Inverter Generators

Question

Camping is always an adventure. Even if you end up going to the same campground every single time or you venture out to find new ones with each trip. You never truly know what each camping trip will bring. I’ve always enjoyed camping as it allows you to get away from it all. It allows you to take a step back and rest. Camping has changed a lot in the past twenty years or so though. In the past all you really needed to bring with you was the bare essentials. There wasn’t need for a power source out there at the campsite unless you had an RV or camper with you.

However in the world we have today nearly everyone has a smart phone. Nearly everyone has a laptop for work. These require power. Heck, maybe you even want to bring your Keurig with you. Whatever kind of electronic or appliance you decided to pack with you will require power. Now in some cases folks will use their car’s battery to recharge their phones. But, what do you do if you have multiple phones with you or you have other devices to charge or power?

Some people may look at purchasing a power inverter that converts your car’s DC energy over to AC energy. This would allow you to essentially plug-in devices into your car such as a laptop charger or a coffee maker. However, the big downside here is that this WILL drain your car’s battery. If left plugged in for a decent amount of time you could end up with a dead car battery. This definitely something you want to avoid when camping in the wilderness…especially if your phone dies to. It will be difficult to find someone to give you a jump.

The other more realistic option here is to look at purchasing a portable generator. Generators can provide you with that needed power source without the risk of draining your car’s battery. They come in a variety of sizes as well so you can truly pick the right generator for you and everything that you need to power. The other day I wrote an article that goes in-depth on what size generator that you need for camping. It can be found by clicking here. I highly suggest reading it to familiarize yourself with generators.

There a third option here that can provide you with power and is overall friendly to the environment. Solar. Yes, there are portable solar systems that people can setup either for their campers or even if they are just using a tent. One such example of these can be found by clicking here. This model provides you with only eighty watts, but it gets the job done if you all you need to do is charge your phones or laptop. Just note that solar panels are not always the most reliable and that you need direct sunlight for it to work. Overcast or rainy days may prove difficult to charge your phone.

Conclusion

So folks in conclusion there are a few different ways that you can obtain electricity during your camping trips. Out of the three options I gave you above the best bet is going to be using a generator. They are reliable and can provide you with ample power. There is no risk of draining your vehicle’s battery and stranding yourself. There is no risk of the sun being blocked out. Generators also can provide you with as much power as you need whereas a solar system is going to have it’s wattage limits capped.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

I remember when I was a child my family and I would go camping nearly every weekend during the summer. We lived about an hour outside of Flint, Michigan and each Friday we would pack up the car and start driving. Most of the time we ended up crossing the border into Canada, finding a good beach, and setup camp. Fires would be made. Hot dogs cooked. Even cherry pie made using those cast iron pie makers. It was an overall a good time and memories that will stay with me.

I haven’t gone camping in quite a while and when we were doing our Canadian camping trips cell phones, internet, or any of that was not around. There wasn’t much need for electricity out in the wilderness. In today’s world though things have changed. Nearly all of us have smart phones. Heck my ninety year old grandfather is on his iPhone all day long. Along with phones many of us have laptops we haul around with us for work. These require power.

Even though the point of camping is to get away from it all many folks find that difficult. Many of us still want to be connected while we are enjoying nature. Depending on how long you are camping these electronic devices we bring with us will eventually need to be charged. Now there are a couple ways to do this. In many cases your car’s battery can charge your smart phone. You just have to be careful not to drain your battery. If you end up having multiple phones to charge, or a computer, or other devices or appliances that need power then your car’s battery is not going to cut it. You do not want to risk it either with your car’s battery as having a dead battery in the wilderness will not be a good time.

You need a portable generator. Generators do just what the name suggests, they generate power. They can provide you with the needed power to power your phone, your computer, maybe even your hair dryer or coffee maker. Generators come in all different sizes ranging from a thousand watts all the way up to twelve-thousand watts or higher. If your camping trip consists of a tent, sleeping bags, your phone, and a laptop then a small generator will cover you. But, if you are taking a camper with you that has an air conditioner, microwave, coffee maker, and everything else then a generator will still get the job done for you. You will just need a larger model.

It is all a matter of wattage. I won’t get into sizing your generator in this article, but just yesterday I wrote a fairly in-depth article about selecting the right size of generator for your camping trips. It goes into finding the various wattage requirements and also a look at different considerations that should be made such as weight, noise, price, and fuel types. I highly suggest reading it to learn more about the topic.

Conclusion

So folks to wrap this article up the answer is that it really depends on you and what you want out of your camping trip. If you wish to disconnect yourself entirely and only bring the bare essentials with you then a generator is most likely not even needed. Leave your phone in the car and charge when you drive home. Enjoy nature and enjoy the isolation. However, if that is not what you are looking for and you still want to catch up on emails/news and have a warm cup of coffee in the morning then you will need a generator.

If you do decide that you need a generator then we recommend taking a hard look at this two-thousand watt model from WEN. It is an inverter generator which means that it runs very quiet and can last for around ten hours on a quarter load. So, if you wish to charge that phone, computer, and make some coffee in the morning this would be your generator. If you are wishing to run a camper though with air conditioning or other appliances you will need a larger wattage generator such as this thirty-five hundred watt model from Generac. Both of these generators are great options but to get a more personalized approach I suggest reading our article we referenced above. This article will break things down further and allow you to pick just the right generator for your needs.

