What is smallest generator needed to just run lights-keep up charge in battery?

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Lowell

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Most of the time we don't need our 4k generator as we don't run the the AC that often.  I would like to get a small light weight generator to take along. I have to have help to put the big generator into the pickup. Would an 800 watt generator be sufficient to keep up the battery and run the lights while charging?  We would not use the microwave, TV or run the frigerator in this mode.

I see Harbor Freight has 800 watt generator for sale at $88 on Black Friday.
 

donn

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That 88 dollar HF generator is probably one of their REALLY LOUD 2 cycle jobbies and not something you would like to have.  IMHO get a 1000 watt Honda or Yamaha and go.  Cheaper yet, just install a couple more batteries.  They will allow you to install in inverter to watch TV during quiet hours.
 

Lowell

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The Honda generators are nice but the sale price at CW is 10 times higher.  I can put up with a bit of noise for the $700 difference.  We only use a generator when we are boondocking away from other campers.  And sometimes it's nice to have a generator when tent camping too.  For example, my son and I will be tent camping in December while elk hunting. It would be nice to run a small generator with a couple of clip on 100 watt bulbs, to see what we are cooking after we come back to camp in the dark.
 

jje1960

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As I've posted a couple of times, my favorite generator (own 3 with house model included) is an Mitsubishi inverter, MGC 1101.  Extremely quiet, very little fuel use.  Will not run microwave or aircon (use Boliy for those) however runs everything else, the only time I need to use the high output setting is when using the coffee maker.  Normal routine while using this unit is about 10hrs on a gal of fuel.  Do not believe it's available anymore new, however have seen used ones periodically.  It's bout same same on par with Honda 1000, which is another awesome inverter.
 

1275gtsport

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Double check the ACTUAL output of the HF generator. I have one of those cheap throw away "800" watt units and they are talking about PEAK wattage, and for a very short time. its average or working load is closer to 600 watts. I have run a skill saw, and a weedwacker (not at the same time) with it. also a hand drill. would not turn the 2hp air compressor over and that is what I really bought the little thing for. it is loud so much so that your are not going to carry on a long conversation right next to it. 100 feet away and sure but you do know it is running.
I had borrowed a "construction" style unit the year before to go to a race track (hence the compressor) and the racers with the straight pipes complained about the noise of the generator.

sometimes you get what you pay for.

OH and to answer your question it will run all your lights and charge your batteries for you.
 

skyking1

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Our 1000 Honda inverter does that job nicely, and would probably do two trailers as long as nobody got greedy with the number of lights they had on.
 

John From Detroit

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I am told a HONDA EU-1000 (Which is what less than 900 watts) can run a Progressive Dynamics 9260 converter.. A true 1,000 watt generator can run a 9180 with charge wizard (I can attest to that) The one I used was a Genrac 1000.  And that was with teh batteries below 11 volts when I pulled the rope.

You can use these as a guide.

I would avoid that 2 cycle job at Harbor fright.  I really do not wish to park any close to a 2 stroke engine.
 

Frizlefrak

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I bought a Chinese 3500 watter at Pep Girls a couple years back on sale for $189.  Yes, it's loud enough that I only use it boondocking, but it doesn't bother us in the least.  It's NOWHERE near as loud as a contactor's generator. It will run everything but the A/C.  Microwave is easy.  Would it annoy someone in a campground?  Possibly....but in Lincoln National Forest campgrounds, I hear noisier ones all the time.  I work at an airport....noise is a relative thing  :)  Guess I'm just desensitized.
 

Jeff

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If you enjoy sitting outside it isn't just your neighbors who will be irritated. The smart choice is getting one as quiet as you can afford.
 

Foto-n-T

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The quick and dirty answer to your question is:  Yes probably

But as you've already noted in the previous posts it really isn't even close to the best tool for the job.  The folks that have responded to your posts, including me, have a LOT of experience with small generators, make note of what they're saying.  A good generator is an investment and will last for many years and thousands of hours of operation, you'll also find uses for it that you never really considered at the time of purchase.

