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Old 05-18-2015, 11:43 AM   #1
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Never wanted an air conditioner and do not want a generator. These are bulky, loud, very expensive, and they bother people. But, we have them. Many of us depend upon them.

AC was not on my build list. Why disrupt the sleek, classic Escape roofline by adding a “top hat” to it? An air conditioner also protrudes down 3 inches. My head needs all the inside clearance I can get. Thinking, how often is AC really needed? Where’s the cost effectiveness?

Buy a generator? Everybody hates the guy next door who runs his stinky generator when we seniors are trying to enjoy a quiet game of Parcheesi, dinner in the woods, a DVD of Doc Martin, even reading. Who would dare run a generator overnight in a WalMart parking lot, or leave it unattended at Quartzsite?

Sure, these are issues easily resolved. We know exactly what our trailer needs to be happy. We have plenty of time to firm up the right personal build list. Yet from the first day I made my build list an inner struggle continued to dog my decision. Needs change. This week, necessity reached a tipping point. All the arguments for and against these two luxuries finally aligned in an order bound by more senior priorities.

I really like hitting the road. The reality is we are both getting on, and we need to be better prepared for camping conditions that will be more demanding, less convenient. Redneck ice chest? Not good enough. She don’t cool, she don’t cool. There are health issues. One of us in the trailer now currently depends upon an oxygen concentrator at night, a big thing. It requires electricity. What’s next?

Must act. Got Uncle Sam money back this year, so no need to dip into the egg money. I am ready to upgrade. The question becomes which purchase to do, air conditioner or generator? It will be one or the other.

A generator is the perfect, all-purpose, emergency power source. Very nice to have one because you never know. You can get a Honda 2000i retro-fitted for propane. Nice idea, eliminates gasoline storage issues. Propane is always there on the tongue. Aren’t Hondas quiet and reliable? Couldn’t I hide it in the truck bed? Done: My first choice is go for the generator. That was easy.

Since in my build list I didn’t choose it, now must add a dedicated, quick-connect propane fitting to the trailer exterior. (Factory install was $160.) Nice, it then serves any use, be it generator, Barbie stove, etc. No crawling under the trailer for me. I’ll install it right at the tank low-pressure regulator. So, I done it. Feeling a tad queasy, but good. Now ready to go online, order the modified Honda propane-fired generator. Arf!

Then, so quickly, what? Having second thoughts. Thought I was sold, had it figured, but my inner Jack Benny begins kicking in. Someone told me once, “When you want the car you want the car,” meaning testosterone often causes blindness. The generator is a big dollar bite. Brain, sure you got this right? What’s generating this hesitancy and confliction? Need a second opinion, validation. Decided must talk to my friend Dave about this. Dave knows stuff.
A new view emerges: All campsites have quiet hours. I forgot that! So, you can’t run a generator all night for an oxygen concentrator. Have no clue how much electricity an oxygen concentrator requires. Why take a chance with battery power? Plus, if ever needed at the house the propane-modified Honda we like don’t run on gasoline.

Now the biggie: When on shore power you can use the air conditioner, and an oxygen concentrator, or any such appliance, and run both all night if needed. Shore power sites are now looking like the smarter, more practical (cost effective) move. Buying an air conditioner online instead of the generator also saves around $500 bucks up front. Trailer is built AC ready. I can do this. Why not also be a good neighbor? So jeepers, what was I thinking?

Say, I could put the savings toward a new Weber, like Dave’s. I did the exterior propane quick-connect. Brain games, eh?
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Old 05-18-2015, 12:51 PM   #2
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I don't know what an oxygen concentrator is but if it's anything like a CPAP machine, check out this thread:

Solar panels and CPAP machines?
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Old 05-18-2015, 01:23 PM   #3
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Have the Honda 2000i, it's quiet as far a generators go, but still noisy to my ears. Haven't used it for the 5.0TA but when I used it with the bumper pull I'd leave it in the bed of the truck when running, with the truck cap on, still noisy. I think an A/C might drown it out. I really dislike using the generator while camping. Ran it one time in a state park, went for a walk while it ran. Someone turned it off while we were gone, can't really blame them.

