Who knows about generators?

Jun 17, 2011
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We do a fair amount off grid and rely on solar panels. We've just returned from a THS at Bridgnorth where we had a great quiet time but struggled on Monday for power. Monday was very cloudy all day with lots of rain. I'd run the onboard battery down on Sunday night (11.8volts) watching telly (23watts). On Monday it failed to get about 12.2 volts with 170 watts of solar panel. I'm thinking of buying a generator for emergency use. If one would run the boss's hair dryer that would be a bonus. Any suggestions please?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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waffler said:
We do a fair amount off grid and rely on solar panels. We've just returned from a THS at Bridgnorth where we had a great quiet time but struggled on Monday for power. Monday was very cloudy all day with lots of rain. I'd run the onboard battery down on Sunday night (11.8volts) watching telly (23watts). On Monday it failed to get about 12.2 volts with 170 watts of solar panel. I'm thinking of buying a generator for emergency use. If one would run the boss's hair dryer that would be a bonus. Any suggestions please?
If you use the forums search system and look for generator threads you will find the past wisdom aired.

That said, there is a time and place for generators, I am one of the first to suggest there are ways to get by without generators , and these days the first alternative are solar panels are a great way to do it, but you can't beat experience and yous is your pane is not quite man enough in dull weather.. I would normally suggest being more economical with power usage, and I would still advocate that approach after all its not a bottomless pit, but hang on its your holiday not mine.

Ok generators - only consider those with an inverter output, non inverters can produce some rather nasty power surges, especially when a high power appliance is turned off, and the motor surges, Inverters have mush faster reactions and will control their outputs much more accurately. Generally those with inverters will tend to use 4 stroke engines which are better cleaner and quieter than 2 strokes.

As for wattage size. that will depend on what you want to run, But i'd guess that if you are looking at hair dryers , then you would need at least a 2kw model. There would be no point in going fro anything bigger than 4kw which is the maximum capacity of the caravans mains wiring.

The big down sides of generators are - noise, weight , running costs and many sites either ban them or have very limited running times.

If money is no object there are fuel cells which are virtually silent.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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Having seen the damage done by some generators , and the cost to put right, you must very carefully consider whether you need to go that route.
As John has said you must only look at generators with inverter technology, and not the 2 stroke models or cheap offerings by some of the tool suppliers or B&Q and the like, they are simply not good enough.

As far as power available you need to have one that could supply the maximum you need without being at the top end of output, so if you need 2KW, you need at 3 KW generator so that it is not having to run at maximum revs.

The safest use of a generator is to use it just to charge the caravan battery, the use of a hairdryer is really out of the question sensibly.

Also you need to take into account the weight of a generator, they are not light , and the carriage and storage of fuel needed to run it, and you must make sure it never runs out of fuel when in use, as well as very regular oil changes.

So, with all that in mind and the potential cost of in the high hundreds of pounds, do you actually need one.
 
Jul 15, 2008
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I do not use solar panels at all.........this is one of the systems I utilise that you could consider.

I use a 600 watt pure sine wave inverter and fit this to the towing vehicle battery under the bonnet with crocodile clips.
Make sure the placement of the inverter does not interfere with running the engine.
I have made a mains cable that is long enough to connect the inverter to the normal caravan mains connection.
With all mains appliances off in the caravan turn on the inverter and the normal caravan charger........this will charge the caravan battery.
The voltage of the vehicle battery must be monitored and the engine run on tick over if it falls to around 12.1 volts.
I especially carry out this charging sequence if I know I will be taking the vehicle for a trip off the campsite.
This charging can be done without the engine running as long as the displayed vehicle battery voltage remains above 12.1....there will then be enough left in the vehicle battery to start the engine.

I use this inverter and this plug in battery voltage meter

I have obtained a 500 watt mains hairdrier which my wife uses as normal in the caravan using the above setup but with everything else turned off (including the charger)
Low wattage mains hairdriers are hard to find but vintage ones can still be found
......here is one
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Gafferbill said:
I do not use solar panels at all.........this is one of the systems I utilise that you could consider.

I use a 600 watt pure sine wave inverter and fit this to the towing vehicle battery under the bonnet with crocodile clips.
Make sure the placement of the inverter does not interfere with running the engine.
I have made a mains cable that is long enough to connect the inverter to the normal caravan mains connection.
With all mains appliances off in the caravan turn on the inverter and the normal caravan charger........this will charge the caravan battery.
The voltage of the vehicle battery must be monitored and the engine run on tick over if it falls to around 12.1 volts.
I especially carry out this charging sequence if I know I will be taking the vehicle for a trip off the campsite.
This charging can be done without the engine running as long as the displayed vehicle battery voltage remains above 12.1....there will then be enough left in the vehicle battery to start the engine.

I use this inverter and this plug in battery voltage meter

I have obtained a 500 watt mains hairdrier which my wife uses as normal in the caravan using the above setup but with everything else turned off (including the charger)
Low wattage mains hairdriers are hard to find but vintage ones can still be found
......here is one
A good solution, and of course keeping the 12V leads as short as possible keeps the cable losses to a minimum. Although you have mentioned it, the drop in the charge of the cars battery could compromise some cars starting ability. I had a starter motor which unbenown to me was drawing far too much current, even leavining the car radio on for 20 minutes was enough to prevent the car from starting. A reconditioned starter motor fixed that.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Dont think I could do that in my Sante Fe, if I sit in the car with the radio on for say 15 minutes, I get a warning saying start engine due to low battery power. Dont believe it myself BUT.
 
