You views on Portable petrol/diesel generators

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by Brenintot, Mar 31, 2010.

  1. Brenintot

    Brenintot Read Only Funster

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    I’m wondering, what is the consensus regarding portable generators, I have been motorhoming for 30 years this summer & have never felt I needed one. They seem to be much cheaper to buy nowadays & have become very popular with motorhomers. At the moment I feel a Solar Panel is the right choice for us, but was wondering, as Petrol generators are so popular that I may be missing out on something in respect of the benefits.

    My personal position is that I like to travel as light as possible with minimal kit. At the moment, I see them only as hassle for a number of reasons.

    · Theft or having to lock it up securely
    · Storage space taken up in the van
    · Risks associated with the Storage & use of flammable fuel
    · Setting up time & refuelling etc
    · The noise & pollution produced by petrol/diesel driven machines.
    · The anti social stigma when used at any time within the vicinity of others.


    If you are dependent on the 220v power supply from a generator for medical reasons I feel the freedom offered is justified. But for social use, a Solar panel (even in the UK) seems to be the best solution. Our last MH had good quality roof mounted solar panel; it gave us total freedom from any other power source. Two years ago we went on a 6-week trip through UK, France & Spain Inc 12v TV & still came home with fully charged batteries.

    Thanks in advance for your views.
     
  2. Ralph-n-Bev

    Ralph-n-Bev Funster

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    The large solar panel was more than enough for our caravan on our regular weekend rallies. We've even managed a weeks holiday with them. We just had normal leisure batteries too. Thats with 5 of us , and the kids having all the electric gadgets they do.
    Since getting the MH , which has Webasto diesel heating , we found without hooking up , after a few days the batteries were drained. Even after going for a long run.

    Hence using our generator for 6 hours over the new year.
    (See for sale advert Honda EU 20i to the left of the page, make us a very near offer )

    We have now exchanged the motorhomes batteries for 2 sealed Trojan ones , which are more powerful , and have had the large solar panel fixed to the roof of the MH.
    Hopefully we wont have the same problem again. The temperatures were well below freezing for days though , over the new year. The heating was on 24/7
    We have bought the smaller version generator now, the Honda EU10i.
    As we couldn't warrant having the big one "just in case"
    I dont agree on people using Genny's for watching TV etc for hours on end.:Doh:
    I would not want to go to a meet or a site that allowed personal generator use Willy nilly either.
    Most rally clubs/groups say 2 hours max in the morning and 2 max in the evening. The majority of members have solar and energy efficient bulbs and cook with gas etc , so rarely have to use them.
    Honda's are very quiet and clean compared to most other generators and a EU20i will run everything you would ever need :thumb: hint hint hint
    Bev
     
  3. RichardnGill

    RichardnGill Read Only Funster

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    We have a solar panel, 2* 110ah batteries LED lighting 12V TV's etc and still run out of battery power if we are away any longer than 2 nights and the sky is cloudy.

    Mind that is with kids on board who watch TV and use a Laptop a lot

    We have just bought a Honda EU20i as we at a Rally this weekend ad will be there for 4 nights without EHU.

    At least now I dont have to worry about the batteries and keep moaning to the kids to turn the TV of etc. I am hoping that a 2 Hour charge a day will see us through even if the weather is horrible.

    The other big advantage with a Genny is that the wife can use a hair dryer, for that reason alone it will be worth it:Smile:

    Rich...
     
  4. motorhomer

    motorhomer Read Only Funster

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    Having had the "pleasure" of people parking near me and starting rather noisy generators I would encourage you to go for solar panels if you feel the need.

    That said, in my experience you can go a few days without either if your battery is fully charged and you do not watch TV solidly.
     
  5. teensvan

    teensvan Read Only Funster

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    Hi.

    We have fulltimed for nearly 5 years and use our kipor genni when we are on the french aires when using the microwave for cooking. We spend up to 5 months on aires so a genni is the way for us.

