Does solar really beat having a generator? - Escape Trailer Owners Community

Go Back   Escape Trailer Owners Community > Escape Tech > Escape Systems | Water, Waste, Charging & Propane
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-05-2014, 02:50 PM   #1
Senior Member
 
MyronL's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Edgewood, New Mexico
Trailer: 2013 Esc19/'14 Silvrado
Posts: 2,885
Does solar really beat having a generator?

Wherever we go we near always dry camp. A key reason is price. Our recent trip to Wahweap campground at Lake Powel is a case in point. Full hookup sites, or, dry camping (tent) sites there were the only thing available. The full hookup price with AAA discount was $44.00/day. Tent site? $13.00. At 19 ft our trailer fits nice in a tent site. A few days later, dry camping at North Rim of the Grand Canyon was $9/night with the Geezer card. So it’s a no-brainer for me. I can carry a two gallon jug of water from a spigot with the best of ‘em.

My only issue is worry about over using electricity for the furnace, or the water pump, or if the propane runs out. How many days could we go before them twin 6 volt batteries show a critical 12.1 volts? Probably 3 to 4. Getting portable solar panels to replenish batteries have therefore been on my mind. Have never considered buying a generator.

Our recent stay at the North Rim, however, has changed my thinking. There, we were camped solidly in the shade. It does seem shaded campsites are more common…OK, depending where in the country you are. There may be no shady spots anywhere in southern Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, etc. Full sun sites are also hotter sites.

Don’t I have to shift them around with the shifting sun? Would I want to go off during the day leaving my charging solar panels exposed to theft?

At North Rim we saw a number of campers recharging their batteries in the late afternoon with small, surprisingly quiet generators. They are put away after a couple hours, done doing the job the solar panel does.

I was told the best one, the Honda generator, costs over eleven hundred dollars. For me that’s an instant deal killer. I was in Costco the other day and saw this, priced at $599.99. The brand is “Smarter Tools gasoline 2000W inverter/generator Sine Power Pro.” It has the Yamaha MZ80 engine and claims a sound rating of 51 to 59 dB. Weight, 47 lbs. Me beginning to like.

Anyone got one?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Yamaha.jpg (73.8 KB, 13 views)
__________________

__________________
Myron
"A billion here, a billion there...add it all up and before you know it you're talking real money." Everett Dirkson
MyronL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 03:16 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19
Posts: 735
One thing to consider... some tent sites don't allow generators at all.

To my mind, it doesn't matter how quiet they are. Even the quietest ones disturb your immediate neighbors. I decided this fall, after a weekend in the Adirondaks, to always get a site with electrical when in a popular campground -- not because I want the electrical, but because I don't want to be in a campground with generators... (or to find one of the tenting sites that doesn't allow generators at all, of course)
__________________

__________________
Doug

2013 Escape 19 ("The Dog House") , 2018 Ford F150
dbailey is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 03:17 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Phoenix Area, Arizona
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19
Posts: 762
We also prefer mostly no hookup camping. In our former Casita (single 12V battery) we could go 3 nights as long we limited furnace use and 4-5 with no furnace use. With dual 6V batteries I figure we could do much better.

There have been several solar panel attached vs portable discussions. Read em and weep. (Sorry couldn't resist a bad movie line.)

Read the discussions of the WFCO charger that ETI installs. It is NOT the best at quickly (aka generator for an hour or 2) charging dual 6V batteries - but it is better with 12V batteries.

We have dual 95W ETI solar panels, dual 6V ETI batteries, and I have swapped out the WFCO converter for a Xantrex as documeted on this forum. And I have a brand-x (Boliye) quiet inverter generator. I do not normally travel with the generator - it is primarily for air conditioning in hot weather. (And I am more likely than you to buy more expensive ready made solutions.)