Aug 23, 2009
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All I really know about them is that hopefully whoever is running the THS or rally has put all the generator users in the naughty corner away from the rest. :cheer:

Hutch, we don't even know where they're going to move the battery to on the new car. Just found out we might lose the glove box to the new siting of the fuse box. :whistle:
 
Mar 14, 2005
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For domestic standby I have a Hyundai 2kw inverter generator. It is reasonably quiet, starts easily on pull cord, although electric start is available, and appears well made. It was about half the price of the Honda equivalent.
But, it is 27kg so not a comfortable lift, about size of a medium suitcase, and you would need to carry the appropriate furl. Unless you have a pickup of bib 4x4 I would not see it as a reasonable thing to take touring,
The other solutions would seem much better
 
Jun 1, 2012
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I like Gafferbill's option. My ix35 has a massive alterator up front, driven by 2000cc and already in my weight allocation. I also carry an inverter so plus/plus/plus. Another bit of cable is trivial.
Hyundai do shut down accessories after 15 minutes or so but you can connect again if you wish.
Interesting to some, Hyundai ix35 has fuse to remove to save battery power if left standing for any time, it disables all of the memories. But then the key fob wont work???
 
Mar 8, 2009
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Nice bit of kit. But doesn't overcome the noise nuisance problem! (Have one anyway 2.2 litre driven alternator!)
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Gabsgrandad said:
Nice bit of kit..... )
Really? :eek:hmy: The product pictures and the website look very amateurish to me. :dry: In fact I'd go so far as to say the website is terrible, it needs a professional rethink, if they want to engender customer confidence.

Without seeing a unit in the flesh and the opportunity to try one its difficult to make a fully informed opinion.

Any one got one?
 
Sep 29, 2016
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Gafferbill said:
A different type of generator ideal for charging 12 volt batteries. ...but expensive :eek:hmy:
At that kind of money I would expect much more in terms of specification.

What make of alternator? What make of engine? etc.

Again, at those prices I would be expecting say a Honda engine, from the poor pics,everything looks cheap, like a very cheap lawn mower engine.

I am generally interested in products of this kind, but I won't be spending another moment of time on this offering.
 
Apr 19, 2017
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It does look as if it is 'built to order' in someone's garage.
However the concept is sound, and if you have the skills/time/inclination it could make a satisfying winter project. A lawnmower engine (the mower chassis usually gives up long before the engine!) and a car alternator from a scrappy should cost next to nothing.

Just please don't use it on a site I am staying at .
 
Jul 15, 2008
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Please note that I gave the link as that type of battery charger is not widely known about.

The product itself is well made using proven components in their basic forms to keep things simple and robust. I have examined one as the seller exhibits at many caravan shows.
The advantages are relative light weight and the ability to safely charge at 50 amps+ depending on model.
This keeps running times and disturbance to other caravanners at a minimum due to faster charging.
Should I want such a charger (which I don't).......I have worked out I could build one from new components for around £220.00.
 
Jul 11, 2015
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Yeh, but.. I have a perfectly good Honda generator that was used for wild camping in the previous MH :p
 
Feb 6, 2009
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Gafferbills link took me back in time....

Many years ago we had need to charge marine battery banks (no mains electricity available) and it was common to mount a lorry alternator on a small platform coupled to a lawnmower engine...just as others have suggested.

This gave a substantial output and fitting "regulation" was easy! ( although it was very necessary to keep an eye on it!)
Many marine repair facilities started to use this sort of equipment for work away from base and it became so common that one of the trade publications published an article on it together with construction details.

The costs of building the equipment were tiny and as far as I remember it only took an hour or so to put together!

They didn't look pretty... but they sure put in a fair old charge in a shortime!

Noise wasn't a prime concern, but if memory serves me right they were not too bad, same as a lawn mower really!
Regards to all
and, of course
Happy Caravanning
paws
 
Sep 29, 2016
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Gafferbill said:
Please note that I gave the link as that type of battery charger is not widely known about.

The product itself is well made using proven components in their basic forms to keep things simple and robust. I have examined one as the seller exhibits at many caravan shows.
The advantages are relative light weight and the ability to safely charge at 50 amps+ depending on model.
This keeps running times and disturbance to other caravanners at a minimum due to faster charging.
Should I want such a charger (which I don't).......I have worked out I could build one from new components for around £220.00.
If I had known that the King had seen one and thought the components were of reasonable build quality I would have had a kinder view.

That said, the seller should up the ante on their web page design and improve on the information relating to the product if they wish to enhance sales.

Still too expensive for what it is though, I would probably go down Kingy's route and self build should I decide I needed one.

Thanks for making me aware of such a device King Woosie, at least I now know such a beastie exists :)
 
Nov 11, 2009
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I would think the OP has resolved their query given over three years have passed since the last post.
 

Parksy

Moderator
Nov 12, 2009
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I noticed him when he posted the last time about RV's but because he hadn't added a link to advertising I couldn't ban him there and then even though I strongly suspected that a spam merchant was reviving an older thread to test our systems.
I knew that he'd be back, and now he's gone for good. 😈
 

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