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Old 08-07-2020, 09:39 AM   #1
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2014 19' Flying Cloud
Carnegie , Pennsylvania
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Posts: 37
Help with Generator Selection

Ok, still consider myself a newbie here. Have a 2014 flying cloud Bambi, 19 foot. I also have a Zamp solar panel which I’ve barely used. I’m going to be doing some Boondocking and want the luxury of air conditioner etc. Therefore I’m looking to add generator capacity for my airstream. I have zero experience with generators. Upon calling Jackson center, they recommend two 2000 W generators if you want to run air conditioner. Since I know nothing about generators, from my limited research I understand that the 2000 W models are lighter weight and you have to buy one that can be connected to another one. Here are my questions:
1. Recommendations on best generators – I have heard Honda are solid and to avoid the cheaper models at Harbor freight only because if something goes wrong you won’t find anyone who can fix them.
2. How does the airstream connect to the generator? It doesn’t look like most generators have a 30 amp outlet – do I just use the adapter to a standard AC outlet and plug the airstream into the generator AC outlet?
3, because my tow vehicle is an SUV, I’m thinking about generators that run off of liquid propane instead of gasoline. The reason is I feel like between the generators and the gasoline I would need to transport, either my airstream or my tow vehicle will smell of gasoline. (Unfortunately I don’t have a truck that has an open air bed). Does anyone know about the reliability of generators that run from propane on the airstreams or any experience or recommendations on those?
4. Several generators I’ve looked at talk about their “clean output” - how important is that?
5. Do I need any other type of adapters, surge protectors, etc?

Thanks so much in advance!

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Old 08-07-2020, 10:15 AM   #2
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2007 22' International CCD
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Help with Generator Selection

I use a single Champion 3500 watt Dual fuel Inverter generator. I run it only on propane. It easily powers all my loads on my 30 amp Airstream.

I went with a single generator for convenience and a bit of extra capacity. It stays in my truck bed. I modified the generator propane regulators to make it easy to connect to the Airstream propane system. The modification is shown below. Basically unscrewed the two regulators from each other and added quick connect fittings.

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High pressure OEM Champion regulator with a female quick connect added. This lets me run from a stand-alone propane tank if I want to.

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Low pressure OEM Champion regulator with a male quick connect added. This is required to connect propane to the generator inlet fitting. It regulates propane flow to the generator carburetor. The quick connects let me use one or two 12 foot long extension hoses as seen in the background of the picture. The black hose at upper left is the OEM hose that goes to the Champion’s propane inlet fitting, and it must not be modified.

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3/8 quick connect and shutoff valve on A-frame if the Airstream. This is where the hoses connect. The valve is needed to shut down the generator and let it burn any propane in the hoses and regulator for safety.

The Champion is much less expensive than a single Honda, and cranks out more power. It also has a 30 amp RV outlet built in. No dog one adapter needed.

Yeah, it weighs about 90 pounds, but I load it into the truck just once a trip. It runs on the tailgate when I need it. I’m a certified semi-retired old phart, and I can still lift it in and out of my Tacoma as needed. It’s a lot lighter without gasoline in it.

The ‘clean output’ is a reference to the shape of the AC output. Clean means it is very close to standard AC power. Some cheap inverter generators put out a ‘modified sine’ power that is not good for sensitive electronics in an Airstream. The Champion puts out clean power.

The Champion Dual fuel 3500 watt inverter generator is used by many folks on the forum and so far has been shown to be reliable. There is service available.

I suggest adding an hour meter to the generator for tracking when to change the oil, and a wire harness to connect a battery maintainer while it is in storage to keep its 12 volt starter battery charged.

I have an EMS/surge protector built into the Airstream for power protection when plugging into shore power. For use with the generator I have a ground to neutral bonding plug installed in a spare outlet on the generator to make the RMS/surge protector ‘happy’ when I run the generator. The EMS requires proper power connections, voltage, and ground to neutral connection before it turns power on for safety.

I also added a front power inlet to the Airstream for ease of connecting the generator and a manual transfer switch to select the inlet power connector.

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It’s also possible to add a MicroAir Easy Start module to the air conditioning unit to make it possible to run it on a single 2200 watt Honda generator with a propane conversion. This can be marginal at higher altitude and on hot days. I went with a 3500 watt generator to accommodates wider range of conditions. I did add an easy start module anyway. Makes the air conditioning compressor start more gently.

Fell free to ask more questions if this is not making full sense to you. There are lots of folks on these forums that use quiet inverter generators for camping.

