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Old 10-04-2003, 09:58 AM   #1
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Electric Question - Help

Greetings,

I may be missing something, but since I had no idea what an inverter was, I went to the Airstream web site and tried to look it up.

I now understand what it is, but I was confused by the last statement within the explanation. It said, "By and large, inverters are worthwhile if you RV often or are considering full-timing." This lead me to believe that Airstreams from the factory cannot easily have a blow dryer, blender, etc., plugged in.

Here is my question. Do the new Airstreams have normal electrical outlets in them so I can use a lap top or the blender which I previously mentioned or do I need to purchase an inverter to use these appliances? What am I missing?

Thanks
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Old 10-04-2003, 10:11 AM   #2
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One More Question

Is an inverter needed if you are at an RV park and they have an electric hook up? I am really lost on this one and unclear when exactly an inverter is needed.

Thanks
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Old 10-04-2003, 10:18 AM   #3
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Joshua, people commonly missuse terms when it comes to these devices.An Inverter changes DC into AC ,a power supply or converter changes AC into DC .The things you use in your house are AC 110 volts. Airstreams Do have AC 110 in them when they are either plugged into "Shore Power" or have an Inverter installed in them. All Airstreams do have 12 volt power supplies factory installed they are sometimes refered to as a Univolt ,power supplies , or even battery chargers which they do happen to be as well as the supply for all the 12 volt lights and devices. I hope this helps clear it up for you . Tom
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Old 10-04-2003, 10:27 AM   #4
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Tom,

Thanks for your resposne.

If I understand you, what you are saying is that if I am at an RV park where I can plug my trailer into shore power, my 110 will work.

The reason I would purchase an inverter, would be if I was camping and wanted to use those same 110 devices. Is that correct?

If this is so, when an inverter is purchased and installed do you need to run cable from the inverter to the outlets that you want to recieve the 110 power or do you simply wire the inverter to the batteries and wa la you are in business?

Thanks again!
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Old 10-04-2003, 11:05 AM   #5
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I understand now

Ok guys, I feel like such an ittiat.

Being that I have never been an RV'er, I am quickly learning.

I think that rather than buying an inverter, I will simply purchase a EU 2000 or EU3000.

From what I gather, if I purchase the 3000, I can fire it up and it will be able to run the entire trailer including the AC.

Tell me that im wrong. but as a novice, it seems like thats the way to go!
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Old 10-04-2003, 11:22 AM   #6
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Many get buy with an EU3000. It is MUCH heavier, due to the electric starter, battery, and larger fuel tank.

Personally, I can't lift it's 155 lbs (fueled) up into the bed of the big 4X4 truck, nor can I easily pick it up and carry it in front of me.

My solution, and that of many others, is to buy two EU2000s and parallel them. At 55 lbs each (fueled), I can carry one in each hand over quite a distance with them balancing each other, and put them up on the tailgate one at a time.

Here's how I paralleled mine: Parallel Honda EU2000.

They have enough power to run something else like the microwave when the the airconditioning is on, but only have 2 gallons vs the EU3000's 3.
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Old 10-04-2003, 11:40 AM   #7
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come on moe.....

"Personally, I can't lift it's 155 lbs (fueled) up into the bed of the big 4X4 truck, nor can I easily pick it up and carry it in front of me. "

sssshhhhh!

come on moe, us biker types are supposed to be tough guys!

you don't want the rest of the forum to think we are a bunch of girly men!

my 4.5kw generator wieghs in about the same as the 3000 you mention.

girly or not, i always get help or run it up my bike ramps 'cuz it is on wheels!

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Old 10-04-2003, 11:42 AM   #8
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Maurice,

Thanks for your reply. As you know, I am new at this, so please bare with me.

Lets say I don't want to deadlift 155 pounds and I decide purchase two EU2000's:

What type of receptacle does that new Airtsream come with? The reason I was considering the EU3000 is because it had a 30 AMP receptacle. Theoretically, couldn't I just run a line directly from the EU3000 to the new Airstream?

With two EU2000's, I know that they have smaller receptacles. As I saw in your picture, it looked like you came up with your own receptacle. Am I correct?

Am I also correct in saying that after linking the two units together and then running a 30 amp plug to the Airstream, I am close to being maxed out if I want to run my AC all day and evening?

Let be ask you this. Because I am in AZ and we all know it gets super hot, my main goal is to be able to get away for a few days and be able to watch TV, run AC whenever I want, and basically do whatever I want without having to worry about my loads, etc.

The maximum amount of time I would ever be gone would be 3 or 4 days so bringing enough fuel along would not be a problem.

With that said, would you still go with the two EU2000's?

Thanks
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Old 10-04-2003, 12:12 PM   #9
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I'd definitely go with two EU2000s.