I've had the generator 8 years, needed it while camping probably less then half a dozen times, about the same amount of times I used the A/C. It ended up being more useful for home backup, use it has seen during power outages in both summers and winters. If you go to non hookup sites and stay for 5 or more days without solar, it is good to have.

If I lived in NM, I'd get the A/C first and head for hookups when you need to.
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Old 05-18-2015, 01:31 PM   #4
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Some trucks have a 400 watt auxiliary plug in in the back of their truck beds. Can/could this be used to top up trailer batteries?
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Old 05-18-2015, 01:48 PM   #5
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I know ETI says it works but the Honda 2000 is not enough to run the A/C in the summer in the Southwest. It will BARELY start once, but not restart when it is really hot. Which IS when you need it. I do not know the actual no-go temp, but over 100 it will not restart when hot.

If you don't need the A/C you probably don't need the generator - you can probably run the concentrator on battery power (or with an inverter) - do verify that.

I would get the A/C for sure. And figure on using hookup sites for A/C weather. I got (and like the Boliye 3600.) But I would look at all the Chicom inverter generators. Not as good as the Honda, but much cheaper.
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Old 05-18-2015, 01:57 PM   #6
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You might want to check with the propane generator supplier to be sure it can run on the low pressure (11 inch water pressure) side of your trailer. Most have a regulator as part of the kit & I don't know if it is the same pressure.

As to the oxygen concentrator, it depends on whatmake & model you have. My late wife's drew close to 1000 watts running, but there are models that draw less.

With the high power oxygen concentrators, you will probaably have to choose between the AC and the concentrator....
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Old 05-18-2015, 02:04 PM   #7
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Myron,
The A/C and generator debate was one that we had while developing our build list. We wanted A/C, but do indeed boondock around AZ and Southern CA.
We decided that when A/C is really necessary, we would go to shore power locations. So we got A/C.
SO that left the generator question: we id'ed two uses: (1)to run A/C (and microwave) in lieu of shore power; (2)emergency generator for home.
I found conversion kits to modify Honda 2000i's to 3 way-gasoline/propane/natural gas. So it could work off the trailer supply, or from our home nat.gas for emergencies.
So far, we've shelved the idea as too expensive to do for now, and we really don't like generator noise around when we camp, so probably would not use it. But, if we find a good deal, we may go for it for emergencies.
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Old 05-18-2015, 02:46 PM   #8
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I cannot find anything definitive but be aware that propane has about 10% less energy per pound than gasoline. I *believe* that bifuel generators should be derated by 10% when using propane. See the following for some evidence (but no clear cut answer) of this: https://powersuite.cummins.com/PS5/P...ets/a-1399.pdf
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Old 05-18-2015, 03:29 PM   #9
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Propane does have less energy per unit volume than gasoline (because it is less dense), but slightly more energy per unit mass than gasoline.

That doesn't really matter to power output, anyway. The output of an engine converted to LPG (propane) is typically lower because the fuel is delivered in vapour form through a carburettor, displacing air, in contrast to gasoline which is delivered as a spray of liquid droplets. There's simply more air+fuel mixture going into the gasoline engine (carburetted or fuel injected) than into a carburetted propane engine. I doubt anyone sells a small general-purpose engine for uses such as an RV generator which has liquid propane injection; certainly a Honda generator with an RV conversion kit won't have liquid injection.

