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Author Topic: Cost of running generator  (Read 3719 times)

DickHutchings

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Cost of running generator
« on: May 19, 2016, 10:22:10 AM »
I've been reading a lot about solar panels and it's making me wonder. Just how many gallons does it take to run a generator for a day. I have a ~5000w in my Winnie. I will probably test this myself but I think it will be difficult so I'll take ballpark answers.
Thanks
2016 Montana High Country 375 FL
For sale due to medical problems.

SargeW

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2016, 10:49:40 AM »
My 8500 Onan diesel uses approx .5 gal per hour at half throttle. Running the AC units is about half throttle, just charging batteries is less.  Solar is good if you do a lot of dry camping and don't need AC or microwave. Both require 120 AC and would kill a battery bank quick with much use. 

It really depends on your style of camping.
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DickHutchings

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2016, 11:47:25 AM »
I can see where that would add up quickly. Thanks. I don't see any throttle control for mine. Is it automatic?
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For sale due to medical problems.

dave54

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2016, 12:03:28 PM »
I can see where that would add up quickly. Thanks. I don't see any throttle control for mine. Is it automatic?

What is your make of generator?

The Hondas have a 'Ecothrottle' which senses the needed load and automatically throttles up or down accordingly.  Ecothrottle off is full throttle.
The downside is devices like the refrigerator or a/c which have a surge when when first cycling on.  It takes a second or so for the gennie to rev up and during that brief moment your a/c is demanding power your gennie cannot provide.  The a/c motor is running overloaded for a second or so until the gennie is up to speed.  In really hot weather when I know the a/c will by cycling on and off frequently I leave the ecothrottle off.  I figger it is cheaper to buy gas than replace the a/c motor.
I never get lost.  I just have unplanned adventures.

DickHutchings

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2016, 12:16:01 PM »
Looking at the catalog as I'm at work right now, it's an Emerald 30 or 50A.
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For sale due to medical problems.

jagnweiner

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2016, 12:40:08 PM »
Yes, the throttle is automatic.  It varies with the electrical load on the generator.
-Scott
2000 Itasca Horizon 36LD

nitrohog1

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2016, 04:00:24 PM »
I have a Honda EU 3000 and I purchased a 50 straight blade to a 30 amp twist lock and it will plug into the EU 3000. I live in Central Florida and last weekend when I was plugged into the Generator I had my Frig which is all electric 2-TV's, 1-13,500 AC and the Inverter/Charger on. I had to take the Generator off the Econo Mode so that the voltage did not drop very low because of the AC starting up. I think the Generator holds 3.8 gallons of fuel and it lasted 13 hrs.' over night.

Herbie
Herbie
2011 Itasca Ellipse 42QD

Derby6

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2016, 05:36:35 PM »
I think you need to look at more than just fuel costs. :-\
1. If a generator was running all day, much of that time would be idling when nothing is running.  This is not got for generators--at least that is what I have always been told.
2. In addition this would require weekly oil changes.  Basing that off of my ONAN 400 microquiet where I think it is recommended to change the oil every 100 hours.
3. Depending on how often one did this, I could see a generator not lasting very many tears?
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Jeff

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2016, 05:48:48 PM »
More issues pop up with gen sets from lack of use than wearing them out. Doing an oil change is an easy 30 minute job on most generators, especially after you do it a couple of times.

John From Detroit

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2016, 06:05:09 PM »
I can see where that would add up quickly. Thanks. I don't see any throttle control for mine. Is it automatic?

Automatic... Explanation follows.

There are two types of generators (Well two main, couple of sub types) Inverter Generators, are usually portable and usually have model numbers ending in a lower case "i". are fairly expensive but you will hear the motor speed up and slow down as the load changes

Most RV generators are what I call Traditional generators, they run at 3600/N RPM where N is an ingiger (usually 1,2 or 3) so they run at a constant speed  3600 RMP, 1800 RPM or 1200 RPM   Note that the lower speed types are usually more expensive, and much higher quality... Again USUALLY, just like above no guarantees anywhere (My 1800 RPM Onan is one dang fine generator)

In order to either maintain the engine speed (Traditional Generator) OR increase it (Inverter model) it is necessary for the throttle to open.. So they have automatic devices of one kind or another to do just that.