The Airstream has what's called a 30A travel trailer plug on it.

Generator outlets that are 20A have an outlet that's like a residential one, except that the left hole is a T to accomodate 20A plugs where the left prong is horizontal rather than vertical.

Generator outlets that are 30A, such as the one on the EU3000, have a twist-lock connector, so you still have to use an adapter to connect a travel trailer to it.

Those of us who make our own adapters/parallel cables just get a box and faceplate, and a 30A travel trailer outlet to mount in the box. The travel trailer plug just plugs straight into it.

The parallel cable that Honda sells for the EU2000s is near $200 and has a 30A twist-lock in the box, so you still have to us an adapter to plug the travel trailer into it.

If your air-conditioner isn't a high-efficiency one, it will consume about 15A when running, but can surge to much more than that when the compressor is starting.

The EU3000 has about 10A of "headroom" over continuous compressor running, but is close when it surges. Two EU2000s have about 18A of headroom, and can better afford to run something else besides the air-conditioner.

You definitely want to start the generators up in the morning before you have to have AC, so the draw of the converter charging the batteries has dropped by the time you need to fire the AC up.

If you've run the generators from maybe 6PM until bedtime, while using lights, TV, water pump, bath vent fan, etc, the batteries should be in pretty good shape in the morning, unless you've had to run the fan(s) all night.

You only need to run one of the two generators in the evening unless you're using the AC.

John, the young bikers can act tough all they want. Us old farts are now paying for the sins of our youth, and most of us understand that about each other. Instead of sittin' around the campfire talkin' about bikes and chrome, we're talkin' about what medicine we're on. Using the bike ramp for a gen on wheels is a good idea, though.
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Old 10-04-2003, 12:22 PM   #10
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Maurice,

Thanks so much for all of your help. I am going to start looking into picking up 2 of the EU2000's.

Thanks again!
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Old 10-04-2003, 12:46 PM   #11
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Many, if not most of us, in the MidWest and East, have had very good pricing and service buying from Mayberry's in New Jersey. Others, primarily out west, have reported good pricing and service from Alamia in Colorado.

Avoid the bait and switch SouthwestFastener. They advertise Hondas, but don't really sell them. When you call, they tell you they can't get the Hondas because there's been a lot of trouble with them, and they try to sell you a Yamaha.

Nuthin' wrong with Yamahas, if that's what you want. They have a little pull-start 2800, that isn't as capable as the electric-start EU3000, but is lighter and cheaper. Not as light and cheap as an EU2000. Marginal for air-conditioning, especially in hot weather, and unfortunately can't be paralleled either. Yamaha also has an electric-start 3000 that can surge to 3500 by drawing power from its own starting battery. It comes with wheels, where they're extra on the EU3000.

Hondas are a lot more popular with RVers.
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Old 10-04-2003, 01:54 PM   #12
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One thing to note when I tried picking one up two weeks ago - ALL the major dealers (including Mayberry's) were out of stock and would not have any until NOV! I ended up paying a bit more and getting mine (new) off e-bay (and paying a tad more than I liked - but it was a cost vs need scenario). Just FYI...I got it from Speedway Sales - had it in 5 days from order.
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Old 10-04-2003, 02:33 PM   #13
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I suspect they're pretty hard to find after a big hurricane that leaves so many without power. It may be awhile before the supply chain catches up.

Mayberry's warned me when I bought mine not to wait because Honda would be raising prices and cutting shipments to major on-line sellers in response to complaints from many small local dealers. They price-matched Alamia when I bought.
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Old 10-04-2003, 03:02 PM   #14
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The inverters installed in the big old airplanes I fly change electicity from 24 volts DC to 115 volts AC at 400 mhz.

You can buy inverters to bring 12 volts DC to 120 AC. The one I bought gives a square wave rather than a sine wave and will not run a tv or anything sensitive to sine wave signals.
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Old 10-04-2003, 09:29 PM   #15
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My philosophy on inverters is to use them as little as possible.

The worst thing you can do is run a coffeemaker, toaster, space heater, electric blanket, etc off an inverter! When battery power is limited, NEVER use it to make heat! Use gas or crank up the generator! One of the most popular boondocking drip coffee solutions is the Melitta carafe style. Heat the water in a pot on top of the stove, then pour it into a filter basket that sits on top of a carafe or thermos cup. Coleman also makes an automatic stove-top drip coffeemaker that works on top of a gas stove or camp stove.

Whenever possible, use electronics that can use 12VDC battery power. This eliminates loss to the inefficiency of the inverter, as well as loss to an external 110VAC to DC power supply. Many electronics have a 12VDC input with a 110VAC external power supply, but don't advertise they're 12VDC capable. This includes some flat-panel TVs and DVD players, weather radios, etc. TVs designed for use on 120VAC that use a cathode ray tube (CRT) may require an inverter 4-8 times their rated wattage because of something called a degaussing coil that requires a large surge current when the TV is first turned on. Best choice is a TV that is 12V capable.

