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Old 03-09-2016, 05:43 PM   #1
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Please help us choose a generator

I know it's been covered but we would appreciate some help choosing a generator. Specifically would like to know how much propane does a propane generator really use?
We're moving into our new 35' 5th wheel. We need a generator to power: Samsung residential fridge,
1,100 watt fireplace heater
or 15,000 btu AC depending on the weather
TV, sound system, DirecTV DVR
Convection microwave (not often - we will do most cooking with propane). LED lighting.
We will charge phones and computers once a day. Light use of hair dryer or other small gadgets.
We will not stay in rv parks often and will be moving around - boondocking but close to gas and propane stations.
Our trailer is prepped for LP generator and has 2 - 30lb propane tanks. So I'm inclined to go for propane since we have the automatic system. How expensive does propane really get and how quick does it burn up? Is an LP generator louder, quieter or the same as gas?
The alternative diesel seems much more economical but more noise and smell? Portable gas is a good option for the price... Am I missing something or is LP still the best option?
Maybe solar but solar seems just as expensive by the time you buy enough batteries. Solar systems I've worked with are not very durable or reliable. Anyone have a great solar solution?
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:45 PM   #2
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If you can afford the propane go for the Onan 5500 lp it uses more than a gas powered Onan but less smell and less hassle. I carry a spare 40 lb bottle when on four or five day camp out and hook it up when we set up. When and if it runs out you still have the two thirty lb bottles as back up. I have never run out and have had to use the ac quite a bit. I do have a bank of six volt batteries with an inverter so don't need the gen all the time. Parking so the sun doesn't bake you helps keep the camper cooler also. I primarily dry camp and do not have a residential fridge. Dry camping is great!
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:00 PM   #3
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Thanks very much. That sounds similar to us. I have 6 volt batteries and inverter. Just need a good power source. How much propane do you burn in a day or a week?
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:04 PM   #4
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Built in Propane generator - you can start it from inside the fifth wheel in your PJs.

5500LP will run two 15,000 BTU ACs with some to spare. Uses 0.4, 0.8, 1.1 Gal/hr propane at 0, 50, and 100% load. A 30# tank has about 7 Gal propane. At full load - 6 1/2 hours run time on one tank.

Smaller 4000LP will run one AC with some to spare. Uses 0.4, 0.6, 0.7 Gal/hr. 10 hours run time on one tank.

Both are pretty costly comparative to portable, both capital and operating.

I used a Honda 3000EU in the back of the truck with a 30A extension cord. It was a great option for my setup, similar to yours.

Brian
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:08 PM   #5
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On our 2000 Dutch Star 38' DP we went through two 10 gallon tanks and most of our 40 gallon (32 usable) onboard tank is 5 days just running an air con for the dogs during the day and into the evening. Gen was a 6.2 Generac and specs. said 1.4 GPH and I believe it. Plus, being air cooled it shut down twice due to overheating and tripped the breaker several times.
Will never have another LP gen set.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:11 PM   #6
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Thanks Brian - how much fuel do you burn in your Honda?
Mr D - what do you use now?
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FaithBowls View Post
Thanks Brian - how much fuel do you burn in your Honda?
Mr D - what do you use now?
My Honda used about 0.5 gal/hr at full load; fuel tank holds about 3.5 gal. 7 hours however it never ran full out (eco switch idles it down). I used to get about 10-12 hour run time on a tank depending how hot it was outside (AC cycling).

I sold the trailer and Honda - now I have a built in QD10000 in the Country Coach. Mr D has the QD12500 I believe - Onan Quiet Diesel. Both use the 135+ Gal diesel tank in the motorhomes.

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Old 03-09-2016, 10:27 PM   #8
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Propane has a major disadvantage over gasoline in high use applications. Finding a place to refill bottles on the road can be hard to impossible. "Swap-out" tanks at home centers, etc. often only give you 15 lbs instead of a full 20, and are quite expensive. On the other hand, gasoline is available virtually everywhere.

Storage for either fuel can be tricky. You must keep the containers in an area with good airflow to vent any fumes or leaks. The bed of a pickup truck is a great place for that. Some tunnels forbid vehicles that carry LP tanks. I do not know of any such restrictions on gasoline containers.

I am another fan of the Honda EU3000is. I have had mine for 10 years and the only maintenance expense has been oil changes and a new battery after 8 years. They cost more but IMO are well worth the legendary reliability, ease of getting parts if needed, and great resale value if you ever want to sell.

Be aware that the 3000 is heavy: 130 lbs. Not all that easy to move. I use a Harbor Freight electric winch in my garage to load and unload it.
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Old 03-10-2016, 08:16 AM   #9
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Sorry I don't keep track of how much propane I use. The fumes are not near as bad as a gas gen, you do not have to worry about gas going bad in the carb. The built in gen is the only way to go as far as convenience and the only way I would consider another gas gen is if I went back to a toy hauler. I do also use a Yamaha 2000 inverter gen to keep batteries topped off and mainly use it after dark till bedtime. It gets used 3x more than the built in Onan, it is quiet and has a 50 ft cord. Dry camping is not cheap but is a whole lot of fun.
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Old 03-10-2016, 10:45 AM   #10
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Well I can understand why people like the portable gas. It's a fraction of the cost and less fuel cost, too. How about 1 large gas generator and we leave it in the generator compartment (adding ventilation) or leave it in the pickup? Are they so loud you need to move them away? Or why does everyone like the small ones?
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Old 03-10-2016, 11:08 AM   #11
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Propane also has less energy content than gas. You will use more propane for the same work than gasoline. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/fue...ison_chart.pdf

There are conversion and dual-fuel kits available for many gas gennies.
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Old 03-10-2016, 01:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FaithBowls View Post
Well I can understand why people like the portable gas. It's a fraction of the cost and less fuel cost, too. How about 1 large gas generator and we leave it in the generator compartment (adding ventilation) or leave it in the pickup? Are they so loud you need to move them away? Or why does everyone like the small ones?
A portable gas generator mounted in the generator compartment needs proper exhaust venting - more than likely a serious modification to the generator and its housing.

The small portables are easier to maneuver/manage. The Honda 2000EUs with companion connection is what a lot of people purchase, however I found the capability of the 3000EU to accept inrush better than the two 2000EUs. As well the 3000 ran lower rpm for the same load comparing to the 2000s; I had both at one time.

Note the inverter generators like 3000EU and the 2000EUs are MUCH quieter than the comparable sized "construction" generators. DO NOT buy a construction generator and expect to use it in a campground - very annoying, one of my peeves.....

Hope this helps,
Brian
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