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Author Topic: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel  (Read 24711 times)

PastorTravis

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On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« on: May 09, 2009, 06:21:50 PM »
If you were to do a lot of dry camping in a 5th wheel is it a lot better to buy one with a built in generator? Seems like it would be a lot better but your selection of used units drastically decreases with a generator as a criteria. Is it a lot of trouble to add a generator to a fifth wheel that does not have one factory installed?

Thanks
Traveling and preaching the gospel to the homeless.
2002 Fleetwood Bounder 39R

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2009, 06:39:33 PM »
I'd rather have the generator sitting on the ground or in the back of the truck than installed in the trailer. Noise & exhaust fumes is one reason and best use of the storage space is another.

If you try to build one in afterwards, you have to deal with fuel access (a tank & lines or a way to refuel the genset's own tank) and an exhaust system. Not the simplest thing to do.
Gary
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2007 GMC Acadia
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Ron

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2009, 06:43:14 PM »
While we have never had a 5ver I would agree with Roamer in that I think I would prefer the Genset not be built into the trailer for the same reasons he mentioned.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

PastorTravis

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2009, 06:43:57 PM »
Is there a way to run the camper off of the diesel engine of the truck?
Traveling and preaching the gospel to the homeless.
2002 Fleetwood Bounder 39R

BigLarry

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2009, 08:17:37 PM »
The Diesel engine in my 2007 Chevrolet truck cannot be idled for extended periods of time.  There is a setting for fast idle that is used if the truck is being used as a utility truck where extended periods of idling is required.  Most Diesel trucks have a second alternator as an option for use in industrial applications, however even if they did produce sufficient power, the fuel consumption would be considerably more than a generator.  Bottom line........I'd suggest the generator.
Larry and Betty
Bryan, Texas
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Frizlefrak

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2009, 01:34:53 AM »
We boondock A LOT, and I use a portable generator with my fiver.  I just put in the back of the truck to haul it and leave it on the ground to use it.  I move it several feet away when it's running so exhaust fumes aren't an issue.  If it looks like rain, or we're leaving for a while, I shut it off and slide it under the trailer and lock it up.  Trying to mount it and run the associated exhaust system, etc would be far more trouble than it would be worth.

It's a Chinese knockoff, and I paid $249 at Pep Boys for it.  3500 watts max, 2750 running.  It will run the A/C just fine, as long as nothing else (other than the batt charger) is running at the same time.  If no A/C, it will run the coffee pot and everything else at the same time.  No, it isn't as quiet as the Honda units, but it didn't cost a small fortune either....and it's usually one of the quieter ones I encounter at most campgrounds.  You can have a normal conversation standing 3 feet away from it. 

I've been very happy with it.  I'm sure the usual Honda pundits will chime in and disagree...more power to them.  The $800 I saved will buy me a lot of camping and I will still have more power than them...unless they feel like popping another $1100 and buying a second one to tie in tandem with it.....  And if I do have a fussbudget at a campground that says it's too noisy, I will promise to turn it off if they will promise to keep their yappy dog quiet ;)  First peep out of their of their little runt, and back on it goes.  (Settle down, I'm kidding.....maybe)

Our favorite campground in Cloudcroft has "generator hours" and "quiet hours".  The camp hosts will give you a nasty scowl if you run your gennie during QH.  I wish they had yappy dog hours too.  Kidding, of course.


bross

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2009, 07:04:53 AM »
I have the Onan 5500 installed in my 5th wheel. It runs off the propane system and I've been very happy with it. One nice thing about a permanently installed generator is it's always connected and ready to go. We use it a lot when traveling. When we stop for lunch I fire it up and turn on the air conditioning. It only takes a few minutes to cool off the trailer for a comfortable break.

If you decide on a permanent installation go with a propane model. It eliminates carrying gasoline or diesel in the trailer and you don't have to worry about the fuel getting stale during storage. Propane models are more expensive to operate but it's a cheap price to pay for the convenience.

When looking for used trailers, keep in mind that some trailers come from the factory with generator prep kits installed, but not the generator. These kits make installing a generator a matter of bolting it in place and plugging it in.