I hope this article was helpful and able to answer any questions that you had. Lastly, please note that this article is intended to give advice and informational value only. We here at ToughAssTools are not liable for any damage when it comes to using generators rather it be personal, injury, or property.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools

Question

I remember in the late 1980’s when I was a child and living in Michigan about a half-hour from Flint. We didn’t live in the big city but we were still in a neighborhood and surrounded by other homes. During the summer months my parents would pack us up and hit the road. We wouldn’t stop driving until we made it into Canada. Once there we would find a decent spot along the shores of Lake Huron and setup camp. We would never stay too long, maybe a day or two but these types of trips I will always remember even to this day.  Camping can be liberating. It gives you the freedom to get away from it all and it also allows you to get in touch with nature which so little of us do.

In today’s world many folks enjoy camping just as we did… but they also do not like being completely out of touch. Or, they do not like giving up ALL of their creature comforts. These could be just the ability to charge your smartphone or your laptop. Or, it could be a bit more where you want to make yourself a pot of coffee in the morning. Whatever the reason is there is more and more a need for power in the camping world of today.

Now depending on how much power you need some campers will opt for using the battery in their vehicle to charge phones or other devices. Maybe they even have a power inverter to power some of the different appliances. The downside, as you can imagine, of using your car’s battery is that you can drain it. If you do end up draining it you could end up with a dead battery at your camp site with no way to get back to civilization.

I do not recommend using this approach. While it may get the job done there is risk involved. Instead, I suggest looking into purchasing a portable generator. A generator will give you that needed power but will not end up stranding you at the camp site. Generators also come in many different sizes so you could power as much or as little as you want.

Sizing A Generator

While generators are a great fit when it comes to powering your electronics and appliances during a camping trip it can be confusing to know exactly what size generator you will need. Generators come in sizes ranging from one-thousand watts all the way up to twelve-thousand watts and higher. The range can be a bit staggering. Luckily, identifying what size you need is a relatively simple process.

In order to size your generator correctly you need to first determine what you are needing to power. Obviously, the more appliances you wish to power the higher your wattage demands will be. We can give you some basic estimates here though. Let’s say you only need to power a few smartphones and your laptop. Since this is a relatively small load you can most likely get away with a one-thousand to two-thousand watt generator.

However, if you wish to power more appliances such as a camping stove, coffee maker, hair dryer, or perhaps even an air conditioner if you have a small camper with you then you are going to need a generator between three to four-thousand watts. In some cases you may need to go up to five-thousand watts if you wish to power all of these at the same time. Chances are though that you will be just fine with a two to three-thousand watt generator.

To know for sure what size is needed you will need to determine the wattage that each appliance/electronic uses and then add them all up for a final wattage number. If you are unable to find the wattage listed on the appliance you are looking at then you can determine it yourself. All you need to do is find the volt amount and the amperage amount and then multiply them together. The volt amount is very easy to find. This is the type of plug-in that the appliance plugs in to. In most cases this will one-hundred and ten volts (This is the standard plug-in). The amperage required should be labeled on the appliance or electronic you are wishing to power. For an example let’s say we want to determine the wattage for a coffee maker. The amperage states 6.5 and the volt amount is the standard 110. So, 110 * 6.5 = 715 watts. Now that you know how to calculate the wattage it is time to add up the wattage of everything you wish to power.

There is one more thing to keep in mind here and that is the difference between starting watts versus running watts. Some appliances, usually the larger ones, will have what is known as starting watts and running watts. A great example of this type of machine is the air conditioner. Air conditioners require a surge of power when they are powered on. This surge of power starts the compressor and other components within the machine. To do this the air conditioner will need a much higher starting watt number, but once the machine has started the surge goes away and the air conditioner transitions to what is known as running watts.

If you have a machine you wish to power that has starting or surge watts then you MUST include the starting watts number in your calculation. If you do not then you will not be able to start the machine. Now, if you are on a budget some folks will plug-in the appliance that uses surge watts first. They’ll let it run for a bit so that the starting watts have gone away and then they’ll plug in the rest of the appliances they wish to power. This is kind of a work around to get the power you need… but I still recommend purchasing a larger generator to cover for the surge watts.

Generator Considerations

Now that we understand what size of generator you need for camping we should also look at a few considerations and options of these generators. While there are a variety of options out there for generators there are only about three or four main factors to review before purchasing. The first question I have to ask is will noise be an issue to you? A standard portable generator can produce noise while running that ranges from seventy to one-hundred decibels. That can be as loud as a lawn mower running close by. If you are camping this noise may disturb the nature that you are trying to enjoy.

There is another option though that has a much quieter operating volume. Inverter generators have a decibel ranging from fifty to seventy decibels. If you find one under sixty decibels then you are looking at about the sound of a dishwasher running nearby. As you can imagine, that is much quieter then a lawn mower. Inverter generators are a variation of your standard generators. The main difference is that a standard model has two completely separate components: The engine and the alternator. The engine produces the mechanical energy and the alternator converts that mechanical energy to electrical energy. An inverter generator works the same way, the only difference is that with inverters the engine and alternator are not completely separate. In fact they share a lot of components. This results in less moving parts and a much quieter operating volume.

Along with inverters performing quieter then standards you will also notice that they are significantly lighter. Again, this is due to it leveraging shared components between the engine and alternator. Now size of the generator may not be an issue for you if you only need a few thousand watts but as your wattage goes up so does the weight of the generator. Having an inverter generator can not only keep things quiet but also save your back when moving the unit around.

