Solar Vs generators

Submitted: Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 10:17
ThreadID: 84102 Views:4281 Replies:7 FollowUps:28
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One of the things do to convince myself to purchase camping gear is to to see if I can use it at home or for non camping situations.
I am currently converting all my outside home lights to LEDs and solar including flood lights.
I have high powered LEDs which pull about 5 amps per hour and light up the yard like you would not beleive,
I also own a generator and when camping only take it.
when I upgrade the solare to a much larger system I will take it and leave the generator at home
With recent storms,floods and blackouts my thoughts are that one of the most important emergency items to own is a generator.
It could also charge you batteries if you run your camping fridge.
It would be able to run a mains fridge thus keeping food fresh no matter what time of day or cloud cover
In the above described conditions when your back up battery power ran out and you only had solar than I would consider solar to be useless unless it was sunny and if it was night than what else could you do.

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Reply By: vk1dx - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 10:30

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 10:30
Hi Honky

Firstly I wouldn't say "one of the most important emergency items to own is a generator". Never. We carry dried rations and a water container that is reserved for an emergency. We also have a satellite phone. A generator isn't an emergency item.

But I suppose it depends on what kind of camping. Some would say the beer getting cold is national disaster.

Anyway all jokes aside;

What is your question and what type of camping do you do?

AnswerID: 444136

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 10:57

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 10:57
And when the sat phone batteries run flat with the vehicle batt dead waiting for the sun to shine the gen set comes into its own ,,,,,, not always just about camping but having a backup for when the primary system fails.
FollowupID: 716225

Follow Up By: sweetwill - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 11:25

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 11:25
alloy c/t.
Mate when it comes to a backup for the backup ill give the game away cheers bill.
FollowupID: 716232

Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 11:34

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 11:34
Now way. I want another backup. I am looking for a mirror that knows morse code and a translator so that I can signal the non english speaking aeroplane pilot to send more beer.

Anyone know where I can get two? One is a spare.

FollowupID: 716233

Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 11:45

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 11:45
Just joking before but seriously:

Alloy c/t:

As a test I ran the fridge ran for four days non stop last year on the car's batteries before the battery monitor switched it off. The car still started easily. Then with a week's worth of dry rations and water I do not believe we need a generator.

The sat phone is never switched on. It's just for an emergency. We do not worry about what goes on at home. The boys are old enough (35+) to look after themselves. So no calls = lots of time in the phone battery. Plus a solar panel for the phone.

Still don't need a genny.

FollowupID: 716236

Follow Up By: Honky - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 11:52

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 11:52
Just an open discussion due to the disasters in Qld.
They are talking about the 1,000"s of homes without power and they expect to be off grid for up to a week.
Thats a lot of food spoilage
If this is the case than there may be food shortages or dificulty in buying.

My prefered camping is bush and and away from other people as much as I can.
I have a camper trailer and along with the generator am self sufficent.
I have have petrol stoves and lighting so carry fuel is not an issue.
I also run two fridges.
My next purchase will be a solar panel of around 120 to 180 watt

FollowupID: 716238

Follow Up By: OREJAP - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 12:12

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 12:12
G'day vk1dx, I think in an earlier post you mentioned that you have a L/cruiser & $15,000 worth of extras fitted....out of interest you must have a very good set up. Hopefully my question is on topic & you can answer. I know I shouldn't assume but for the exercise I shall. If you have a turbo cruiser 2 X batteries to start it under all circumstances as standard set up by Toyota. It will require 24 volts to start car. Does your battery management system turn everything off prior to the batteries getting below 12 volt each? Opps second question. Do you have more than two batteries fitted?. I think if I ran my Engel for 4 days non stop 120 AH Deep cycle battery would be well below 12 volts. This battery would not start my vehicle. Why I ask is, I left my key on accessories for a day & fridge ran off aux battery which had 11 volts...diesel would not start.....started Honda 2 & in a couple of hours both batteries good car started...cannot acheive that with solar panels in that time.
FollowupID: 716243

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 12:41

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 12:41
A 100 ser Td DOESNT require two batteries to start it. The originals were only 400cca each and were installed worldwide for cold starting conditions in other countries.