Some sense the current flowing and use it to control, all or in part the throttle,  These are very good.. Some do it with computer control of the engine speed.. But all have a throttle, and on a generator it is always automatic.
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Happy Prospector

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2016, 06:34:49 PM »
Gas is pretty cheap right now, wait until it goes back to $4.50 a gallon and solar starts to look really nice. With solar the trips to the gas station are fairly rare.



The information is out there, all you have to do is let it in.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2016, 06:45:05 PM »
Fuel consumption is largely a matter of the electrical load and folks are kidding themselves if they think a Honda portable is any less expensive to operate when producing 2000 or 3000 watts than a big Onan 7500 diesel. There is no free lunch.  Where the small portables help is when there is no load or very low load on an inverter-type genset. It can and does throttle way back, reducing both noise and idle fuel consumption. Still not a bunch less than a larger inverter genset, but definitely less than a larger "traditional" constant rpm genset (see Detroit John's message). And the portable of the constant rpm "traditional" type have no advantage at all.
Gary
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DickHutchings

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2016, 07:50:59 PM »
Good stuff. Thank you all.
2016 Montana High Country 375 FL
For sale due to medical problems.

Derby6

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2016, 02:30:38 PM »
More issues pop up with gen sets from lack of use than wearing them out.

Do you mean lack of use--sitting not running?
OR
Lack of use, idling, not being under load?
2015 Ford Explorer (Wifes Ride)
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Lou Schneider

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2016, 04:24:34 PM »
Lack of use sitting.  When you don't use the generator, it's windings collect moisture, tarnish accumulates on the slip rings that transmit power to the excitation coils in the armature, water collects in the engine oil from condensation, fuel sits and decomposes into gum and varnish in the carburetor leading to starting and running problems.

Starting and running the generator once a month will prevent most of these problems.  Running it under load for about an hour will heat up the windings and oil, driving accumulated moisture out of them.

Derby6

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2016, 06:13:17 PM »
Lack of use sitting.
Thanks,  That's what I initially thought and then started to over think it.... :D
2015 Ford Explorer (Wifes Ride)
2011 Ford F350 4x4 Lariat Crew Cab/Long Bed/SRW
2011 Honda Civic-- (Beater with a heater)
2007 28' Desert FOX Toy Hauler             
TOYS:
01 Yamaha Kodiak 400
09 Yamaha Grizzly 550
12 Yamaha Grizzly 450
13 Yamaha Rhino 700 (Wifes Ride)
13 & 14  144" & 155" SKI DOO

Lensbender

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2016, 05:24:28 PM »
Solar vs generator:

My outlets don't work when I'm on battery power, only when I'm plugged into shore power.  If I bought solar panels, would I be running off battery power or would the trailer think I was on shore power?

the only thing that keeps me from dry camping is not having my outlets available to me.
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2016 Springdale 26" towed by a 2015 Chevy Colorado

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2016, 05:40:25 PM »
You would have to install an inverter to provide 120vac power, whether to all outlets are just some specific ones. Solar panels produce 12v power and basically are battery chargers. They are not a substitute for shore power with out also using an inverter.
Gary
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Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Lensbender

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2016, 11:44:19 AM »
I realize they require an inverter to provide the correct voltage.  I'm really wondering is that all I have to do to get my outlets to work?  Is there some kind of switch or sensor that keeps them from working, or do they not realize/care if I'm on shore power or not as long as 120 vac is present?
----------------------------
2016 Springdale 26" towed by a 2015 Chevy Colorado

DickHutchings

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2016, 12:09:42 PM »
The AC receptacles are on an entirely different circuit than the batteries/DC. So, no switching needed.
2016 Montana High Country 375 FL
For sale due to medical problems.

JDOnTheGo

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2016, 01:34:07 PM »
I'm really wondering is that all I have to do to get my outlets to work?  Is there some kind of switch or sensor that keeps them from working, or do they not realize/care if I'm on shore power or not as long as 120 vac is present?

In many rigs, there is a 120 VAC circuit (and breaker panel) that is powered only from shore power/generator (typically only the air conditioners, refrigerator/freezer, water heater, tank heaters, engine heater, etc. are powered from this circuit).  Additionally, there is a 120 VAC circuit that is powered from a switching inverter.  This inverter provides 120 VAC via the batteries if no 120 VAC input is detected or, if it is detected, it is passed thru.  So, to your question, you probably need to do some rewiring to make your rig work this way.
JD - Full timer out west
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2016, 04:27:36 PM »
Quote
I realize they require an inverter to provide the correct voltage.  I'm really wondering is that all I have to do to get my outlets to work?  Is there some kind of switch or sensor that keeps them from working, or do they not realize/care if I'm on shore power or not as long as 120 vac is present?

