Electrical Systems, Charging and Solar Electrical components and wiring, batteries, charging systems, generators and solar topics.
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Old 05-09-2020, 04:53 PM   #1
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Default Small generator safe?

Can I plug in a small generator say 700 watts into the trailer . I don’t want to damage the charger or inverter the camper has.

My goal is to have something as a back up to charge the battery ( this small gen) later I plan on a solar setup
With a few batteries
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Old 05-09-2020, 05:00 PM   #2
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I've plugged the trailer shore power cord into my 1000 Watt Honda generator without problems. It charges the battery through the converter this way and provides a small level of AC current for small appliances such as a water flosser or to charge my laptop. I don't see why a 700 Watt generator would not work the same way.

My generator has overload protection, so if you demand too much current from it, it simply stops.

- Jack
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Old 05-09-2020, 09:15 PM   #3
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I've plugged the trailer shore power cord into my 1000 Watt Honda generator without problems. It charges the battery through the converter this way and provides a small level of AC current for small appliances such as a water flosser or to charge my laptop. I don't see why a 700 Watt generator would not work the same way.

My generator has overload protection, so if you demand too much current from it, it simply stops.

- Jack
Ahh I see .. I’m learning it .. thanks. I’ll be sure to take some pictures along the way! It’s going to be my fishing shelter on my adventures ��

For some reason I thought it had to be a bigger gen
I know the ac might not work but that’s ok for now.
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Old 05-09-2020, 11:24 PM   #4
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Correct! The A/C will not work on a small generator. I think you need one that is rated to at least 2500 Watts (3000 Watts is probably better), to handle the starting draw of an air conditioner. A smaller unit, such as one rated for 2000 Watts, might be enough for a microwave or a coffee maker.

But, the battery charging circuit of the converter is maybe 300 Watts max - I'm guessing here, I think I've seen a draw of under 200 Watts on the digital meter I have on the output of my generator, when the battery was at a somewhat lower charge state.

My generator also has a 12V DC output that can deliver 8 Amps directly to the battery, bypassing the converter if I want to do it that way.

- Jack
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Old 05-10-2020, 09:45 AM   #5
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I think charging the battery through the converter is better that charging directly from the generator.
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Old 05-10-2020, 11:27 AM   #6
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I think charging the battery through the converter is better that charging directly from the generator.
Absolutely correct, Rich. I only stated that ability as an option that the Honda offers. An even better option, in my case, is the Battery Minder I use on my trailer. It has a switchable charging rate for when the battery needs more than just "maintaining". It can provide 2A, 4A or even 8A for the first stage of charging. Then, it tapers off to float and the "pulse desulfation" maintenance cycles automatically. I can plug it directly into my generator if I have to use it.

But, now I mostly use the solar power I've installed and rely on the MPPT controller to supply a safe charging rate, which is much more convenient.

- Jack
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Old 05-11-2020, 02:06 PM   #7
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I have a Battery Minder that gets lots of use, either on the trailer batteries through the winter or on the little John Deere tractor battery. I've had very little battery problems. I would like to go solar but between trees and so few sunny days, thanks to Lake Erie, here in NW PA solar isn't that good.
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Old 05-11-2020, 03:08 PM   #8
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Again don’t laugh , I have similar set up it’s a 7 watt! Solar got it off amazon just for that purpose .. this is just really for long term keeping the battery at 12.

I guess it could power one of those led light bulb replacements.. If if there is anything left after going through the wires Lol
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Old 05-11-2020, 06:12 PM   #9
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Solar has become such a hot commodity that it's easy to get something that's essentially useless, but is touted as everything you need for living off the grid. As I'm sure you've found out, a 7W solar panel will probably maintain a battery during storage, but that's about it. HiLo used to offer a 15W panel as an option, and it wasn't much better.

I spent some money back in the day and bought 4-15W panels that I lugged around for a couple years when we went camping. They could JUST barely maintain the battery even though I'd installed LEDs throughout for interior lighting. 60W SEEMED like it should be enough, but i've learned you shouldn't expect more than about 30W output from that setup under the best conditions.

Now, with 300W, I'm pretty comfortable, unless we camp under heavy tree cover. So, I still take the generator with us when we camp.

- Jack
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Old 05-13-2020, 09:55 AM   #10
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I use a 600 Watt Honda to keep the battery charged. It is maxed out in the morning to run the Converter and Refrigerator,
Until I put Led's in Turning On a light would overload it.

I also have a 1300 watt Champion which we use and that will run most things Except the AC. Furnace, Refig , Small TV , Water Pump, Lights etc.
When it gets hot we carry a 3500 watt Camper Generator, sort of noisy but runs everything easily.
The Honda is quiet compared to the other 2 although the Champion isn't bad.

We put a 100 watt Solar Panel on last fall and that kept the battery charged all winter.
We have been going driveway camping the last couple of weeks and the solar panel seems to be keeping the battery charged. this is on the 17 ft 2000 model year, I would think the newer converters are more efficient.
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Old 05-13-2020, 11:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arti View Post
I use a 600 Watt Honda to keep the battery charged. It is maxed out in the morning to run the Converter and Refrigerator,
Until I put Led's in Turning On a light would overload it.

