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Old 07-02-2022, 01:34 AM   #1
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Generator gas cost vs campgrounds

We have stayed many nights over the years at places like W M and Crkr Barl. At an estimated half gallon per hour, we saved a lot of money by skipping the campgrounds those summer nights. At current average gas prices, running the A/C and the genny will cost us $30-35. In some places, like state parks and COE sites, we can stay cheaper than those free concrete overnights with the genny.

If we could just get to somewhere with higher altitude or higher latitude so we could get by with a fan, we would be back to boondocking off and on.

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Old 07-02-2022, 04:01 AM   #2
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That's why I switched to campgrounds for overnight stays. Had to pay for fuel for the genny, had to pay to dump my tanks, had to pay for water.
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Old 07-02-2022, 04:44 AM   #3
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It’s all about the conveniences, if you can basically break using a campground but save you time because you can do all the other services in one place you might be better off.
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Old 07-02-2022, 05:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Sunshine View Post

.....cut..... At current average gas prices, running the A/C and the genny will cost us $30-35. ......cut.....

And some insist energy efficiency is unimportant.


I assume you’re roughly estimating 12 hours at 0.50 GPH, for total of 6 gallons of gasoline. At $5/gallon, yeah, that’s $30. I think that may be a little on high side because the generator won’t be at 50% (2,000 Watts) all night, but your general point is valid.

With portable inverter generator, small space, small A/C, etc. we use one tank of 1.3 gallons overnight (closer to 10 hours). Maybe $7 worth of gas at today’s rate, though we haven’t boondocked since Fall when gas was cheaper. I wouldn’t use a portable generator at WM or Cracker Barrel anyway.

Generators are indeed not very efficient, though new Onan 2800i with a Power Saver A/C should cool at around 0.20 GPH at night based on specs. If so, it would make a big difference in total fuel cost. Not an option for you though.
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Old 07-02-2022, 11:21 AM   #5
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We also will do Cracker Barrel for quick stops overnight but we try not to run the generator out of consideration for others who may stop there as well more than the cost of running the genny.

Last year I upgraded to LiFePO4 batteries from BigBattery and installed 680Ah. This year I upgraded the Inverter to a Xantrex 3000W Freedom Pro XC and rewired the coach so the Inverter powers any circuit I want to use. The main intent is being able to run the bedroom A/C overnight for a few hours when boondocking. If I close the door to the bedroom the A/C shouldn't have to run very often on the Inverter.

I tested the A/C's one at a time several times on the new Inverter with both fridges also running while the coach was in our garage and it worked great every time. I ran them over 15 minutes and no issues and the batteries were holding up great.

This weekend we are boondocking at my inlaws and the temps were over 90 yesterday. I was excited for my first real chance to use the new system. When I tried to run the bedroom A/C off the Inverter I kept getting a fault for low AC output voltage shortly after the A/C started running.

I suspect the sun beating on the roof caused the compressor to work harder on startup than it had to when I was testing in the garage where it was much cooler. I also had my Starlink router plugged in and the fridges also had to work harder because of the heat so there was more power draw there as well.

I was hoping I could get away without having to install a SoftStart... especially since I already have applied insulation to the A/C evaporator enclosures and I need to access that area to install a SoftStart.... but it looks like I will need it to use the Inverter for the A/C.

I ended up ordering two SoftStart's on Amazon yesterday. I was only going to do the bedroom A/C since we would only use that one when boondocking but I decided to do both A/C's in case we ever get a campground with only 30A service and we need to run both A/C's.

In any case.... had to end up running the generator at the inlaws to cool down the coach enough to get by overnight after a storm rolled through and cooled things off a bit.