I like the system I have, but there are some pretty nice portables on the market today, so getting a trailer without a built-in wouldn't be a deal breaker for me anymore.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

  
« Last Edit: May 10, 2009, 07:10:44 AM by bross »
Bill & Doris

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2009, 07:18:48 AM »
I think both Frizzlefrak and Bross made good points. The difference is mostly convenience, which basically means personal preference.

Back when we owned fifth wheels, we had a King of the Road that was "generator ready". That consisted of a trailer electrical plug in the front bay to make the electrical hook-up simple and a louvered air intake grill so the bay doors could be closed while the genset was running. No provisions for exhaust or fuel. Since the trailer manufacturer has no idea what size, shape or type of genset you will have, it is essentially impossible to provide any means of fueling or an exhaust system.
Gary
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2007 GMC Acadia
Homebase: Ocala National Forest, FL

PastorTravis

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2009, 09:18:16 AM »
Bross, can you give me an idea of costs for the propane models (costs to run it). What if you land in a Wal-mart parking lot for the night? Seems as though a portable one would be very inconvenitnt?
Traveling and preaching the gospel to the homeless.
2002 Fleetwood Bounder 39R

Ron

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2009, 10:28:34 AM »
Propane Gensets tend to use a lot of propane.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

bross

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2009, 11:38:32 AM »
It's hard for me to give you accurate operating costs for the generator because I don't use it on a continual basis. I've never run it overnight because I don't feel comfortable letting it run while we're sleeping. If I need the air conditioner at night I look for a campground with hookups. When we boondock I only run it a few hours a day to cook, catch up on the news, and occasionally run the air conditioner in the heat of the day. Under those conditions a 30 lbs bottle of propane will last me about a week, but my usage varies so much, that that's only a rough estimate.

The specs for the Onan 5500 say it will burn about .8 gallons per hour at half load. A 30 pound bottle is 7.1 gallons, so at half load a bottle would run it about 9 hours. The last time I got propane I paid $ 18.00, so that would come out to $2.00 per hour to run, if my math is correct. Load on the generator and the price of propane vary, so I'm not sure how accurate that is, but it's my best guess.

For comparison, the same generator in gasoline is rated at .6 gallons per hour at half load. At 2.20 per gallon for gasoline, that would be $1.32 per hour to run, so propane is more expensive to operate.

Hope that helps    
« Last Edit: May 10, 2009, 12:12:25 PM by bross »
Bill & Doris

geodrake

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2009, 12:07:22 PM »
At some RV dealers I have seen gensets (Onan, I think) that apparently replace the rear bumper on a trailer.  Does anyone have experience with these?
George Drake

Frizlefrak

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2009, 02:54:57 PM »
Bross, can you give me an idea of costs for the propane models (costs to run it). What if you land in a Wal-mart parking lot for the night? Seems as though a portable one would be very inconvenitnt?

If you plan on overnighting at a Wal-Mart, a portable will not only be inconvenient....in the morning, it will also be MIA.  Better to install something permanent that can be locked down tight. 

Gary RV Roamer

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2009, 09:47:07 PM »
I've seen them chained to the axle or a spring shackle so they don't walk away.
Gary
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Rancher Will

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2010, 06:31:54 AM »
One man's opinion: I prefer the generator to be on the towing truck rather than mounted in our 5th Wheel.
I have had three 5th wheelers. Our current one is a Montana. I buy a cable and connectors (30 amp) end connector fitting at Home Depot long enough to connect to the cable outlet on the 5th Wheel unit, run the cable under the trailer belly (using nylon ties) to the front hitch, then to the generator. The cable is permnatently installed this way so I only have to plug each end to the generator/trailer and start the generator to use.

John From Detroit

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2010, 10:06:24 AM »
Advantage "Built in" is.. Easier to wrangle, harder to cart off illegally. Usually have a genuine exhaust pipe coming off the muffler onto which you can add a Gen-TURI to get the exhaust fumes up up and away from people who need to breath.

Disadvantage: Harder to use for things other than the RV.   You may well NEED that Gen-Turi to keep exhaust fumes out of the RV

Advantages portable: Easier to replace, Can be used for things other than RV easily.. Often less expensive. Can be run far enough from the RV you don't wake up dead from Exhaust poisoning.

