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Using a generator solely for charging the Ollie batteries


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I am not an electrician, I don’t play one on TV and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express, so please keep it simple for my simple mind.

 

I have been reading the forum for a few days and I have found posts that talk about and around using a generator solely for charging the Ollie batteries.

 

Is using a generator solely for charging the Ollie batteries a good idea?

 

My objective is to have as small a dual fuel generator as possible, while I am off shore-power to compensate or complement for the 400 Watt solar panels.  My larger objective is to be as untethered as possible while traveling.

 

I don’t want to go to a bigger generator to run Ollie in full or partial mode.

 

My Oliver Elite II is on order.  It is coming with 390 AH Lithium batteries, 400 Watt Solar panels with charge controller and 3,000 Watt Pro inverter.

Is there any special request I need to make to Oliver to create a plug from the generator to the battery to make the connection as clean and simple as possible?

 

Dumb question time – Why couldn’t the generator power enter the battery system via the external solar panel connection?

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Legacy Elite II - Twin Bed - Hull #1423

TV - 2015 Silverado 2500 Duramax

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Yes, many people only use a small generator to charge their batteries.

I use the OTT 30 amp power cord plugged into the generator. I bought a 30 amp to 15 amp converter plug as the generator only had 15 amp receptacles. You will also need a ground plug that is connected into one of the other generator receptacle to get the power into the OTT.

I do not have Lithium batteries so I do not know what the minimum size generator you will need to charge the batteries. Someone else on the forum could give you that advice, or you could call OTT and tell them you only want a generator sized to charge the batteries.

The external solar panel connection is only for remote solar panels. That connection goes directly to the batteries. The solar panel and batteries are both DC power. The generator puts out AC power through a DC to AC converter (I believe) in the OTT to charge the batteries.

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2018 Oliver Elite II, Twin Bed, Hull #354 

2018 RAM 1500 Rebel 4 x 4, 5.7 Hemi, 3.92 gear ratio

Maine

 

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Our favorite campgrounds on the Blue Ridge Parkway do not have electricity.  We do not have factory solar on our LE2. We have two 100W suitcase panels that work fine with a single 100AH BattleBorn lithium battery along with an onboard Progressive Lithium charger. 

In the summer when camping in the shade, we use our Honda 2000W gen-set with a 1600W continuous rating, if our solar panel cable is not long enough to set panels in the sun.  Have to be sure not to exceed the gen-set continuous rating while running appliances continuously.   Really like this lightweight size of gen-set for camping without shore power and use locally when 125V is not available. Some folks here have larger gen-sets mounted on their Ollie in front of the doghouse. We also have a 3 way Dometic refrigerator running on LP gas when without shore power.

Normally we use about 25% to 30%  of the Lithium battery capacity for a 24 hour period, taking about an hour to recharge the battery with gen-set for another 24 hours using a 15A cord with 30A adapter for Ollie's shore power inlet. We do not have an inverter to run 125V appliances when without shore power. We also have a Victron Bluetooth shunt to monitor battery discharge and gen-set charging.

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Bill #75 LE2 Tundra

 

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Hello, 

From my limited experience needing a generator and using an air conditioner, I believe it will mostly depend on if you want or need to run the ac much. Here in Idaho we essentially never use our AC. If it were hot enough to need it we would find a place to plug in or leave our dogs at home. To charge your lithium batteries without AC use, the solar panels will mostly take care of it. For backup, or if you use your microwave/oven much, a 2000 watt Honda would be great. A 2000 watt generator will not power your AC though. 
Good luck! 
Kirk

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Kirk and Carrie Peterson

Twin Falls, Idaho

2018 Ram 3500, with overland conversion: Rooftop tent, water, stove, Battle Born batteries, lockers, onboard air, raised air intake, Warn winch. 

2023 Elite 2, twin beds, delivered December 5, 2022 Truma package, lithium platinum package.
Hull #1305

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If you use a generator to supplement your solar you can use your trailer power cord just like if you are on shore power.  You might need a simple 30a to 15a adapter, depending on the generator.  I had a Champion that had a 30a RV plug on the front.  My current generator does not.  Your solar connection is entirely different than a power connection plus you don’t need anything other than what is on the side of your trailer.

We’ve done a fair amount of camping and have rarely needed to use our generator to charge.  A few occasions during extremely overcast weather and cold nights caused our batteries to run down to the point I pulled out the generator.  If there is any amount of sun and you aren’t in the shade you’ll find you solar will keep up just fine.  Lithium batteries allow you to more of the amp hours than traditional batteries do.

