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Old 05-20-2015, 08:31 AM   #1
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Newbie - generator usage

Headed out this weekend in our new ACE for the first trip and due to the holiday weekend the only sites we could get have now electric (or sewer) so, we'll be putting all the systems to their test!

Pretty sure my 27.1 doesn't have auto-start/stop on the generator so, what's best practice (assuming we don't need the AC on)?

Just let it run full-time, or
Monitor batteries and run the generator to re-charge batteries, or
other ideas?
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Old 05-20-2015, 08:40 AM   #2
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Fellow newbie here... but gaining experience daily!

I've heard that common times to run the genny are during high-use times like food preparation, so breakfast and dinner. That powers your high-drain appliances and gives your batteries a charge that hopefully can last during the rest of the time (if you have enough Amp Hours packed away down there).

Of course the AC is another high-drain device so it may be necessary to keep the generator on throughout the day for cooling of your coach. Generally, it should be off after sundown (or certainly 11 PM) unless high temperatures warrant being on to keep the AC going throughout the night.

This is what I've picked up here and there and now use as practice in our Outlaw.

Anthony
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:42 AM   #3
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Depends on where you will be and how close to others. We personally do not like to run generators at all unless we need microwave or toaster then we will run for 15 minutes or so just to boost batteries and use the appliance. Use your lights sparingly to save batteries. I do not like to listen to others generators running for hours just because they can, we like to get away from the noise.
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Old 05-20-2015, 09:55 AM   #4
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Tholtman,

Even if your generator is auto-start (I kind of doubt that it is), the best thing to use is your brain. If the campground has quiet hours (most do) that is when you can't run the genset. If you don't have a battery voltage monitor stop and get one that you can push into a DC mousehole.

A lead/acid battery's entire life is between 12.0 (50%) and 12.6 (100%). If you let it get below 12.0 it will be hard pressed to ever get back to 100%. If you let the house battery get down to about 12.2(~70%) and then run the genset for a couple/three hours, the bank will be back to about 85~90%. This is when charging is most effective. To get back to 100% will take another 4 or 5 hours. That is just how batteries are. You cannot judge the state of charge by looking at the battery voltage while it is charging.

If you are going to run an A/C or a microwave, you will need the generator.

If you pay attention, your batteries can serve you well for years. If you abuse them, you can kill them in a season.

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Old 05-20-2015, 09:56 AM   #5
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Depending on your location to others dictates some, but running it for 30 minutes to 2 hours is very good for the generator with a load. I highly recommend a genturi which will help on the noise and significantly reduce of CO issues for you and your neighbors. Most campgrounds have quiet hours.


As others stated, meal time is a good time to use it for appliances, otherwise I would try and minimize the appliance usage and learn to use a grill for most if not all of your meals. I use a grill extensively whether I am boondocking or not.


Depending on your proximity to your neighbor, a simple greeting and say if my generator becomes a problem please let me know so I do not disturb you all day. Maybe determine what time they typically rise in the morning or turn in at night so you don't disturb them.


Good luck and enjoy your weekend!
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Old 05-20-2015, 10:08 AM   #6
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X2 on the gen-turi...

That is for your safety and the safety of others !!!
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Old 05-20-2015, 10:58 AM   #7
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I run a Honda 2000 watt inverter generator, ultra quiet so you don't bug your neighbor, barely uses any fuel and you can run everything but your a/c with it.
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Old 05-20-2015, 10:59 AM   #8
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Can't add much to what's already been said, except to make you aware that there will occasionally be those who will complain if you EVER decide you need to run your generator. They'll usually be the ones who don't have one, and they can't accept the fact that anyone else does.
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Old 05-20-2015, 12:14 PM   #9
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Great feedback everyone. I feel more prepared. But I guess I need to go check my ACE to see if there is a DC 'mousehole' in the coach for the voltage monitor? I know there is 1-2 in the dash but that would probably only check my chassis battery right?
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Old 05-21-2015, 09:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattC View Post
A lead/acid battery's entire life is between 12.0 (50%) and 12.6 (100%). If you let it get below 12.0 it will be hard pressed to ever get back to 100%. If you let the house battery get down to about 12.2(~70%) and then run the genset for a couple/three hours, the bank will be back to about 85~90%. This is when charging is most effective. To get back to 100% will take another 4 or 5 hours. That is just how batteries are. You cannot judge the state of charge by looking at the battery voltage while it is charging.
No, you can't judge battery charge state by voltage while charging, but you also can't judge it by voltage while discharging the battery, either.