A 650CCa battery will start it no trouble and most of us have split them and installed a pair of N70zzz or similar together with an isolator .

Also they were never 24 volts anyway they were connected pos-pos so were always 12 volts.

FollowupID: 716247

Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 12:56

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 12:56
That is the first time I have heard that the starter was 24 volts. I thought it was a 12V starter with the batteries in parallel. Interesting! Might look at that later. Makes it interesting for jump starting.

We have three batteries. The bonnet is a bit crowded but it fits. They are all the newish "Allrounder" ones. Not sure of the AH. Its supposed to be a combo deep cycle/crank type.

There isn't a battery management system. Its a big battery isolating switch just like my son has in his race car that switches the third battery into or out of circuit.

The fridge runs off a circuit, with fuse of course, that comes directly off the "third" battery. It does not go through any accessories switch nor the "isolating" switch. The UHF radio and some extra 12V outlets also run off the same circuit.

Just as I would do in the bush the "fridge" battery was disconnected from the others on day three.

FollowupID: 716250

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 13:06

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 13:06
It isnt 24 volt Read my reply above.

Also it is NOT recommended that you charge batteries DIRECTLY off a gennie

A battery charger is a better option between the gennie and the battery.

FollowupID: 716253

Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 13:16

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 13:16
Hi Graham

I was writing at the same time as you and did Google search on the 12V starter. Hmmm.

He may have a charger installed under the bonnet. I saw one in a car up at Wonga Wonga QLD (may not be there now) in the caravan park. Couldn't figure out what all the coloured lights were so I asked him. Just plugs into any 240V outlet and it charges the battery and thereby runs the car electrics (read accessories) as well. Interesting.

FollowupID: 716255

Follow Up By: OREJAP - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 13:51

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 13:51
Sorry gents about my lack of knowledge regarding the LC (Whatever series) I was only asking a question on the assumption of twin batteries & probably didn't explain & or word it properly. A few years ago I had flat battery in Pajero & due to poor installation by an auto electricion both batteries were flat. When the RACV came to jump start me he made a remark that he was or I was fortunate that it wasn't a cruiser because they use two batteries to start them & I think due to the motor's compression. I know Jackaroo relies on twin batteries & oil circulation to start but I know bleep about the mighty Toyota product....hence my question & I should have stated that I NEVER use Generator battery charge system always use Projecta 15amp or a 20 amp C-Tek which I unscrew from camper & put next to on red terminal black on black terminal & I also have genny running first rather than connect everything & go for start up!!!
FollowupID: 716262

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 14:05

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 14:05
Glad the sparky doesnt work on my car.

Toyota put the two in for countries like Japan which is cold (Especially ATM)

See pic of son Image Could Not Be Found

They were only small and low CCA so is pretty easy to stick two big ones in and split them.

I have as well installed a relay so that both come in when starting.

Easy to do.

Yes always best to impart plenty of info LOL

FollowupID: 716266

Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 14:25

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 14:25
All's cool guys. Phew that pun smells!!! Couldn't help it.

Hey it gets cold here also. I am in Canberra and we get snow a bit. Especially on the mountains all around us. I run alpine diesel for the winter months unless I am takinga trip up north.

Have a good day

Check out the video. Be patient it does get there: Raiders Vs Tigers 2000 at Canberra Stadium

FollowupID: 716269

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 12:01

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 12:01
Private 2nd hand import Nissan patrols and Landcruisers late 80s vintage Japanese specs were 24volt.
FollowupID: 716401

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 12:28

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 12:28
If you read my posts we were discussing 100 ser from 1998 onwards.

vk1dx also has a 100 ser same as mine.

FollowupID: 716408

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 16:54

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 16:54
Actually the post has nothing to do with landcruisers be it 60/80 or 100 series , the post is about a gen set versus solar setup in the current climate of usefullness , genset can be used any time power is needed , solar and battery bank wont help you much in a cyclone and associated weather systems for very long , no sun = no power.
FollowupID: 716451

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:01

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:01
Get your terminology correct before bouncing people.

The THREAD is about Gen vers solar

My POST was about Landcruisers.

Get it.

