Small generator

Sjm9911

Super Active Member
May 31, 2018
12,590
Nj
Ah, a newer fridge. Not sure but it shouldn't need a ton of batterie power. What feidge is it?
 

DM27

Member
Aug 1, 2018
12
Domestic not really new, it's a 2011 aliner, we're 3d owners.
We have a Dometic fridge in our 2008 Fleetwood Arcadia, and we just run it on propane when camping for 2 weeks without power. It uses very little power--the water pump and heater use FAR more. I bought a 100 watt solar panel and charger which makes my batteries last for 2 weeks of camping while running the fridge the whole time on propane, using lights (LEDs), water pump for showers (for the 6 of us), and occasional use of the heater.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,137
Minnesota
We have a Dometic fridge in our 2008 Fleetwood Arcadia, and we just run it on propane when camping for 2 weeks without power. It uses very little power--the water pump and heater use FAR more. I bought a 100 watt solar panel and charger which makes my batteries last for 2 weeks of camping while running the fridge the whole time on propane, using lights (LEDs), water pump for showers (for the 6 of us), and occasional use of the heater.
You mean a battery charger?
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
14,046
Albuquerque, NM
We camp where solar works well, so have a Zamp 160 solar panel, which charges our batteries. We switched to dual 6v batteries when a single group 24 was not quite enough for some days in the TT. The deep cycle golf cart batteries can be drained lower than the standard group 24 without shortening the life.
the water pump and furnace are the most piggish. We do have a ceiling fan with a PWM control, so we can run it while dry camping. Works great in hot weather to keep air moving.
The fridge is 2-way, it does last a long time on propane, but needs battery for controls and ignition, as does the water heater.
if we camped where solar didn’t work well, we might get a Honda or one of the small, quiet, efficient generators.
 

DM27

Member
Aug 1, 2018
12
You mean a battery charger?
Yes. If we we were just using the fridge on propane, we wouldn't need it (since the electrical draw of the fridge when running on propane is quite small), but it's the frequent use of the water pump and heater that pull down the battery charge. The solar panel (even when shaded most of the day) puts enough charge back into the batteries that we last 2 weeks with no problems.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,137
Minnesota
We camp where solar works well, so have a Zamp 160 solar panel, which charges our batteries. We switched to dual 6v batteries when a single group 24 was not quite enough for some days in the TT. The deep cycle golf cart batteries can be drained lower than the standard group 24 without shortening the life.
the water pump and furnace are the most piggish. We do have a ceiling fan with a PWM control, so we can run it while dry camping. Works great in hot weather to keep air moving.
The fridge is 2-way, it does last a long time on propane, but needs battery for controls and ignition, as does the water heater.
if we camped where solar didn’t work well, we might get a Honda or one of the small, quiet, efficient generators.
I love that, I'm glad it works well for you, I'm sort of on my own about figuring this stuff out, but I'll probably end up with a small as I can generator, only really want the fridge to stay working.
 

Michael J

Active Member
Aug 9, 2018
203
Michigan
I love that, I'm glad it works well for you, I'm sort of on my own about figuring this stuff out, but I'll probably end up with a small as I can generator, only really want the fridge to stay working.
You would be surprised how easy it could be to run a small solar setup and the people here would be with ya with any questions, no fuel, no noise. :) But I see your point on the generator being easy too, but dealing with fuel and maintenance with generators should be explored if you do go generator I would consider using ethanol free fuel to help keep the carburator from gumming up while storing.
 

Michael J

Active Member
Aug 9, 2018
203
Michigan
I love that, I'm glad it works well for you, I'm sort of on my own about figuring this stuff out, but I'll probably end up with a small as I can generator, only really want the fridge to stay working.
OMG just seeing your in Minnesota? The wife and I just rolled into Rochester! Just here for a day or 2 then back to Michigan.
 

Dnodoz

Active Member
Apr 15, 2020
139
I love that, I'm glad it works well for you, I'm sort of on my own about figuring this stuff out, but I'll probably end up with a small as I can generator, only really want the fridge to stay working.
ALP makes a 1000watt Inverter generator that only runs on propane. You can run it for hours on a green disposable propane bottle of connect it to a bigger tank. Small and lightweight to handle and use. We sold our ALP because we wanted a generator that would run our a/c.
 

TSQ

Active Member
Mar 28, 2021
394
Niagara Region, ON
Ah, a newer fridge. Not sure but it shouldn't need a ton of batterie power. What feidge is it?
Domestic not really new, it's a 2011 aliner, we're 3d owners.
I believe @Sjm9911 meant a newer design, not necessarily newer in age. The older designs would run on propane with no electricity at all required.


We do run it on propane, but it needs battery power as well.
How do you know how many watts you need?
If yours is a newer design with a control board and automatic ignition it should still only draw ~10W when operating. Check the fridge manual.


