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Old 06-15-2012, 09:23 PM   #1
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Unhappy Battery VS Generator

Hi all. We just purchased our very first TT! It is a JayFlight 26bh and we think we love it. We had some problems with the dealer that sold it to us though. We were told that the battery would run the microwave and the tv. We were also told that the battery would charge in minutes, while plugged into the SUV, while running. Apparently I should have looked into these details more, but instead, was the trusting purchaser that believed what the dealer said.
So, my question is, after being on the phone most of the day with the dealership, Battery Plus, and Jayco, what is my best option for dry camping? Would I want to get 2 of the 28 or 29 marine batteries? Or would I be better off with a generator? The dealer told me that they would buy us a generator, for giving us incorrect information. BUT, generator's are heavy, and loud, correct?
I appreciate any help that you all can give me!
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Old 06-15-2012, 09:28 PM   #2
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Take the dealer up on the generator offer! Then buy a second battery, and inverter to run the TV. Microwave may need the generator
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Old 06-15-2012, 10:22 PM   #3
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What battery should I get? Also, what is an inverter? And do you have any recommendations for good, quiet, generator? Thanks for the help!
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:16 PM   #4
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Generators

The Honda generators are really quiet. Don't own one but but many friends have the 1000 and 2000 models. Bairly know they are running. Unfortuatly some people run construction grade generators which are verry loud and annoying. Find a Ham radio operatorwho gets QST the June issue of QST had a verry detailed comparison of some of the more quiet generators. Including sound levels at load..
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Old 06-15-2012, 11:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nylyon View Post
Take the dealer up on the generator offer! Then buy a second battery, and inverter to run the TV. Microwave may need the generator
X2
Even if you had to trade up for a quieter/economical solution, you would have a new generator to deal off if necessary.
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Old 06-16-2012, 01:47 AM   #6
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Take the genny... any genny... but shoot for a honda or yamaha...

But you'll want to first switch out all your lighting to LED.. search threads on that.

Then you may want to change your battery to two 6v batteries to give you longer dry camping time and longer time between recharges on the genny.

Lot's of options and good folks here to help out.
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Old 06-16-2012, 08:20 AM   #7
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snip.....what is my best option for dry camping?......snip
IMO, if you do "frequent" boondocking then a pair of True Deep Cycle GC-2 batteries (not Marine/RV batteries), and at least a 2,000 watt Honda or Yamaha genny (quiet). Note a 2,000 watt genny won't run your A/C.... but my Yamaha EF2400iSHC will run my single 13K A/C.

But like the others have stated, take the free genny and then add the second battery "identical" to the existing.

Bob
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Old 06-16-2012, 06:06 PM   #8
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x5 on take the genny and a Honda or Yamaha. 1K min to run just a micro, TV and converter but push as much as you can for more. Batteries are cheap compared to the genny and your TV will not charge your batteries up within minutes. It could take 6+ hours to get your batteries back up to 90 percent if your lucky. If you're going to boondock then you will need a genny to bring up your bank.

I'll reccomend 2 x 6V batteries but you can save for a year or two and just add another one exactly the same as your current one if you have the genny.
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Old 06-16-2012, 06:49 PM   #9
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I knew there was a reason I wanted to join this forum! You all have given me lot's of great advice! I'm so thankful you all are here. I can admit that it's my fault for taking the dealer at their word... Stupid of me. I have an appointment with the dealership on Monday to get this straightened out and tell them what generator I want!
Thanks again for all your help! I'll kepp you posted on what I get
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Old 06-17-2012, 04:18 AM   #10
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My advice is between now and Monday, bone up on RV electrical systems. This link will tell you a lot and it's well written and easy to understand. Armed with information, you'll be in a much better negotiating position with your dealer.

http://www.rv-dreams.com/rv-electrical.html

p.s. I agree with what others have said... take the generator and try to get a Honda or a Yamaha inverter generator as these are much quieter than the contractor models.
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:22 AM   #11
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The game plan we ended up with was to beef-up the trailer so we could run all the "toys" we wanted to run in the one day/night battery run and then be able to re-charge the batteries the next day to thier 90% charge state by connecting the trailer shore power cable to a 2KW Honda type generator for a 2-3 hour run time.

We had to upgrade our converter/charger to a smart-mode charging system, run at least two deep cycle batteries in the 225AH range, beef-up the battery cables and use good marine quality wiring, battery swithes, fuse blcoks, etc., convert interior lights over to LEDs, change any 120VAC lights to CFL lights, install a 600W or higher PSW inverter to run the 120VAC appliances.