If you decide to go with the generator, 1000 watts is enough to charge the batteries. (But more watts is not necessarily bad.) AND I would replace the WFCO converter or buy a high capacity stand alone battery charger (I think I got a 40 amp model for under $100.)
jamman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 03:50 PM   #4
Senior Member
 
MyronL's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Edgewood, New Mexico
Trailer: 2013 Esc19/'14 Silvrado
Posts: 2,885
One of the first things I installed was a Xantrex 600 Watt ProWatt Inverter. At North Rim I didn't notice the guy next to me was running his Honda until after supper when walking Ben. I was amazed.
__________________
Myron
"A billion here, a billion there...add it all up and before you know it you're talking real money." Everett Dirkson
MyronL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 03:54 PM   #5
Senior Member
 
Vermilye's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Oswego, New York
Trailer: 2017 Escape 21, 2018 Ford F150
Posts: 3,445
I've survived with a pair of 6V batteries & the 95 watt optional solar installation for 3 years of mixed dry & utility camping. This summer I added a portable 160 watt panel for the situations where I was parked in the shade or used lots of amp hours with low angle winter sun.

Overall, there were a few times I wished for a generator to run the AC, but they were rare. I've dry camped for over a month in the deserts of Arizona & California, and managed to keep the batteries charged with just the rooftop panel, but have to admit I'd probably want to power the AC in the southeast during summer. My solution when the heat got too oppressive was to head to a campground with hookups for a few days, but, again, I've only felt the need a couple of times over 600 days on the road.

I have to agree with Doug - some of the nicest campgrounds (or loops in campgrounds) were ones that didn't allow generators.
__________________
Jon Vermilye My Travel Blog
Travel and Photo Web Page ... My Collection of RV Blogs 2018 F150 3.5EB, 2017 21
Vermilye is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 04:00 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
PGDriver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Southern Alberta, Alberta
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5.0TA
Posts: 1,689
We are looking at the Honda 2000 as it is probably one of the quietest. Most Parks Canada campgrounds up here allow you to run generators for a little while in the morning and then again in the afternoon. That said we also like camping out in the bush and there is usually no one around to bother. There is also that connivence factor, power when you want it regardless of the weather/sun. It is nice if the weather gets really hot, you can run the A/C.
__________________
Cheers
Doug
PGDriver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 04:09 PM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Burlington, Vermont
Trailer: 2014 17b/RAV4 (sold) 2012 Chevy Colorado
Posts: 604
We are using a propane fired Yamaha generator plus the 160w solar panels. I wish we could have installed the movable brackets to better orient the solar panel in the fall and winter but ETI declined to do this for us. Perhaps a retrofit next summer.
yardsale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 04:40 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Phoenix Area, Arizona
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19
Posts: 762
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
One of the first things I installed was a Xantrex 600 Watt ProWatt Inverter. At North Rim I didn't notice the guy next to me was running his Honda until after supper when walking Ben. I was amazed.
I was talking about the ETI installed converter, not an inverter. (Xantrex TrueCharge2 - under battery chargers.) The WFCO converter which charges the 12V batteries from 110V does so very slowly.
jamman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 04:46 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
gbaglo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B - "Toad". '08 Toyota RAV4 V6
Posts: 13,680
Being too lazy to hook my Honda 1000 genset directly to the battery, I would just plug the trailer into the generator and charge via the converter. I found I could go from 12.34 V to "full" charge in about an hour.
I now have two 40 watt portable solar panels in addition to the generator. I haven't really put the panels to the test so I'm still carrying the generator as backup.
The test will be running the furnace in the fall when the sun is low.
__________________
2009 Escape 17B "Toad"
2008 Toyota RAV4 V6 Sport
North Vancouver, British Columbia

What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
gbaglo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 05:21 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Escondido, California
Trailer: 2012 Escape 19'
Posts: 939
Yes! Solar really beats having a generator!
__________________
480 Amps 12VDC Battery Capacity,
350 Watts Adjustable Solar Panels,
2500 Watt Inverter;
"Want Some Ice Cubes?, "Want a Frozen Margarita?", Want a Jump?"
hotfishtacos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 05:26 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
bvansnell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Trailer: 2010 Escape 13
Posts: 431
Solar versus Generators

We bought our trailer without solar panels and for the first two years we had it were happy going to sites with hookups or dry camping several days at a time using just our battery. A friend offered to sell us a small 750 watt Honda generator for times when we had no hookups. We tried it once. While the generator was relatively quiet, the sound was noticeable, and destroyed the tranquility of the place we were visiting, and it took a long time to charge the battery using a 12 volt hookup. I investigated buying (a) the Honda 1000 watt inverter generator (which has very good ratings) and (b) the 95 watt solar installation that ETI was offering. The cost would be about the same for either solution. We opted for the solar panel and had it installed in February last year. https://www.flickr.com/photos/brian_vansnell/8492394469, https://www.flickr.com/photos/brian_vansnell/9367758608