Even with a computer, try to use a notebook with sufficient battery power (including a second or spare notebook battery, if necessary) to span the time between generator running. Their external 120VAC power supplies (which aren't 100% efficient) can draw as much as 1.6-2.0A at 120VAC, which translates to 18-22A at 12VDC on a less than 100% efficient inverter input. A notebook computer typically uses 17V and isn't 12VDC compatible. The 12VDC adapters for them use a DC to AC step up to DC converter that is also not very efficient.

Canon makes the neat little&nbsp&nbspi70 inkjet photo printer, which is 12V capable, as well as has an optional battery pack.

No RVer should be without a weather alert radio (and some need an alarm clock). The Midland 74-200 is an 12VDC capable (with 9V battery backup) alarm clock/weather alert radio with SAME technology, meaning you only get severe weather alerts for the area you've programmed to receive.

If you're going to watch satellite TV at times other than generator run time, you'll need a small inverter. There are no manufacturers who provide 12V models, since the satellite receivers supply higher voltage than that to the antenna. I'd certainly recommend a pure sine-wave one for less noise. A 125W Exceltech is more than enough. If you might need to plug in a notebook computer with a discharged battery, the 250W would be a better choice.

We still don't have an inverter, and may not ever, since we usually watch satellite TV in the evenings when the generator is running anyway.
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Old 10-05-2003, 01:49 AM   #16
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Maurice,

Thanks for all of the great info. If it's all right with you, I am going to recap everything that you have gone over.

In your opinion, the best way to go if I am at a camping spot which does not have a power, is:

Purchase 2-EU2000's and run them parallel to one another. I should mention that because I am in China right now, I have only been able to look on the net for the said units. I can tell you with much certainty, that anyone who sells them on the net is sold out.

OK, with that said, what you are then telling me is that when I wake up in the morning or lounge outside in the afternoon, that's the time to run the 2 EU2000's to charge up my batteries.

Then, when evening comes and I want to sit around and run the AC and watch a little TV, I would fire up the EU2000's again?

Let me ask you this, do you run the EU2000's all night to keep the AC going or at some point do you go outside and turn them off?


One other question I have, is if someone did buy the Exceltech inverter that you mentioned in your last post, is this hard wired into the electrical system of the Airstream? If I did have that inverter and merely just wanted to plug in a lap top or satellite and not run AC, would I just plug into the normal AC plug in my Airstream or do I need to plug directly into the Inverter. Does my question make sense?

Nonetheless, I have a friend at a Honda store back in the states, and when I return, I think I am just going to purchase two of the EU2000's.

Thanks again.
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Old 10-05-2003, 03:52 AM   #17
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Generator Question

It's pretty easy to tell that the Honda 2000 and 3000 are the choice of pretty much everyone.

I have been able to find some information on the Yamaha EF3000ISEB and it looks pretty interesting as well.

Any imput on this generator? Yamaha claims that with the "boost" option that it offers, it gives quite an advantage over other generators. Any input?
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Old 10-05-2003, 08:06 AM   #18
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When we run the generator(s)

The only reason I mentioned running in the morning is if two conditions were met: 1. you only had an EU3000 2. you significantly used the batteries overnight. The reason for that is that the converter can use a good bit of generator power charging the batteries if they are significantly discharged. With two EU2000s, you can wait until it gets hot enough to need air-conditioning before cranking them up in the morning.

Most places I camp have "quiet hours," when you can't run a generator regardless of how quiet it is (the "generator Nazis" walk around listening for one since they can't hear them at their campsite). This usually starts at 9PM or 10PM and goes until 7AM or 8AM. So most of us don't run generators overnight unless way out by ourselves.

I run the generator daily from 5PM to 9-10PM because that's the time I'm using electricity the most (except for days when needing the air-conditioning when I'm using it all day).

From the time I shut the generator off at 9PM, until I start it up at 5PM is 20 hours. During the night, I close up the windows for security, open the Fantastic Vent over the bed without turning the motor on, and run the Fantastic Vent in the living room on "Out" with a medium fan setting (2.5A) until 9AM for about 12 hours or 30AH. I'll then open the windows, set both FVs on OUT and a low fan setting (2A each, 4A total) for 8 hours or 32AH.

That's 62AH so far. The frig circuit board, LP detector, and radio (even when off) are drawing about 250 mA each or 750mA total over 20 hours is 15AH. The gas solenoid uses about 1A, and if it isn't too warm, it probably runs about 40% duty cycle, so 1 X 20 X .4 = 8 AH. That's 75AH so far.