Although Honda and Yamaha are the industry leaders there are some less expensive models out there but you're not going to find one for under $100.  You don't mention what brand your 4k is but I'm going to assume it's not quiet either if it's a portable.  If that's the case then you could probably live with the racket that a HF generator will produce but I've got a suggestion.  Keep using that 4k and put away some fun chips for an eventual purchase of a higher end 2k like a Champion or even the Honda or Yamaha down the road.  By purchasing a 2k at some point in time you'll likely find the need for the 4k is almost non-existant except when you need that A/C.

Funds spent now on an inferior product will cost you more down the road in lost comfort and the ability to enjoy your RV in ANY location, not just boondocked out in the middle of nowhere.
 

Lowell

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Foto-n-T said:
The quick and dirty answer to your question is:  Yes probably

But as you've already noted in the previous posts it really isn't even close to the best tool for the job. 

I agree that a quiet generator would be nice.  But for $88 ($70.4 if they take my 20% off coupon), I can consider it a throwaway  An if it can do what I want it too, great! I wouldn't need help to put it in the pickup.  And as I said, this is for boon docking, not campground use, so it should offend no one.  I have camped next to folks with noisy generators so I know how irritating they can be.  My only original question was, will it be enough to recharge TT battery and run lights. Seems it will do what I want.  If we are fortunate enough to get an  elk brought back to camp, it will be much better using a generator to power a couple of lights while we attend to the skinning, etc, etc.
 

SeilerBird

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Yes, an 800 watt gen will have more than enough power to charge the batteries and run your lights. The gen should come with a build in circuit breaker so you can't overload it.
 

Frizlefrak

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Lowell said:
I agree that a quiet generator would be nice.  But for $88 ($70.4 if they take my 20% off coupon), I can consider it a throwaway  An if it can do what I want it too, great! I wouldn't need help to put it in the pickup.  And as I said, this is for boon docking, not campground use, so it should offend no one.  I have camped next to folks with noisy generators so I know how irritating they can be.  My only original question was, will it be enough to recharge TT battery and run lights. Seems it will do what I want.  If we are fortunate enough to get an  elk brought back to camp, it will be much better using a generator to power a couple of lights while we attend to the skinning, etc, etc.

If you just want to charge the batteries and run a couple lights, and aren't concerned with noise, it will work just fine. 
 

warsw

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A few years back I had a little 600-watt Honda. That was the sweetest little generator I have ever owned. I used it for what you are wanting to do. It was so quit I would sometimes forget it was even running and take off for a couple of hours and it would still be running when I got back.

The problem with a generator that small is that running the lights and charging the battery was about all it would do. Maybe run a TV IDK. I ended up selling it and getting a larger one so I could also make coffee and run the microwave. For me a 2000-watt is the perfect size. Big enough to do most things yet still small enough to carry around and store fairly easily.

Now to answer your question. Yes!!!!! That 600-watt Honda was plenty big and did a great job.
 

Lowell

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Tempe, AZ
Area 27 between Alpine and Hannigan's Meadow, almost in NM. First week of December.
 

n7qvu

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Overgaard, AZ
Hi Lowell,
I haven't heard you on the RimLink. At least I don't recall hearing your callsign.

Give me a shout.

 

Lowell

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Tempe, AZ
I picked up one of the Harbor Freight 800/900 watt 2-cycle generators yesterday.  The reviews by Huricane Sandy victims were possitive for this little generator.  I started it and ran it this morning and was quite pleased with the low noise level.  So I am satisfied that this will meet my  requirements for boondocking to recharge the battery and/or run lights.  I paid $89.99 yesterday with a coupon but they are on sale on Black Friday Weekend without a coupon for $88.99.  I didn't want to get in the Black Friday traffic if I could avoid it for $1.
 

Molaker

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Too late, I guess since you've made your purchase, but I'm still puzzled as to why you would want to spend $90 for a cheapie generator instead of running your 4K generator.  If it's the gas, $90 would buy roughly 250 hrs of 4K generator time.  Put 250 hours on ol' cheapie and it will be about ready to toss and buy another.  Plus, there would be no concern about capacity in running lights and charging batteries.
 
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