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Old 02-23-2018, 10:04 PM   #1
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At what point does having a generator NOT make sense?

I've been pondering this question, and I'm wondering if you folks have any insights:
If someone rarely uses their generator, and uses their AC *only* when they have shore power, at what point would it make sense to not have a generator and simply use your engine/alternator in those rare cases when a charge is necessary?
I'm not planning on removing my generator or anything. This is more of a thought exercise than anything else.
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Old 02-23-2018, 10:10 PM   #2
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Never. You may not use the generator but I guarantee the person you try to sell it to will want a generator with it. Too many occasions where having a generator just makes life easier.
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Old 02-23-2018, 10:17 PM   #3
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Making Sense Exercise

Yes, good luck trying to sell that rig. I also think from a common sense and mechanical sense, it makes no sense to run at idle a V10 engine when you are camping for an hour or two to charge up batteries if you are not on shore power. I would also think that if you always make sure you have shore power, you could also trash the whole concept and stay in a motel. I like the option of being able to do without shore power.
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Old 02-23-2018, 10:26 PM   #4
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I have two trains of thought here:
  1. Like others said: that would reduce the desirability of the rig come trade-in/sale time, however:
  2. This kind of leads to the other question about the solar RV: If there is enough solar, enough battery available and a big enough inverter a generator would not be necessary
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Old 02-23-2018, 10:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
I have two trains of thought here:
  1. Like others said: that would reduce the desirability of the rig come trade-in/sale time, however:
  2. This kind of leads to the other question about the solar RV: If there is enough solar, enough battery available and a big enough inverter a generator would not be necessary
Yes, adding solar to the equation would also be interesting.
No doubt, resale would take a hit.
I should mention, the reason I started thinking about this was a video from FitRV (I think it was this one: https://www.thefitrv.com/rv-reviews/...ew-kind-of-rv/) wherein they mentioned that European RV's usually don't have generators due to the fact that they want to stay under a weight limit so they don't have to get a special license.
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Old 02-23-2018, 10:57 PM   #6
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Wouldn't it be better to have it, and not need it: than suffer through needing it, and not having it?
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Old 02-23-2018, 11:04 PM   #7
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Wouldn't it be better to have it, and not need it: than suffer through needing it, and not having it?
Maybe: What if you could stuff 5kWh of battery in the space of the generator?
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Old 02-23-2018, 11:49 PM   #8
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yes, agreed - while a generator is a great ‘anytime, anyplace, any weather’ power source, if we could subplant that cost(including the maintenance and diesel fuel costs), the weight, and the Room with Solar panels and many more storage batteries, we could move away from the ‘Generator’ generation, in the future. Finding a small generator for ‘just in case’ would be much easier than all of us continuing to ‘engineer’ and design our own Solar systems...
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Old 02-23-2018, 11:56 PM   #9
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Maybe: What if you could stuff 5kWh of battery in the space of the generator?
Exactly. There are some interesting trade-offs. Even if a person never needs a generator, the weight is still there, and there are still maintenance costs. My understanding is that a person should run it once a month or so just to keep it in good condition.
Of course, extra batteries have their own weight and maintenance/replacement costs.
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Old 02-23-2018, 11:56 PM   #10
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Generators are used more than to top off the house batteries. They are used to power your air conditioner and other large AC draws. I have solar and a 3,000 watt inverter but I power on the generator and air conditioner when we stop for lunch or just a break. I do not use the generator to charge the batteries.
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Old 02-23-2018, 11:57 PM   #11
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No Gen

Yes, I saw something like this concept discussed on Celebrity RVs. A big solar panel system to charge the batteries. Certainly not opposed to it, but in an entry level rig as they are called, I am not going to try that kind of investment or engineering. I am sure it will happen eventually. So for now, I will leave my generator where it is for the few times that I use it.
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:34 AM   #12
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It's already happening. Many Class B motorhomes are eliminating the conventional (Onan) generator and installing a dedicated 2nd engine-driven alternator to charge a high-capacity battery bank. It makes a lot of sense, even for Class Bs which are just as likely to be used for dry camping, if not more so.

I personally think elimination of generator will be much more common when a couple of technologies become more common and/or affordable.

Second dedicated after-market alternators are very expensive, and are limited in capacity for the most part due to 12-Volt system. However, as original equipment manufacturers start to add 48-Volt alternators, with capacities up to 20 kW, it will be much more affordable to get rid of the 4kW or 5.5 kW Onan.

