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Old 11-09-2011, 11:08 AM   #1
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2009 34' Panamerica
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What size generator?

Hello all,

I am getting ready to take a 34 Pan America to NYC for six weeks and am wondering what size generator I will need in order to power the trailer and run 3 small ceramic heaters as well as three barn lights that go in a 25ft military tent that attaches to the end of the trailer. I have been looking at a 5000 watt Honda. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


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Old 11-09-2011, 11:13 AM   #2
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HOw many watts are the heaters each? how many watts are the barn lights each? Will you be powering the AS by gennie as well?
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:24 AM   #3
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Those heaters are normally 1500 watts, so that's 4500 not considering the other drains. I would say 5000 would be cutting it too close.
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Old 11-09-2011, 12:20 PM   #4
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Electric heat will be expensive - about 10 to 15% of the generator fuel will actually wind up as heat in your conditioned area.

If you must go electric heat I'd skip the ceramic heaters, they are hot spots that heat the ceiling from large temperature differences and the heat rising - look at Vornado brand heaters, they are a strong fan that adds a little heat to a lot of air; real cold draft killers!

I just kept a 10x20 tarp shelter at or above 60°F with one heater even with overnight lows in the upper 20's to make sure the floor paints cured as I finish my shell-off rehab (and that was with a 200'-plus wire run).

The ones I have were end-of-season clearance but we just saw them at Costco for $38 each. The heat comes out at a safe temperature too in case someone lays their jacket too close to it too, etc..
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Old 11-09-2011, 12:28 PM   #5
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Yes, the electric heaters are not very efficient, and after thinking about it, I believe I would plan to use the Airstream's propane furnace, and in doing so, you could easily get by with one of the 2KW generators. You would, however use quite a bit of propane.
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:25 PM   #6
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The heaters are 1500 watts each so I would definitely be cutting it too close I think. I might have to switch to a 5000watt and a 3000. We want people to be real warm. The propane heater is not an option bc we have gutted the Airstream and built a log cabin inside.

Thanks all of you for your quick responses.
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:27 PM   #7
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Your 5000 or Honda EU 6500 ISA is plenty power to keep you warm. Try the small WORKFORCE heaters from home depot at ($25) or so. The most important consideration is the site location with regards to generator noise (decibel) tolerance. Check to make sure that you will be allowed to use a regular noisy generator especially at night. The honda EU series (3500 0r 6500) are quiet and NYC residents might overlook the 56 decibel noise from any of these units. I have two of the workforce heaters in my 31' 2006 classic but only use one combined with the AS propane furnace in extreem cold weather. If you are coming to NYC in the next two months (Nov - Dec), let me know and I can help you with refill of your propane tanks as needed 'cause you definetly need it. Enjoy your trip.
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:30 PM   #8
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Just read your last post so disregard my propane furnace ranting ....................
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Old 11-09-2011, 01:39 PM   #9
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Can you post pictures of your fancy log cabin Airstream??
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:09 PM   #10
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You can get portable propane heaters for heating your exterior tent.

Perry
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Old 11-09-2011, 02:29 PM   #11
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You can get portable propane heaters for heating your exterior tent.

Perry
18000 btu/h "Big Buddy" propane heater that looks like it burns a bit less than 1 lb of propane per hour on the high setting is $149 each at Wal-Mart.

You could buy a lot of those for the price of a Honda 5kw generator.
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Old 11-09-2011, 04:52 PM   #12
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18000 btu/h "Big Buddy" propane heater that looks like it burns a bit less than 1 lb of propane per hour on the high setting is $149 each at Wal-Mart.

You could buy a lot of those for the price of a Honda 5kw generator.
Too dangerous inside an AS. Use the built in propane furnace.
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:14 PM   #13
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Too dangerous inside an AS. Use the built in propane furnace.
He doesn't have the furnace installed anymore, and needs to heat a big tent space. In NYC in winter.
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:25 PM   #14
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18000 btu/h "Big Buddy" propane heater that looks like it burns a bit less than 1 lb of propane per hour on the high setting is $149 each at Wal-Mart.
I suspect debate about the safety of the Big Buddy can go on and on, but let me ask 2 questions:
1. Has anyone who has used one of these an opinion on using them in a AS?
2. Has anyone any direct experience to base the opionion they are unsafe?

The key word in the product description seems to me to be "ventilation". Is the Big Buddy a catalytic heater of does it have a flame?
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Old 11-09-2011, 06:43 PM   #15
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It's described as an "indoor/outdoor heater" and it states that it requires ventilation, and has an oxygen sensor that will shut it off. Surely they'd specify if it's a catalytic heater, and charge 3x as much.

My (perhaps unfounded) assumption is that this is not for camping in but for some display purpose, since they have "gutted the Airstream and built a log cabin inside." I would certainly agree that this isn't a good choice for heating sleeping space or even a space that's going to be closed up tightly. I should have stated my assumptions earlier but was reading/posting during a work break.
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Old 11-09-2011, 07:38 PM   #16
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Depending on your end use there is quite a range of propane heater products you can research:

Propane heaters available at the heater shop


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Old 11-10-2011, 11:36 AM   #17
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Thanks for all or the responses. I tried to post pictures but I think the moderators thought that I was posting commercial links. Anyways you can see it in the blog section if you search for Aether Apparel. I hope that is ok, Im not promoting anything. I think we are going to go with a 3000watt and a 5000watt.
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Old 11-10-2011, 12:12 PM   #18
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Generator capacity.

To determine "what size" generator, is a matter of simple arithmatic.

Add up the total at one time maximum wattage needed.

Add 25 percent to that number.

Never, ever, use a generator to more than 80 percent of it's output. To do so, will shorten it's life.

Andy
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:05 PM   #19
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Electric heaters are as close to 100% efficient as anything can be. There is no exhaust from an electric heater therefore all of the heat it produces is within the space it is used. Whereby a propane furnace like the original is not as efficient, 60 to 85% efficient at best. Any heater that requires an external exhaust will not be close to 100% efficient. Those that don't require an exhaust could be a health hazard. We recently returned from a trip across Nebraska to north central Iowa where night time temps were in the low 20's. We used 2 1500 watt ceramic heaters in our 26'Argosy, both units were set on the low setting (1200 watts). Never felt the slightest chill.
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:11 PM   #20
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Generators on the other hand are not very efficient when you consider the BTU value of the fuel as compared to the actual BTU value of the output of the generator. The engine of the genset is at best 85% efficient, add that to the efficiency of the generator (alternator) which is also about 85% efficient and you are looking at 70% efficiency at best. Input BTU to output BTU.
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