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Do I Really Need A Portable Inverter Generator


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I have just started looking at inverter generators and was wondering how often owners have needed to use them for charging batteries, run AC or electric appliances, Honda and Yamaha are the most popular but 2020 consumer reports recommends the  DEWALT DXGNI2200 or RYOBI 2300. Having owned Honda cars and motorcycles I know they are very reliable and have good warranties but also command a premium price. The recommended models are $599 and $629 at the big box stores.

Our camping style is dry camping at state and national parks and we plan to spend a winter in AZ in the future. The trailer we have on ordered will have solar and the 4 AGM batteries as well as the 2000 Watt inverter. Also for around the same price is a 200 Watt portable suitcase panel which may be an option. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

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We are also considering a portable inverter generator.  Our Elite II will have the Lithium Pro Package, so not as much need for a generator, as with the AGM package.  However, we would like the extra assurance of another power source.  We have no experience camping/traveling with as much available power as the lithium batter package will provide.  Though it will certainly be a great improvement over the two 12v flooded batteries and 200W of solar power we had in our camper van, we will be entering uncharted waters where untethered power is concerned.  Here are a few of our thoughts:

  • I anticipate less concern over battery state of charge/maintenance and more enjoyment of onboard comforts, especially where climate control is concerned.
  • We camp a lot in the PNW, and often in forested areas where placement of solar panels might not be ideal.  We also plan to use our trailer more in the Winter months, than in the past, as our van was not 4-season capable like the Oliver.  A generator will make cooling/heating possible when camping off-grid.
  • We expect our Oliver will be less efficient at charging the batteries during travel than was our camper van.  In addition, we spent more "road time" in the van because it was our only means of getting around (aside from our bikes).  Our "Oliver camping style" will look much different, as we plan to set up camp and spend time exploring with our pickup.  With a travel trailer we are more apt to need a generator to recharge batteries.
  • A small, portable generator will be useful at home.  While we have a larger inverter generator for emergency power use on our ranch, it weighs about 150#, so is not easily portable.  Theoretically, we could use it with the Oliver, from the back of the pickup, but it is a bit noisier than a smaller Honda/Yamaha.  However, the larger generator would be less apt to get stolen.
  • A portable generator is not as handy as the onboard, self-contained generator we had in our motorhome.  Remote start/stop inside the RV and it used onboard fuel; no need to carry gasoline.  However, it was much noisier than the Honda/Yamaha.

Of the two (Honda 2200i and Yamaha 2200i) we favor the Yamaha.  Both are reputably great generators, but the Yamaha has a few features not found in the Honda: fuel gauge, lighted control panel, dedicated 30amp RV outlet, and three handles - one for single handed carrying plus two for 2-person transport.  The Honda is a tad-bit quieter, but probably not a noticeable difference.  Unfortunately, we have found there are many Honda units available but can't seem to find a Yamaha.  Both the Dewalt and Ryobi generators are rated at a higher noise level than the Honda/Yamahas.

Foremost, you should consider when and where you will be camping and the available solar exposure, especially in regards to heating and cooling needs.  My guess would be, if you plan to use either the A/C or furnace extensively, you will need the generator. 

Before spending $1,000 on a generator you might not use, you can calculate your daily estimated power usage or simply make some trial runs and see how long the batteries hold a safe charge level.  Remember, for optimal life, batteries should be discharged to no lower than 50% capacity.  On the other hand, know that with a generator you will have the ability to use power consuming appliances that you might otherwise have to forego. 

Here are just a few links I found to estimate daily amp hour requirements:

http://trailertraveler.net/calculate-rv-amp-usage/

https://www.rvwithtito.com/articles/battery-capacity/

https://www.fateunbound.com/sizing-rv-solar/

This is a detailed calculator to determine solar power needs:

https://gpelectric.com/calculator/

I have seen charts listing amp draw of common RV components and appliances, but can't seem to find one.

Hope this helps

 

 

Ray and Susan Huff

Elite II Twin "Pearl" - Hull#699; taking delivery December 7, 2020

2013 F350 3.2l diesel Super Duty 4x4 long bed crew cab

2017 Leisure Travel Van Unity Twin Bed (sold)

AZARCACOGAHIIDILKSLAMSMONENVNMOKORSCTNTX

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Thanks for the links! The Fate unbound link was well written and logical so as soon as I can compile our daily amp use I should be able to determine how long the batteries will last, I will need a generator as a plan B but if its only occasional usage I am having reservations about spending $1100.

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