If you get a generator just ensure it’s a quiet inverter generator.  Nothing is more annoying that campers with open frame contractor generators polluting the air with lots of noise.  Mike

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Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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2 hours ago, HDRider said:

I am not an electrician, I don’t play one on TV and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express, so please keep it simple for my simple mind.

 

I have been reading the forum for a few days and I have found posts that talk about and around using a generator solely for charging the Ollie batteries.

 

Is using a generator solely for charging the Ollie batteries a good idea?

 

My objective is to have as small a dual fuel generator as possible, while I am off shore-power to compensate or complement for the 400 Watt solar panels.  My larger objective is to be as untethered as possible while traveling.

 

I don’t want to go to a bigger generator to run Ollie in full or partial mode.

 

My Oliver Elite II is on order.  It is coming with 390 AH Lithium batteries, 400 Watt Solar panels with charge controller and 3,000 Watt Pro inverter.

Is there any special request I need to make to Oliver to create a plug from the generator to the battery to make the connection as clean and simple as possible?

 

Dumb question time – Why couldn’t the generator power enter the battery system via the external solar panel connection?


One thing to consider: If you’re getting the new 13500 BTU Truma Aventa AC on your Oliver, it will require a 3000 watt generator to run it.

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2020 OLEII - Hull #634 aka- “Beauty & the Beast” - 2021 F350 6.7 liter Diesel Lariat Ultimate Tremor

 

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On 4/17/2023 at 9:44 AM, Patriot said:


One thing to consider: If you’re getting the new 13500 BTU Truma Aventa AC on your Oliver, it will require a 3000 watt generator to run it.

I know the manual says this but I wonder if anyone has tried it yet?  I don’t have a generator but I do have a very good Fluke amp meter which can show peak inrush current when starting and have run the AC successfully of a 15 amp circuit protected with a 15amp breaker with zero issues.  Starting current is well within that of other “big” motor loads I can find around my house  such as my pressure washer and my worm drive skil saw.  My guess is one of the gensets rated for 2200 to 2500 starting watts could run it.  Once Running, the new Truma AC draws under 7 amps on high. 
 
I’d love to test it but don’t know anyone with a genset here 

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Mike & Marianne Hermann, Scottsdale AZ

2022 RAM 2500 Hemi 4x4

Elite II Hull #1337

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You can use a small generator to charge your lithium batteries through the 30 amp shoreline cord but you'll have to change a setting on your Xantrex converter if your generator only has a 15 amp outlet. The default setting on the Xantrex will attempt to pull up to 25 amps, which will trip the breaker on your generator. You can change setting 28 to 15 amps (or less) when you're charging with a small generator. Note that the little genny will work hard making those 15 amps. I might choose 5 or 10 amps so the generator doesn't work so hard (and loud).

I don't know about connecting a generator 12v DC output to the external solar connector. You'd have to make sure you're within the wiring limits.

The good news is, the solar panels do a great job. If you aren't running the A/C off the batteries, and you have decent weather, you probably won't need the generator much.

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Stephanie and Dudley from CT.  2022 LE2, Hull #1150: Eggcelsior.

Tow vehicle: 2016 GMC Sierra 6.0 gas dually 4x4.

Our Oliver journey: Steph and Dud B's RV Screed

Where we've been RVing since 1999:

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18 hours ago, MnM said:

I know the manual says this but I wonder if anyone has tried it yet?  I don’t have a generator but I do have a very good Fluke amp meter which can show peak inrush current when starting and have run the AC successfully of a 15 amp circuit protected with a 15amp breaker with zero issues.  Starting current is well within that of other “big” motor loads I can find around my house  such as my pressure washer and my worm drive skil saw.  My guess is one of the gensets rated for 2200 to 2500 starting watts could run it.  Once Running, the new Truma AC draws under 7 amps on high. 
 
I’d love to test it but don’t know anyone with a genset here 

@MnM
I have been thinking about buying the Honda EU3200i since it was announced last year. So today I placed an order for one from our local Northern Tool. NT does not stock these on the shelf in store as it’s considered a special order item. It was well worth the $250 savings for me to go to the store and receive my 10% Veterans discount. This brought the final price down to $2502.00 including tax OTD. I like doing business with NT and I like Honda products. They have served me well over the years. 
I have also been in contact with www.hutchmountain.com and was told they are planning to produce an LP fuel retro fit for this gen. I am now on their list for a preorder of the LP retro fit kit. I presently have a Honda EU3000is which has the HM LP conversion kit and really like it however, at 130# dry it’s just a bit heavier gen.
This sure makes the EU3200i at 60# a much better option for our Oliver with the 13500 BTU Truma Aventa. The captured Bluetooth data is kinda cool too!
https://www.northerntool.com/search?orderBy=1&s=Honda 3200

This fella does a pretty decent straight up “garage and field review”. Looks like a fun garage! 