We added a 300 watt sine wave inverter and a Bogart Trimetric battery monitor. I believe it was the right solution for us:
  • We have always had enough power to run lights, fans, water pump, furnace and charging camera and computer batteries
  • We have always been able to find sites with enough sunshine during the day to charge the battery
  • It has given us flexibility to stay in campsites without hookups -- in BC few provincial campsites have hookups and sometimes serviced sites are not available at campgrounds in Washington and Oregon
  • It has not limited our ability to camp at all times of the year
  • It has added to our peace of mind while camping -- one less thing to worry about -- the solar panel does its work
I have to admit our power needs are modest. We don't have air conditioning. While we have an electrical heater, kettle, frying pan, toaster, microwave etc we don't bring them along if we think we will be dry camping. We have a small propane stove which is fine for cooking -- we cook outside so as not to smell up the trailer. The propane furnace works fine for keeping us warm. If we are expecting really cold weather we reserve a site with hookups.
__________________
Brian

2003 Subaru Forester
2012 Toyota Highlander V6
2010 Escape 13 "Ladybug" Feb 2010
bvansnell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 05:37 PM   #12
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Escondido, California
Trailer: 2012 Escape 19'
Posts: 939
Brian, great write-up!
__________________
480 Amps 12VDC Battery Capacity,
350 Watts Adjustable Solar Panels,
2500 Watt Inverter;
"Want Some Ice Cubes?, "Want a Frozen Margarita?", Want a Jump?"
hotfishtacos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 05:48 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
kstock11's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19
Posts: 803
I also went with the standard 95 watt fixed solar and increased capacity 12 volt battery. On the 9 week home, the longest we stayed at one campground was 4 days, but that was on Lake Mead with lots of sun in May. One of the main reasons for my going with solar is that my favorite campground close to home is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They have generator free loops and that is where we plan on staying. My problem with people using generators is that normally the generator is set up on the opposite side of the trailer from where they are sitting. That takes a large part of the incentive for them to get quietest generator possible.
__________________
Kevin
Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything - Charles Kuralt
kstock11 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 05:54 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
gbaglo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: North Vancouver, British Columbia
Trailer: 2009 Escape 17B - "Toad". '08 Toyota RAV4 V6
Posts: 13,680
I attempt to point the exhaust toward empty space, preferably with a bush a few feet from the generator to muffle the noise even further. The Honda 1000 is extremely quiet for a generator, but not noise-free, especially if you are determined to be annoyed by it.
__________________
2009 Escape 17B "Toad"
2008 Toyota RAV4 V6 Sport
North Vancouver, British Columbia

What happens to the hole when the cheese is gone?
- Bertolt Brecht
gbaglo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 06:04 PM   #15
Senior Member
 
kstock11's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19
Posts: 803
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
I attempt to point the exhaust toward empty space, preferably with a bush a few feet from the generator to muffle the noise even further. The Honda 1000 is extremely quiet for a generator, but not noise-free, especially if you are determined to be annoyed by it.
That just goes to prove - Escape owners are the greatest! The last time my wife and I tent camped before getting our Escape, was in the Keys. The pop up tent camper right next to us had a window air conditioner on the drivers side. They left it running all the time, including when they were gone for the day.
__________________
Kevin
Thanks to the interstate highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything - Charles Kuralt
kstock11 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 07:07 PM   #16
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Port Angeles, Washington
Trailer: 2014 19'
Posts: 534
Living in the northwest with days of no sun, and often camping at areas where generators are seen as very annoying, I came up with a different solution.

I add a second battery to the tow vehicle and power it through a relay hooked to the ignition. When camping I have a 30' extension cord (10ga) that uses the 7 pin trailer plugs.

I place a red rag on the steering wheel when I hook it up so I remember unplug before driving away.

IF you feel the batteries need a charge just idle the engine for a 5-10 minutes and fellow campers just think you are warming up the car....