Disadvantages.. Easier to "Grow legs" and walk off, and another piece of hardware to wrangle.  May not have an exhaust that is easily extended.

Which would I choose?   If in a trailer I think I'd use a portable..  But a lot would depend on the cost of the mounted.. Often they are more expensive.
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plntmgr

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2010, 11:36:24 PM »
We have a 3500 watt max with 3000 power from a cheapo company. I mounted it in the bed of our  truck with a 5er pin lock through the truck bed so it doesn't run off. An aluminum cover protects it from the elements. With a 10' 30 amp extension cord from the candy store (Camping World) connects me to my factory extension. When I dry camp, I expect to hear generators. Isn't that the norm????? ...........Satisfied on a budget.   don

rvpuller

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2010, 07:29:15 PM »
We have a built in and would never be without it again, when we travel from place to place when you stop for the night or lunch it's just a matter or hitting the start switch and you have power. We have had the same generator mounted in 3 trailers and on this one we have a 14 gal gas tank mounted permanently in the unit. We also have a 650 watt Honda that we sue in the mountains when we are boon docking and have to just charge batteries or watch the tube. We used to carry a 3500 watt Honda generator in the bed of the truck and it was a pain in the butt maybe we just got lazy and that's why we like the built in. It was a life saver on our Alaska trip because we dry camped 46 nights on the trip.

Denny
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Home Base SC Nebraska

kymedic

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #18 on: April 19, 2010, 08:39:24 PM »
 I bought a cheapo 3500w generator from Wally world. Took some 1inch angle iron and made a basket for it and welded it to the back bumper. The basket welded to the bumper and to the brace that runs to the bumper. The cord is long enough to reach the generator. On the back side of the platform I made a C notch so the generator slides into it and use a large lock on the front lower rail to lock it onto the platform. Love the setup and it all cost me $310 total.
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CampingBeeler

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2013, 11:33:58 AM »
Hi, I'm brand new to the forum and was led here by the topic of this thread.  I am in the process of selling my bumper pull to upgrade to a 5th Wheel.
I have a 21' bumper pull, 30amp, and a Honda EU3000is (so called quiet generator with the "eco throttle").  Even though the Honda generator's maximum output is 23.5 amps, I can operate normally with two exceptions:
1. Never run the AC (with compressor engaged) and the microwave at the same time
2. Never run more than 1 small appliance with the microwave/AC (small appliance: Hair dryer, coffee pot, curling iron, skillet, toaster oven).  I can run one of these items and either the microwave or AC with no problems.

My tow vehicle is a 2000 Chevy 3500, 6.5 diesel that had a 5th wheel hitch installed when I acquired it.  I simply secured my generator to the bed of the truck with a gorrilla cable to deter theft.  I have utilized this setup for dry camping for everything from:
1. overnight parking while on the road getting to a destination (where shore hook ups would be available)
2. tailgaiting SEC football games (no shore power hook ups in those parking lots)
3. 6 week road trip where we only hooked to shore power 16 nights of the trip (26 days of dry camping)
4. a three day weekend in the middle of no where

My experience with the portable generator has been outstanding and it's nice to have the generator for non camping events.

BUT............... Here is a topic that nobody in this post is discussing:  Portable generators require portable storage of gasoline and frequent refueling of the portable unit for prolonged use (anything over 8 hours or so).  I swear, when I was on my 6 week trip it seemed like a fourth of my truck bed was occupied by 5 gallon fuel cans.  It's a pain in the but to secure the fuel cans from theft but then need frequent access to them to fuel up your portable generator.

Imagine, dry camping in a relatively hot climate and wanting to run the AC through the night.  No problem, except the for the portable generator runs out of fuel at about 4am.  You wake at 4:30 in a sweat.  You go to refuel the generator but realize you have to unchain the fuel tanks you had to lock up to keep them from walking off.  It's just a bit of drudgery, especially when you are half asleep.

