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Old 05-04-2013, 07:32 PM   #1
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1st time dry camping....need help with generator or inverter

Hello everyone,
We'll be staying in Elkmont Campground in the Smoky Mountains for 1 week in May. There are no hook-ups, and we're trying to decide what to do. After reading several posts here on iRV2, we're confused.

We now have a 30' TT, but hope to upgrade to a 5th wheel in a year or two. We want to buy a generator now, but since they're so expensive, we can't decide whether to buy a smaller one that will serve our needs now or buy a larger one that will also work when we upgrade to a larger unit.

I guess we don't exactly understand how the generator works. Are we really going to be able to use it in a campground? For instance, if we need the A/C on at night, we obviously can't be running the generator all night. What do people do?

We've read that Honda generators are super quiet, so we were thinking that might be the best, but we've also read good things about Yamaha 2400I, Champion 3500-4000, and Boliy 3600. Does anyone have any input about this?

And finally, can someone please explain to us what an inverter is? I've read that people can use their TV's and microwave (I think) with the use of an inverter.

Bottom line, we're trying to figure out how to have lights, possibly A/C, use of the computer and microwave while we camp for 1 week in the campground with no hook-ups.

Thanks so much for helping out on this.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:03 PM   #2
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We do lots of dry camping , boondocking etc and I have both a 2000 watts Honda gen and a 2000 watts inverter, we run the generator 3 to 4 hrs usualy in the evening enough to watch some news on tv and get batteries recharge for the night in case you would need the furnace, inverter is used for the morning kurig coffe and microwave,
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:22 PM   #3
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An inverter takes 12V from your battery and turns it into 120V AC and to understand how your battery works and parts of the equation Deep Cycle Battery FAQ To put it simply inverters take a lot of current and can suck a battery dry quickly. NO generator is quiet! and in all likely hood you will run into regulations saying no use after a certain time.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:36 PM   #4
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all in all, it will be cheaper for the week to find a CG with full hookups. Generators, inverters and enough battery's are not cheap just so you can camp for free for a week. I'm not being hard on you but it's the truth.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:37 PM   #5
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Romanichel.....My husband was looking at a EU3000is Honda, but it cost about $1900. He totaled up the watts of all our appliances, furnace, AC, lights, etc., and all totaled it's 4500w. But, we obviously would not be using them all at the same time. So perhaps a smaller generator would suffice. Does your 2000w unit suffice for operating the air conditioning and microwave? Thanks for your help! :-)

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Old 05-04-2013, 08:38 PM   #6
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We run the genny a couple hours in the morning - microwave for breakfast, morning TV news, etc. and battery charging. Are then usually good to evening when we run the genny again for 2-4 hours - TV watching, etc. and battery charging.

Most campgrounds will have quiet hours after ~10pm - no genny usage.

Inverter converts the 12vdc of your batteries to 120vac - usually the TV and a couple specific outlets will be powered from the inverter.

Running air conditioning requires a lot of power and would require an appropriately sized genny and it's usage whenever the air conditioning is in use.

I am a fan of the Honda generators. More money, but worth it - IMHO.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:41 PM   #7
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Shadowcathe.....Thanks for the link to the battery info.....just a little light reading for us, eh? :-) Where does the inverter go? Does it plug into an outlet? And if it drains the battery quickly, then I presume we would need a generator also to recharge things? So the inverter and generator work hand in hand?
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:41 PM   #8
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You need to understand the elec. systems of your unit first.
You have 120VAC and 12VDC systems.
120VAC power comes from shore power or gen power. Either 30A single pole or 50A double pole supply.
12VDC comes from first your battery(ies). Second, when a converter is supplied with 120VAC, it creates 12VDC from that incoming power and puts it out to charge the battery and also run lights and anything needing 12VDC power.
Those quiet generators are most likely inverter generators. Inverters (whether in an RV or gen) take incoming 12VDC power and put out 120VAC power. They are quieter because 12VDC is much easier to produce compared to 120VAC power.
Inverters in an RV require a very good 12VDC battery source to feed that inverter.

If you want to camp like you want, you will want at least two 6VDC batteries in series, an inverter, and an inverter generator with enough wattage to spare, depending on what all your unit has on it.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:46 PM   #9
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336muffin......I hear you! :-) BUT, we have always wanted to camp at this particular campground in the Smokies. It's so beautiful along a mountain stream, and it's near all the hiking spots we love. There are no full service campgrounds in the national park, and the nearest one is further away than we want to be.

Also, we will retire soon and will be doing a lot of camping out West. We would like the flexibility of not always having to stay in a campground. In Alaska, for instance, you're allowed to pull off anywhere to camp. It's legal and people do it all the time.

So we really need something, and we're just trying to figure out the best way to go.

Thanks!
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:52 PM   #10
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A inverter - inverts 12 volt DC currant to 120 volt AC currant to run your 120 volt AC equipment. This quickly drains your batteries. You will not be able to run your Air Conditioner or Microwave from a inverter. For dry camping I installed 2 deep cycle golf cart batteries and using those I can keep my systems running for close to 5 days. But, when I say systems I mean just the water pump, fridge, (yes your gas/ electric fridge still need some 12 volt power to work) and lights (I converted all my lights to LED lights because they use a lot less power. ) If you are going to go out for 5 days with the single battery that comes in campers you are never going to make it on battery power alone even by just keeping the lights,pump and fridge running. You are going to need a generator just to keep your battery charged. You can shut the generator down at night and run on battery power then fire it back up during the day to recharge the battery. BUT, this is not running the Air Conditioner. You simply can't run that from batteries. Period.
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:08 PM   #11
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jesilvas......so if we understand you correctly, if we have an inverter/generator, we would not need a separate inverter? Or do we have that right?
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:09 PM   #12
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Weather should be cool enough that you will not need AC at night.Just get enough generator for your needs.
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fiddleddd View Post
Romanichel.....My husband was looking at a EU3000is Honda, but it cost about $1900. He totaled up the watts of all our appliances, furnace, AC, lights, etc., and all totaled it's 4500w. But, we obviously would not be using them all at the same time. So perhaps a smaller generator would suffice. Does your 2000w unit suffice for operating the air conditioning and microwave? Thanks for your help! :-)

http://www.irv2.com/forums/members/romanichel-742.html
Yes with our 2000 watts gen we can run the air conditioning but we always turn it off when running the microwave, otherwise the overload swith comes on and the power shutt off
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:11 PM   #14
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No an inverter generator and an inverter are separate.
The inv.gen. uses a motor to turn an alternator that produces 12VDC and uses an internal inverter to change it to 120VAC.
The inverter is a stand alone unit in your RV to take your 12VDC batts to make 120VAC. That way you can use batteries only to have 12VDC and 120VAC at the same time.

However, now that I think about it, some of those inv.gens. probably have 12VDC connections on them.
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