I bought a 100 watt solar panel and charger which makes my batteries last for 2 weeks of camping while running the fridge the whole time on propane...
We camp where solar works well, so have a Zamp 160 solar panel, which charges our batteries. The fridge is 2-way, it does last a long time on propane, but needs battery for controls and ignition...
You would be surprised how easy it could be to run a small solar setup...
...only really want the fridge to stay working.
As others have mentioned, a portable solar panel should keep the fridge working more or less indefinitely (on propane mode).
 

TSQ

Active Member
Mar 28, 2021
394
Niagara Region, ON
ALP makes a 1000watt Inverter generator that only runs on propane. You can run it for hours on a green disposable propane bottle of connect it to a bigger tank. Small and lightweight to handle and use. We sold our ALP because we wanted a generator that would run our a/c.
How did you like the ALP?
 

Dnodoz

Active Member
Apr 15, 2020
139
It’s a great little generator. Small, lightweight and clean since no gas involved. Only ran it a couple of times before selling but started right up and was quiet. When Champion came out with a lightweight dual fuel 2500 watt that would run our a/c, the ALP became a spare so we sold it.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TSQ

jlygnogre

Member
Jun 12, 2008
88
Iowa
I'm sure we need a generator, we have a small fridge, that's pretty much all I really want it for, isn't a small Honda enough to charge a deep cycle battery that will fit the bill for that need? I know their expensive but I do want the quietest one we can get. I would appreciate your input!
Okay, how about one more opinion. The Hondas have a good reputation. I opted for a Champion, mostly because it's dual fuel. Gasoline is pretty expensive, plus there's the problem of fuel going bad if it sits for too long (yes, I've been guilty of that). LP will keep for a LONG time. And you don't have to pay the road tax on it. Also, doesn't stink things up like gasoline.
I got a model 200962 Inverter generator. It has two USB chargers, but you can also get one with a 12 vdc outlet instead of the USB.
Costs less than the Honda. Noise level is a little higher, but not bad.
I got mine at a Do It Best hardware store. Later, I found out that I could have gotten the same thing quite a bit cheaper on walmart.com. I think you can also get them at Tractor Supply.
I haven't had it long enough to really try it out yet.
Just some thoughts. Good luck.
 

TSQ

Active Member
Mar 28, 2021
394
Niagara Region, ON
slightly off topic, but parallel, not a tangent.
Are there any commercially available, liquid or gasseous fuelled, 12VDC electric generators?
Like this? https://www.macfarlanegenerators.co...ack-battery-charger-with-amp-meter-gxh5055amp (PDF attached in case the website changes)

It seems that most* camping generators are used to replenish the trailer battery, and that can be done without having to make 120VAC, then rectify and transform that to the 13-ish volts of DC.
12VDC gensets are not popular because the winding have to be 10 times larger. With a 1200W genset you are only pushing 10A @120V, but 100A at 12V. That much copper is expensive (and heavy). Cheaper to just make it at 120VAC and use a high efficiency multi-stage programmable charger.

There are some shops that build up low voltage DC generators using the Kubota EA300 (~300cc) engines but being both diesel and liquid cooled they are heavy and noisy. Mostly used in marine applications. I believe Phasor as well as Hardy Diesel package them.

Fischer Panda has a wider range of units (4kW -> 25kW?), again primarily for marine applications (diesel, liquid cooled).

It also means a (non-Inverter) generator wouldn't have to spin at 3600 rpm to make 60 cycle AC frequency since the alternating current isn't needed.
You can use a 4 pole alternator and spin your genset at 1800 rpm. Although quieter it does make them larger, heavier and more expensive (need ~twice the engine size to make the same power at half the speed).

There are AC generators galore from which to choose. There are fewer, but still many, with 12 VDC in addition to the 120 VAC, but I'm asking about 12VDC only.
The 12VDC output on those generators is not really optimized for deep cycle battery charging. It is more meant for boosting your vehicle battery if you run it down.

You could probably build something using a Honda GXH50 coupled to a Balmar 6-series 12V 70A regulated with a Balmar 618 but packaging it up nicely would be tricky.

At the end of the day it would likely be cheaper, easier, and lighter to just get the Honda 1000W (or equivalent) and use a decent charger such as the Victron Energy 12V 30A.
 

Attachments

  • GXH5055AMP-Macfarlane-Generators.pdf
    235.8 KB · Views: 1

Lug_Nut

Active Member
May 29, 2016
353
Mt. Wachusett area, MA
OUCH!! That commercially made $1,300 Aussie unit would cost $800 US at today's rate. And it runs at 7k rpm (!?!?). Power out is 660 watts (12V x 55A), right at the output of my Nissan 650.
I'll stick with my B&S Inverter, Nissan, and Champion. Combined the three set me back $850.
 

