Do I need a generator, a pure sine wave or a Digital inverter generator

Submitted: Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 09:15
ThreadID: 78656 Views:8703 Replies:8 FollowUps:3
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My camping needs are very basic, all my appliances run off 12 volt. I have a 12 volt cigarete lighter adaptor to power my laptop, same for charging the batteries of my cameras and mobile phone etc. Plus lighting of a night.

A 50 AH battery or sometimes even smaller is sufficient recharged by a 40 watt solar panel. However during long periods of little or no sun I have considered a small generator.

So my dilema is, what type of generator do I need to just run a battery charger.

I believe that simple generators and pure sine wave generators need to run at about 3000 revs whereas a digital inverter generator can operate at variable revs depending on load (which seems the better option) However the expense of this type of generator may be very much overkill for my needs.

I guess I will also need a charger that can deliver high initial charge dropping to a lower rate as charging takes place to avoid the need for the generator to be running for a long period of time.

Any advice would be much appreciated. BTW I am curently near Rockhampton.
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Reply By: Member - Tony (ACT) - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 09:42

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 09:42
We use a Honda 01 Generator to power all you will need, except maybe A/C in a van.
AnswerID: 417633

Reply By: Crackles - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 10:08

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 10:08
"My camping needs are very basic....Do I need a generator"
If your needs are as basic as you say no you don't require a generator at all. I'd look at more battery storage 1st before carrying a (bulky, noisy, smelly) generator which often can't be used at many campgrounds anyway.
Cheers Craig...............
AnswerID: 417637

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, May 24, 2010 at 18:43

Monday, May 24, 2010 at 18:43
Espically when you already have an alternator in the car to charge with for those odd times - some of us use nothing else !
Robin Miller

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FollowupID: 688027

Reply By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 11:04

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 11:04
We carry a Yamaha 1kva genny but rarely use it, but its good to have as a back up if needed.We can go about 3 days until we need to charge up.Thats stopped in the same spot, no solar.After this I fire up the genny for about an hour, to charge up the batteries.We do this through a Ctek charger.
Our genny is a Inverter type so all appliances can be used of its 240v supply but rarely use that.Most stuff is charged of our 300w inverter.But it is there if needed.Plus its that much quiter than non inverter types, worth the extra just for that.We set it up under the camper(day use only) and really its just a quiet humm.Parks that dont normally let you use gennys have told us we can use it no worries of a day.
Id rather listen to the gentle humm of a genny that someone's crap music blearing away anyday.
AnswerID: 417643

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 11:12

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 11:12
"A 50 AH battery or sometimes even smaller is sufficient recharged by a 40 watt solar panel"

No, it's just so obviously not sufficient at all

As Crackles says, you definitely do need more battery capacity ($350) - not a $2,OOO genny, because you don't have enough battery capacity to be able to maintain the accessories you have now.

Maîneÿ . . .
AnswerID: 417644

Follow Up By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 11:48

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 11:48
Can be had for around $1000 for a 1kva Inverter genny now.
FollowupID: 687726

Reply By: Rangiephil - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 12:23

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 12:23
If you are game Supercheap have a Chinese inverter for about $500.

In preference I bought a Yamaha 600W non inverter second hand hardly used for $300 on Ebay. It weighs 25Kg instead of an inverter at 13Kg but for $300 I am willing to lug 10Kg. I have a 20W ( max for my 95AH AGM) 240 volt 3 stage charger .
Have never used yet but should only take a few hours to give a high % recharge to the battery..

Regards Philip A
AnswerID: 417651

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 13:31

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 13:31

Unless you are also running a fridge, your present system may be adequate for your purposes, provided the battery can be charged from the vehicle. As others have said, more battery capacity is very desirable, but recharging by something other than the solar panel will also be required. The cheapest generator is the one already fitted to the engine. For a small system, I'd put in a small dc-dc charger (ABR Sidewinder is a commercial member of ExplorOz and offer a 7A battery to battery charger that might be ok, though a bit on the small side - talk to Derek at ABR) to charge the auxilliary battery, arranged so it is only connected when the engine is running - maybe just connect to the auxilliary circuit. On days you're not travelling, run the engine on fast idle for an hour if the sun isn't shining. If you run a fridge, ignore everything I've said here!

Generators - You are absolutely correct about the pure sine wave ones having to run at 3000 rpm (that's 50 revs per second) to supply the 50 hertz mains frequency. Inverter types are pretty good and can run at lower speeds, but being high power switch mode gadgets they do have their own issues. I would avoid generators because of noise, smell, weight, and the impact on neighbours, which means they can't be used everywhere. Your electrical requirements are too low to justify one anyway.

I commend your use of all 12V power supplies for your gear. Easy, safe, and more efficient than using an inverter off the battery.

Finally, for a lot of relevant material, suggest have a look at our blog - Electricity for Camping.



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

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AnswerID: 417657

Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 14:59

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 14:59
I totally agree with John.

From your post, the only real need for the 50 Ah battery, is to run a light?
If you use something like a Versalite fluro, or similar, the amp draw is around 1 amp.
Or an Evakool Torpedo compact fluro draws around 1/2 amp.
In either case the 50 Ah battery is sufficient for your needs.

You should easily be able to recharge the battery from your vehicle alternator as well as the solar panel and therefore you do not need a generator to complicate your camping life.


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AnswerID: 417667

Reply By: Cruiser 2091 - Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 18:05

Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 18:05
Thanks to everyone who replied, your comments are really apprecated.

You have convinced me that I don't need a generator (which I don't like actually for all of the reasons you mentioned)
But having encountered times when I needed a little more than the solar could provide I thought that was my only option. (the laptop for my photography is the most power hungry device I have)

You guys however have enlightened me that there are a number of other better options. At the moment the car to car charger seems like a good option for my simple needs.

Thanks again
AnswerID: 417694

Follow Up By: paulnsw - Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 09:09

Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 09:09
Use Ctek D250S DC to DC charger with 6B&S cable. Ctek would be a better solar reg than you are presently using. The Ctek is MPPT and can give you up to 25% more charge from your solar panel
My laptop goes 6 hrs on battery and charge in the car if necessary when travelling.
FollowupID: 687846

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