC and it gets a bit noisier. But on those days when you just gotta have AC, it's worth it.

When you need it, drop the tailgate, flip back the tonneau cover, and give the rope one pull. Then plug it in. Rain or shine, you have power.

If you don't like carrying a gas can, plug it in to the propane bottles.

Yes solar power is nice. But for those days when solar isn't enough, I have Yamaha.
__________________
terryV is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 07:05 PM   #12
Rivet Master
 
Tincampers's Avatar
 
2006 22' Interstate
Sneedville , Tennessee
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 1,227
We have the Yamaha 2400ishc inverter which I plan to convert to tri fuel. I also want to get a portable solar array like a Zamp 160. Run the generator in the morning and then let the solar finish topping off during the day. We plan to boondock most of the time.
__________________
Tincampers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 07:34 PM   #13
Rivet Master
 
Ray Eklund's Avatar

 
2014 25' International
2006 23' Safari SE
Currently Looking...
Boulder City , Nevada
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 2,366
One important point that, due to my ignorance, is the "kind" of battery I am inquiring about replacing the current International acid batteries that came standard with the 2014 Airstream.

The 2006 Airstream had a pair of sealed "Glass Mat AGM Absorbed Glass Matt Batteries"...? I inquired several weeks ago at a battery shop and the owner explained the differences between the standard battery and the "glass mat". How they discharge, recharge and construction. It was more information than I could absorb at one time, but the pair in the 2006 AS with the factory Solar System, performed excellent and never a problem. Eight years with no problem and dependable. I hear these being referred to as Deep Cycle Batteries. Lots of terminology and the meanings may all mean the same.

This will be my next step, after my generator option and without any Solar input for 2015... test. I understand the "golf cart battery" is probably the same or similar kind of battery. When I began to read about standard batteries and problems of drawing down the voltage below 11 volts and the damage to the lead plates if you let the battery discharge, sulfation and a dead battery. I would enjoy to hear from all Forum members who understand the advantages and disadvantages of each type of battery.

An AGM battery would cost $200 too $300 each. But with my experience after 8 years of constant use of mine, I would expect a longer lifetime for a pair of these, versus the 48 months peak use of the "starting batteries", used in automobiles and apparently installed as standard for Airstreams without Solar currently.

Here are other terms used for these AGM batteries: Sealed Regulated Valve, Dry Cell, Non Spillable, Valve Regulated Lead Acid, Deep Cycle... I found this on a battery website Motorcycle Batteries, ATV, Car, Marine, and Solar Battery Products | BatteryStuff.com and their "Battery Basics" Layman's Guide to Batteries.

Are there any experienced opinions concerning the battery option that would provide reliable and consistent power over many years? As you can tell. I have just begun to explore battery options. I believe I am on the right track with the AGM battery, but is this track a dead end? Or not.

Added: The 2014 Airstream uses- Marine/RV Deep Cycle SRM-24 550 CCA 690 MCA batteries.
__________________
Ray Eklund is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-12-2014, 07:39 PM   #14
4 Rivet Member
 
FCloud9's Avatar
 
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Mohnton , Pennsylvania
Join Date: Apr 2014
Posts: 366
Images: 1
SOLAR or GENERATOR? That is the question for Boondockers...

We started after careful research, with 2000 watt generator & with only one 10 day trip, we were happy with efficient, quiet generator for our energy needs. Still on the "vertical learning curve" ....so still analyzing alternative renewable energy options...portable vs. installed solar & watchful waiting for updates on mini wind turbine....https://www.kickstarter.com/projects...urbine-for-usb

We live in an area which recently (5/2014) experienced baseball size hail and resulting damage to cars & homes. Fortunately, we did not take delivery of our new FC until the following week.
Understandably, nasty weather does not occur every day, but unsure of the whole energy need vs. costs. Good thread, always eager to learn more!
__________________

__________________
FCloud9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
New Web site for us Boondockers DumOleBob Boondocking 11 11-03-2014 06:54 PM
Oregon Boondockers Unite BrandonJenna Boondocking 100 06-29-2014 11:15 AM
New Boondockers Club Boondocker Other Rallies & Events 66 05-16-2011 05:25 PM
Michael's Boondockers Cafe ArtStream Stella's Kitchen 9 08-19-2009 10:27 AM
tank sizes for boondockers urbanfood Boondocking 10 05-19-2009 02:13 PM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:10 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.