There is a downside to inverter generators though folks and that is cost. As you can imagine inverter models are much more expensive then your standard generators. This is where the decision falls to you. Ultimately, they both produce energy. It all boils down to do you want to spend more money and have quieter and lighter generator? Or, are you OK with a louder model and saving some cash?

Rather you decide on a standard or an inverter model there are still a few more factors to weigh. One of these is run time. How long do you need your generator to run? Is it just for an hour or two to give you a charge on your phone or computer? Or, do you need an extended run time? When looking at generators this should be one of the features you review. Not all generators are created equal and some may be able to run for a few hours while others can go for eight or ten hours. Be on the look out for run times when shopping.

The last option to look over is what fuel type you want for your generator. There are three main fuel types that generators use today. The most efficient and the cleanest burning is going to be diesel. Diesel is widely regarded as the best option when it comes to generators. The downside is it can be harder to find and it typically costs more then standard gasoline. Unleaded gasoline is another fuel source. It is not as efficient as diesel and it burns dirty. The upside is that it is easily found anywhere and is applicable to nearly every other machine out there including your vehicle. The last fuel option to look at is liquid propane also known as LP. This is the same propane that you would use for your grill or other applications. Propane is by far the most environmentally friendly fuel to burn when running a generator. It is not however the most efficient and can shorten run times. It can also be difficult to find at times. If it was me folks I would opt for the diesel option. It is tried and true and you know exactly what you’re getting.

Conclusion

As you can see there are quite a few options and varieties when it comes to selecting a generator. If you are looking for just a basic camping generator though then I am going to recommend this fifteen-hundred watt model from WEN. It will provide you with enough basic power for charging your phone, some lights, and other small things. It is priced competitively as well. This is a standard generator though and it can be loud. If you are looking for the quieter approach then I recommend this two-thousand watt inverter generator model from WEN. It operates extremely quiet at only fifty-one decibels. This is about the sound of a conversation being held nearby.

I hope this article was helpful and able to answer any questions that you had. Lastly, please note that this article is intended to give advice and informational value only. We here at ToughAssTools are not liable for any damage when it comes to using generators rather it be personal, injury, or property.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools

Generators are a great tool to have with you in case of emergencies. They can give you that much needed power source during a power loss event. They can also be helpful if you are on a camping trip or perhaps just having an outside event where you need some lights or other things powered. Whatever your reason is for using a generator there are always questions that come up with their use. In today’s article we are going to look at one of those questions: What kind of gasoline do generators use?

Before I answer this question we first have to determine what kind of fuel your generator is taking. Not all generators use gasoline. In fact usually only the smaller sized models end up using gasoline. The larger models will use diesel. You may also find some liquid propane models out there as well. However, if you discover that the generator you are looking at does use gasoline then we can look into this question further.

Now when it comes to generators the first thing I am going to say is to consult your owner’s instruction manual. Each generator is different and it is impossible for me to tell exactly what make and model you are looking at. The owner’s manual is always your safest bet. That being said, I can make a generalized recommendation. In most cases it is recommended to use unleaded gasoline with a level eighty-five octane or higher. However, you may not even be able to find an eighty-five octane as this can be rare in some states. You are perfectly fine to use eighty-seven octane as well. This is the standard gasoline that you will find across the country. Generators typically use the lower octane gasoline rather then the higher. They also prefer ethanol free gasoline but in some cases they can take blends up to E-10… but again, check your owner’s manual.  There is no special generator gasoline on the market. It is the same type of gasoline that you put into your vehicle.

When working with generators there are a variety of safety concerns that need to be taken into consideration. I won’t go into all of them here, but I would recommend you check out our generator safety guide by clicking this link. When it comes to refueling your generator you should ALWAYS ensure that the generator is off and has been off for at least a few minutes before you try to refuel. A good rule of thumb is to see if the generator is hot to the touch. If it is then wait a bit longer before refueling.

Lastly, please note that this article is intended to give advice and informational value only. We here at ToughAssTools are not liable for any damage when it comes to using generators rather it be personal, injury, or property.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools

Question

Generators can be used in a variety of applications. It could be that you are out on a camping trip and need to power your phone and computer. Or, you are RVing across the country and need to recharge your batteries. Or, you are at home with your family and your power goes out during an ice storm. Whatever the situation is your generator will be there and be able to provide you with that much needed power.

There is a surplus of options and features when it comes to generators. They can range from one-thousand watts all the way to fifteen-thousand watts. Some are quieter then others. Some are bulky and difficult to move where others can be picked up and carried with you no problem. In the next few paragraphs we are going to focus on one particular feature of these generators and that is fuel.

A generator works very similar to how your car works. An engine is used to generate a mechanical force. This mechanical force is then converted over to alternating current (AC) energy. This AC energy is what is used to power your electronics, appliances, and your home. If you plug something into your home then you are using AC energy. Now because your generator produces power using an engine then it would only make sense that the engine needs a fuel source. With generators there are three main types of fuel that you can find.

  1. Diesel
  2. Liquid Propane (LP)
  3. Gasoline (Unleaded)

The most efficient and cleanest burning out of these three is diesel. There are no other contenders here. Diesel is by far the most recommended fuel source when it comes to generators. This is because it burns cleaner then gasoline and can actually produce more for your dollar then propane. There is a reason why diesel cars are a thing. They are overall more efficient then their gasoline counterparts. The downside of diesel is it can be harder to locate in some areas and it is overall more expensive then gasoline.

