Generator vs. Solar recharge - Escape Trailer Owners Community

Go Back   Escape Trailer Owners Community > Escape Tech > Problem Solving | Owners helping each other
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-28-2020, 03:01 PM   #1
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Trailer: in the market
Posts: 32
Generator vs. Solar recharge

My wife and I are newbie RV people. We bought a used Casita this year and really enjoyed it, but have sold the Casita and have an Escape 19 or order for delivery next May.

We're pondering the solar question, and there is much to learn . . . We have a Honda 2200i small generator. Apart from running the air conditioning, nothing on the Escape requires AC power - the fridge runs on propane (or DC if a compressor unit). Lights, fan for the furnace, water pump etc. are the DC power users.

We are NOT regular boondockers (or at least we haven't been yet). So, the question:

How long does a generator have to run to recharge batteries? If we are camped where there isn't shore power, how often would you have to run a generator to recharge to run the water pump, LED lights, etc? Would this be a daily requirement?

I know there are plenty of variables here, but I'm looking for broad-brush guidance.

R.
__________________

thunderworks is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 03:30 PM   #2
Senior Member
 
alanmalk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Arvada, Colorado
Trailer: 2015 E'21 - 'Velocity'. Tow: Toyota Tacoma V6, 4X4, manual.
Posts: 1,045
Quote:
Originally Posted by thunderworks View Post
My wife and I are newbie RV people. We bought a used Casita this year and really enjoyed it, but have sold the Casita and have an Escape 19 or order for delivery next May.
...
Tell us a little about the solar option you ordered from Escape, if any, plus is your camping suitable for solar (deep shade, cloudy, winter vs sunny, summer, out in the open). Also tell us about which battery option you selected. And finally, something about your power needs. Do you use an inverter to power: Microwave, hair dryer, CPAP(?) machine, toaster, computer/phone chargers, etc.

All that and more goes into your power equation.
--
Alan
__________________

alanmalk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 03:31 PM   #3
Senior Member
 
C&G in FL's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Tampa Bay Area, Florida
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5.0TA (Little Elsie) Extensively Personalized
Posts: 2,220
If you are charging it by plugging the trailer into the generator and allowing the converter (also runs off of AC), broadly speaking without the obvious variables, maybe 2 to 3 hours. If you are using the optional 12v DC Honda charging cord, likely all day! It is pretty much a worthless accessory.
__________________
What a long strange trip it’s been!
C&G in FL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 03:35 PM   #4
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Trailer: in the market
Posts: 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by alanmalk View Post
Tell us a little about the solar option you ordered from Escape, if any, plus is your camping suitable for solar (deep shade, cloudy, winter vs sunny, summer, out in the open). Also tell us about which battery option you selected. And finally, something about your power needs. Do you use an inverter to power: Microwave, hair dryer, CPAP(?) machine, toaster, computer/phone chargers, etc.

All that and more goes into your power equation.
--
Alan
We haven't ordered any solar yet. The basic question is whether we need solar at all since we have the generator already.

No microwave, hair dryer or CPAP. We do use a toaster when on shore power and have phones and computers to charge.
thunderworks is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 03:38 PM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Trailer: in the market
Posts: 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by C&G in FL View Post
If you are charging it by plugging the trailer into the generator and allowing the converter (also runs off of AC), broadly speaking without the obvious variables, maybe 2 to 3 hours. If you are using the optional 12v DC Honda charging cord, likely all day! It is pretty much a worthless accessory.
Thanks.

At first blush, it seems that we don't need the solar as long as we're willing to run the generator a few hours a day.
thunderworks is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 03:48 PM   #6
Senior Member
 
Vermilye's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Oswego, New York
Trailer: 2017 Escape 21, 2018 Ford F150
Posts: 4,148
It is difficult to fully charge lead acid batteries with a generator. Getting up to 80% of full only takes a couple of hours because the converter will (or should) be in the bulk mode, dumping as much amperage as possible into the batteries.

At around 80% the converter will switch to the absorption stage, which limits charging current to prevent off gassing and overheating. It will take as much as 4-6 hours to finish the last 20%. Most users just recharge to a little more than 80% and ignore fully charging the batteries. If you have solar and find that there isn't enough sun or panel to fully charge your batteries, a good practice is to use the generator in the morning to get to 80%, then let the slow but steady charge rate solar provides to finish off the charge to full.

Firing up the generator at the end of the day is not as efficient because by then the batteries are probably at the point where the converter will go to absorption, limit charging current & waste gas.
__________________
Jon Vermilye My Travel Blog
Travel and Photo Web Page ... My Collection of RV Blogs 2018 F150 3.5EB, 2017 21
Vermilye is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 03:50 PM   #7
Site Team
 
cpaharley2008's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Central, Pennsylvania
Trailer: Escape#4, 2019 Escape21 DejaView pulled by 2014 Ram Hemi/8sp
Posts: 23,051
The solar works everyday and if you do not need air, then all you would need is solar. Everything operates off 12v or propane, other than the air conditioning, thus solar will keep it charged daily and quietly.
__________________
Jim
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals....
Goethe
cpaharley2008 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 05:08 PM   #8
Senior Member
 
UncleTim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Trailer: 2020 Escape 5.0TA "Zen"
Posts: 792
Listen to Jim!

