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Old 11-10-2015, 05:25 AM   #1
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I am getting ready to purchase a 40' fifth wheel and thought the generator would be a nice add but at over $5000 I am thinking about just buying a portable gas generator and putting it in the back of my truck.
Any thoughts on the gas vs the propane that would come with the fifth wheel or if a generator is even needed?

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Old 11-10-2015, 05:46 AM   #2
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I too have been mulling this same thought over. We have a 39' FW. My decision will be a portable one using gas. I already use the space where a dedicated generator would be stored. Now it comes down to do I want one large enough to power one of my ACs or do I go with a smaller one that will just power the fridge/lights/smaller draws?

The more powerful one means more weight to lug around. A smaller one wouldn't weigh near as much. I'm leaning towards the smaller one, thinking that a temporary loss of power wouldn't last that long and if it was to last long, then we hook up and go somewhere else. We don't boondock, so there's no need for one that can handle our power needs for long term.

These are just my considerations, they may not fit your situation.

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Old 11-10-2015, 05:53 AM   #3
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Your camping lifestyle will determine if you need a generator. During long trips, we often stay at Walmarts overnight. We will run the generator to prepare meals (microwave, toaster, etc.). We sometimes stay in State or National parks that don't have hookups. We run the generator, again for meal prep, but also for a few hours in the morning and evening to recharge the batteries (meals and battery recharge can be done at the same time). We may run the generator to keep the air conditioner on, while traveling down the road. A generator should be "quiet". An open-frame, contractor style is not. A Honda, Yamaha, etc inverter style is. Search portable generator. You will find many "opinions" on it.
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Old 11-10-2015, 05:56 AM   #4
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Needing one all depends on if you're planning on spending time 'boondocking' without shore power in warm to hot weather. We only do that on occasion, and after adding solar & four big 6v batteries, the only reason for one is to run the air conditioner. A larger 5th wheel will almost certainly have a 15k btu AC, and that means you'll need at least a 3kw generator - 4 or 5kw if you've two ACs. Since we don't use ours but once or twice a year, I got a $300 Harbor Freight Predator (4kw peak, 3.2kw running). It's not as quiet as an inverter type, but is much better than a contractor one.

If your planning on a lot of boondocking, you really need an inverter kind. They are very quiet, but cost a lot more for the capacity you'll need. Honda, Yamaha, Subaru, Champion and a few more brands are out there.
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Old 11-10-2015, 06:01 AM   #5
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If you need a microwave or Air conditioning than you're going to need a generator at times. If you are going to get a generator make sure you're willing to commit to running it regularly.
For everything else a fairly modest solar setup is the way to go IMHO. Even though it will never "pay for itself" it is awesome when I'm using the solar/batteries/inverter to power everything (except AC) with the sun.
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Old 11-10-2015, 06:07 AM   #6
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Back in 2004 when we bought out 5'er, we thought the same. Almost didn't buy the unit we got cause it was more expensive as it had a 5.5 onan.

After we got it, we were unsure how we lived without one for so many years. Used it often, enjoyed it often. Our's was a toy hauler, it ran on gasoline and the tank servered as a filling station for the toys. We miss that a lot. On our way home I would always fill that tank, and then at home we used it as a filling station for the mowers, weed wackers etc around the house. This cycled the fuel through and kept it fresh and was very nice to have.

Our son has the same, with propane. It has some advantages, but it is limited to the 2-30lb bottles which it consumes quickly and are much harder to refill than a tank of gasoline.

I vote yes get a genny, and go gasoline.


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Old 11-10-2015, 06:11 AM   #7
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When we had the TT, we purchased two Honda EU-2000 generators, one the standard, and one the companion. We had the parallel cable as well. We would run just one if we needed anything but microwave or Air conditioner. When we needed either AC or microwave, we ran two. Each generator will between 6 and 9 hours on 0.9 gallons of gasoline. We added an external 6 gallon tank so that we didn't have to add fuel as often. These generators are also really quiet! The Cons are:

1. Security, preventing them from being stolen. Cable loop through handles helped, but anyone with a cable cutter or battery powered cut off saw could have had them in no time.

2. Where do you store the gas can and/or the generators. Open bed of truck is best, no problems with fumes, but see con # 1.

3. We had a diesel truck, so now you are filling up with two different fuels. Not a problem, just a small inconvenience.

4. You have to go outside to start/stop the generators. This was the most inconvenient of all the cons to us.

We alleviated # 1 and # 2 by building/attaching a aluminum "truck box" to the back of the TT for the two generators, has room for the extra tank, exhausted out each end, has a small 110v whisper fan that was plugged into one of the generators, and pressurized the box whenever a generator was running. It also locked, and looked pretty cool as well! We had to hinge it at one end so it could swivel out of the way to allow access to the back storage "garage".

One item I would add. I installed an inexpensive "inductive style" hour meter on both generators to monitor usage for maintenance purposes, and to allow me to alternate running them to even up the hours. These are available on line for from $5 to $7 each, install in about 10 minutes and are a must as far as I am concerned.

Good luck with whatever you decide!
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Old 11-10-2015, 07:15 AM   #8
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Do you plan on removing it from your truck often/everytime? That would have an impact on my decision, and it did. I went with a Yamaha 3000ISEB that sits permanently behind the cab of my truck. I don't use the truck very often for anything but towing the 5th, so its not a problem for me.

I also do not use the generator much. Planned on camping in State forests (no elec) much more than have so far. It did come in handy when I went out west and stayed at Walmarts overnight and when we were at a resort with no hookups for a week.