    steve & ann. ---------- teensvan
     
  6. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    We have a 110 watt solar panel and a 85amp hour battery fitted from the manufactures...during the summer with full sun we manage on solar but that means only watching the TV for about two hours lights are LED and picking up emails on the laptop once a day, fridge and freezer, water pump for the shower and taps and toilet and wife has a 12v hair dryer? used every day...and some times if we have a lot of power in the morning use the 12v vacuum cleaner...if power low brush and dust pan.. , no use of the heater (meaning electric fan) and we just manage ......this time of year March, April, up to May we struggle, and also late September, October, and November we struggle due to no or low sun or cloud or bad weather........just done three weeks in Portugal January/February .....was going to stop longer but the weather was that bad and most of the time we had no power and had to keep moving, we came back, so we have now purchased a IG2000 siewave KIPOR...and this will only be used when we have no power....a back-up :Doh:

    when we can we will use electric hook ups


    Mel
     
  7. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    We have just come back from a week away locally in northern France...called at 3 places but stopped at Calais port for three different - split nights...met a couple from England new Hobby 2010 tag axle solar panels (I am not sure but I think he said he had two batteries)...just come back from the south of France.....even he was running low on power and kept turning the lights off just to manage...in fact when he left for the ferry the next morning he called to say good bye and said his power went off late that night......
    I think if you are going to summer motorhome.....May, June, July, August, and into September one or two 110w solar panels and two 110amp batteries....fine ....if you are going to motorhome all year round or early and late in the year solar, Battery, generator and hook ups are required,.....this is just my opinion.

    Mel
     
  8. gogocrosby

    gogocrosby Read Only Funster

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    I bought a genny two years ago and have never used it. We have managed three nights with an 180 amp hour battery providing lights ,water pump and two hours of tv no problem. A majority of the gin palaces at Newark seemed to need their Onan generators even when there was no one at home.
    It's a bit of a lifestyle thing.
     
  9. Brenintot

    Brenintot Read Only Funster

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    Thanks for your veiws - so far

    So far, quite a range of replies which leads me to ask;

    Is there a motorhomers etiquette for the respectful use of generators whilst parked among others?

    I wouldn't want to be responsible for spoiling other peoples enjoyment of thier surroundings.:Blush:
     
  10. Peter James

    Peter James Read Only Funster

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    No one has yet suggested running the engine to charge the battery, although the new Sevel vans, for example, have 160 amp alternators - nearly 2 kilowatts, that put out a lot of current even on tickover, which is remarkably smooth, probably quieter than a generator, and the exhaust gases more refined.
     
  11. dazzer

    dazzer Read Only Funster

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    You can buy a genny for less than £80. Even if you never use it twice as far as im concerned thats money well spent to have the back up of emergency power when needed, not just in the m/h but also at home.

    For me its a no brainer if you have got the space to keep it.

    As for using it i cant see anyone moaning if is used for a couple of hours in the afternoon to top up the batteries etc.

    Ill run for cover now shall I :Rofl1::Rofl1:
     
  12. Alfa_Scud

    Alfa_Scud Read Only Funster

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    I wasn't sure that we needed one & to be honest all ours is is an expensive hairdryer power supply :RollEyes:. The only stipulation Sandra had when we got the van was that she was able to dry her hair, she's tried the likes of gas brushes, tongs etc & they don't work for her, so in the interest of public relations I bought one.

    Managed to get one off Fleabay, a Trent Power inverter 1kW machine. Although supposedly underrated for a hairdryer, we've never had a problem, crack it up, leave it for a minute, start the hairdryer on low, then switch to full, no problem.
    It appears identical in every way to the Planet type units, including 2 year guarantee, & has so far been faultless. I wish I'd bought a few to be honest because I only paid £135 for it & nothing seems to come close now - it was even a proper English company I bought it from!! :thumb:
    The main thing it allows us to wild camp & Sandra to dry her hair!!

    We don't have a TV/microwave/other power hungry eqpt in the van so really don't need one; we've done 3 nights without moving the van on a 110Ah battery with no problems at all & not having to use the genny to recharge.

    Etty-Quetty wise, I'm not sure there is any official line, campsite rules notwithstanding. Personally, mine is - "if it would p*** you off then it will more than likely p*** others off too!"

    We'd never use it before 9am unless it was only us, & if we need to get off early, I usually drive down the road until I find a quiet spot & crack it up then. I'd also never use it much after tea time, that's the time people are relaxing.

    These peeps who crack 'em up to power the TV then just increase the tv volume so they can't hear the genny are, in my humble opinion ignorant pigs :Eeek:. I think you'd find these are the same people who make sure all the campsite is awake when they have to set off early, slamming doors, leaving engine idling, shouting to make sure everything is packed away, but that's another gripe, new thread anyone ?:Rofl1:
     
  13. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    Hi Peter.....
    I am not 100% sure, so somebody on the fun will correct me, it is not in the best interest of the engine for the motorhome to be run on tick over.......in my hand book it states "do not run on tic-over long before setting off" ( the book is in the motorhome about 1/2 mile away so can not quote exact words )

    While on a site in Portugal the van next to me about 15 to 20 feet away was a German motorhome Fiat (normal size) and he ran that engine every night, all night, on tick over.....the other side of me was a Belgium motorhome a Concorde (large) running a Honda 2.0kw....the diesel rattle knock from the German was so loud ...... we moved but the Honda generator was quite and bearable.......so I am not sure about using the engine as a means of charging power for the batteries......but hey on a site on your own or not close to anybody use what you want and best for you..