If you are not comfortable with diesel then my next suggestion is going to be unleaded gasoline. It is not as efficient as diesel but it is more efficient then propane. It can also be found nearly anywhere. Gas stations are a dime a dozen and can be found practically anywhere. It also can’t hurt to have some extra gasoline in storage with you during camping trips. You never know what is going to happen and you could use that gasoline for your generator or even for your vehicle. The downside with gasoline is it a ‘dirty’ burn and produces more pollution then diesel and propane.

If you are environmentally conscious then I would suggest looking at propane. Propane produces very little pollution but it is the least efficient of the three fuel types. Propane is a bit harder to find but still won’t be that bad. Most grocery stores will carry these containers without issue. This is the same propane tank that you would use for your grill. So again, if you are camping or even if you are at home during a power loss event you could realistically swap out the propane tank in your grill to be used in your generator.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

RVing across the country has always been a dream of mine. I am still quite a ways out from achieving that dream but I know that I will eventually get there. For those of you who are lucky enough to already be doing this I envy you. The world is open to you. All it takes is pointing to a map and driving. The freedom of it is enticing. Like with many things though it is not all fun and games. There are still many questions and topics to learn when it comes to caring, maintaining, and enjoying your recreational vehicle.

In today’s article we are going to take an in-depth look at one of these topics: Batteries. As you know your RV, or motor-home, comes with a battery or batteries. These batteries store direct current energy that power everything in your RV. This includes the lights, the radio, the refrigerator, and even your furnace. Without your batteries your RV loses all of its creature comforts. This is why it is so critical to watch the charge on your batteries and to ensure that they do not get to low. Most people recommend not letting the charge on your batteries drop below fifty percent. When your batteries do drop to that fifty percent threshold you need to know HOW to charge the batteries back up to ninety or one-hundred percent. Let’s take a look.

How to Charge the RV Batteries

RVs, or motor homes, can come with one battery or multiple. Along with that their location can vary by make and model. If you do not know where your batteries are stored please consult your owner’s manual, call a dealership, or worst case canvas around the outside of the vehicle until you determine where they are. Once you have found them then we can begin to look at how to charge them.

To understand how to charge your batteries we must first look at the various ways that your battery can be charged. Throughout my research I have found that there are four main ways to charge the battery. Now as I list these I am going to rank them from best to worst. Some of you may disagree with this ranking, but I believe it is well sourced.

  1. The RV’s Alternator
  2. Shore Power
  3. Generators – Built-Ins & Portable
  4. Solar Power

RV’s Alternator

The most common way to charge your RV’s batteries is the old-fashioned way by using the engine and the alternator. This is the way every vehicle on the road today produces power. The engine creates mechanical force which is converted over to electrical energy by the alternator. In essence your RV, or motor home, is no different then that of a standard car. They both have engines and alternators. The only real difference that you are going to see is that the size and number of batteries. The overall process remains the same.

Using the RV’s alternator to recharge your batteries is widely regarded as the best and most efficient. The alternator produces energy but it also produces direct current (DC) energy which is the exact same type of energy that is stored in your batteries. If you were to recharge your batteries using shore power or a generator then you would have to convert their alternating current (AC) power over to DC power by using a converter. With an alternator you get the DC energy upfront.

When charging your batteries with the alternator it is important to remember that the appliances and electronics that you have on during this time all consume battery power. The engine’s alternator provides DC power which is stored into the battery. This DC power is then converted to AC power using an inverter. The AC power is then used to power your air conditioner, furnace, refrigerator, etc. If you have too many appliances on you could actually end up draining your battery even while your engine in is running. This is why it is important to have most of these off during charging with your alternator. Many people will just turn their inverter off to prevent any battery drain. If you do choose to have appliances on during this time watch your battery’s charge percentage to ensure that it is not only moving upwards but it is at the right amount of speed. If it charging very slowly it may be time to turn off some appliances.

Like with anything, there are downsides to using the alternator charge method. The first is it can take a significant amount of time to get back up to full charge. If your battery is below forty percent you could be looking at eight, nine, or even ten hours to get a full charge. That eight hour window may not seem so bad if you are already on the road and are planning on a long road trip… but if you are staying still at a camp-site for a couple of days then you definitely do NOT want to idle your vehicle for eight hours at a time. So, while using the alternator is one of the most efficient ways to charge your batteries it is not ideal for everyone.

Shore Power

If you are going to be staying put at a camp-site or RV park then charging your batteries with your alternator is not an option for you. I know that you do not want to idle for hours on end and none of your camp site neighbors want that either. Now depending on the park you have chosen they can have what is known as ‘Shore Power.’ Shore power is just the RV term for a power source at one of these camp-sites.

If the camp site does have power it will either be a thirty or fifty amp outlet. The thirty amps are for smaller to medium sized motor homes whereas the fifty amp is for the larger models. Either way, it is a straight power source that will give you all the energy you need to power everything within the RV. This could be your furnace, air conditioner, refrigerator, computer, phones, coffee maker, and whatever other creature comforts that you have with you. NOTE that you can also hook your RV up to your home using a fifteen or twenty amp power outlet. This may take some configuration of your circuit board depending on your home.