Solar means very little to no worries. It recharges quickly too. Any time during daylight hours we can charge whatever we want to, using the trailer. It is a solar charging machine!

And no generator sounds, smells, or gas. Completely clean!

When I tell people that we do not even own a generator, they freak!

Last week, while in Zion N.P., the temperatures hit 106°. We had a full hook up and did use air conditioning. We really needed it those two days. It worked great too.
UncleTim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 05:17 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
alanmalk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Arvada, Colorado
Trailer: 2015 E'21 - 'Velocity'. Tow: Toyota Tacoma V6, 4X4, manual.
Posts: 1,045
Quote:
Originally Posted by thunderworks View Post
We haven't ordered any solar yet. The basic question is whether we need solar at all since we have the generator already.
You might want to change the question around slightly. Rather than "we need solar?" you might ask "might we prefer solar?".

I am biased. Don't own a generator. Do have one solar on the trailer and one folded up for backup. Don't have much use for 110 V AC. Do have plenty of battery. Don't like gasoline and noise. Do camp mostly in the sunny southwest. In other words, I am the perfect candidate for solar. Are you? You are the best source for that answer.
--
Alan
alanmalk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 05:24 PM   #10
Senior Member
 
HABBERDABBER's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Madison area, Wisconsin
Trailer: 2016 Escape 19
Posts: 323
Intended use

Doesn't all this SOLAR vs GENERATOR use depend on .....this question?



Where, and how, and how long, and when are you going to Escape? That question and the responses, determines your selections.


It's hard to cover all the bases, but most are pretty easy. Get lot's of solar, keep your Honda, and take what you need.


My vote is with solar, if it meets your needs. And Jon has the most practical approach, developed through extensive experience.


My 2 cents.


bon voyage,
HABBERDABBER is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 06:31 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
TahoeJoe's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: South Lake Tahoe, California
Trailer: Hopefully a 23!
Posts: 116
"Where" is definitely important. For example I live in the high Sierras, and a lot of where I camp is a mix of either extreme sunlight or heavy shade. So I actually prefer the portable solar option, which I can move around and carry out to the sunny spots. You could even do that for now: just order the Zamp port, which is really cheap, and then you could always add a Zamp portable unit later...less of a $ commitment now. Just a thought...
TahoeJoe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 06:41 PM   #12
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Trailer: in the market
Posts: 32
Really great advice and input from everybody. Thanks much for taking the time. We'll give it all some thought.

Alanmalk's comments - "You might want to change the question around slightly. Rather than "we need solar?" you might ask "might we prefer solar?"." . . is really a great perspective. His hypothetical question really is the right one.

I wish it wasn't going to take until next May to get our trailer. Patience is not my strong suit.
thunderworks is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 06:48 PM   #13
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Strongsville, Ohio
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19
Posts: 113
Just got back from a trip to the Big Horns in Wyoming. Dry camping there in a Forest Service campground, in the trees, my portable solar panels got sun enough to bring the batteries back to 100% every day, according to the Tri-Metric. Even with the diffused sun caused by the forest fires. The biggest drain was the furnace. We make coffee and tea and cook with propane or charcoal. LED lighting, recharge the phones. The laptop, Norelco shaver, and toothbrush recharge using a small installed inverter. Works for us.

Every morning and every evening everyone else would start their generators, shattering the silence...and we would ask...what are they doing in there that they need 120Volts? Actually, I could have went at least a week without recharging.

The photo is not from the Big Horns!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg BigBend Solar.jpg (315.1 KB, 49 views)
SeldomSeen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2020, 09:44 PM   #14
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: no fixed address, California
Trailer: 2017-21' Escape (sold) Casita 17' (sold)
Posts: 1,328
Rooftop solar is so awesome..... it means you only run the generator if you are in the middle of nowhere (no 110v) and it is 90F-100F at night.

otherwise you just dont need to worry about power.

Get the solar, and keep the generator for the occasional use.



just my 2c
Losangeles is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2020, 04:41 AM   #15
Senior Member
 
C&G in FL's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Tampa Bay Area, Florida
Trailer: 2015 Escape 5.0TA (Little Elsie) Extensively Personalized
Posts: 2,220
Quote:
Originally Posted by thunderworks View Post
Thanks.