Doing all of this we can get through the one day/night period running off the batteries but will need to connect the trailer shore power cable to a 2KW generator using a RV30A-15A adapter to re-charge the batteries back up to thier 90% charge state and then you do this all over again each day of your camping trip. We are very successful now camping off the power grid for long extended time. Adding solar power just makes it a lot easier to keep the batteries charged. Just buying a generator sounds like a great plan and is one of the necessary items you will definately need. However you will find out real quick alot of places wont let you run the generartor 24/7 or whenever you want to run it. They have generator run time restrictions almost everywhere now so you need to come up a silent way to be successful like running off the batteries or solar panels. Then you can re-charge the batteries during the time the camp sites allow you to run your generator. I just use my generator to re-charge my batteries and of course while this is on-gong I can get my fresh ground bean coffee done up for the day and maybe momabear can use her electric skillet or something special that needs 120VAC while the batteries are being charged.

This of course does not include the use of my air conditioner and my high wattage microwave unit. We get by just fine without air conditioning and I have a el-cheapo $35 low wattage microwave from Walmart I use for when we are camping off the power grid. It runs just fine off the Inverter system.

Everyone thinks they can add or change just one thing and camp off the power grid. You will think I can just add another battery and thats all I need to do. It will get dark on you in a hurry unless you upgrade some other items as well. We found out we had to attack it from a system upgrade to really be successful camping off the power grid. We do just about everything we would normally do at an electric hookup site now except air conditioning.

Be glad to share what all I had to do via emails if you like... All systems and things folks want to do are different but there might be something from what I did here a few years ago now that may get you to do some thinking along the lines of being successful about it.
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:33 PM   #12
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Good advice in this thread. As stated above your need depend on your camping style and electricity needs. What I found on my trailer is in the link in my sig. Hope it helps and let us know what you decide to do!

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Old 06-18-2012, 09:16 PM   #13
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I bet they don't follow through with the free generator offer.
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Old 06-19-2012, 12:53 PM   #14
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Bestyblue -- If you're seeking a quick answer to your initial question/post, then the answer is to take the generator (aka genny). However, as with anything, there are several different generators, each having different levels of quality and features. Previous posters have recommended the Yamaha or Honda brands, and I would concur (and I'd go with Honda 2000 if asked to pick between the two). Better quality means $$$. I would be surprised to learn that your dealer provided you with a quality genny (eg, Honda or Yamaha). If the dealer doesn't give you a quality genny, then rather than getting a piece of junk, ask for a cash/credit payment (eg, $500) and apply that towards a quality genny. That's the quick answer.

I'm assuming from your post that you know very little about electrical wiring/currents, as well as many other issues/topics related to trailering. I apologize if my assumption is wrong. It's shame that your dealer (or perhaps the salesperson) didn't explain the overall "picture" to you. Here, I hope, is a general overview of your trailer with respect to your electrical systems.

Your trailer operates under two different types of current: AC (for Alternating Current) and DC (for Direct Current). There are many resources on the web and in book form that explain AC and DC, so I won't explain here. But, in due course, you should take the time to educate yourself about them (not difficult).

In general, AC is the type of current used in your house; DC is the type of current used in your car for things such as your radio and lights. Your trailer has a blend of each.

When you plug your trailer into an AC source (eg, a generator), you can think of the AC current taking two different, simultaneous routes in your trailer (to my techie friends: I'm merely simplifying here). For the first route, the AC current goes directly to your electrical panel (similar to your home electrical panel). Once there, it provides AC current for items such as the air conditioner, the microwave, the electric water heater, the outlets in and outside your trailer which might be used for the TV and/or stereo receiver. If you're not plugged into an AC source, then these limited items will NOT work because they require AC current.

For the second route, the AC current goes to a device in your trailer called a "converter." A converter takes the AC current and "converts" it to DC current. Why is that necessary? Because most electrical devices in your trailer are designed to operate on DC current (similar to the lights in your car). Okay, so after the AC current is converted to DC current, the DC current is available to operate items/devices such as your lights, water pump, slide-out (if you have one), and so forth (the converter is also a battery charger, and provides DC current to your battery). If you take a moment to look at your power/electrical panel, you'll see several "automobile" type fuses (called blade fuses), each fuse associated with a device or a few devices. The devices listed with the fuses operate on DC current. So, while you're plugged into an AC source (also called shore power), all devices -- both the AC devices and the DC devices -- should operate (regardless of whether you have a battery installed). However, unlike the devices that require AC current, the devices that operate on DC current will work even if not plugged into an AC source (or shore power) provided that your battery is installed or hooked-up. Why? Because your battery provides DC current to those items/devices that require DC current. (if no battery installed and no connection to shore power or generator, nothing will operate).

