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Old 12-23-2003, 10:57 PM   #1
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Converter/Generator Question?

We are thinking about buying a generator for charging up our battery when boondocking. We don't have an air-conditioner so I don't think we need anything too powerful. The Yamaha and Honda 1000 watt units look about right.

However, our converter is the Intelipower 60 amp charger which draws 1000 watts. Does anyone know if this is constant or just dependent on the load?

Can a 1000 watt generator support a 1000 watt converter?

Thanks,

Virginia
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Old 12-23-2003, 11:28 PM   #2
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There were a couple of reports on iRV2 or RV.net from folks who'd upgraded their 40-45A converters to 55-60A, and their EU1000s began overloading when the batteries were significantly discharged.

Even if it doesn't overload, a 1000W generator at 1000W output is screaming along at something beyond its maximum continuous rated rpm (where it produces 900W). Not only is the higher pitched noise more irritating, but generator isn't going to last as long working its heart out.

For not much more money, and not much more weight, the EU2000 will be running at a much lower, less strained rpm when battery charging. It's more flexible, being able to run things like a 2HP air compressor, a microwave oven, a blow dryer, and a coffeemaker, while still having some left over for the converter, which is always drawing a little, even when the batteries are charged.

You CAN parallel two Honda EU1000s and get the same output as an EU2000, but you'll pay a more for them than one EU2000. And of course you can parallel two EU2000s if you ever do get AC. We have two EU2000s.
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Old 12-24-2003, 11:28 AM   #3
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Would it be better to charge the battery directly from the generator and by-passing the convertor/charger? Would that be asking for a fried battery?

Also, if we have discharged the battery(s) by a certain amount - say 20 amp hours - how do I figure out how long I need to run a generator to top it off? I do have a digital voltmeter . . .

Virginia
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Old 12-24-2003, 12:44 PM   #4
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The small generators have only an 8A DC output, which is a LOT less, and a lot slower, than using their AC outlet to power the converter, especially if the Progressive Dynamics converter has an inexpensive Charge Wizard that boost the battery charge when it can take it.

The most accurate way to know how much you've taken out of, and how much you've put back into, the batteries, is to use a quality amp-hour meter. My favorite is the Xantrex Link10, which accounts for the Peukert factor.

I want to get one of those one day, but for now, we just run the generator(s) daily for 4 hours in the evening. That's more than enough to replace 20 hours of Fantastic Vent or furnace use (in not too cold weather), as well as 20 hours of parasitic loads. It also means that our lights, shower, cooking, TV uses come out of the converter and not the batteries, so they don't get as deeply discharged.
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Old 12-24-2003, 02:11 PM   #5
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NOPE!
There is allot more to charging batteries than arbitrarily throwing amps into it. We need a metered amount of charge Dependant on battery charge state. Additionally gel cell batteries are a whole different situation compared to deep cycle batteries; Dependant on what you have. You really need to understand charging dynamics in order to make an intelligent decision.
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Old 12-24-2003, 05:44 PM   #6
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RoadKingMoe is correct.
Use a 2000 watt generator, you will save money in the long run. You may create more trouble being under powered.
While the 2000 watt generator is charging your batteries you still have enought power to do other electrical things like using galley appliances.
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Old 12-25-2003, 03:38 PM   #7
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In a near perfect world, the Honda 2000 would be ideal and is my preference. My husband has been looking at the Coleman Powermate 1850 . . . fortunately Home Depot is out of stock.

I need some major good reasons why we should avoid the Coleman. Websites with bad reviews, horror stories . . anything?

Virginia
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Old 12-25-2003, 04:58 PM   #8
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There is nothing wrong with a Coleman generator, just remember when a generator is rated at 1850 watts that is not really what you get. The generator really would put out around 1500 watts continuous. The coleman would work for you. Read the owners manual before you buy to be sure the unit gives you the best performance for fuel comsumption. I prefer to use a generator that runs at half the rated output for what I generally need. My propane 4000 watt unit really runs at 3500 watts continuous max output, so with my ac running, other stuff and battery charging I pull about 2000 watts. Runs quieter uses less fuel and the unit will last much longer because it runs cooler.
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Old 12-25-2003, 08:51 PM   #9
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Check Noise Level

Towster:

You might want to compare noise levels. Is there a place you could rent or otherwise compare the units running side by side under a load prior to purchasing?