FollowupID: 716452

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:08

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:08
To be pedantically correct It was my "Follow ups" that were about Landcruisers,

In answer to a"REPLY" to the"THREAD"

FollowupID: 716454

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:13

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:13
This post has been read by the moderation team and has been moderated due to a breach of The Foul Language Rule .

Forum Moderation Team
FollowupID: 716456

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:24

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:24
Obviously as usual you are out to stir as much as you can.

I was answering Followup number 6 from OREJAP.

I was correcting an error in his post.

I really couldnt care less which is more important I was not answering to the thread.

Also you were contributing to the "pedantic ravings" by mentioning old Nissans and 80 series which contributed nothing to the thread at all, as do most of your posts.

FollowupID: 716458

Follow Up By: Alloy c/t - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:33

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:33
Rather typical of you Graham ,moving a subject away from its actual intention , the subject being NOT 12v or 24v landcruisers but the advantages of a gen set compared to a camping style solar system in the current climate of disasters of flooding and cyclones , what is of more benifit , a camping style of solar system or a gen set that can will keep a goodly part of you house running , bang for $$$$$ and usefullness = genset.
FollowupID: 716459

Follow Up By: ModSquad - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:36

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:36
Alloy c/t you dont need to comment or stir up trouble worrying about what the thread or post is about, you yourself mentioned voltages in Nissan Patrols, and if you were so concerned about "sticking to the topic" then please practise what you preach.

Please take this as a warning.

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FollowupID: 716460

Reply By: Rockape - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 12:30

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 12:30
I have a small EU 20i Honda genset which I mainly use when we lose power has been happening every year. We lost power yesterday around 1.30 in the morning and all I was interested in was stopping the tucker going off. I carried over to 2 of my neighbours and kept their fridges and freezers cold as well.
We also have enough food for over a week in our cyclone pack but that is for dire straits use only.

Solar is good but we all know what happens without sunshine. I do have a small solar setup 160w that will run my trailblaza so a combo of the 2 covers most bases.

Many of the people to the north won't get power back for weeks and with the of high temps nothing will keep for long, maybe we will have to bring back corned meat and the meatsafe.

Have a good one
AnswerID: 444143

Reply By: OREJAP - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 13:35

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 13:35
G'gay Honky, If you wish to view your genny as one of the most important emergency items then fair enough. IMHO for the $$$ involved in solar panels & other situations involved with them like the weather....if it's overcast for a week no sun!!! hmmmm!! I chose to put my hard earned cash into a Honda 2. It is not affected by the weather & powers everything. The Honda is pure sine wave & therefore safe to run every appliance you have plus able to charge your batteries. I use a Projecta 15amp powered by the genny. Solar panels can be very expensive & some do not live up to the sales pitch that sellers (especially overseas compnies) claim. Anyway that's my opinion. I wouldn't leave the Honda home & take solar again that's my opinion.
AnswerID: 444157

Follow Up By: Galloping Tortoise - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 14:09

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 14:09
Hear hear OREJAP!
We (Sioux/peter) spent 4 mths outback Qld (July-Oct 2010) with dual fixed 80watt solar panels and a 1.8Kva genny. With approx 1mth of sunshine in that time we would have been lost without our genny. Our house batts (2x6volt,220Ah deep cycle) where ok when driving, being charged via a 75Amp Anderson plug from the vehicle alternator, but when we where trapped by flood water at Noccundra (great pub), and Birdsville races with no sun, had to run genny. Also on getting out of Birdsville via Bedourie-Boulia we bottomed out when crossing flooding rivers and sprung the front c'van frame from the chassis. Out came the genny, powered up my drill and metal nibbler, re-attached frame to chassis and away we went. Solar panels are great if its sunny but if over caste forget them. Also if you need instant 240VAC power for an emergency!...not for use in parks etc..... but as we have a Wolfhound/Ridgeback we don't go there but bush camp on our own or with other dog/gen owners (try the free camp at Longreach on the river)
FollowupID: 716268

Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 14:29

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 14:29
Thats why you have a generator. We don't have a van or trailer. They restrict us going where we want to. Makes sense now what you were saying. We very rarely stay in one place more than one night. Thus no need at all for a generator. Too noisy anyway. I want to hear the bush.