The best part is that when you connect to these shore power systems your batteries will automatically begin to recharge themselves. This is done by converting the alternating current (AC) energy that you are receiving from the camp site over to direct current (DC) energy. This DC energy is then stored in your batteries. The downside when using shore power connection is that your charge to the batteries is limited by the capacity of your converter.

As we discussed earlier, the shore power connection gives you access to AC energy, but if your batteries hope to store that energy it needs to be converted over to DC energy. This is where your RV’s built-in converter comes into play. This is also where a possible bottle neck can occur. Your converter has a limitation of how many watts it can transfer from AC to DC at a time. The lower the limitation the longer the charge will take. You are essentially getting unlimited power from the shore connection but if your converter is bottle necked then you could still be looking at long recharge times.

As an example, if your battery’s charge is below fifty percent then you could be looking at over eight hours of charging to get you back up to one-hundred percent. Now, if you are staying at the camp site for a while this might not be a problem. This holds true if you are spending the night. Your batteries will charge overnight and there is no inconvenience. If that eight hour charge time proves to be too long there is another option. You can upgrade your converter. There are converter overhaul kits out there that when done can shrink that charge time down to just a couple of hours. One such example of these can be found on Amazon or by clicking here. Be aware though that these kits can cost upwards to three-hundred dollars. It is up to you if you want to invest to save the time or just wait it out each night for a full recharge in the morning.

Generators – Built-Ins & Portables

Generators rather they be built-in to your RV or are an outside portable unit work much the same as a shore power connection does. They provide alternating current (AC) power and have a thirty amp plug-in that allows you to connect your RV directly. Many motor homes nowadays come with built-in generators. These come in handy as you do not have to do any setup. They are already connected to your RV’s power system and they most likely already use fuel that is built in as well. Depending on the built-in they could use their own propane tank or they could use the same diesel/gasoline that your RV uses for its engine. They are also much quieter then a standard portable generator as they are shielded by an outside compartment in your RV which acts to muffle the noise.

The problem with built-in generators is that they come with the RV during the manufacturing process. What this means is that the built-in RV generator typically only comes with enough energy to power all of the stock features of your motor home. If your RV does not come with an air conditioner and you decided to purchase one then chances are you are going to exceed the wattage limit of your built-in generator. The same example can be said if you try to plug-in a bunch of extra appliances like a coffee maker, microwave, hair dryer, or computers. All of these require power and all of these add to your total power required.

If you are exceeding the power of your built-in generator you have a couple of options. The first is to find an alternative built-in generator that provides more power, that will fit in the same compartment, and that will connect properly. This can be easier said then done. Do some research yourself and also contact the dealer where you purchased the RV from. Chances are they do have recommended generators for power upgrades. The downside here is that this can be expensive. Most things are when going through dealerships. Trust me on this, as I have many years of experience working with dealerships.

The other option here is to go with a portable generator. The same can be said if your RV doesn’t even come with a built-in generator. Portable generators provide the same purpose and also have a variety of benefits over built-ins. Portable generators can be any size you want them to be. You can find some starting at around one-thousand watts all the way up to twelve or even fifteen-thousand watts. You will not want for power. They hook up just like your shore power or your built-in generator connection. You’ll also find that they are significantly cheaper then a built-in model. Our recommended portable RV generator is this model from Durostar. It provides over three-thousand watts and should be enough power for most applications.

The downsides here is that portable generators can be rather bulky, especially the higher up in wattage you go. In some cases they can easily be over one-hundred pounds. The good news is that these larger sizes do come with wheels. It will still be a burden though to haul one of these around with you during each camping trip. Another big downside of the portable solution is the overall noise they produce. In many cases camp sites have quiet areas or quiet times. These are times where portable generators cannot be run. This is done in an effort to preserve the serenity and nature of the camp site.  Some portable generator models can have decibel levels ranging from seventy to as high as one-hundred. They can be as loud as a lawn mower running next to you.

If noise is a problem for you there is an alternative portable type known as an inverter generator. These inverter generators are known to be super quiet. They have a decibel range between fifty to sixty. That can be similar to the sound of rainfall on the low end and about the sound of a dishwasher running on the high end. They are much quieter then your standard portable models. The downside to these inverter units though is their cost. Inverter generators can be significantly more expensive then standard portable units. Our typical recommended inverter generator is this model from Champion. It provides over three-thousand watts… but as you can see you are paying a premium for it.

Another important factor to consider is that when going with a portable generator over a built-in you need to consider what fuel source you will need. I mentioned earlier that lugging these generators around can be a hassle, especially on the larger models… well now you have to haul some fuel with you on top of the generator. The portable models will not use the same fuel that is built into your RV. Generators can handle a variety of fuel sources rather it be propane, gasoline, or diesel. Typically I like to recommend diesel as it is the most efficient and cleanest burning. Whatever fuel you decide on you should look at how long a gallon of fuel will last for your generator. This will give you an idea of how much fuel you need to have stored.

The last thing to mention when looking at portable generators is the size of the generator that you will need. If you purchase a size too small then you are not going to be able to power everything you wish. If you purchase something too large then you are going to be wasting power and fuel. Finding the right size is key. I wrote a separate article on sizing generators for your RVs which can be found by clicking here. I highly suggest reading through this article to ensure that you are buying the right sized generator for you and your RV.

Solar & Wind Power

Over the years solar power has become more and more popular. It is a green an energy efficient way to produce power. It also allows you to go truly off-grid when boon-docking. If you think about it even when you are relying on generators you are still reliant on having a constant fuel source of gasoline, diesel, or propane. With a solar system all you need is the sun. It truly gives you freedom to live that off-grid lifestyle.