Cost of lithium batteries need to drop a little more also at retail. At $300 per kWh it will be very affordable to have 10 kWh of battery, enough to run a bedroom air conditioner all night. Even with two A/Cs running simultaneously, an RV engine would have to run less than 1 hour to charge the battery bank which is less wasteful than running a generator all night.

While somewhat common on Class Bs today, I expect we will see similar systems on As and Cs to start showing up before too long.

For what it's worth, if Ford makes a second alternator or alternator bracket an option on the new V8 that will replace the V10, I think the process will be much faster. Batteries and inverters don't scare RV manufacturers as much as having to modify the engine. Having a 200-Amp X 56-Volt (or similar) from chassis OEM at a reasonable cost would make getting rid of the Onan an easy decision in my opinion.
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Old 02-24-2018, 12:47 AM   #13
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I like the idea of adding some extra alternators to the mix...
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Old 02-24-2018, 02:07 AM   #14
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...snip...
Cost of lithium batteries need to drop a little more also at retail. At $300 per kWh it will be very affordable to have 10 kWh of battery, enough to run a bedroom air conditioner all night.
...snip...
As of Dec 2017 they are at $209 per kwh.

Or, perhaps, they are down to $139!
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Old 02-24-2018, 02:28 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by axis earl View Post
Yes, good luck trying to sell that rig. I also think from a common sense and mechanical sense, it makes no sense to run at idle a V10 engine when you are camping for an hour or two to charge up batteries if you are not on shore power. I would also think that if you always make sure you have shore power, you could also trash the whole concept and stay in a motel. I like the option of being able to do without shore power.
I know this discussion is strictly comments from motorhome owners, but in our case as fulltimers we needed the storage more than the generator. In 10 years there's only been a handful of times it would be nice to of had a generator.
We "lived" in our rv & didn't do much "camping" & did NO boondocking or Wal-Mart camping which accounts for not needing a generator & still enjoy not staying in hotels.
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Old 02-24-2018, 02:35 AM   #16
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I live in the Northeast, less than 5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. It's a beautiful place to live but like everywhere else, there's a price. Hurricanes and Blizzards and the accompanying power outages are a fact of life here. I've gone as long as two weeks without power in the past. It's nice to have a 30 ft long Escape Pod parked next to the house. I have a 55 gallon tank in the MH and another 50 gallons in reserve.I have a full propane tank on the MH and 60 lb reserve in 5 gallon bottles and an extender kit. I will always have light, heat, refrigeration, hot food, hot showers, clean laundry and even satellite TV. All of this is possible because of the genny in my MH. I am not a "prepper" as such but I am prepared and there is a great deal of comfort in that. What is that kind of security worth?
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Old 02-24-2018, 02:38 AM   #17
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We frankly rarely use the generator, but those rare times when we need it, its sure nice to have it available. Because we so rarely use it, I went for the propane powered one this time, fewer problems with fuel and infrequently used fuel systems. No way would I give it up, or buy a coach that did not have one.
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Old 02-24-2018, 02:46 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
As of Dec 2017 they are at $209 per kwh.

Or, perhaps, they are down to $139!
Yeah, it's pretty amazing considering that these batteries yield 80 to 100% of rated capacity, making them cheaper per useable kWh than a lead-acid battery. And then when we factor in the number of cycles being so much greater than flooded or AGM, the cost is much lower. That's why I've been such an optimist on RV lithium -- the potential is there.

The problem we still have is that Lithium batteries with a battery management system still retails for $750 to over $1,000 per kWh if from major manufacturers. That's just not right, and way too expensive. At $300/kWh they wouldn't be able to keep them on the shelves in my opinion.
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Old 02-24-2018, 01:29 PM   #19
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This short video from Advanced RV showing development and testing of a Volta 48V system may be of interest. In this case getting rid of Onan-type generator doesn't mean going without electric power, or having to rely on limitations of solar power.

Advanced RV went all-electric and got rid of propane too, but that's a separate decision -- although easier to make because once you have all that power available it's easier to justify going all-electric, at least for a small van that doesn't need that much heat or hot water.


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Old 02-24-2018, 01:56 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by bgrattan View Post
I've been pondering this question, and I'm wondering if you folks have any insights:
If someone rarely uses their generator, and uses their AC *only* when they have shore power, at what point would it make sense to not have a generator and simply use your engine/alternator in those rare cases when a charge is necessary?
I'm not planning on removing my generator or anything. This is more of a thought exercise than anything else.
Here is an example of why you may want that generator. You are camped this summer in 90-100 degree temps and a storm comes through the area. Oh no, the CG has no power for 2 days. Since you are already paid up for the week you hate to move on, so having a generator to run your coach would come in pretty handy.
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