FollowupID: 716270

Reply By: Motherhen - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 15:16

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 15:16
Hi Honky

We use solar when caravanning, and with a bank of panels, we have more power than we need even in cloudy and wet weather. In the hot tropics, solar and batteries are not as efficient, but not enough of a problem for us to need to supplement with the genny. We are fairly low power users when camping.

At home our Honda 2i genny gets far more use at home during long power failures. We have two fridges and a chest freezer, and rotate them for one hour each until bed time, then the genny goes off until morning. At the same time as a fridge, it will run small items like aquarium pumps, reading light, radio and UHF base, and do it all on eco setting. Communications are important in emergency situations. We have not tried it on the water pumps, as we believe they would be too much for it. If used only at home and needed for the water, a bigger genny would be better, however this is a dual purpose lightweight unit that comes with us but rarely gets used when travelling.


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AnswerID: 444179

Reply By: kevmac....(WA) - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 18:24

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 18:24
being a novice i am now totally confused !!!! will keep reading with interest tho' !
AnswerID: 444203

Follow Up By: Member - Duke (TAS) - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 22:09

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 22:09
Get used to being totally confused on most info on this site. Has gone down hill big time in the last couple of years re advice. I honestly don,t know how some posters can drive from one side of town to the other with-out getting in trouble. Good entertainment value though.
FollowupID: 716340

Follow Up By: Bonz (Vic) - Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:40

Saturday, Feb 05, 2011 at 17:40
Geez Duke, as with all stuff you read you have to take it all in and sort the chaff from the wheat. This place is no different. Except the entertainment, youre spot on there mate!
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FollowupID: 716461

Follow Up By: Member - Duke (TAS) - Sunday, Feb 06, 2011 at 20:34

Sunday, Feb 06, 2011 at 20:34
No worries Bonz,just my thoughts but as we both agree, good entertainment.
FollowupID: 716596

Reply By: Member - Porl - Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 23:08

Friday, Feb 04, 2011 at 23:08
What are the LED's that light up your back yard? Are the LED floodlights and if so what rating are they?

Phillips are marketing 4 x 120w LED floodlights with battery and pole and solar panel in Africa to communities to have 60m x 40m football games, so I am on the cusp of importing a 150W LED floodlight as a sample to test to maybe get 4 to light up the other side of my local football field. I mean 4 x 150W and my 1Kw Yamaha will be just ticking over. We don't have access to mains power on the other side and we want to have night games.
AnswerID: 444239

Follow Up By: Honky - Monday, Feb 07, 2011 at 10:13

Monday, Feb 07, 2011 at 10:13
I am using two 24 watt lights along with a 5 metre strip lights.
This would be the most I would go as it needs run off a deep cycle battery that is charged by a solar panel.
A 120 w LED must be impressive.
One of the concerns I had in setting up the system is to have it high enough so it does not shine in your eyes as powerfull LED's are blinding.

FollowupID: 716632

Reply By: Busy Bee - Monday, Feb 07, 2011 at 01:01

Monday, Feb 07, 2011 at 01:01
I just found out thanks to Yaris that my Engel will run three days on the 100 a/h battery and probably would have gone another day but the power is back on. The battery got down to 11.8 volts and I was going to swap for the boat battery when it dipped below 11 volts. Unfortunately as you surmised the solar panel was not much help with only about three hours of decent sunlight in that time.
It meant being able to keep some essentials cool and I don't mean beer, had to scrounge around for ice for that. Had we lived in Cardwell or Tully there would have been no chance of ice.
Last July we went to the Cape and it was uncharacteristically cloudy for the time of year. Not having a dual system, I used the 100 a/h battery by night and took the Engel with us by day on side trips to run off the car battery when we weren't actually travelling. That worked OK.
I am trying to avoid a generator for space/weight reasons but it certainly would have been handy at home these last couple of days keeping the freezer alive.
But then the last cyclone that gave us an outage of more than 24 hours was Winifred in 1986.
As I said in a post about something else, it's all a compromise between wants and budget and expected usage.
AnswerID: 444475

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