The Group 27 batteries Airstream put in my 34' aren't very good. They're Interstate SRM-27 with only about 85AH each, or 170AH total, so 75AH is more than 40% of them, and that's about all I want to use out of them (I'll explain the 40% at another time), so I usually run the generator until 10PM and only go 19 hours quiet.

During generator run time, all the 12V electricity we're using for the parasitic loads, lights, fans, water pump, etc, comes directly from the converter, which is also charging the batteries. We're also using the 120VAC things, microwave oven, hand mixer, blender, vacuum cleaner, and in our case for now, the TV (120V only) and sat receiver during this time.

I make sure the refrigerator is set to GAS rather than AUTO, so it doesn't switch to 120VAC when the generators come one. The other thing you need to make sure of is that the switch for the anti-condensation heating elements around the refrigerator door is set to OFF. This system works off 12VDC and can use a LOT of battery power.

You also need to make sure the antenna amplifier is OFF when you aren't using it.

It's been our experience that if we have needed air-conditioning during the day, we still need it at least until 9-10PM, because it takes that long for the surrounding earth, as well as the trailer and all its mass, to cool down.

The fact is, with the two Fantastic Vents, we haven't yet boondocked when we needed the air-conditioning at all, so I can't really give you any "experience" with running the air-conditioning off the generators. Except for the day I ran it in the driveway with them, to see what all else I could run at the same time (and that was pretty much ONE of anything else big, i.e. the microwave, the toaster, the electric element in the water heater (you'd normally not do this off generator, I was just testing). So far, whenever we've needed air-conditioning when camping, it was with eletrical hook-ups.

BTW, we only turn the water heater on (on gas) about 20 minutes before we need it. That's after dinner for washing dishes, showering, etc. And we turn it off BEFORE the last shower, so we haven't wasted gas on heating up a tank that's just going to cool down (and put the heat in the trailer).

To answer your question about the inverter, yes, it really needs to be hard-wired. The cigarette lighter outlets on the Winegard antenna plates are only rated for 8A or about 100W, and they WILL melt at higher currents. Even the little inverter that provides 125W output can use 150W (12.5A) on input.
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Old 10-05-2003, 08:49 AM   #19
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Yamaha 3000iseb

Joshua 32064,

I have a friend who recently bought the Yahmaha and loves it.It is very very quite and works great. Its is alot heavier than the eu 2000 but has wheels on it so he just roles it into the truck and out. If you figure the cost of 2 eu2000 and making up the cable to join them, it is a better deal. If you are going to run the A/C that much that might be a better way to go.
There is a lot to be said for the light weight of the 2000 if you dont need the power of the bigger unit. In fact I am looking into one for all our winter camping so I dont have to deal with size and weight of our Mitsubishi 5800.

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Old 10-05-2003, 09:59 AM   #20
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BTW, the most time I've ever spent in Arizona was a few days, but I did spend 3 years in Saudi Arabia, 1.5 high in the mountains at Taif, and 1.5 in the middle of the desert at Riyadh.

That was about 16-18 years ago, but I don't really recall most late nights in the desert being unbearable, except perhaps when daytime temps rose to 110-120+F in Riyahd. That's why I recommended the EU2000s.

Without an external gas supply, they probably won't run hard all night on their 2 gallons, even if fueled at 10PM. The 3 gallon Honda and Yamaha 3000W generators have a better chance of doing that. Several folks have set the EU2000s up to draw gas from a 6 gallon outboard motor tank, and that's what I'll do, if I ever need it.

Keep in mind you want to start out with at least 3 gallons of water in the black tank to keep stool from forming the infamous mountain under the toilet, and want to quit using it when it's at least 2 gallons short of full so you don't risk it leaking around the toilet flange. So at best you only have 13 gallons of black tank capacity. That might be okay, since historically most folks generate about 3 times the grey water they do black water, and 13 X 3 = 39, the capacity of your grey tank. 13 + 39 = 52 gallons.

Given that the water pump usually can't pick up about the last coupla gallons from the fresh tank, your grey and black tank capacity should theoretically be enough for your 37 gallons of fresh water, plus another 5 gallons from a jerry can (42 gallons total) plus the 10 gallons or so you'll add from digested solids and liquids from other than the fresh water tank.

However, if you're going to bring along more spare fresh water, you may also want a wheeled tote tank for the extra waste, and a ramp to get it up into the truck bed. Considering that, the boost model Yamaha with wheels may be the thing to do, if you think the nights are going to be hot all night.

BTW, have you given any thought as to where you're going to set up a notebook computer station? That's one reason I like the credenza and flip-up table in the 25 SS Safari over the L shaped couch in the CCDs.
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