On a positive note.... the LiFePO4 upgrade works great. The first night the DW had an electric fan running all night... I had the Starlink router plugged in..... two fridges running.... phones charging.... fresh water pump.... and the kitchen DC fan running. Then the next morning two pots of coffee and an electric skillet for breakfast and a laptop charging. I had 70% battery capacity remaining after all that. Typically I would be running the generator after the second pot of coffee when I had the four 6V flooded batteries.
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Old 07-02-2022, 02:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Sunshine View Post
We have stayed many nights over the years at places like W M and Crkr Barl. At an estimated half gallon per hour, we saved a lot of money by skipping the campgrounds those summer nights. At current average gas prices, running the A/C and the genny will cost us $30-35. In some places, like state parks and COE sites, we can stay cheaper than those free concrete overnights with the genny.

If we could just get to somewhere with higher altitude or higher latitude so we could get by with a fan, we would be back to boondocking off and on.
Good information never thought about that
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Old 07-02-2022, 02:43 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Judge View Post
We also will do Cracker Barrel for quick stops overnight but we try not to run the generator out of consideration for others who may stop there as well more than the cost of running the genny.

Last year I upgraded to LiFePO4 batteries from BigBattery and installed 680Ah. This year I upgraded the Inverter to a Xantrex 3000W Freedom Pro XC and rewired the coach so the Inverter powers any circuit I want to use. The main intent is being able to run the bedroom A/C overnight for a few hours when boondocking. If I close the door to the bedroom the A/C shouldn't have to run very often on the Inverter.

I tested the A/C's one at a time several times on the new Inverter with both fridges also running while the coach was in our garage and it worked great every time. I ran them over 15 minutes and no issues and the batteries were holding up great.

This weekend we are boondocking at my inlaws and the temps were over 90 yesterday. I was excited for my first real chance to use the new system. When I tried to run the bedroom A/C off the Inverter I kept getting a fault for low AC output voltage shortly after the A/C started running.

I suspect the sun beating on the roof caused the compressor to work harder on startup than it had to when I was testing in the garage where it was much cooler. I also had my Starlink router plugged in and the fridges also had to work harder because of the heat so there was more power draw there as well.

I was hoping I could get away without having to install a SoftStart... especially since I already have applied insulation to the A/C evaporator enclosures and I need to access that area to install a SoftStart.... but it looks like I will need it to use the Inverter for the A/C.

I ended up ordering two SoftStart's on Amazon yesterday. I was only going to do the bedroom A/C since we would only use that one when boondocking but I decided to do both A/C's in case we ever get a campground with only 30A service and we need to run both A/C's.

In any case.... had to end up running the generator at the inlaws to cool down the coach enough to get by overnight after a storm rolled through and cooled things off a bit.

On a positive note.... the LiFePO4 upgrade works great. The first night the DW had an electric fan running all night... I had the Starlink router plugged in..... two fridges running.... phones charging.... fresh water pump.... and the kitchen DC fan running. Then the next morning two pots of coffee and an electric skillet for breakfast and a laptop charging. I had 70% battery capacity remaining after all that. Typically I would be running the generator after the second pot of coffee when I had the four 6V flooded batteries.
Nice setup..way above my budget
Did the in-laws not let you plug in?
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Old 07-02-2022, 03:41 PM   #8
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I had them installed and even after 3 upgrades/updates on FireFLy we still have issues with it randomly stop cooling, have to turn off AC and wait a few minutes and then back on to get it to cool.
No pattern to why it happens. Does the same issues on both AC's but never at same time.


Quote:

I ended up ordering two SoftStart's on Amazon yesterday. I was only going to do the bedroom A/C since we would only use that one when boondocking but I decided to do both A/C's in case we ever get a campground with only 30A service and we need to run both A/C's.
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Old 07-02-2022, 11:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by macdaddy1111 View Post
I had them installed and even after 3 upgrades/updates on FireFLy we still have issues with it randomly stop cooling, have to turn off AC and wait a few minutes and then back on to get it to cool.
No pattern to why it happens. Does the same issues on both AC's but never at same time.

Hey MacD……

I had to have the G7 Mainboard of the Firefly System replaced in my coach to solve those problems.