My generator runs everything (separately) without an issue, and does it quietly. The boost never fails the 15k A/C.

It's tall though and I use a roll up bed cover to stretch over it.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:18 AM   #9
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A lot depends on what you want.. I will cite some possible concerns.

Onan Generators are fairly polite (Quite) in fact I recall one day about 130 feet from my motor home providing power to a Ham Radio Event the Event chair said to me "You can start the generator now" It was running, he could not hear it (I could but I have "Tuned hearing" and knew what to tune for, Long story 25 years long).

On another year (Same event different location) the city official was asking how loud the generator was.. We were speaking in normal voices not raising them at all. I was demonstrating how hot the Gen-Turi got by holding my hand against it as we spoke.

MY generator is 5500 watts designed for a 50 amp RV (That's 50 amps at 120 volts half what the RV can in theory suck but in practice enough)

Honda and Yahama and some other inverter models A common RV affair is two 2,000 watt units in parallell.. Honda and Yahama sell for about a dollar a watt so you are dang close to the cost of my ONAN.

PLUS the installed ONAN is far less likely to go AWOL (Grow legs and walk off). being bolted in behind a key-locked door.

One Suggestion: Onan makes both 120 volt (RV type) and 120/240 volt (HOME type) Generators. (The 2000 watt inverter jobs are 120 only but they make larger ones that are dual voltage).

If your RV is 50 amp, get a dual voltage model and install a proper outlet on the RV (40 or 50 amp Twist lock) Also install a matching INLET on your house and have an electrician hook that to a proper GENERATOR TRANSFER panel (Optional there is a device designed to install at the meter that will do the job, Power company will install that one for you (they have to in fact) but I do not recommend it for other reasons).

On the Generator panel (I call it the "E" for Emergency panel) put all your important stuff like TV, Radio, Computer, Furnace, Lights, Microwave, Fridge and freezer.. You may leave off A/C and use fans in summer. but above all else if there is a light in your house not often used (There was in mine) DO NOT put it on the E-Panel.

When power fails I stretch the custom Extension cord from House to RV. Pluggin in both ends.. Fire up ye old ONAN. back to basement and start flipping switches.> CLICK lights, CLICK furnace, Click ..> Well you got the list of clicks above.

Then I went upstairs to a nice comfortable wife (Priceless) And turned on the hall light we never used.

Then some hours later when the hall light came on I turned it off

Back to the basement and click all the stuff back to MAINS

Back to the Motor home and shut off ONAN

Leave cord for next power fail since it was winter and I was not about to mow it.
Home is where I park it!
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:34 AM   #10
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I am going through the same thing sort of... I Know I want a Genny when we sell our class A for a 5th wheel or TT... We don't 'boondock' , but in the last 5 yrs or so, our Onan genny has been like gold a few times... So I will Never be without one. As said, the "contractor" genny;'s are loud,,, its what we have here at the sticks and bricks,,, and due to the cost of the quiet invertor ones, we might still use it on a trailer. (when needed) It's a Briggs 4K... You can say you'll never need a generator,,, but we got caught a couple years ago in a freak ice storm in OK. (yes we watch the weather) Several big 5th wheels and such had big problems which I learned from, when the power went out to almost 10,000 people in the area of the campground. I went out, broke the ice off the intake grill of the genny, and we were good !!! Just bought a truck, so we will be getting a trailer,,, but not without a genny of some kind. In emergencies, noise doesn't matter,,, it's a sweet sound !!! I will qualify that in if you boondock around others, quiet is better... Monkey
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:39 AM   #11
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..another 2
We went with a 4kW gasoline Onan so we could run one air conditioner. In 2 years we have run an AC one time for an hour or so off the generator. Other than that we use it to power microwave, water heater, space heater, charge batteries and run misc electronics for an hour or so in the AM then again in the PM when boondocking. So for us 4kW is still really overkill. We could certainly get by with a 3kW and probably do fine with a 2 kW. I will admit it is nice to have the remote start and just press a button inside to start and stop the genny. If I could have exactly what I wanted, it would be a 3kW Yamaha inverter generator mounted on the rear hitch and just plug the trailer elec cord in which eliminates complexity and increases reliability IMO.
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Old 11-10-2015, 09:45 AM   #12
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Gas and LP Gennys are just about the same as far as noise goes. Gas is more efficient because there are more BTU'S in a Gallon of Gas than Lp Gas and LP cost's more. They are both reliable, just try to stay away from Chinese stuff especially from Harbor Freight. The LP versions require a bit less fussing with, because the fuel doesn't gum up like Gas when not used. I had a Gas one and it needed cleaned and tuned up every spring. We have a LP Gas one now and all I have ever had to do is change the oil each spring.

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Old 11-10-2015, 10:16 AM   #13
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Go to Norwall power 5500 Onan 4000 plus free shipping. The also sell smaller Onans
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Old 11-10-2015, 10:51 AM   #14
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This is something that I've thought about recently, too. When we made the decision to go with our MH we owned a generator that could power our hose, including the well. Since the MH has a generator we sold the generator on the auction. Now that we're talking about a 5'er, that is an issue.

We're talking about heavy coaches, 20-24,000 pounds gross weight, so we're looking at an F450 or F550-class truck. I think that such a truck would be able to handle the pin weight plus the hitch and a generator. The question is how to use that generator while underway. All of the coaches we've seen have the electrical connection in the street-side rear quarter. I suppose I could figure out some way to safely support the coach's power cord and an extension cord to reach to the truck bed and the generator. Any better ideas?

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