I'd like to add solar on the 19' but am still try to come up with a configuration I like.

Mel K
Klem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 07:09 PM   #17
Senior Member
 
thoer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Galesville, Wisconsin
Trailer: 2017 21 "Blue II" & 2017 Highlander XLE (previously 2010 17B "Blue" & 2008 Tacoma)
Posts: 4,207
We do a lot of camping in US National Parks. Most of them allow generators during specific times of the day. The few times we have needed to run our Honda 2000 generator, I couldn't even hear it running right next to our Escape over the sound of the huge loud generators in the land whale RVs running everywhere. Like Baglo, the times I have run it I have tried to carefully place it to make sure my neighbors won't be affected.

I recently bought an 80W portable solar panel that I hope will let us almost never need the Honda. But the reality is that in campgrounds that allow generators, the Hondas can rarely be heard unless you are standing right next to it as their sound is overwhelmed during generator hours.
__________________
Eric (and Mary who is in no way responsible for anything stupid I post)

"Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance." George Bernard Shaw
thoer is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 07:25 PM   #18
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Escondido, California
Trailer: 2012 Escape 19'
Posts: 939
Quote:
Originally Posted by thoer View Post
We do a lot of camping in US National Parks. Most of them allow generators during specific times of the day. The few times we have needed to run our Honda 2000 generator, I couldn't even hear it running right next to our Escape over the sound of the huge loud generators in the land whale RVs running everywhere. Like Baglo, the times I have run it I have tried to carefully place it to make sure my neighbors won't be affected.

I recently bought an 80W portable solar panel that I hope will let us almost never need the Honda. But the reality is that in campgrounds that allow generators, the Hondas can rarely be heard unless you are standing right next to it as their sound is overwhelmed during generator hours.
Eric, that is exactly why we have invested so heavily in solar and batteries + extras. Our idea of camping is getting away from it all, not congregating with hundreds of others camping with their generators going, TVs blasting, heavy smoke from hundreds of their campfires, etc. One of our first outings in the 19' was like that at Pismo Beach in California; 400 campers jammed in a small space for Thanksgiving. It was really bad! We made some resolutions that we've kept to this day based on that experience. One of them is, No Generators". We also do not camp like "sardines in can", in tight, lined-up spaces and opt for more space in no hookup sites for a much more enjoyable camping experience.

Steve
__________________
480 Amps 12VDC Battery Capacity,
350 Watts Adjustable Solar Panels,
2500 Watt Inverter;
"Want Some Ice Cubes?, "Want a Frozen Margarita?", Want a Jump?"
hotfishtacos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 07:34 PM   #19
Site Team
 
padlin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Southwick, Massachusetts
Trailer: 5.0 TA #6, 2012 F150 EB
Posts: 5,768
I have the Honda 2000i, while it's quiet, it's not quiet enough for us, especially when we had the hybrid trailer. I even tried running it inside the closed truck cap, better but still not good. I have not tried it when out with the Escape.

Went with a 160w panel on the Escape, just did 5 weeks in Wy and had no need for the generator, good thing as I didn't take it along. About 3 weeks in the middle of the trip were without hookups, we did however move to other parks or campgrounds a few times.

We're pretty conservative with our electric usage, we burned 25 amps (10%) a night when it got down to the high 20's and low 30's at night with the temp set to 57, it did warm up nicely during the day.

On non furnace nights we burned about 15 amps, the Trimetric showed 94% when we left for the day.

I believe we had just one day where the batteries did not recover to 100% on the trip.

Owning the generator as well as the solar, gives one the option to go quiet for days on end using the generator if or when necessary.

A word about the advertised db levels. I've found they only pertain to when the genny is on in low idle while running in eco mode, quiet goes out the door when the load jumps up.
__________________
Happy Motoring
Bob
padlin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-05-2014, 07:52 PM   #20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: n/a, Texas
Trailer: Escape
Posts: 408
Twelve weeks on the road without hookups this year. I have a roof mounted 95 watt panel. I put the controller inside a cabinet because I don't even need to check it. Never at a loss for power. Generators, even the quiet ones, are a nuisance to yourself and others. The fact that you need to hide it is proof of that.
__________________

Viajante is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off






» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Escape Trailer Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:46 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.
×