Generators

Apr 7, 2005
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Happy New Year to all Forum members!

Having read this months issue of PC, i bought a genny. For anyone interested I paid £50 for it in Woolies. Not the biggest, but it will charge a battery. And that's where my questions start!!!

I have an Avondale Dart 556/6, the genny only has a 230v outlet. I have an adaptor for my power lead to connect it to my caravan lead but when its all connected and genny running will it charge my battery? Or do i need another way of connecting it up to my battery?

I only plan on using it for some weekends. (wife likes full comfort!) Only been caravannnig for 18 months and have onlybeen to CL's with elec. Would like to branch out!

Thanks in anticipation..
 
May 20, 2005
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Ho No thats the peace and quite gone on cls and ths at that price I can see a lot of people buying the smelly noisy anti social things.

Having said that if you must use one, at that price it will be rated at about 750-950 watts not much use to run most 230 volt appliances, although ok to charge the battery the best way to do this would be to connect the battery to the 12volt output from the generator it will charge the battery a lot quicker saving cost the of petrol and your neighbours and get back to enjoying the peace and quite (unless they have bought one to)
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Surely a good quality battery will last a weekend? We can make ours last for a full week. Why not cut down on power consumption and preserve peace and quiet?

No doubt one of the techie minded people will be able to say for sure, but I think that it will take several hours to charge a battery from a generator.

If you need power for medical equipment, then I can understand. If not, I feel that you will make yourself pretty unpopular on sites with your generator. And at that price you won't have much in the way of a silencer.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Redragon. Plug genny into caravan mains inlet. Make sure no other 'mains' bits like heater, water heater, fridge etc are on so as not to overload genny. You will then charge via the 'van charger, probably 12.5 amps. The charger will regulate charging progress. You don't have a 12v output, if you did it would only charge at 6 - 10 amps.
 
Dec 24, 2003
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Hello Reddragon.If you connect the 240v gen to your caravan mains input then it will charge the battery,BUT,at that price I would assume that the output will not be very stable or "clean" and it may(will!) damage the electronics in you caravan charger. Personally I would not use it for this job.
 
Jul 15, 2005
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Hi Redragon,

I'd be very wary of connecting a low cost generator to a modern caravan, mainly because these generators were designed to run stuff like electric drills or construction site lamps, and as such have no output voltage regulation at all.

If you start the generator with no electrical load (disconnected in other words), then connect up to the van or a drill or whatever, I've seen certain models (made in China for a budget price) produce 370 volts under no load (about 50% over voltage) which rapidly drops to around 230V when connected.

A spike of 370 volts won't hurt "dumb" stuff like the heating element in your fridge, but it may hurt anything with modern electronics.

Also as you change the load on the generator, the lack of output regulation means the voltage swings up and down.

So if your Avondale has any expensive modern electronics inside it, I would suggest you don't connect the generator directly to the power socket on the side of the van.

If you want to charge the van battery, then plugging in a "dumb" car battery charger (Halfords cheapest - the type with no electronics - just a transformer) to the generator will protect your van's electronics.

Robert
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Some alternatives to a generator

1)Carry a spare battery

2)Find a CL that will charge your extra battery when it's flat

3)Use gas for the fridge, hot water & heating, and cooking.

4)Try an alternative to watching colour TV.

otherwise

1)Choose a pitch well away from your neighbours

2)Make sure you have a heavyweight chain to prevent the generator walking.( Any passing villain will have been alerted to the opportunity by the noise )

3)Carry some sort of housing to prevent the generator getting wet when it rains.

4)Make sure you have plenty of fuel and take care it doesn't leak all over the car.

5) Make room and compensate for the weight of all the above plus the genny by throwing out your deck chairs.You won't want to sit out anymore because of the noise, fumes and less than freindly neighbours.
 
Apr 7, 2005
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1) Good Option

2) Not a bad option, but will still limit van use.

3) Got that planned any way

4) No TV taken anyway, bought van so kids could learn to play.

1) Good idea

2) Never thought of that, thanks for the advice.

3) Not advised

4) Have got fuel container

5) Will be using the genny to charge mates and my battery. Will sneak all nasty items into his unit!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Redragon

I agree with rob_jax, you need to be very wary about what you run from a basic generator.

We use CL's a lot, sometimes staying up to four weeks on one without any hookup. Modern vans seem to be more and more power hungry and so we bought a generator to keep the battery topped up. We went mad and bought a Honda (
 
May 20, 2005
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Redragon take a look at this thread on here gives details of how to survive with out needing a generator http://www.practicalcaravan.com/newforums/fm_messages.asp?FO=6&FM=82742
 
Nov 17, 2005
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Redragon,

We always use a genny, our Vectra Estate makes a perfect silencer, just crack any one of the windows half inch, to let it breath, and as long as it's a 4stoke genny no prob, ours is a clarke power 700 watt, which is fairly quiet anyway, in this day and age we need power, gone are the days when we sit around a night light playing snap.

Regards.

Jeff.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello,

Before you buy a generator carefully consider what you actually need it for. Most sites these days offer mains hook ups, which will usually provide up to 3kW of power. By comparison the typical caravan generator will only provide 750W (0.75kW) of power so it is not a complete alternative to the mains hook up.