So, I am surprised that nobody has referred to the burden of have to transport fuel with a portable generator setup.  The idea that a 5th wheel has an onboard generator (whether propane or gasoline) from the factory usually means the 5th wheel also has onboard storage of fuel and plenty of capacity.

Is that usually the case?
Newby,
CampingBeeler
Northwest Georgia
« Last Edit: July 29, 2013, 07:42:18 AM by CampingBeeler »
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(In the market to upgrade to a 5ver)
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mdbass

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2013, 08:01:24 PM »
Propane Gensets tend to use a lot of propane.
Agree! Had one-never again!

allygerry

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2013, 03:34:51 PM »
We have had both portable  and permanent generators.  Our units have always been 50amps 220volt so when you have a portable genset to fit those requirements it requires a lot of room to store that big a genset. That is why I prefer the permanent mounted unit.  When we had the portable genset it was hooked up to a 50 gallon auxiliary fuel tank mounted in the bed of the truck. No getting up in the middle of the night to refuel, however took up more space in the truck box. Now we have an Onan 5500 propane genset and we only carry an extra 30lb tank for backup. The best part of the built in genset stop and start is in the fifth wheel no getting dressed to  start or stop the genset.

Derby6

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #22 on: July 30, 2013, 05:48:45 PM »
This woulda, coulda, shoulda, been a poll thread....lol :P

I have a toy hauler TT with a built in and love it; I also boon dock 98% of the time.  My runs on gas, not propane.
As mentioned above, I don't run it continously.  Normally in the AM for the coffee drinkers, and in the evening to run heat or A/C, microwave, and watch a lil TV.  Maybe kick it on a time or 2 during the day to cool off or maybe run the Microwave.
No worry of theft, loading/unloading, fueling, excessive noise, etc..
If its cold out and I run the heat at night and it drains my battery, one of the detectors beep telling me my battery is getting low.  No killing the heat or getting all dressed to go out and start the generator.  I just walk over hit the start button and go back to bed for an hour or so. ;)

It is definately a personal choice, but for the way my outfit is designed and I use it, on baord generator is PERFECT and the only way to go.
2006 Jeep Commander (Wifes Ride)
2007 28' Desert FOX Toy Hauler             
2011 Honda Civic-- (Beater with a heater commuter car)
2011 Ford F350 4x4 Lariat Crew Cab/Long Bed/SRW
TOYS:
01 Yamaha Kodiak 400
09 Yamaha Grizzly 550
12 Yamaha Grizzly 450
13 Yamaha Rhino 700 (Wifes Ride)
98 Yamaha VMAX

rvpkw

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2013, 12:17:55 PM »
how much propane does a propane generator use running 1 ac?

MicheleF

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2013, 02:20:43 PM »
We have a built in and would never be without it again, when we travel from place to place when you stop for the night or lunch it's just a matter or hitting the start switch and you have power. We have had the same generator mounted in 3 trailers and on this one we have a 14 gal gas tank mounted permanently in the unit. We also have a 650 watt Honda that we sue in the mountains when we are boon docking and have to just charge batteries or watch the tube. We used to carry a 3500 watt Honda generator in the bed of the truck and it was a pain in the butt maybe we just got lazy and that's why we like the built in. It was a life saver on our Alaska trip because we dry camped 46 nights on the trip.

Denny

Hi Denny -
We are wrestling with the same problem - can you provide some pictures of your solution?  And did you buy your FW "gennie ready?"
~Michele
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5Wheelers from Ontario, Canada
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2008 F-350 Diesel Dually SuperDuty

Alfa38User

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Re: On board generator Vs. portable generator for 5th wheel
« Reply #25 on: August 22, 2013, 02:38:17 PM »
how much propane does a propane generator use running 1 ac?

A LOT especially if you are considering a 5th wheel and 30lb tanks. Seriously though, they do burn a lot of propane, you need a big tank if you intend to use  it often, as does that other big propane hog, the furnace.

The primary consideration though is the output capacity of the generator, a single  AC can need up to 1800 watts or so, more on start-up and while cycling.... How much it will burn is a function of the size of the generator AND the load placed on it.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2013, 02:45:41 PM by Alfa38User »
Stu
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Alfa Gold 38 (2000) 5ver