 

Patriot🇺🇸

 

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2020 OLEII - Hull #634 aka- “Beauty & the Beast” - 2021 F350 6.7 liter Diesel Lariat Ultimate Tremor

 

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1 hour ago, HDRider said:

I am looking at this guy

 

image.png.193270a67f0b30b325a85d21b6416804.png

It certainly has nice features for sure and I looked at it. My overall goal was to go with a much lighter weight gen so the 60# EU3200I hit the bullseye. I would be interested in your review if you go with the Champion. 👍🏻

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2020 OLEII - Hull #634 aka- “Beauty & the Beast” - 2021 F350 6.7 liter Diesel Lariat Ultimate Tremor

 

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I would absolutely buy a 2200 suitcase generator for charging the batteries.  If AC usage is required the 3200 Honda would be top on my list. 
 

Just thinking out loud…I wonder if an external transfer switch could be used between the inverter and AC unit.  The Truma could be started on the batteries and a small 2200 (or smaller?) generator could take over the load while it was running. Obviously not normally used that way and the thermostat would need to be full cold so it didn’t cycle on and off. Not sure how seamless the load would be transferred (gaps/spikes). Probably wouldn’t be the best on the AC unit. Maybe nix the warranty and install a soft start?

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6 hours ago, HDRider said:

I am looking at this guy

 

I had one.  Great generator.  Only ran it on propane.  HEAVY.  I sold it an opted for a smaller Champion that’s easy to lift and doesn’t take as much room. Mike

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Texas Hill Country | 2016 Elite II #135 | 2020 Ram 2500 6.7L

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We installed a soft start circuit and able to run our 1300 BTU air conditioner with propane converted Honda 2200 with no problem (hutches propane conversion) or on 15 amp shore power. The Honda has always been dependable running air conditioner, but you do loose some of the generator's capacity running propane vs gas. It's possible on a hot day at high altitude running on propane our generator may not have the capacity to operate the air conditioner. So far that day has not come. 

I'm assuming your new Oliver will come with the new 1100 BTU air conditioner. An 1100 BTU air conditioner w/ soft start should run great using a propane converted Honda 2200 in all conditions. We do not run the microwave and air at the same time. I have never done the calculation or attempted to run both at the same time. Also, we run the heat on propane when not on shore power. 

Another consideration to charge your batteries is to look into dc to dc charging.  Your tow vehicle is limited to charging your batteries to about 7amps per hour due to small gauge wiring. You can install 2-gauge cable through a second trailer / truck pigtail plus an alternator charging unit. This combination can give you 30amps per hour of battery charging per unit installed. It's a cool solution but can be spendy.

https://amsolar.com/rv-solar-panel-kit/alternator-charging

 

 

 

 

 2016 Legacy Elite II, Twin Beds, Hull #124

Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F250 4x4  / Short Bed / Crew Cab / 6.7 Diesel

Fieldbrook, Ca

 

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7 hours ago, HDRider said:

I am looking at this guy

We have two Champion 2200 watt dual fuel inverter/generators, with the Paralink kit.  Together, operating from one propane tank with a splitter, they provide enough power to run our Truma Aventa air conditioner, or recharge our Lithionics batteries in a few hours.

Why two?  Weight.  I am an old guy with bilateral torn rotator cuffs and a bad back.  I can lift one 2200 watt unit in and out of my pickup bed without risking further injury.  The 4500 watt unit, at 97 lbs., weighs too much for me.

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Hull #1291

Central Idaho

2022 Elite II

Tow Vehicle:  2019 Tundra Double Cab 4x4, 5.7L with tow package

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Years ago, "everyone" thought we "needed" a 3000 watt generator,  so we bought one. Fortunately,  I found an almost new used unit, at a great price, (probably 70 per cent off new.)

The 3000 has never gone camping with us. The Yamaha 3000 has wheels, but it's ridiculously heavy, at +/- 150 lbs, even for the two of us, to lift in and out of the truck bed. (We used our atv ramps to pick it up and put it in the garage.) It does not owe us a dime, however, as it has saved our bacon (and frozen turkeys, other food, etc), plus our neighbor's, and charged cell phones and sparked the home gas water heater,  in a number of power outages here on Florida's west coast. (One hurricane left us for a week with no power.)