These systems come with a set of solar panels which then feeds into what is known as an ‘Amp Controller.’ These are also called ‘Charge Controllers.’ These controllers prevent your batteries from overcharging. For those of you who do not know, overcharging can completely ruin your battery, so it is a good protection to have. When purchasing a solar system there are two types of controllers to choose from. The first is known as pulse width modulation charge controller (PWM) and the second is maximum power point tracking charge controller (MPPT). The MPPT is more efficient and the better choice over the two but it is more expensive, so it is a matter of preference.

Along with choosing what type of charge controller you want you also need to figure out what size charge controller  you need for your application. These sizes, or power levels, are calculated in amps. To successfully charge your batteries using solar power you need to ensure your charge controller has more amps then your solar panels and battery combined. To determine this all you need to do is divide the watts of your solar panel by the number of volts in your batteries. So, for an example let’s say you have 1 twelve volt battery and 100 watts solar panel. The formula becomes 100 watts / 12 volts = 8.33. So, by using that 8.33 number we know that our charge controller has to have amperage of 9 or above. If you had 2 twelve volt batteries then you would multiple the twelve volts to get a number of twenty-four volts and so on and so on.

While the 9 amp charge controller will get the job done in the above example it may be worth your time to invest in a larger charge controller in case you want to increase the wattage of your solar panel down the road. I’ve always been a firm believer that it is better to buy bigger with room to expand then to buy the smallest size and have to end up buying it all over again when it does come time to expand. In this example solar kit from Amazon we can see that it comes with one-hundred watt solar panels and a thirty amp charge controller. This gives you plenty of room to expand your solar panels if you wish to down the road.

There are even some folks out there that have opted for using wind turbines to power their motor-homes. These wind turbines work the same as the solar system. They come with a charge controller as well. The only real difference is that the turbine needs to be setup and they are NOT meant for travelling. Wind turbine power is something I would recommend if your RV is mostly stationary on your land. They are not legal to operate while driving and it can be a hassle to have to set them up each time you stop. This is why it makes the most sense if you are living out of your RV on your land. You also need to ensure that you have enough wind to support it.

Jumper Cables

Yes, yes I know I stated that there were only four ways to charge your batteries. The only reason I put it that way folks is that charging your battery with jumper cables  is not ideal. These are emergency measures if your battery is completely dead. If you do run into this situation you can jump charge your battery much the same way you would with any other vehicle. Park another vehicle close enough to your RV’s batteries where you can safely connect jumper cables. Connect the cables like normal, turn the vehicle on, and let the battery charge.

One thing to keep in mind here is that you should turn off ALL accessories on the RV. This means appliances, electronics, and even your inverter. Turn it all off as you do not want something draining your battery’s power while you are trying to jump it. Once you have the battery charged to a point where it is no longer dead then I recommend moving towards a more traditional charging method rather it be using the RV’s alternator, shore power, generator, or something else.

These traditional methods are tried and true and are best for your RV’s batteries. After all, if this was  regular vehicle you do not charge the batteries all the way to full when jumping your car. No, you give it enough juice from the other vehicle so that you can turn the thing on. Once it is on the alternator takes over and you are good to go. The same principle applies here. Get that initial charge and then move towards a more stable method.

Surge Protectors

Power spikes can be a problem rather you are using shore power, generators, solar power, or anything else. These power spikes can occur randomly and without warning. If left unchecked they can end up damaging the appliances and electronics within your RV. To protect against these power surges it is recommended that you insert a ‘Surge Guard’ between the power intake and your RV. This surge guard prevents the power spikes by only allowing continuous power into your RV. It acts as a guard or stopper and catches those power spikes before they get to your RV. Here at ToughAssTools we recommend this Surge Guard on Amazon. It has nearly five-hundred reviews with the majority being positive.

Conclusion

Well folks I believe we have covered nearly everything there is to know about charging your RV’s batteries. Overall, it is not too complex of a process if you stay on it. Just be sure to watch the charge percentage of your batteries and ensure that you do not drop below that fifty percent threshold. If you do find yourself dropping below fifty you should be OK in that forty to fifty percent range, although it is not ideal. Any lower and you can risk damaging the battery.

One more point I wanted to mention in this before closing the article is that in many cases it can take a significant amount of charge time to go from ninety percent to one-hundred percent charge. If you are pressed for time or just want to move on and not worry about charging you will be fine with that ninety percent number. It will save you time and still get the job done for you.

If you are still hungry for more information on this topic  than  I highly recommend the below articles from other websites. These links helped me a lot when researching for this article.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools.com

Question

It has always been a dream of mine to own an RV and travel across the country. Like many people I’m going to have wait on this dream until my kids are older and the wife and I can slip away for a few days at a time. Those of you who are lucky enough to cruise across the country stopping at your leisure I envy you. Such freedom. Being able to wake up each morning, point somewhere randomly on the map, and start driving.

It is not all fun and games though. There are always problems and hiccups that can occur when driving and camping in your motor home. One of the most common is not having a reliable power source when camping. Most camp sites nowadays have a RV thirty or fifty amp plug-ins available. When these are available it is as easy as plugging in and then you have power to run whatever you need within your RV rather it be your air conditioner, coffee maker, microwave, etc.