With the foregoing in mind, I hope that you now understand/appreciate that a battery cannot directly run the microwave or the TV or any other device/item that requires AC current. Why? Because the battery only provides DC current. The only way to operate AC dedicated items/devices when only using a battery is to install/incorporate an inverter in your electrical system. An inverter takes DC current and “inverts” it to AC current, which is then fed to AC dedicated items/devices. Please understand that this is NOT what your dealer/salesperson was trying to tell you. (there are many factors to understand before installing an inverter, and you need to know of them whether you install the inverter or have it done professionally).

Let’s also briefly discuss the wrong/bad advice you received about charging your battery. No battery used in an RV (or boat) will charge “in minutes,” regardless of whether the power source is from your SUV while driving or from shore power or generator when plugged-in. The web has many sources regarding battery info, and I recommend that you learn, at the very least, some basics about batteries. After all, the battery is the “heart and soul” of your trailer. First, your SUV should not be viewed as a preferred method to charge your battery. Your SUV does provide a charge to your battery while driving (or idling at a campsite), but it’s more of a trickle charge (ie, slow charging). There are several reasons for this (and I won’t go in detail here), but suffice it to say that charging your battery from the SUV should be of a last resort, and, if used, will take many hours to recharge the battery by a small amount.

What about when plugged into shore power or using a generator? (remember that your converter is a battery charger when plugged into shore power or an AC source such as a generator). Only a few minutes? Nope. Probably at least a couple of days (again, many factors come into play). One of the biggest factors is the type of battery charger employed (and your converter has the battery charger built into it). I don’t know the type of converter (hence battery charger) that Jayco is currently installing into its new trailers, but let’s assume that it’s a “basic” = “simple” = “non-multi-stage” charger, which is designed to provide 13.6volts to the battery. If we were to consider the state of discharge of your battery, PLUS the thickness of the wire (referred to as the wire gauge) going from the converter (aka battery charger) to your battery, PLUS the round-trip wiring distance between the converter and battery, PLUS the “basic” battery charger, it could take days before your battery is close to 100%. Bottom-line: trailers are NOT made with dry-camping in mind; they’re made/designed to be plugged into shore power.

Finally, to answer your question about the best option for dry camping, which means operating under DC current conditions, the ultimate goal is to conserve your battery. Obviously, the larger your battery capacity, the longer you can dry-camp before having to re-charge your battery. How long can you go before having to re-charge? The answer: when you’ve depleted approximately 50% of the battery amp/hours. For example, assuming that the battery label states “105 AH,” where AH = Amp Hours, you would need to re-charge after using roughly 50 amp/hrs. To determine when you reach this number, you need to know how many amps each item/device requires and the amount of time used in a day. For example, let’s assume you have three ceiling lamps, each lamp comprising (the usual) two incandescent bulbs, each bulb consuming 1.5amps (or each lamp consuming 3.0amps). For all three lamps, that would be 9.0amps (3 x 3.0). If you had all three lamps “on” for 4hrs in one day, that would be 36 amp/hrs consumed. You would have roughly only 14amp/hrs remaining. After one night, you would have to re-charge with the generator (but remember, even if you fired-up the generator for 4hrs, your battery would not be fully re-charged).

I’ve thrown some numbers/calculations at you to illustrate that you need to determine your needs and amount of time you intend to dry-camp. This will help you to determine the size of your battery bank – one battery? two batteries? If you plan to replace your battery and go for a larger battery bank, I would suggest going with two 6 volt golf-cart batteries which will provide you with approximately 230AH (keep your 12V battery for a back-up). (note: a less expensive route would be adding another 12V battery to your new 12V battery and wiring in parallel; if you did this, you would add the AH number stated on each 12V battery to arrive at your total AH (eg, 105AH + 105AH = 210AH)). If you intend to place the batteries at the front of the trailer, keep in mind that you’ll be adding to your tongue weight (which leads to an entirely new topic!). For example, each golf cart battery weighs about 70lbs.

Conclusions: If you want to “try things out first,” get a good quality generator (eg, Honda 2000) and plan to re-charge every day. (note: if you’ll want to run the air conditioner, you’ll need two Honda 2000 generators). If you want to increase your AH, install two batteries (either two 12V batteries wired in parallel, or, two 6V batteries wired in series). With two batteries, if away from shore power for more than 2-3 days, you’ll need a generator to re-charge your battery bank.

I hope this clarifies a few things. Good luck with your new trailer and happy trails!
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Old 06-21-2012, 07:56 AM   #15
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Have you given any thought to solar to charge your batteries. Works good, very quiet. Your camping neighbors will love you for using solar instead of generator. If you do decide on a generator please get the quietest possible and use it at the proper times and only when needed. Most folks boondocking like quiet.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:06 AM   #16
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Betsyblue - what ever happened with your appt at the dealership? Did they follow through on thier offe to provide h generator? Just curious.
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