Generator versus Solar ?

Submitted: Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 17:44
ThreadID: 109690 Views:2359 Replies:6 FollowUps:1
This Thread has been Archived
hello guys. I have a 100 watt solar panel that charges a 100 amp DC battery. We sometimes run low on power especially on cloudy days when the Solar panel struggles somewhat. I have considered installing an additional S.Panel and DC Battery but recently have considered buying a 2 Vka Honda generator. I have been told this little portable unit would meet our needs without the continual problem of will or wont we have enough power. Are they noisy, as this is a real concern for me ? We run a small TV some led LIGHTS and a small Waeco freezer thanks johno
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Emerging I.T. - Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 18:48

Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 18:48
Johno you may want to increase your battery capacity, 100AH could be a little lean, perhaps add an additional 100-120AH battery. The 100W solar panel may not be supplying enough battery to keep up with what you are consuming? Personally if this is all you are running I would go an extra battery and perhaps 2 x 100W panels, the genie would be my last option. Also you don't need a 2KVA genie to charge your battery and run the above, a 1KVA would be sufficient but that's a question of budget, if money is not an issue then go with the bigger one if you have to go down that path
AnswerID: 539809

Reply By: oldtrack123 - Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 20:07

Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 20:07
HI Johno
Ber in mind there are limitations on where you can use generators
If you are planning to be camping for many years ,I would suggest you have your solar /battery capacity designed to meet your needs
It will be far cheaper in the long run & you will not have the problem of where can you use a geny or who you may upset.

AnswerID: 539813

Follow Up By: oldtrack123 - Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 20:10

Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 20:10
HI Johno
Cannot edit so add this to the above
A generator on its own is not a satisfactory way of charging the batterries
The charge is not regulated /conrtolled so it is advisable to use them to run a high capacity multi stage chargerthe power

FollowupID: 825463

Reply By: MEMBER - Darian, SA - Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 21:29

Thursday, Oct 02, 2014 at 21:29
The ideal situation is to have various modes of energy supply (solar, the generator and not forgetting your car's alternator). In good weather, the right amount of solar and batteries will be all you need, but sooner or later you get caught and you'll place huge value on the gennie. I've just been around WA for 12 weeks and saw gennies used widely in various camps and rest areas (even legally in pristine national parks...such as Cape LeGrand). Planning forward on a daily basis and watching the weather forecasts, you can usually work out if camping in a 'no gennie' area will be practical. If things come unstuck, having to move out of such areas to run the gennie and save your batteries is just 'tough'. A 1K pure sinewave generator is plenty for charging batteries (and running techno appliances at the same time).... a very useful camping item ....and 10kg lighter than the 2k models. As for noise.....that's an issue of 'consideration for others'.... sometimes its no issue....sometimes its just not fair.
AnswerID: 539822

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 07:27

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 07:27

I'd suggest investing your $$$ in doubling your storage and solar capacity. That should cover your requirements very well unless you get an extended period of overcast weather. To deal with that you are in fact already carrying a generator - under the bonnet!

Generally speaking the battery charging capability of portable generators is pretty woeful - they are slow and can damage batteries as they are not well regulated. I'm not familiar with the Honda you refer to. It may be an exception but I doubt it. To go with the generator you would therefore need a decent charger costing a few hundred dollars.

My preference would be to double up on solar and battery capacity and rely on the vehicle's alternator to cover minor lapses. If those lapses are at all frequent I'd add a dc-dc charger to increase the effectiveness of charging from the alternator.


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 539836

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 09:34

Friday, Oct 03, 2014 at 09:34
Hi Johno, I don't carry any solar gear at all. But I do carry a 2kva Honda Genny.
I looked at solar when upgrading from a C/t to a small poptop, but as we already had the Honda, could not find any real advantage. We only run 2 3way fridges so don't
have the constant high power needs of compressor fridges. We free camp on gas &
only fire the Honda up when the two 65 Ah batteries gets down ...only runs lights.
I consider the genny important as an emergency power source.
Also handy to power the microwave...anywhere we want to use it.
We respect peoples privacy & the no generator rules. The Honda is very quiet, uses
little fuel, & works for us.
As you already have some solar, your best option may be to upgrade that as suggested.
If your starter battery goes flat.... your others are low
because of 3 days with no sun, 100 km from the mobile signal..will rain in 2 hrs..& close road for days.....
....the joy of having a Honda on board knows no bounds...:)))))).

..the joy of having a Honda on board knows no bounds...:)))).
AnswerID: 539847

Reply By: TCBC - Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 17:18

Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014 at 17:18
Hey johno59
A 1st post so please don’t shoot me.
An alternative method is a Solar 8 in 1 Portable Power Station {jumpstarter 250CCA, aircompressor, 200w (400Wsurge) MSW Inverter,usb outlet, 2x12vDC outlets & magnetic rechargeable LED worklight}.(12V 12Ah SLA battery). In a situation like yours when you just want that little backup. It can be charged by 12v, 240v and Solar (for the top ups when not in use). Sounding better than a generator that may get used once? Oh… and no noise.
Best part about it, when camping, you can take it down on the banks of a river and use the inverter 240v for lights or even run several lights via 12v socket. Or, just use the 12v cigarette socket or usb slot to charge things so they don’t drain your main setup. Run your Freezer from it maybe? If you do plug into the car to get that extra juice for the night and happen to drain both batteries, Just jump start the car with it knowing that you won’t be stuck when you need to move on.
I have got the 5 in 1 version (12V 18Ah SLA battery) 240v @400w (it runs for 2.5hrs). I take it everywhere. As I have a boat I use mine for lighting out on the bay knowing it can start the boat if the need arises. I can then fillet on the banks with light and a radio before I get home. On the way home it charges on the drive back. Mine is 3 years old and have charged it 2 times. The first time after the initial charge I have jumpstarted 2x5cyl diesels and a falcon. Also used the compressor to top up airbags on the car. The jump pack meter after 6 mths was at 95%. It would have been full had I have had the 8in1solar.
For both units the cost is still under $150. A portable alternative.
I have no invested interest in the product. I am happy with mine as it has come in handy so many times. Maybe it might suite your purpose, just a thought
AnswerID: 540401

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (9)