When you arrive at a campsite and discover that there is no plug-in, or if you decide to dry-dock it and camp in an off-grid manner then you are going to need an alternative power source. This is where generators come in handy. The generators, either built-in to your RV or a standard portable one, provide alternating current (AC) power to your RV. Most of the appliances in your RV require AC in order to function.

A common question though is will the generator also charge your RV’s batteries? The batteries in your RV are similar to your vehicle’s batteries. They provide you with the power to start the engine. They provide basic lights. With RVs they also provide some other basics such as water pump functionality and even a small television. But that is about all they can do. You need the generator or the plug-in to power the rest of your appliances.

With RVs and motor homes there are two types of power sources. We covered that generators/plug-ins create alternating current (AC) power. This is just like your home. Everything in your home uses AC to power it. This could be your furnace, air conditioner, refrigerator, water heater, etc. The other power source in RVs is known as direct current (DC) power. DC power is just like what you find in your personal vehicle. This is the power that is generated and stored in your vehicle’s batteries. If your batteries drain completely then you will not be able to start the motor home, just like what happens to a car.

The good news here is that most RVs come with what’s known as an inverter and a converter. The inverter converts the DC energy over to AC energy. The converter converts AC energy over to DC energy. SO, if you have your generator plugged-in and running then you are also generating DC power which in turns charges your batteries. The opposite is also true. If you are driving down the road then you will also have AC power based on the DC power inverting over to AC power.

These two power sources loop into each other so as long as you have one you have the other. That being said, DC power is significantly weaker then AC power. Remember, DC is only powered by your vehicle’s batteries. AC power is powered by either plugging your RV into a power source or by an actual generator. You will always have more power from an AC source. As an example, you could technically run an air conditioner using only your batteries… but your batteries would be drained after only an hour or two of use. If you had AC power then your air conditioner can run indefinitely or until your generator runs out of fuel.

Conclusion

In short folks, yes your RV’s batteries will be charged by your generator. They will also be charged if you are docked at a camp-site or RV park and plugged-in. Either way the batteries will be charged and ready to go for the next day’s journey. Lastly, please note that this article is intended to give advice and informational value only. We here at ToughAssTools are not liable for any damage when it comes to using generators rather it be personal, injury, or property.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools

Question

Hello folks and welcome to ToughAssTools.com. Today we will be doing another in-depth article on generators, only this time we will be focusing on recreational vehicles and motor homes. I love the idea of RVing across the country. My grandparents did in the 1990’s and my parents are doing it now. There is so much freedom involved in it. Every morning being able to wake up, point at a map, and start driving. Not having to be anywhere. Just enjoying the open schedule and the open road. I am definitely envious.

All that being said, it is not all glory when living in a motor home. One of the biggest challenges folks face is finding a source for power. Sure many campsites nowadays have the option to plug-in your RV but not all of them do. When you come across this situation how do you get power to your vehicle? How do your run your air conditioner or your furnace? Up until recently there was not a good answer for this problem.

Generators for recreational vehicles are still a relatively new concept. It originally started when recreationists started bringing more and more appliances from home. These could be toasters, coffee makers, hair dryers, computers, whatever. Each new appliances required more and more power. The batteries on these RVs could not keep up with the demand. This led to folks bringing in their own portable generators to campgrounds. This offered power but it also came with other problems. Portable generators are noisy and can be very disruptive when trying to enjoy the peacefulness of the campground. Another solution had to be created.

It was at this time that RV manufacturers begin including built-in generators with their models. These built-in models were insulated which caused a significant reduction in noise. This solved the noise pollution problem and made things a lot easier for novices to get power to their vehicle. In today’s world nearly every RV or motor home comes with a built in generator. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find one that does not come with one. In this article we’re going to take a look at exactly what the generator is used for and the various types that are out there today.

What is an RV Generator Used for?

Most recreational vehicles come with two electrical systems: Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). The AC system is what you normally find in your home whereas the DC is what is typically found in vehicles. The DC system runs off the batteries that come with your RV. DC power will provide you a basic source of power for things like lights, fans, water pump, and even your television. However, if you want to run larger appliances like a furnace or an air conditioner then you are going to need a source of AC power. When it comes to motor homes AC power comes from an outside source. This outside source could be you plugging your generator into an outlet at a rest stop/campsite… or if there is no plug-in available then from a generator.

The good news here is that the two AC and DC systems in your RV are connected to each other. So, if you are at a rest stop and have your RV plugged into an AC connection then your batteries, which provide the DC connection, are being charged automatically from the AC feed. The component that does this conversion from AC to DC is called a converter. There is also an inverter that comes with most RVs that converts DC over to AC. SO, it is possible to run your furnace or air conditioner using only your batteries… it just won’t last very long without a direct AC power source.

When camping most folks use what’s known as ‘Shore Power.’ Shore Power is just a fancy name for plugging your RV directly in at a camp site or other rest stop facility. These plug-ins are typically thirty amp or fifty amp. They will provide you with plenty of AC electricity to power whatever you need rather it be your air conditioner, furnace, refrigerator, television, etc. When you approach a campsite that does NOT have a plug-in connection though is when generators come into play.