This is a typical charge vs voltage table:


Those numbers are only valid while the battery has been resting with no load or charge. For any given state of charge, the voltage will be higher than what's in the chart if the battery is being charged, and it will also be lower than what's in the chart if it's under any kind of load and being discharged. In addition, just after being charged, even with the charger and any loads disconnected, the surface charge will cause the voltage to be higher than expected until the surface charge has been bled off.

Those numbers are a very rough approximation, but not the absolute truth since there are too many variables. But it's a reasonable guideline.

The most accurate way to determine the battery state of charge is with a hydrometer. This is a little syringe like affair where you suck up some battery acid into the device, and determine the state of charge by counting how many balls are floating in the acid. They are available at any auto parts store.

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I know there is 1-2 in the dash but that would probably only check my chassis battery right?
Yes, that is most likely the case.

Unless you have very heavy DC or inverter use, or a very small battery bank, you will probably get along with running the generator for an hour or two in the morning as you make coffee and breakfast, and then for another hour or two in the evening as you make dinner. That's a reasonable starting point, and you can adjust the usage up or down as you gain experience.
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Old 05-21-2015, 10:45 AM   #11
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Right WRONG or indifferent the way I do it is. Run Gen for about two hours in the morning IF the furnace has been used that night while making coffee and doing breakfast with the Cells charging and doing a bit of internet. One hour for just coffee and morning chores, like heating water and showers. Then in the evening about the same time if watching TV and the dinner hour, but if it's BBQ nite and very low day usage may not run the Gen at all that evening. We never run low on power doing this routine. As to battery health you should have a panel that lets you see tank, propane, fresh water and power(battery) level, although crude it is an indicator and will show full green while charging with a false yellow when high use with no 120 source.

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Old 05-21-2015, 12:58 PM   #12
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This is one of the reasons I am doing my homework and going to install a small properly done solar panel installation, so I can forget about running the gen just to charge up the batteries.
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Old 05-21-2015, 01:06 PM   #13
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This is one of the reasons I am doing my homework and going to install a small properly done solar panel installation, so I can forget about running the gen just to charge up the batteries.
X2 on the solar. I installed 300 watts of solar. Made stands for the panels so I can place them as required, MH in the shade and panels in the sun. Seldom run the generator when dry camping, only needed for the AC and microwave.

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Old 05-22-2015, 03:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anthonynalli View Post
Fellow newbie here... but gaining experience daily!

I've heard that common times to run the genny are during high-use times like food preparation, so breakfast and dinner. That powers your high-drain appliances and gives your batteries a charge that hopefully can last during the rest of the time (if you have enough Amp Hours packed away down there).

Of course the AC is another high-drain device so it may be necessary to keep the generator on throughout the day for cooling of your coach. Generally, it should be off after sundown (or certainly 11 PM) unless high temperatures warrant being on to keep the AC going throughout the night.

This is what I've picked up here and there and now use as practice in our Outlaw.

Anthony

This is exactly what we do...the Outlaw way

Just FYI, a genie auto-start is a factory available add-on to your Onan in the ACE. And it is not too hard to install, I have been told.
https://www.cumminsonan.com/autostart/faq/

And solar is a great add-on too...if you do a lot of boondocking...otherwise IMHO it will have a pay-off that will be too long after install to make it worth the purchase/install. It would get the auto-start first.

Safe travels
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