I have two A/C’a and the fans would run but not the compressors or the compressors would run and not the fans.

If I turned off the 12V to reboot the system, it would work fine for a bit but then the problems started all over untill I would power-cycle the 12V.

Firefly helped me troubleshoot it and got Thot to replace it under warranty.
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Old 07-03-2022, 01:27 AM   #10
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Generator gas cost vs campgrounds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Judge View Post
We also will do Cracker Barrel for quick stops overnight but we try not to run the generator out of consideration for others who may stop there as well more than the cost of running the genny.

Last year I upgraded to LiFePO4 batteries from BigBattery and installed 680Ah. This year I upgraded the Inverter to a Xantrex 3000W Freedom Pro XC and rewired the coach so the Inverter powers any circuit I want to use. The main intent is being able to run the bedroom A/C overnight for a few hours when boondocking. If I close the door to the bedroom the A/C shouldn't have to run very often on the Inverter.

I tested the A/C's one at a time several times on the new Inverter with both fridges also running while the coach was in our garage and it worked great every time. I ran them over 15 minutes and no issues and the batteries were holding up great.

This weekend we are boondocking at my inlaws and the temps were over 90 yesterday. I was excited for my first real chance to use the new system. When I tried to run the bedroom A/C off the Inverter I kept getting a fault for low AC output voltage shortly after the A/C started running.

I suspect the sun beating on the roof caused the compressor to work harder on startup than it had to when I was testing in the garage where it was much cooler. I also had my Starlink router plugged in and the fridges also had to work harder because of the heat so there was more power draw there as well.

I was hoping I could get away without having to install a SoftStart... especially since I already have applied insulation to the A/C evaporator enclosures and I need to access that area to install a SoftStart.... but it looks like I will need it to use the Inverter for the A/C.

I ended up ordering two SoftStart's on Amazon yesterday. I was only going to do the bedroom A/C since we would only use that one when boondocking but I decided to do both A/C's in case we ever get a campground with only 30A service and we need to run both A/C's.

In any case.... had to end up running the generator at the inlaws to cool down the coach enough to get by overnight after a storm rolled through and cooled things off a bit.

On a positive note.... the LiFePO4 upgrade works great. The first night the DW had an electric fan running all night... I had the Starlink router plugged in..... two fridges running.... phones charging.... fresh water pump.... and the kitchen DC fan running. Then the next morning two pots of coffee and an electric skillet for breakfast and a laptop charging. I had 70% battery capacity remaining after all that. Typically I would be running the generator after the second pot of coffee when I had the four 6V flooded batteries.

Just a little update…..

After the sun went down tonight I was able to run my A/C off the inverter as I did during the testing in my garage. As I suspected the sun beating down on the A/C was causing it to work harder along with everything else running harder and causing the Inverter to shut down.

Amazon did deliver the SoftStarts today. I’m still going to install them so I can run the A/C during the day if needed and also in case we only have a 30A site sometime and need to run both A/C’s.

For those willing to go to LiFePO4 batteries, running the A/C without the genny is doable but to Mr. Sunshine’s point….. finding a cheap campground stillbbeats gas / diesel prices for the genny these days…. or the cost of LiFePO4 batteries and other necessary changes…. unless you do a lot of camping off the grid.
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Old 07-03-2022, 02:30 AM   #11
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Exception could very well include Class B camper vans with Onan 2800i inverter generators and 11,000 BTU/hr air conditioners. They’re still common from many manufacturers including Thor. Fuel cost could be around $10 for the night.

A major problem with conventional generators to power air conditioners at night is that the A/C (at least compressor) will cycle on and off a lot, and when standard generators idle unloaded, they still use a lot of gas. Inverter generators at least reduce fuel consumption when running unloaded.