Modern caravans offer many items of equipment that are duel fuelled. Fridges tend to have 3 way power (12V dc 230V ac & gas), Water heaters and space heaters, 2 way (230V ac & Gas). There are many 12V dc/230V ac televisions & VCRs' available.

So if mains power is not available there is usually a sensible alternative to resorting to a generator. Gas is usually used for cooking, and makes a very economic alternative for water heaters and space heating. Fridges are also much more efficient on gas than on generator power.

For other appliance where gas is not an alternative, there are other low cost solutions. For example a 120W inverter (converts 12V dc to 230 Vac) will provide power for computers, radios VCR etc. So a generator is not really essential.

From a social point of view, generators are noisy. Even the "silent" ones produce some noise. They are very inefficient at converting fuel to electrical power (about 6%) the fuel is very expensive.

Gas appliances on the other hand are very efficient. They must be at least 70% efficient before they are approved for sale, and virtually silent.

The gas will already be on board for cooking, so there is no additional weight to be accounted.

Consider using a second battery that can be charged in the back of your car whilst you are travelling, and swapping when necessary. Or use the accessory circuit in the 12S (grey) socket on the rear of your car.

Do you really need a generator?
 
Nov 1, 2005
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Hello,

Before you buy a generator carefully consider what you actually need it for. Most sites these days offer mains hook ups, which will usually provide up to 3kW of power. By comparison the typical caravan generator will only provide 750W (0.75kW) of power so it is not a complete alternative to the mains hook up.

Modern caravans offer many items of equipment that are duel fuelled. Fridges tend to have 3 way power (12V dc 230V ac & gas), Water heaters and space heaters, 2 way (230V ac & Gas). There are many 12V dc/230V ac televisions & VCRs' available.

So if mains power is not available there is usually a sensible alternative to resorting to a generator. Gas is usually used for cooking, and makes a very economic alternative for water heaters and space heating. Fridges are also much more efficient on gas than on generator power.

For other appliance where gas is not an alternative, there are other low cost solutions. For example a 120W inverter (converts 12V dc to 230 Vac) will provide power for computers, radios VCR etc. So a generator is not really essential.

From a social point of view, generators are noisy. Even the "silent" ones produce some noise. They are very inefficient at converting fuel to electrical power (about 6%) the fuel is very expensive.

Gas appliances on the other hand are very efficient. They must be at least 70% efficient before they are approved for sale, and virtually silent.

The gas will already be on board for cooking, so there is no additional weight to be accounted.

Consider using a second battery that can be charged in the back of your car whilst you are travelling, and swapping when necessary. Or use the accessory circuit in the 12S (grey) socket on the rear of your car.

Do you really need a generator?
John. You've hit right on the point i was about to make. When i was a kid, before mains hook ups were around every caravanner i knew had a split charging system in their car to keep a spare battery charged. Does no one do this any more? I realize it wont help if you don't use your car while you're away.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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A few years ago we had a Yanmar generator which we used at a large CL at the length of the hook up lead away from other outfits and ours.

We often asked if the noise bothered people but the site was so large that they had never been aware of it.

We did become aware of it when one day it speeded up and destroyed the charger, TV and other electronic bits.

Only more expensive units seem to offer electronic governing of voltage output and so cheaper models can prove more expensive in the long run.

Sorry to be less constructive after you've bought the unit but that's what happened to us.
 
Apr 7, 2005
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Thanks for all the replies.

I was not planning to run a generator 24/7. I only need it to recharge my battery. I am not a selfish person who would subject my neighbours to loud noise or irritable grumbling. Common sense is a strong point. Gas power was top of my list, battery only needed to run lighting system and radio.

Being a newish vanner all i wanted to know was how to use it correctly to obtain a good battery charge.
 
Jul 12, 2005
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Hi Redragon

The simple answer is to buy a cheap one that has the 12v output. Use this to connect direct to the battery and it will charge it at about 8amps without risk of hurting the charger on the van.

Thats what I am doing now, until I can afford a digital 3kw generator for connecting to the mains input on the van

Steve
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Redragon - if you only need power to run lights and a radio, then you don't need a generator. We can last 10-12 days without any problems on our 8-year old battery. if you use fluorescent lights instead of spots and a pocket radio, your power consumption will be dramatically reduced.

If your battery cannot last the weekend under these conditions, then maybe it is knackered and should be replaced?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hi Redragon, Just a couple of points to add. We have an Avondale Osprey and if your Dart is anything like ours it is very difficult to minimise 12volt usage. We have an on-board water tank system that require 2 pumps to run. The amount of lighting seems way over the top - 8 12 volt fittings in the main lounge and 3 in the showeroom.

I carry a solar panel for the van battery and also a spare battery in the boot of the car which I connect up as often as possible.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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After our generator fiasco we had two 85amp hour batteries:eek:ne in the van and one in the car boot securely strapped down and connected via a 2 pin plug and socket (polarity safeguarded)and charged via a relay from the back of the 12S socket.

We could get 3 days with a 10in colour TV etc before swapping the batteries over and taking the discharged one for a tour of the locality to re-charge it.The battery boxes we used for many years were inexpensive plastic bread bins with leather straps attached.
 
Hi Redragon , i maybe wrong i'm sure i read somewhere about having a voltage damper fitted to cheaper generators to cut down the chance of overloading electronic appliance's ? Maybe a thought before you plug in :0)
 

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