The end result is that, yes, a non-turbocharged engine converted from gasoline to propane without internal modifications will have a lower peak power output.
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Old 05-18-2015, 03:47 PM   #10
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Karen, an Oxygen Concentrator is a machine "...designed to concentrate room air to help ease your breathing." When one's oxygen intake levels are unstable, a doctor may prescribe using a concentrator. It's a plugged in machine that sends continuous oxygen via a tube (nasal cannula) to your nose.
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Old 05-18-2015, 08:53 PM   #11
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One of the seven wires sending signals from the tow alternator to the trailer charges trailer battery. Heard the (discontinued but readily available) Dometic 11,000 BTU works fine with the Honda 2000i but the bigger 13,500 BTU has the issues. Our Concentrator is a ”Perfecto2.” Interestingly, found no data plate listing its certified electrical stats, AMP draw, etc. The converted Honda does in fact run low pressure, am told. There are two versions of converted Hondas. One is 3-way, propane, natural gas and gasoline but the conversion package is outside the case. It looks vulnerable. The other version is propane/nat gas only, $200 more expensive, made by GenConneX™Direct, but the conversion is inside the case.
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Old 05-18-2015, 10:29 PM   #12
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One of the seven wires sending signals from the tow alternator to the trailer charges trailer battery. Heard the (discontinued but readily available) Dometic 11,000 BTU works fine with the Honda 2000i but the bigger 13,500 BTU has the issues. Our Concentrator is a ”Perfecto2.” Interestingly, found no data plate listing its certified electrical stats, AMP draw, etc. The converted Honda does in fact run low pressure, am told. There are two versions of converted Hondas. One is 3-way, propane, natural gas and gasoline but the conversion package is outside the case. It looks vulnerable. The other version is propane/nat gas only, $200 more expensive, made by GenConneX™Direct, but the conversion is inside the case.
The manual for the concentrator: http://www.invacare.com/doc_files/1143482.pdf

The manual says says 3A so 360 watts so 30 amp hours per hour @ 12V. (Assuming 120V AC and a perfect inverter.) Conclusion - you need 120V for overnight usage. With most/all campgrounds having quiet hours (no generators) after 10PM you will need to have hookups - so get the A/C and skip the generator.
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Old 05-18-2015, 10:36 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MyronL View Post
One of the seven wires sending signals from the tow alternator to the trailer charges trailer battery. Heard the (discontinued but readily available) Dometic 11,000 BTU works fine with the Honda 2000i but the bigger 13,500 BTU has the issues. Our Concentrator is a ”Perfecto2.” Interestingly, found no data plate listing its certified electrical stats, AMP draw, etc. The converted Honda does in fact run low pressure, am told. There are two versions of converted Hondas. One is 3-way, propane, natural gas and gasoline but the conversion package is outside the case. It looks vulnerable. The other version is propane/nat gas only, $200 more expensive, made by GenConneX™Direct, but the conversion is inside the case.
Myron, I also found 3 amps on a site, invacare, as Jamman did. Don't know what your panels put out but maybe that can work. You have a good solar knowledge, more than mine.
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Old 05-19-2015, 07:26 AM   #14
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The manual for the concentrator: http://www.invacare.com/doc_files/1143482.pdf

The manual says says 3A so 360 watts so 30 amp hours per hour @ 12V. (Assuming 120V AC and a perfect inverter.) Conclusion - you need 120V for overnight usage. With most/all campgrounds having quiet hours (no generators) after 10PM you will need to have hookups - so get the A/C and skip the generator.
Myron, hang on a minute. I gave you a worst case scenario. I assumed full power draw the whole time. IF the concentrator cycles, or draws less than rated power, you might be able to make it with your dual 6V batteries and 600W inverter. (Your inverter is true sine wave which is a good idea for medical equipment and is big enough for the concentrator.)

Get a "Kill A Watt" (KaW): P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor - Low Temperature Alarms - Amazon.com

It can tell you the total KWH used over time. Just before Nancy turns on the concentrator, plug the KaW into the wall and the concentrator into the KaW. In the morning use the KWH/Hour key and write down the total time and KWH used. KaW maual here: http://www.p3international.com/manuals/p4400_manual.pdf

Multiply the KWH by 1000 and divide by 13 - the result will be 12V amp-hours - call it X. (I used 13 instead of 12 to allow for inverter losses.) Since you have the dual 6V batteries you have a max of 232 amp-hours, of which only half are usable if you want decent battery life. Knock off a few more for other things and you have about 100 amp-hours for the concentrator. (Assuming you run a generator every day and can fully recharge the batteries.)