If I recall correctly, someone in this forum who ordered a new Axis or Vegas wanted Thor to install an Onan inverter 2800i generator in lieu of the standard 4000-Watt unit to make boondocking more efficient.
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Old 07-03-2022, 10:38 AM   #12
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Exception could very well include Class B camper vans with Onan 2800i inverter generators and 11,000 BTU/hr air conditioners. They’re still common from many manufacturers including Thor. Fuel cost could be around $10 for the night.

A major problem with conventional generators to power air conditioners at night is that the A/C (at least compressor) will cycle on and off a lot, and when standard generators idle unloaded, they still use a lot of gas. Inverter generators at least reduce fuel consumption when running unloaded.

If I recall correctly, someone in this forum who ordered a new Axis or Vegas wanted Thor to install an Onan inverter 2800i generator in lieu of the standard 4000-Watt unit to make boondocking more efficient.
What about an AGS set for HVAC Mode?

I've never tried mine set to A/C Mode to see if the generator shuts down when the set temp is reached. If the generator would cycle with the thermostat demand, that would make it more fuel efficient. But I don't think it works thats way.

I know the Minimum Runtime setting for my AGS is 10 minutes so assuming the set temp can be reached in 10 minutes, you could let the generator cycle with A/C demand.

Not sure how restful sleeping would be with the A/C and generator cycling all night long.



I'm happy to report my bedroom A/C did work throughout the night on my Inverter without any issue. I had it set to 71 and it cycled about a half dozen times best I can recall.

My batteries weren't at 100% before we went to bed last night but I was happy to see they were only down to 68% when I got up this morning.

Installing the SoftStart should allow me to run the A/C off the Inverter if I am so inclined.... but for quick boondocking overnight the SoftStart isn't needed with my Xantrex Freedom XC Pro 3000.
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Old 07-03-2022, 12:04 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Judge View Post

.....cut.....

Not sure how restful sleeping would be with the A/C and generator cycling all night long.



I'm happy to report my bedroom A/C did work throughout the night on my Inverter without any issue. I had it set to 71 and it cycled about a half dozen times best I can recall.

My batteries weren't at 100% before we went to bed last night but I was happy to see they were only down to 68% when I got up this morning.

Installing the SoftStart should allow me to run the A/C off the Inverter if I am so inclined.... but for quick boondocking overnight the SoftStart isn't needed with my Xantrex Freedom XC Pro 3000.
Judge, even the intermittent noise from my portable inverter generator as it loaded up with the compressor on each cycle kept me from sleeping well, so I now set the thermostat as cold as my A/C will go so that compressor stays on all night. It gets colder in van than needed but we rest much better overall.

With shore power I can hear A/C compressor cycling but it doesn’t disturb my sleep as much. Starting and stopping a generator would be a real problem I bet.

A better solution in my opinion is to have an air conditioner with inverter power for the compressor so it can run slower and hence at lower cooling capacity. Mini split and more recently window air conditioners have this optional feature. This makes it possible to run steady at reduced power and be more efficient at same time.

So far the only RV air conditioners I have seen that can reduce compressor speed and cooling capacity are the DC powered. In theory those work best with batteries as your system has, but are still too expensive for most buyers.

I expect RV A/C manufacturers will start offering dual inverter drive at some point for 120 VAC. If it can be offered on $500 window A/C, why not rooftop RV units?



P.S. — For overnight A/C, batteries over generator makes most sense to me. I saw first example in a custom-designed van in Houston 20 years ago and was sold immediately. I just could not justify cost because we stayed in campgrounds with full hookups. Boondocking is more recent for us.
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Old 07-03-2022, 01:45 PM   #14
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Judge, even the intermittent noise from my portable inverter generator as it loaded up with the compressor on each cycle kept me from sleeping well, so I now set the thermostat as cold as my A/C will go so that compressor stays on all night. It gets colder in van than needed but we rest much better overall.

With shore power I can hear A/C compressor cycling but it doesn’t disturb my sleep as much. Starting and stopping a generator would be a real problem I bet.

A better solution in my opinion is to have an air conditioner with inverter power for the compressor so it can run slower and hence at lower cooling capacity. Mini split and more recently window air conditioners have this optional feature. This makes it possible to run steady at reduced power and be more efficient at same time.