I know a few people have heavy gensets mounted to the tongue, but we didn't feel that was a good option for us with a single axle 2008 Elite I. 

So, we normally charge with a Honda 1000, which I can easily  lift with one hand. Still works great, at age 15, with regular maintenance. If we "upgrade", it will be the smallest Honda that can do the job, and still allow me to lift and start it.  If we need ac (almost never), we seek out a campsite with power.

We also have a Westinghouse 2000-something that we bought to charge and run power tools when we built a pole barn on our camping property a few years ago. Surprisingly quiet, and it ran our small 9500 Houghton,  on a test. Though it's a nice unit, I don't think it has quite as pure a sine wave as the Hondas, and of course, it's a bit louder, but not obnoxious.  (5 per cent, I think, and I believe my Honda is 3 per cent THD, much like home electricity. ) Harmonic distortion is definitely something to think about, with all the electronics,  especially in the newer trailers.

Good luck in your decision. I'm obviously in the camp of the lightest unit to do the job, 95 per cent of the time.

 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. Dc compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.


        
 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Patriot said:

@MnM
I have been thinking about buying the Honda EU3200i since it was announced last year. So today I placed an order for one from our local Northern Tool. NT does not stock these on the shelf in store as it’s considered a special order item. It was well worth the $250 savings for me to go to the store and receive my 10% Veterans discount. This brought the final price down to $2502.00 including tax OTD. I like doing business with NT and I like Honda products. They have served me well over the years. 
I have also been in contact with www.hutchmountain.com and was told they are planning to produce an LP fuel retro fit for this gen. I am now on their list for a preorder of the LP retro fit kit. I presently have a Honda EU3000is which has the HM LP conversion kit and really like it however, at 130# dry it’s just a bit heavier gen.
This sure makes the EU3200i at 60# a much better option for our Oliver with the 13500 BTU Truma Aventa. The captured Bluetooth data is kinda cool too!
https://www.northerntool.com/search?orderBy=1&s=Honda 3200

This fella does a pretty decent straight up “garage and field review”. Looks like a fun garage! 

 

Patriot🇺🇸

 

If I had a NT near me and could get the military discount I’d prolly do what you did.  The power specs at that weight are unbeatable but they certainly make you pay for that dearly.  Maybe someone at the Rally could test if a 2200 can start the new Trumas.  

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Mike & Marianne Hermann, Scottsdale AZ

2022 RAM 2500 Hemi 4x4

Elite II Hull #1337

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We just returned from a national forest campground without hookups. I have a 5 yr old Generac IQ2000 inverter generator (1600 watts, 2000 peak). This generator weighs 46 lbs, and fit perfectly in the tongue basket on our LEI. I was able to operate the generator for about an hour and a half every morning after breakfast. With the electric-only fridge, the standard twin deep-cycle batteries went down to 12.2VDC overnight. We supplemented with solar during the day (I have 200 Watt suitcase solar from Renogy). We never tried to start the Truma AC, I didn't want to try, pretty sure it was a no-go.  I was most disappointed with the solar as due to tree cover, there was only about 4 hours of direct sunlight every day, without the generator, we'd have been without refrigeration.

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LeBill

Elite I  Hull 1352  

2021 Jeep Gladiator

Northwestern NC (retired)

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1 hour ago, LeBill said:

We just returned from a national forest campground without hookups. I have a 5 yr old Generac IQ2000 inverter generator (1600 watts, 2000 peak). This generator weighs 46 lbs, and fit perfectly in the tongue basket on our LEI. I was able to operate the generator for about an hour and a half every morning after breakfast. With the electric-only fridge, the standard twin deep-cycle batteries went down to 12.2VDC overnight. We supplemented with solar during the day (I have 200 Watt suitcase solar from Renogy). We never tried to start the Truma AC, I didn't want to try, pretty sure it was a no-go.  I was most disappointed with the solar as due to tree cover, there was only about 4 hours of direct sunlight every day, without the generator, we'd have been without refrigeration.

We also have an electric fridge. Similar to yours. 

We run the genset in cloudy/rainy/ dismal conditions for a half hour at night, if below 12.4. (We have 2 x 105 ah agm batteries.) In the morning, I'll run the genset again for 30 to 45 minutes. Then,  let the 400 watts fixed solar, and 200 w portable, finish on slow charge. My idea is to get the biggest boost (and bang for the buck) from the fossil fuel when the battery is lower, and running in boost mode, while maintaining 60 to 70 per cent state of charge, for best battery life .

Just my thoughts. Our agm batteries are now in 7th season. 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. Dc compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.