If X is more than 100 you need additional battery capacity or hookups. If X is significantly less than 100 you may be able to recharge with your solar panels alone.

OR - if you are both felling really brave, you could spend a night in the trailer (not plugged into the house) with the concentrator on the inverter and see what happens. (Worse case - the inverter alarms for low battery, you get up and plug the trailer into the house and the concentrator into a non-inverter outlet. Best case - you get a good night's sleep and the batteries are not too low.)

Edit: Corrected a units conversion error.
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Old 05-19-2015, 08:49 AM   #15
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Wow, great stuff, thanks Doug. You are da man. I will look into this further. I just ordered that Kill-a-watt from amazon.

Interesting and unexpected side note on my batteries: After our recent trip, when we returned I emptied the fridge and thought I had shut it down- it had been on battery while towing home - Morningstar and Xantrex showing 12.6v, then went back in two days later to clean up, etc and immediately noticed my Morningstar battery monitor showing 9.5 volts! Yikes! The fridge was still on battery power. How did that happen!??! So, immediately plugged trailer in to shore power from the garage. It took five+ days for the battery to reach 12.7 volts, and a couple days later it seemed stuck at that level. Now I am really worried. I then set up my 100watt solar panels, hoping for a bigger boost. Had a couple days of full sun-- monitor finally went up to 13.1 volts.
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Old 05-19-2015, 11:04 AM   #16
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We have a Kill A Watt and have found it useful for more things. When I get to a campground, I plug it into the campground power to check that it is decent voltage. I had an electrical failure once and used it to help troubleshoot so I always carry it with me on camping trips.
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Old 05-19-2015, 11:26 AM   #17
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Makes sense. I just checked and my trailer battery, on solar, seems to be holding at 13.15 volts on the Morningstar. After a couple cloudy days hoping today's sunshine will get it up higher. Nervous.

The operators manual is 28 pages. Spoke with Concentrator supplier. They will get me one.

Also today, ordered the Dometic 11,000 btu Penguin Low Profile, and the ceiling assembly, from AdventureRV.net ...at $745.92 including shipping and insurance. ()
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Old 05-21-2015, 02:27 PM   #18
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Kill A Watt usage monitor came in the mail today. I immediately plugged the oxygen concentrator in. Amps readings cycled continuously from 2.53 to 2.82 amps.
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Old 05-21-2015, 04:39 PM   #19
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Kill A Watt usage monitor came in the mail today. I immediately plugged the oxygen concentrator in. Amps readings cycled continuously from 2.53 to 2.82 amps.
I am ASSUMING the oxygen is ONLY needed during the night.

For 8 hours you need 2.67 amps (average of 2.53 and 2.82) X 120 volts X 8 hours = 2563 watt hours. Divide by 13 (to allow for inverter losses) = 197 amp hours at 12 volts. This means 4 of the 6V Interstate batteries ETI uses to avoid going below 50% charge. And then you need to charge them up during the day. You will need a generator and a better converter/charger than the WFCO ETI uses to get this done in a reasonable amount of time.

(You COULD get another big 12V battery, and use the truck battery, the new one, and the 2x6V in the trailer to make it one night. Or combine batteries plus oxygen cylinders.)

Realistically, you will probably have to stick to electrical hookup sites for more than 1 night stays.
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Old 05-21-2015, 04:48 PM   #20
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Correct, oxygen (currently) needed only at night. So, I need 197 amp hrs. running overnight. Your calculations very much appreciated, Doug. Well, I'm not going to replace the factory install WFCO. Guess it will be hook-ups for us.
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