    Mel :thumb:
     
  14. chatter

    chatter Read Only Funster

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    I have to say that gennies running doesnt bother me, maybe its because im used to them running of a night over in spain where we have our place as there is no mains power and some of those gennies are big and have their own buildings. We use an openframe 5 something kva earthed and although a tad noisier on no load, it doesnt scream like the small ones do when a load is applied.
     
  15. Peter James

    Peter James Read Only Funster

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    Thanks for the reply. Some good points there :thumb:
    as regards engine wear though I think the reason the handbook may state "do not run on tic-over long before setting off" is because it is better to get the engine to operating temperature as soon as possible as most engine wear occurs whilst the engine is cold. Once the engine is at operating temperature I don't think running on tickover does it any harm - but I am no expert on this. Whether the noise of a running engine is more antisocial than a generator depends on the individual engine and generator as you say.
     
  16. Heyupluv

    Heyupluv Read Only Funster

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    Peter
    " Whether the noise of a running engine is more antisocial than a generator depends on the individual engine and generator as you say"


    I agree.......................

    Mel
     
  17. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    As I understand it, from bits of research on various diesel-specific websites, the problem with running a diesel engine at low speed and with little load on it is that cylinder bore glazing can occur. This leads to loss of compression and deterioration in performance. Ultimately, I think the engine can suffer permanent damage requiring expensive treatment. Modern vehicle diesels are designed to run at relatively high speeds (for a diesel), whereas those designed to power large static generators have different operating parameters.
    So, not a good plan to let it tick over for ages whilst the batteries are re-charged. Bite the bullet and get a good quality Inverter Generator. It will be less polluting than turning over a big diesel at sub-optimal rpm, a lot quieter and won't smell as much. Don't be tempted by the cheap open-framed generators at £150 or less. They are noisy and the power supply is unstable. (I walked along a canal towpath a couple of weeks ago. Several narrow boats were running the cheap type and the noise and smell were awful. Then I passed one using a Honda EU20i - it was making just a gentle murmur.)

    Philip
     
  18. MikeandCarolyn

    MikeandCarolyn Read Only Funster

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    As a 'Newbie' ,Iv'e been looking closely at the whole 'power' scenario in preparation for our 1st 6-8 week trip to France where we intend to use mostly Aires and France Passion sites-with a 'proper' campsite now and then ,to do the washing etc.
    We have 2 80w solar panels and 1x110ah leisure battery. I considered fitting a 2nd battery
    but so far,on sites without EHU ,with heating running 24/7 and using lights and pumps as required,our battery has dropped to 60% by morning-but is fully charged by lunchtime.I've been lead to believe that modern Leisure batteries are designed to be run low and re-charged without harm.No doubt others will say that is not so.
    The guy who 'does' our M/home ( a Baileys service engineer) says he'll replace our battery free of charge if it lets us down :BigGrin: or fit a 2nd one free if we find it essential-he's that confident !

    I have,however, been thinking about a Genny as a back-up. I think the only genny I'd consider would have to be quiet and run off LPG.

    I've had a fixed lpg tank fitted (giving me the gas locker for extra storage) so it would seem a waste of space,and inconvenient to carry a can of fuel for a genny when it can easily be connected to an external gas point.

    Mike.
     
  19. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Unless you are a really heavy power user, I cannot see you needing a generator in the summer months as you have solar power. We have 2 x 110 Ah batteries, no solar, hardly ever hook-up and in summer, have never got close to exhausting the batteries. We tend to move every couple of days though. In your case, I would have thought the panels will keep you topped up. However, in the winter it is very different. The panels will yield very little in the UK and that is when you might want a generator. We bought ours for just this need. Without it we can last 3, possibly 4 nights at very cold temperatures.
    Regarding the fitting of a second battery, that would always be my first step in adding power capacity, before considering panels, generators or fuel cells.

    By the way, although many people speak well of the LPG conversions for generators, be aware that Honda withdraw their warranty if you have it done.

    Philip
     
  20. MikeandCarolyn

    MikeandCarolyn Read Only Funster

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    It is my understanding that Honda offer a dual fuel option on 'suitcase' models.

    Mike.
     
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