kitphantom

Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
14,046
Albuquerque, NM
The OP is finding options. Not all work for each of us, so it's nice to see the range of what's out there.
Solar is nice, we just put the panel out when we set up camp and it does its thing. If it's an overnight stop, we don't bother. We also have the secondary panel, our original one, to charge the free-standing Goal Zero Yeti 150 to charge small electronics and run my sound machine.
We could probably go 2-3 days (guestimate) without recharging the batteries, minimum, depending on the weather, but the solar panel is easy so it's part of our set-up, not something we do when we think the batteries need to be charged.
We have been known to have to chase the sum in less-optimum settings. One fall trip to my late-MIL's, with rainy skies under trees made for interesting sun-chasing. We also found, later on, that we had an issue that meant power wasn't getting into the trailer form the batteries as well as it should, which probably made things more interesting/
We've stayed way from getting a generator, for a number of reasons. I could not handle the weight on my solo trips, so it would be limited to our longer trips. We have enough stuff in the bed of the truck, such as backpacking supplies, so adding the fuel and generator would be a pain.
For now, if it's going to be very cold or hot, we try to get a campsite with power. Otherwise, we just conserve power. I did fine in Sept., with 3 days of mostly rain, under tall ponderosa trees. I didn't run the furnace quite as much as I would have if I'd had power, but a down vest is a great thing to keep in the camper. The bztteries stayed charge well enough that I didn't worry about the fridge.
 

Susan Premo

Super Active Member
Nov 5, 2020
1,137
Minnesota
ALP makes a 1000watt Inverter generator that only runs on propane. You can run it for hours on a green disposable propane bottle of connect it to a bigger tank. Small and lightweight to handle and use. We sold our ALP because we wanted a generator that would run our a/c.
So I'd need a different connector for thee 2 to work? Adapter? Is that right?
 

Dnodoz

Active Member
Apr 15, 2020
139
It comes with the connection hose that fits a 1lb disposable tank. You can buy a steel braided hose from ALP to connect the bulk tank for about $22 although any 1lb to bulk tank conversion hose on Amazon will work.

A 1lb tank I believe is good for about 5 hours. We carried a 11lb shorty tank for our generator and fire pit. Trying to keep lifting weights to a minimum on the old back.
 

rmihalcin

Member
Jul 30, 2013
20
slightly off topic, but parallel, not a tangent.
Are there any commercially available, liquid or gasseous fuelled, 12VDC electric generators?
It seems that most* camping generators are used to replenish the trailer battery, and that can be done without having to make 120VAC, then rectify and transform that to the 13-ish volts of DC. It also means a (non-Inverter) generator wouldn't have to spin at 3600 rpm to make 60 cycle AC frequency since the alternating current isn't needed.
There are AC generators galore from which to choose. There are fewer, but still many, with 12 VDC in addition to the 120 VAC, but I'm asking about 12VDC only.


* those that want the option of running the camper's air conditioning know who you are


I have three generators, but unlike Goldilocks none are 'just right'.
Champion 4500 (4kW) 3600 rpm 120/240 VAC as back-up at home
Briggs&Stratton 2000 (1.6 kW) variable speed Inverter to 120 VAC, plus 8A of 12V DC as backup for the Casita
Nissan 650 (.6 kW) 3600 rpm to 120 VAC, plus 10A of 12V DC as backup for the Coleman

[SIZE=3]Lug_Nut[/SIZE],

You posed an interesting question. I did some digging and it appears that because of the invention of the low cost solid state diodes we now use alternators. I looked at some classic car forums for alternators vs generators and here is a good answer why we don't find DC generators any more:

Compared to alternators, generators have a HUGE flaw: power is generated in the rotor rather than the stator. The reason for this is that power generated in either a generator or an alternator is, by nature, alternating current. You need something to convert it to DC in order to operate a 12V electrical system. That ‘something’ was, for many years a commutator. This is a segmented ring of electrical contacts that send current to the load through brushes that rub against it.

There are a couple of problems with commutators. First of all, there is significant resistance between the commutator and brushes, especially after a significant amount of use. Secondly, a significant amount of wear occurs at the commutator and brushes. This can be mechanical from plain friction, the grinding action between the segmented commutator and brushes as the segments pass the brushes, and arcing that occurs when brushes break contact with one pair of segments and make contact with another.

Alternators produce power in the stator windings. Because the stator is stationary, no brushes or commutator is necessary. The AC output is converted to DC by solid state diodes rather than a commutator. Alternators still have brushes. But they only need to carry the much lower current needed to excite the field in the rotor. Also, the brushes ride on smooth metal slip rings rather than a segmented commutator. This greatly reduces wear to the brushes and eliminates any arcing. Thus, the brushes and slip rings of an alternator last much longer than the brushes and commutator in a generator. As a result, alternators last MUCH longer and are more reliable.

So why did cars ever use generators when alternators are SO much better? The answer lies in the aforementioned diodes. Before reliable and efficient semiconductor diodes were invented, the commutator was necessary to convert the AC output to DC. Only when reliable diodes became available could alternators be used in applications where DC was needed. It is also worth mentioning that, when alternators became available, so great were the advantages that it became quite popular to upgrade generators in older cars to alternators. This remains a fairly common practice in classic car circles.


Hope that helps.

Bob
 
  • Like
Reactions: TSQ




Top