Owners of Honda's (with the "camper" noise abatement package) always brag on the Honda, while very seldom do you hear the praises of other brands.

I have rented small gasoline non-Honda's in the past for remote construction projects, and found them very noisy, even in the midst of other construction related sounds.

By far, the best way to compare gensets is to try them under comparable circumstances. Perhaps you could find a large dealer that would run the two side by side for you.

Generators are a lot like trailers, you get what you pay for, and simply comparing the cost of a Coleman to the cost of a Honda should not be the only parameter factored into the decision.
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Old 12-25-2003, 09:12 PM   #10
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2000W

One other thing to check for is compression release. Some units (Honda) are much easer to start since they are not under full compression when you pull the starter cord. I don't know if they put that in the manual but you can tell the difference by pulling the starter cord on each model prior to purchase. The Honda engine on my Genrac generator is easer to start than a comparable Coleman and was a major factor in choosing a generator.

Also, as others have suggested it is far better to have some spare power than not enough and trying to just get by.

Garry
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Old 12-25-2003, 09:21 PM   #11
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Owners in this thread don't rate them very highly, especially when it comes to noise... they consider them "very noisy." Some are replacing them with Hondas.

Keep in mind that they aren't inverter models, run at full speed all the time, and don't produce the same clean power the Hondas do.
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Old 12-25-2003, 11:23 PM   #12
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An Option

Towster,

You might also look at the Yamaha 2800. It is an inverter unit that runs my computer beautifully and since it, too, has an 'eco' throttle runs very quietly when not at full song. It is much less than the Honda 3000 and weighs nearly half (65#). The cost is about $1200 +- and has significantly more power available than the Honda 2000. That said it is 6db noisier at all output levels, but still one of the quietest gensets out there. Oh, did I mention it is an inverter model, as are the better Honda's. You can even get a GFI protected model as well as a regular, non-GFI, model. I'm a dyed in the wool Honda guy, but the cost vs power vs weight vs noise this one took my dollars. BTW during the last hurricane here in the VA area it ran my house (minimal requirements) for 5 days until the power company could get us back on line.

Take care,
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Old 12-26-2003, 12:14 AM   #13
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Having just purchased a new generator for our Airstream trailer I would like to share with you some of what we have learned. Basically there are two types of generators commonly sold. Contractor models that are more concerned with cost and Portability. This type usually runs at thirty six hundred RPM and has little money spent on mufflers and vibration dampening. The best RV Generators will usually have the motor and generator mounted on a sub frame to dampen vibrations. They may also come in a sound deadening cover or box. Water-cooled engine is preferable to air cooled, as they tend to run quieter. Twin cylinder engine running at eighteen hundred RPM are other featured that you want to look for. All generators can be made to run quieter if you know what to do. But that is another thread. If you do not want to run A/C and other heavy A/c appliances consider solar cells. Cheap with less weight and maintained,
I have a generator and would not want to go any other way. Love the freedom and flexibility that the generator adds to the whole experience.

Thanks

Bruce
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Old 12-26-2003, 01:28 AM   #14
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One small point on A/C to DC converters. One should only use converters that are regulated both current and voltage. If the converter is regulated both current and voltage and well designed to maintain batteries it will not overcharge the batteries. All you really need to do is remember to check you battery electrolyte levels three or four times a year. A well-designed converter will have circuits for self-protection. Some even have reset switches. If a battery cell shorts out it will probably boil the water from the shorted cell but no damage to the converter will result. We like the other gentleman run our generator about four or five hours a day for microwave cooking and entertainment which in turn provides A/C, power to the converter that is more than enough to keep our batteries charged. Keep in mind most of use are charging the trailer batteries form the towing vehicle as we are going down the road. If you decide to use solar cells keep in mind that the solar cell output is DC voltage but you still need current and voltage limiting device of some kind in the circuit between the solar cells and the batteries to prevent overcharging. Most places that sell solar panels also sell the device you need and provide simple to follow wiring diagrams. Properly installed the solar cells do a fine job of providing the needed power for many years of trouble free service.

Thanks

Bruce
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