It's not just the voltage. The 12 volt Direct Current power is totally isolated from the 120 volt AC outlets. They aren't compatible and the two sources never power the same outlets. 12v outlets look like cigar lighters, not parallel blade plugs.

Basically the wall outlets are wired only to one place (called a load center) and that load center gets its power from the shore cord. It doesn't know or care what feeds that cord, but it has to be 120vac power. Not battery or something else.

What you can do is buy & install a pricey gadget called an inverter, which produces 120vac power from battery 12vdc power. Then feed that to the load center or the shore power cord. There are a few wrinkles that have to be dealt with, though, e.g. stopping the onboard battery charger from running. I won't go into all that here unless you want to explore that option further, but we would be talking  maybe $1000 to have an RV shop do that for you.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Lensbender

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #22 on: June 01, 2016, 06:06:01 PM »
So if I tried to use solar power, I'd just be recharging the batteries and still unable to use the outlets.  So a fossil fuels burning generator is my only option is what you are saying?
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2016 Springdale 26" towed by a 2015 Chevy Colorado

Sun2Retire

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #23 on: June 01, 2016, 06:49:46 PM »
So if I tried to use solar power, I'd just be recharging the batteries and still unable to use the outlets.  So a fossil fuels burning generator is my only option is what you are saying?

What Gary and others have tried to explain is that the solar panels do not produce AC voltage, so just installing solar panels will not allow you to use your outlets. As Gary said, solar has one purpose only, charging batteries.

There are three options to get power from your outlets:
1) Generator, which produces AC power directly
2) Shore power (plugged in)
3) An inverter, which takes battery power and converts it to AC power for your outlets. Depending upon what you are plugging in, inverters can use a lot of battery power so in many cases you'll want additional batteries
There are no other options for making your outlets work

 
If I bought solar panels, would I be running off battery power or would the trailer think I was on shore power?

You would still be running on battery power. As stated above and by others, solar panels do not produce AC power for your outlets

the only thing that keeps me from dry camping is not having my outlets available to me.
Generator or inverter, the only two ways to get your outlets to work while dry camping
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2016, 09:55:17 AM »
Quote
So a fossil fuels burning generator is my only option is what you are saying?

No, that is NOT what we are saying. The options are generator or inverter. The generator is indeed fossil-fuel, but an inverter is 12vdc electrical powered, and the 12v can be generated via solar, using the batteries as a storage buffer.

The simple solution, however, is the generator. That makes everything work like being plugged to shore power.

Perhaps we should back up a bit and discuss what it is that you want to plug into those outlets. There may be practical solutions short of running a genset much of the time.
Gary
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Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

Lensbender

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #25 on: July 02, 2016, 08:30:08 PM »
I'd just like the trailer to operate like it's on shore power, when I'm dry camping.   I want to use the TV, run the AC, use the outlets, etc.  It sounds like I'm going to have to use a generator for that. 

Thanks for all your help.
----------------------------
2016 Springdale 26" towed by a 2015 Chevy Colorado

Sun2Retire

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Re: Cost of running generator
« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2016, 09:42:23 PM »
I'd just like the trailer to operate like it's on shore power, when I'm dry camping.   I want to use the TV, run the AC, use the outlets, etc.  It sounds like I'm going to have to use a generator for that. 

Thanks for all your help.

If your goal is to simply "operate like it's on shore power" without giving it a thought, then yes, the only solution is to run the generator. However, if you can be flexible enough to understand there are solutions to run some of your AC equipment some of the time (not the air conditioning) from your batteries through an inverter, then there are solutions which won't require that you run the generator all day long. Example, you can run your TV, many plug-in items (not some high draw items), even your microwave (for short periods) if you have sufficient batteries and properly sized inverter.

Unless we need the air conditioning we can power almost everything, watching our usage, off the batteries and inverter.

Air conditioning will require either shore power or generator.
Scott
2005 Newmar Dutch Star 3810, Spartan, Cat C7 350
Eezrv TPMS, VMSpc, 800W Solar
2002 Dodge RAM 1500 Quad Cab
Stowmaster towbar & Brakemaster

 

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