So far the only RV air conditioners I have seen that can reduce compressor speed and cooling capacity are the DC powered. In theory those work best with batteries as your system has, but are still too expensive for most buyers.

I expect RV A/C manufacturers will start offering dual inverter drive at some point for 120 VAC. If it can be offered on $500 window A/C, why not rooftop RV units?



P.S. — For overnight A/C, batteries over generator makes most sense to me. I saw first example in a custom-designed van in Houston 20 years ago and was sold immediately. I just could not justify cost because we stayed in campgrounds with full hookups. Boondocking is more recent for us.

I agree Chance…..

I was pretty happy with running the A/C last night on the Inverter. Much better than having the genny running at night.

It will be intersti g to see if the SoftStart softens the startup noise a little.

Last year I installed an RVAir Flow in the front A/C so it would push more air into the bedroom so we wouldn’t have to run the bedroom A/C at night. That worked out pretty well last season not having to run the bedroom A/C at night.

I may rethink my original plan of running the bedroom A/C on the Inverter at night with the bedroom door closed. I still may be better off just running the front A/C at night on the Inverter and letting it push the cool air to the bedroom as I do on shore power.

I’ll make a final decision after I install the SoftStart in the two A/C’s and whether the cylcing is a bit quieter.
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Old 07-03-2022, 05:23 PM   #15
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We usually need two AC's and on very hot nights and all three until temps break a bit. Due to the noise at night, I don't like the stop and start either.

I run the BR and Middle AC fans on manual, so they don't stop/start and only the Compressor does which lessens the impact of starting.

Usually drop the front AC temp where it runs steady all night and the other two wind up shutting off after temps drop.

We burn well over .5 gallons per hour if using three AC's and recharging and so on.

Hot weather we find a campground and do the Wally Docking in cool temps.
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Old 07-03-2022, 08:17 PM   #16
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What about an AGS set for HVAC Mode?

I've never tried mine set to A/C Mode to see if the generator shuts down when the set temp is reached. If the generator would cycle with the thermostat demand, that would make it more fuel efficient. But I don't think it works thats way.

I know the Minimum Runtime setting for my AGS is 10 minutes so assuming the set temp can be reached in 10 minutes, you could let the generator cycle with A/C demand.

Not sure how restful sleeping would be with the A/C and generator cycling all night long.


I run the the AGS in auto mode all the time. Auto mode automatically fires up the genny based on Battery voltage and thermostats call. Like you my genny has mininum runtime set at 10 minutes. When coach temperature is only thing in focus, if thermostat is set for 78 degrees then when it reaches 79 and calls for the compressor, it is also calls the EC30 and tells it to start the generator. When generator starts the energy management system kicks in to start the AC(s). I normally have them both on, but one could be off. At some point the coach will get to temperature desired and when thermostats call for the compressor to shut down it also gives the generator the green light to shut off if all other EC30 and generator conditions are met.

When we drove to Houston, I think the generator may have stopped and restarted 5 times in a 4 hour trip.

At night, our quiet time starts at 8:00 PM, so we never have the genny running to know how intrusive it may be. There have been a few really warm nights, but we crack windows and turn on fans. We just get by, I never thought or considered to get campsite just for electricity. We are generally just pulled over for a break while on the road. There have been a few Rest Stops where it was okay to run the generator. Ironically, when we stopping at Wal Mart, it was to get Wifi. Since we have had the T Mobile Black Box, we have not camped overnight at any of the Wal Marts or similar.
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Old 07-04-2022, 01:39 AM   #17
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Hey MacD……

I had to have the G7 Mainboard of the Firefly System replaced in my coach to solve those problems.

I have two A/C’a and the fans would run but not the compressors or the compressors would run and not the fans.

If I turned off the 12V to reboot the system, it would work fine for a bit but then the problems started all over until I would power-cycle the 12V.

