Total Noob RV question - generator usage

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rvnoobie

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Hello,

I'm interested in RV'ing in the near future but I have a question about electrical generators.
If an RV has an electrical generator, would that be enough to power the fridge and A/C for several days WITHOUT hooking up to any additional power sources?
Should I turn off the generator occasionally or is it okay to leave on all day?
Would the food in the fridge spoil if I turn of the generator?

My mind can't comprehend electricity coming from basically out of nowhere :p

Thank you for your help.
 

HappyWanderer

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If you run a generator non-stop for several days, your neighbors will come looking for you with the intent of causing bodily harm.

Most RVs have refrigerators that run on propane, and require 12 volts from the battery to operate. Some rigs have residential style refrigerators that run off the batteries using an inverter. Batteries are charged by running the generator occasionally, or by solar (or a combination of both).

Air conditioning requires AC power, either from a shore line or generator.
 

Larry N.

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To expand on Happy's comments, depending on where you are camped, there may be a plug in to power your rig, or you may be away from all hookups. When plugged in to shore power, there's no need to run your generator. When away from hookups, you normally only run it as needed, meaning that a few hours morning and a few hours in the evening should be adequate, with batteries sustaining you the rest of the time. The exception is that, when unplugged, the generator is needed to run the air conditioner and/or the microwave. otherwise it primarily is to charge the batteries.

My mind can't comprehend electricity coming from basically out of nowhere :p
It doesn't come from "nowhere." You're burning fuel (gasoline or diesel) to provide the energy to make the electricity, which is essentially the same as what your electric company does, running either a coal-fired generator, a waterfall powered generator, or wind or nuclear (etc.) generators to make electricity, though they do it on a larger scale. Even your car does this, with the alternator (or generator) getting its power from the car engine.
 

rvnoobie

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HappyWanderer said:
If you run a generator non-stop for several days, your neighbors will come looking for you with the intent of causing bodily harm.

Most RVs have refrigerators that run on propane, and require 12 volts from the battery to operate. Some rigs have residential style refrigerators that run off the batteries using an inverter. Batteries are charged by running the generator occasionally, or by solar (or a combination of both).

Air conditioning requires AC power, either from a shore line or generator.


Great! Thank you to both of you, that helps a lot.  I believe it does have a residential refrigerator.  How long do you think the generators should be powered on each day to recharge the batteries, assuming the a/c will also be running?

Thanks
 

Gizmo100

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rvnoobie said:
Great! Thank you to both of you, that helps a lot.  I believe it does have a residential refrigerator.  How long do you think the generators should be powered on each day to recharge the batteries, assuming the a/c will also be running?

Thanks

Welcome to the RV Forum rvnoobie

If your running the A/C you will need the generator to be running. Lets just say you start the generator around noon to run the A/C. Then you shut it off around sundown as things cool back down. Your batteries should be around 85 to 95 % charged. But this will depend on how depleted the batteries were to start.

FYI....
Make sure the generator is designed for use with a RV
 

Utclmjmpr

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If you are plugged into a "shore" power (pedestal ), its just like your system at home. If you are NOT plugged in and need to operate your generator then you will find the AC will take gobs of power and will require the generator to run constantly when it is on,, same with the micro wave oven.>>>Dan
 

rvnoobie

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Gizmo100 said:
Welcome to the RV Forum rvnoobie

If your running the A/C you will need the generator to be running. Lets just say you start the generator around noon to run the A/C. Then you shut it off around sundown as things cool back down. Your batteries should be around 85 to 95 % charged. But this will depend on how depleted the batteries were to start.

FYI....
Make sure the generator is designed for use with a RV

That is very helpful, thank you!
 

FunSteak

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As you look at RVs and narrow your search, keep in mind that most motorhomes have a generator built in, and most travel trailers do not.  At least in my experience, anyway. 

Also, if you are looking at smaller diesel rigs (think Sprinter-based), the standard generator runs on propane.  Diesel generators are optional, and can be an expensive upgrade.  Propane contains less energy per gallon than gas or diesel, so it will burn more of it for the same work.  Plus, propane is a bit more of a hassle to refill.  Something to be aware of. 

Most gas-powered rigs use the vehicle's gas tank to run the generator.  It will only deplete around 3/4 of the tank, so it won't leave you stranded with no gas when it's time to leave.  In my experience, I can run our genny for hours a day, for several day, and still have PLENTY of fuel left.
 

John From Detroit

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With a full tank of gas I have about 40-50 hours of generator time then I need to go re-fuel.

NOw when I am "Boondocking" I run generator only during daylight, it also runs A/C if needed. Fridge runs on AC when Generator is running and PROPANE at night or when Grenny not running.
Tank is 70 gallons. Generator only has access to about 3/4 of it (About 50 rounded slightly).
 

Senator

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I have a Honda 2200.  And an extended run time tank, about 7 gallons total.  It will run for a few days. 

I can run the AC and refrigerator, and I have an EasyStart capacitor on the AC.
 

Memtb

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  I?ve been considering the ?EasyStart? capacitor....what size and age is your ac?  I?ve heard that the newer ac?s use less amp load than do the old stuff.
 

whiteva

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Following the Hurricane I ran my Honda 2000i for 16 days. Little Red ran 24 hours a day with shutdown and oil change every 48 hours. I also have the original easy start system installed on the AC. Although the MH has a Onan onboard I find it noisy and a gas hog.

Cheers

 

JudyJB

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If you are buying a generator for a trailer, be aware that not all generators create enough power to run AC.  The least expensive ones, and all are pretty expensive to buy, will only provide enough power to recharge your batteries.  Also, the more powerful generators that can run an AC unit, are going to be a lot bigger than the smaller ones that just charge your batteries and maybe run your microwave.  This means that you will need a place to store it in your trailer.  And it may be very heavy to lift, even if you have room to store it. 
 

NY_Dutch

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We ran our onboard Onan generator continuously for about 4 days following one hurricane. We were powering our coach and two neighboring travel trailers, two of us with 24/7 medical equipment power requirements.
 

Senator

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Memtb said:
  I?ve been considering the ?EasyStart? capacitor....what size and age is your ac?  I?ve heard that the newer ac?s use less amp load than do the old stuff.

My AC is on a 2015 Keystone Alpine.  I have no idea what size, 13,500 at least.  I know prior to installing it, the AC would pop the generator off.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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The newer a/c units are more energy efficient, but not by a huge amount. Maybe 15%.  That may help in marginal situations, but the primary issue is start-up load, where the amps briefly double as the compressor kicks on.  If the genset runs on a continuous 10-11 amps but hits 20+ for a few seconds at the start of each cycle, a few amps more or less probably won't make a difference.  Some generators will allow a short period of overload (called power surge), e.g. 2000 watts continuous but 3000 or 4000 surge. That extra surge capacity will enable an a/c compressor or a motor to start up successfully.
Older a/c units may triple their amps during start-up, so the hard start capacitor is a big help there.
Some a/c units have the start circuit as standard equipment, so you might check before buying an upgrade kit. The a/c on mid-high RVs typically do.
 

Memtb

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  Gary, I?m reasonably sure that our 15 year old units, aren?t very energy efficient. The ?Easy Start? capacitor can?t be that expensive.....may try it, and see what happens!  :)
 
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