        
 

 

 

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Btw, @Patriot, I was unaware of the veteran discount at Northern tool. Thanks for that info.

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. Dc compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.


        
 

 

 

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3 hours ago, LeBill said:

We never tried to start the Truma AC, I didn't want to try, pretty sure it was a no-go. 

Good choice.  Truma will not allow the installation of a Micro -Air Easy start in its air conditioners, and specifies 3kw to run them.

 

Hull #1291

Central Idaho

2022 Elite II

Tow Vehicle:  2019 Tundra Double Cab 4x4, 5.7L with tow package

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6 hours ago, taylor.coyote said:

...I'm assuming your new Oliver will come with the new 1100 BTU air conditioner. A 1100 BTU air conditioner w/ soft start should run great using a propane converted Honda 2200 in all conditions. We do not run the microwave and air at the same time. I have never done the calculation or attempted to run both at the same time. Also, we run the heat on propane when not on shore power...

The standard air conditioner for all trailers currently being delivered is the Dometic Penguin II 11,000 BTU. Oliver will install the Micro-Air EasyStart™ as an option if requested. The standard water heater is the Suburban propane/electric. The standard furnace is now a Truma unit.

The 13,500 BTU Truma Aventa Eco Air Conditioner is an optional upgrade and is only available paired with the optional Truma AquaGo Comfort On Demand Water Heater. Oliver WILL NOT install the Micro-Air EasyStart™ on the Truma A/C units as it will void their warranty. You will need a 3000 watt generator to run this unit.

We bought a Yamaha EF3000iSEB 3000 Watt Inverter Generator 16 years to travel with us on the tongue of our 2008 Elite. It migrated to the tongue of our 2014 Elite II and has traveled well over 150K miles. It will run anything we've ever thrown at it. As many have mentioned, it is very heavy. Since it has been sitting, locked in the generator baskets of two different Oliver's, for 99% of the time we've owned it, the weight just has never been an issue to us. The only times it has been removed from the basket has been for oil changes and I have an overhead trolley mounted lift to move the heavy stuff when needed.

IMG_4079.thumb.JPG.22cdbb4e62a7eee1eea80edeb2d7f32a.JPG

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Steve, Tali and our dog Rocky plus our beloved Storm, Maggie, Lucy and Reacher (all waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD SRW Diesel 4x4 

 

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A camp next to us was running a Predator 3500 made by Harbor Freight/Chinese production. I have never trusted anything with a motor from Harbor Freight but was impressed with how incredibly quiet it ran.  This combined with a $900 price tag may make the Predator worth investigating.  To date, I have a hard time getting past my lack of confidence in the Harbor Freight brands. In the back of my mind I wonder if I'm being an equipment snob and the Predator could be a great value.  I don't have any real experience with the Predator, but I have read some reviews and they seem liked by the reviewers and users.  

No doubt Honda has done a great job creating a brand that a lot of people trust and are willing to pay the extra $$... Can you trust a $900 Predator or do you need to spend $2,600 for peace of mind for the Honda 3200?

 

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 2016 Legacy Elite II, Twin Beds, Hull #124

Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F250 4x4  / Short Bed / Crew Cab / 6.7 Diesel

Fieldbrook, Ca

 

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1 hour ago, HDRider said:

I found this handy site

image.thumb.png.33bbbca9b4c2a0e3f9fc94e7a0841723.png

 

It says it would take a 2,000 Watt generator 12 hours to charge the batteries to 100%.

 

https://footprinthero.com/battery-charge-time-calculator

 

 

The charge voltage value you entered is incorrect.  The batteries do not charge at 120 volts.  120 volts is the nominal AC (alternating current) shore power input voltage to the trailer.  The battery charger converts that AC voltage to DC voltage (direct current) for charging the batteries.  Lithium ion batteries charge at around 14.25 to 14.7 volts DC.  Enter that value.   Charging current (amps) is equal to the charging wattage divided by the charging voltage.  THEORETICALLY 2000 watts available divided by a 14.5 volt DC charging voltage is 138 amps DC, but the batteries and/or the battery charger have a charge current limit setting.   So they typically do not allow that high of a charge current.   For example, the BattleBorn batteries I’ve been considering for an upgrade have a maximum charge current limit of 50 amps DC.   So at a 14.5 volt DC charging voltage that means it’ll only be using 725 watts.  A 2000 watt generator is overkill for just charging batteries, but overkill is good, it means the generator won’t be working as hard. 

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2019 Oliver Legacy Elite II - Hull #461

Tow Vehicle: 2019 Ford F-250 SuperCab 4x4, 6.2L Flex-Fuel engine  

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