At first blush, it seems that we don't need the solar as long as we're willing to run the generator a few hours a day.
I tried to answer your question as you put it, without all the variables which included power needs, lack of or limited sun for solar power, ability of generator to charge battery, depletion level of battery, etc. Taking all that out of the equation, I stated 2 or 3 hours would replenish the battery with (some) amperage capacity. It was not my intention to imply that a generator is superior to solar. IMHO it isn’t; I would choose solar 24/7/365. In my mind, a generator augments solar rather than “trumps” solar. I have a generator, but not to primarily recharge batteries. Living in Florida, if there is a serious tropical storm threat (hurricane season is when temperatures typically exceed 90° F and humidity is in the same range. If I have to evacuate to some parking lot in Georgia, without A/C it is difficult to sleep when uncomfortably hot. And yes, if boondocking where generator noise would not disturb others then it may be useful to have a generator for various things, but solar will typically accomplish everything except providing cool, conditioned air.
__________________
What a long strange trip it’s been!
C&G in FL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2020, 05:19 AM   #16
Senior Member
 
UncleTim's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Boulder, Colorado
Trailer: 2020 Escape 5.0TA "Zen"
Posts: 792
Quote:
Originally Posted by C&G in FL View Post
If I have to evacuate to some parking lot in Georgia, without A/C it is difficult to sleep when uncomfortably hot. And yes, if boondocking where generator noise would not disturb others then it may be useful to have a generator for various things, but solar will typically accomplish everything except providing cool, conditioned air.

I agree! I live in Colorado (as I have said many times before) and we get a lot of fluctuating conditions and wild swings of temperatures.

Within two weeks (about) I used the heating pads in 30 degree weather and hooked up to air conditioning in 106° weather.

I'm buying a generator, most likely a Honda EU2200IC ($1,700). If we go deep into the East Coast and high humidity strikes, I want to be able to control the cabin temperatures. Even thou I hate noise and generators in general. Zion was miserable at 106° and we had no other way to escape the heat (excuse the pun).

If you need it, you need it. Conditions are wild out West these days. I am overwhelming happy with our dual solar panels and constantly charging system. But in a very short time, I have already demonstrated the need for additional power in unique situations. I don't really want one!
UncleTim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2020, 08:28 AM   #17
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Trailer: in the market
Posts: 32
Continuing gratitude for all the input . . .

The consensus seems to be that solar is terrific and that my generator has its place both for emergencies as well as air conditioning when required. I already have the Generator and will strongly consider adding the solar to our build.
thunderworks is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2020, 08:37 AM   #18
Site Team
 
cpaharley2008's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Central, Pennsylvania
Trailer: Escape#4, 2019 Escape21 DejaView pulled by 2014 Ram Hemi/8sp
Posts: 23,051
You could always sell the generator to help pay for the solar option. Once I got solar I never used a generator again. If needed there are always electric hookups.
__________________
Jim
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals....
Goethe
cpaharley2008 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2020, 08:39 AM   #19
Senior Member
 
rubicon327's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Burlington Twp., New Jersey
Trailer: 2010 Escape 19
Posts: 4,422
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
Everything operates off 12v or propane, other than the air conditioning, thus solar will keep it charged daily and quietly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by C&G in FL View Post
And yes, if boondocking where generator noise would not disturb others then it may be useful to have a generator for various things, but solar will typically accomplish everything except providing cool, conditioned air.
Even that paradigm is slowly changing. For a pretty penny Escape is now offering up to four lithium batteries (almost 400 usable amp-hours). Good on Escape for trying to bring a fringe technology mainstream. That's the only way prices come down. Coupled with enough solar, power inverter, and a smaller sized inverter compressor air-conditioner that Dometic already offers overseas you could run your A/C and quite possibly never plug in to 120V AC power. Happier Camper is supposedly already doing it. Obviously overall runtime will vary and challenges like maintaining good solar exposure still prevail. Unfortunately Escape is going the wrong direction in air conditioner sizing as I've seen them offering 13.5K and 15K BTU air conditioners lately!! The 9,000 BTU mini-splits I have installed cool and dehumidify a 19 and a 21 perfectly.

If you want to see the above in action follow Joel (jphil23462) on my air-conditioning thread...he's doing 400Ah lithium/975W solar/ and a 9,000 BTU mini-split setup on a 5.0! Some more info here on a thread Joel started.
__________________
“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”― W.F.
rubicon327 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2020, 09:04 AM   #20
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: North of Danbury, Wisconsin
Trailer: 2018 Escape 21C
Posts: 2,977
Quote:
Originally Posted by thunderworks View Post
Thanks.

At first blush, it seems that we don't need the solar as long as we're willing to run the generator a few hours a day.
You are making a big assumption. Many of the campgrounds including the one we are currently camped in do not allow generators of any kind at any time.
I have never heard of any campgrounds that restrict / object to ,or bans solar
I admit that in my opinion generators have no place in any campgrounds that are occupied by fellow campers . If your by yourself and your closest neighbors are 20 miles away then maybe !!
__________________

steve dunham 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 11:08 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.
×