I also have a 1300 watt Champion which we use and that will run most things Except the AC. Furnace, Refig , Small TV , Water Pump, Lights etc.
When it gets hot we carry a 3500 watt Camper Generator, sort of noisy but runs everything easily.
The Honda is quiet compared to the other 2 although the Champion isn't bad.

We put a 100 watt Solar Panel on last fall and that kept the battery charged all winter.
We have been going driveway camping the last couple of weeks and the solar panel seems to be keeping the battery charged. this is on the 17 ft 2000 model year, I would think the newer converters are more efficient.
---
These smaller generators and solar panel packages, in my opinion are a great way to learn and experiment at a low cost.

I remember camping with nothing but a small flashlight for electronics..every else is plus. !
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Old 05-13-2020, 01:12 PM   #12
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Sorry I didn't actually answer your question.
Most generators have an overload breaker so if it can't handle the load it will kick off so hooking one up to try shouldn't hurt anything.

I might suggest that you look at something slightly bigger, something in the 2000 watt size will do a fair job of running most things. If you want AC then I would think that something in the 3500 watt size would work better.

If I didn't already own the 600 watt Honda I wouldn't buy one, The 1300 watt one works well for everything except Air Conditioning, we don't have to be so careful what we turn on. We don't have a Microwave so that isn't a problem.

As a bonus the 1300 watt generator will run our residential Furnace and a couple of lights so I feel that is an added bonus. I purchased the 1300 watt unit used on Facebook for $100. It's been a good investment for us.
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Old 05-13-2020, 02:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arti View Post
Sorry I didn't actually answer your question.
Most generators have an overload breaker so if it can't handle the load it will kick off so hooking one up to try shouldn't hurt anything.

I might suggest that you look at something slightly bigger, something in the 2000 watt size will do a fair job of running most things. If you want AC then I would think that something in the 3500 watt size would work better.

If I didn't already own the 600 watt Honda I wouldn't buy one, The 1300 watt one works well for everything except Air Conditioning, we don't have to be so careful what we turn on. We don't have a Microwave so that isn't a problem.

As a bonus the 1300 watt generator will run our residential Furnace and a couple of lights so I feel that is an added bonus. I purchased the 1300 watt unit used on Facebook for $100. It's been a good investment for us.
I am shopping for a generator..
I havenít gotten that far.. I wasCurious about the heater if itís electric or gas I wonder if there all electric..
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Old 05-13-2020, 04:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
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I am shopping for a generator..
I havenít gotten that far.. I wasCurious about the heater if itís electric or gas I wonder if there all electric..
If you're talking about the furnace in the HiLo, I believe they are all propane gas devices, but the fan is powered by 12V DC current.

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Old 05-13-2020, 05:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by auerdoan View Post
I am shopping for a generator..
I havenít gotten that far.. I wasCurious about the heater if itís electric or gas I wonder if there all electric..
Our main Furnace is propane with 12 volt motor and ignition, also the roof Air Conditioner also has an electric heat strip in it on our camper, I believe the heat strip was an added option.
I don't know how much current the heat strip uses however I think it would likely the rooftop unit be about the same amps if it was heating or cooling.
The 12 volt motor for the furnace has a fairly high amp draw, It's a good thing that it doesn't run continuously as it would certainly draw a battery down if it did.
We have run through 40 degrees nights on battery power and the battery still had a decent charge left in the morning.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:40 AM   #16
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I haven’t purchased anything yet, but have researched fairly deep. A 2000 watt generator should power everything including the startup of a microwave, with the exception of the AC. In that regard, I have seen articles in Trailer Life magazine for a new device that does a “slow” start of the AC without damaging it. This drastically reduces the power consumption to the point where a 2000 watt system would probably run that as well as long as you weren’t drawing power for other things while cooling your rig down. This would make the smaller Honda’s a pretty good option.
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Old 05-22-2020, 04:46 PM   #17
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I think I would rent or borrow a 2000 watt generator and try it on the Air Conditioner before I bought one. It might run it if you plug the AC into it directly and didn't power anything else.
The soft starts help a lot with the startup however it doesn't help much with the running current.

I checked our AC and it was using around 14 amps although it is 20 years old.
2000 watts would be approx 16 amps,
I believe some of the newer ac's are more efficient.
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Old 05-22-2020, 08:06 PM   #18
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Arti; In your May 13 comment you mentioned keeping your battery over winter with the solar panel. A couple of ?s, you need to have the trailer master switch on as well as the solar switch on, right? Therefore the builtin clock/radio is drawing power with master switch on.
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Old 05-22-2020, 08:50 PM   #19
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The solar control is wired directly to the battery. The solar panel charges if the master switch to the camper is off. So far it keeps the battery charged if the switch to the camper is left on. We have been driveway camping for over a month running the furnace ,water pump and a TV without having to plug in the camper. We don't have the refrigerator turned on yet so I don't know if the panel will handle the extra load yet.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:47 PM   #20
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Thanks Arti.

John
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