Rich, KE4GNK/AE, Overkill Engineering Dept.
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:38 AM   #3
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Tampa , Florida
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To answer your question, Honda and others use a plug that resists vibration causing it to fall out. However, Your camper has a 30 amp male. There's an adapter to allow you to interface the generator with the RV.
I just leave mine in the generator.
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:56 AM   #4
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In 2013 I first purchased a Honda 2000 with the intentenion of buying a second generator, at some point in the future when I needed to run the AC. That generator was the one that is called a "Companion" that came with a factory installed twist lock 30 amp outlet. I use an adapter to connect it to my RV. I still use this when I do not need the AC. It has started and run flawlessly every time.

Honda offers this kit to combine two generators in parallel to run an RV>

I never purchased that second 2000 watt generator.

Three years ago I purchased a 3500 watt Predator inverter generator from Harbor Freight. It has been flawless for three years.

You get what you pay for.
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:14 AM   #5
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Williamsburg , VA
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I just purchased a Yamaha EF2200IS inverter generator. After doing a lot of research I thought this was the right one for me. I have a bad back so I wanted something that was lightweight, it has a carry handle in the middle and two on the outside if you want to share the load. This one should easily provide enough power to start at least one of my air conditioners on my classic as I have the easy start installed. It also has a 30 amp outlet already on it so I just need the adapter to go from 30 to 50 amp which I already own. The big benefits of the Yamaha I found was not only the connection, but an easy way to drain the fuel bowl of the carburetor and a petcock that shuts off fuel to the carburetor. It also had a fuel gauge and power level gauge along with some other features that the Honda did not have. As I don't have the generator yet I can post back after I get it with results but I'm pretty confident it will do well. Yamahas are solidly built and carry a 3-year warranty.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:25 AM   #6
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The Champion 3400 dual fuel will run a 13.5 A/C unit no problem.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:57 AM   #7
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What not to buy

Do not buy an open frame construction type generator. They are less expensive but they are loud and everyone around you at the campground will give you the stinkeye. Look for a generator that has a noise level of less than 60dB at rated output.

Do not buy a generator that is not CARB compliant and not USFS approved so you can use it wherever you camp without fouling the air or setting the woods on fire.

Do not buy a generator that is not inverter based. The inverter generators do not need to run at 3600 RPM all the time and therefore have a higher fuel economy. They cost more.

Do not buy a generator that produces less than 2000 watts. Some campgrounds will have restricted generator run times, usually 2 hr in the morning and 2 hr in the late afternoon. If you are hoping to recharge your batteries in those windows, you need enough power to do that. Also, Appliances like hair dryers, microwaves, toasters, and coffee makers can take 1000 to 1500 watts.

Do not buy a generator that is heavier than you can carry. Even if you leave it in the bed of your truck all the time when camping. you still have to pick it up and get it in there and out of there from time to time. The weight you can or want to carry today will go down as you get older.

Do not buy a generator that does not have an automatic shutoff when the oil level is low.

Do not buy a generator that does not have a (gasoline) fuel shutoff. You want to shutoff the fuel and run the engine until the carburetor is dry. If you are using propane then you don't need to worry, but output power will be reduced.
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Old 08-08-2020, 12:11 PM   #8
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Martensville , Saskatchewan
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Hi, this is the unit I use. It is highly rated, dual fuel, inverter, quiet & remote start. Plug in your AS power cord, start it and turn on your A/C. Only down side is, it’s going to require two people to lift it in and out of your SUV. Great generator!

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Old 08-10-2020, 04:33 PM   #9
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Ditto what rmkrum said. Champion 3500 dual fuel, modify the regulators (easy) and run off the Airstream low pressure port.

Works like a charm. Lots of capacity for A/c etc. About the same noise as the Honda.
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Old 08-10-2020, 04:41 PM   #10
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Never had mine go to full throttle when running my A/C unit. Makes it a bit quieter under light loads.

The regulator modification is covered in excruciating detail in the “Which generator” thread on the forums. Look for my information throughout.
Rich, KE4GNK/AE, Overkill Engineering Dept.
'The Silver HamShack' ('07 International 22FB CCD 75th Anniversary)
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Old 08-10-2020, 06:09 PM   #11
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You can probably run the AC from one Honda 2200 with a propane conversion if you install a Easy Start in the AC. Basically you just plug the trailer into the generator with the proper adaptor. I think the larger generators are for those with truck beds. I would not want to carry a propane bottle in the trailer or in a SUV so you have to have large enough bottles on the trailer to run the fridge, stove, WH, furnace, and then the generator. If there is enough room mounting or carrying the generator on the tongue of the trailer appeals to me. I would do that with a gas generator if I did not have an open bed TV.
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bill M. View Post
You can probably definitely run the AC from one Honda 2200 with a propane conversion if you install a Easy Start in the AC.
I fixed Bill's comment...based on my own direct experience.

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