Firefly helped me troubleshoot it and got Thot to replace it under warranty.
we just have to turn off ac at pad/phone, wait a few seconds and we can fire back up.

3 times it has been upgraded, going in this week for maintenance, will have them check with firefly again! got your post printed out.

it is a squirrely system!
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Old 07-06-2022, 01:43 AM   #18
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I don’t possess the time, skill, patience or finances to attempt to run just one AC from a battery system, so that option is off the table for me. Kudos to you who do.

I do have a 1200 watt inverter which can easily run a small fan all night. When we are traveling in an area with 90+ degree daytime temps, gotta run the AC well into the night, maybe all night.

My initial comments require a repeated recalculation as gas prices and campground costs (and availability) vary by location and timing. A COE site with the Senior Natl Park pass at $11 can be great if its not far off the path. At the cost of gas per mile, you can't go far and be saving $$. Of course, saving money isn't always the goal, but often is a deciding factor.

I met a fellow Thor RV owner who just drove through Illinois. He mentioned the high cost of gas there. Some states are planning a month of gas tax, which we be welcome relief for some folks.

When we have stayed at a store or restaurant overnight, others are running their generator too, so we never had to be concerned about disturbing them with ours.
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Old 07-06-2022, 01:55 AM   #19
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I don’t possess the time, skill, patience or finances to attempt to run just one AC from a battery system, so that option is off the table for me. Kudos to you who do.

I do have a 1200 watt inverter which can easily run a small fan all night. When we are traveling in an area with 90+ degree daytime temps, gotta run the AC well into the night, maybe all night.

My initial comments require a repeated recalculation as gas prices and campground costs (and availability) vary by location and timing. A COE site with the Senior Natl Park pass at $11 can be great if its not far off the path. At the cost of gas per mile, you can't go far and be saving $$. Of course, saving money isn't always the goal, but often is a deciding factor.

I met a fellow Thor RV owner who just drove through Illinois. He mentioned the high cost of gas there. Some states are planning a month of gas tax, which we be welcome relief for some folks.

When we have stayed at a store or restaurant overnight, others are running their generator too, so we never had to be concerned about disturbing them with ours.
I'm a Florida resident too but we head north in the summer months to see family and then an annual 2 - 3 month RV trip starting in August before returning to Florida. I can concur with the need to run the A/C around the clock when temps are over 80 - 85... especially with high humidity.

We do some summer camping but usually in the northern climates but it still can get as hot as Florida up there at times through August.

We boondocked at my inlaws in western PA for 5 days and temps hit 90+ one day and upper 80's two other days. I ended up burning about 1/8 of a tank of diesel running the genny for battery charging and cooling the coach... or about 8 - 9 gallons. That equates to about $55 at the PA diesel prices of ~$6 - $6.25 gallon.

Two years ago it would have cost under $20 in diesel.......

We're now on our way back to FL for a couple weeks before heading back north again but I can't imagine camping in FL or anywhere in the southern US where the temps are over 90 daily.... and in high humidity.
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Old 07-06-2022, 03:55 AM   #20
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State: Texas
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THOR #2121
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Sunshine View Post
I don’t possess the time, skill, patience or finances to attempt to run just one AC from a battery system, so that option is off the table for me. Kudos to you who do.

......cut.....

I agree it is difficult to justify the cost of upgrading an existing motorhome that is working well at the time. To me it makes most sense to power air conditioner from batteries when it’s done from onset, so the cost (savings) of generator and other equipment can be applied towards battery capacity, larger inverter, etc... Even that works best for those who travel daily and boondock mostly at night to sleep only. Trying to boondock days at a time in summer without a generator will likely be a problem for most campers.

If we could save $20 a night, it would take many years of normal camping to pay for lithium upgrade in order to power A/C overnight from batteries. However, if done from start, cost should be more reasonable.


P.S. — Gas was $4.29 near my home today. Lower prices could affect decision to run generator.
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