A generator accomplishes the same thing that as Shore Power does. It provides you with a continual source of alternating current power. This power allows you to have all of the comforts at home while travelling and it also charges your batteries so you have DC power for when you put the generator away. Generators can provide a lot of comfort to those of you on the road, but they can also be quite intimidating. There are a lot of factors and options to consider when looking at generators. Let’s look at some of them now:

Permanent VS Portable

As I had mentioned in a previous section there are two different types of generators that you can use with your RVs or motor homes.  Nowadays many newer RVs come with built-in generators. These are located outside of your RV in their own compartment. In many cases the compartments are insulated so that the noise of the generator is reduced significantly. A generator out in the open can be extremely loud. Their average decibel volume ranges from seventy all the way up to one-hundred. This could be as loud a lawn mower running next to you. It definitely kills the mood of the campsite.

The generators built-in to the RVs are known as permanent generators. They are not meant to be removed from the unit and used for other purposes. They are stationary and serve only one purpose which is providing power to your RV. These are the easiest generators to work with as everything is done for you. The downside with these units is that they can be expensive. Many cases RV OEMs require specific brands and types of generators to be used. This can result in an expensive repair or replacement bill. In most cases you’ll have to go to the dealer to get it repaired as well.

The other major downside to built-in generators is their size. These generators are sized to handle the exact amount of power of the appliances that come standard with your RV. There is going to be some buffer room there but in most cases if you try to add a significant amount of additional appliances/electronics then your RV’s generator will NOT be able to handle them due to you exceeding the wattage limit.

It is important to note that these permanent generators are found in motor homes but not in towable campers. There may be the occasional instance where you find a generator on a camper but the camper would also have to have a fuel tank added to leverage the generator. A motor home, or RV, leverages the existing fuel tank to power the generator. So, if you own a camper or an RV that either doesn’t have a built-in or the built-in generator no longer works then you need an alternative solution.

This my friends is where the trusty portable generator comes into play. Portable generators give you the flexibility to provide power wherever you want without the restraint of a limited power supply that a built-in has. While you can have ‘unlimited power’ these portable units come with a host of downsides. The biggest con to these units is the noise. In many cases campsites will ban portable generators if they are TOO loud. Remember earlier how I mentioned that they can be as loud a a lawn mower? If you do opt to go with a portable generator you should research inverter generators. I’ll get into these in our next section.

The other major downsize to these portable generators is that you now have one more thing to pack with you when you go RVing. Portable generators can quite heavy as well. In some cases they could be over one-hundred pounds AND they will need their own fuel supply as well. This can take up needed space and also end up being a hassle to set up as you have to lug around that generator to get sufficiently far away enough from the RV. (Remember, these are engines and they produce carbon monoxide.)

Inverter Generators

The noise of the product will have to be a consideration when looking at generators. You’ll notice that when looking at generators there is a decibel rating on the units. The higher the decibel the louder the machine will be when running. Ideally, you would want one under seventy decibels. This would be the about the sound of a dishwasher running in your kitchen. You can find some as low as fifty or sixty decibels though.

As you look at these you may see some that are marketed as ‘super quiet.’ These generators are known as ‘Inverter Generators.’ These generators are built differently then your standard units. You see a standard generator has two major sections: The engine and the alternator. The engine creates power by burning fuel. That power is fed to the alternator which converts the power to AC electricity. You now have the ability to plug-in your appliances/electronics. An inverter generator operates in a similar fashion only the engine and the alternator work together and actually share some of the same components. This means that there are fewer components in this machine which makes for an overall quieter noise level.

Inverter generators also produce what’s known as ‘Clean Power.’ A standard generator produces ‘Dirty Power.’ What this means is that the standard generator’s power production can fluctuate and is not a constant stream of electricity. The power provided to your electronics is directly tied to the performance of the generator’s engine. So, if the engine stalls, stutters, or does not perform exactly how it should then you can have variables in your power source which can in turn damage your electronics or appliances. An inverter generator on the other hand produces power FIRST as DC and then converts that DC power over to AC through regularly scheduled intervals. This provides you with a consistent power source, or ‘Clean Power.’

Overall inverter generators are a better product. The only downside there is with them is that they can cost significantly more. So, if you are on a budget and noise level/clean power is not a concern then go ahead and get the standard generator model. However, if you want to spend the extra money to get the premium product then opt for the inverter generator model. Our recommended inverter generator for RVing is the WEN 563080i thirty-eight hundred watt generator.

Fuel Type

The last point to look at is the type of fuel that you want your generator to use. If your motor home comes with a built-in generator then you most likely do not have a choice as to what fuel it uses. (Most likely the same as your vehicle’s engine takes.) However, if you have a portable unit then there are a variety of fuel choices to review before you make a decision. Now, I’m going to tell you right off the bat here that the best choice out of all of them is diesel. It burns the cleanest and is the most efficient. In other words, you get power for longer and do not have to worry about the same pollution that gasoline causes.

That being said, there are a few other options. There is gasoline and it is very easy to get as you all know. The problem with it is that it burns fast and hot. It is not very efficient and will not last as long as other fuel types. You also have the option to have propane. Propane works great and lasts longer then gasoline… but not as long as diesel. The upside to propane is that it is a lot more environmentally friendly then diesel.

The last option to consider is solar powered. These can be more expensive then the other fuel types we mentioned above. The obvious upside here is that they are environmentally neutral. They do not harm the environment in the slightest. The downside here is the increased expense and also the fact that you now have to lug around the solar panels with you as well. BUT, you do not have to carry the extra fuel.

I am still a fan of good old reliable diesel, but each one of these choices here will get the job done of providing power to you and your family.

Sizing

Size is important. If you purchase a generator with not enough power then you could be left out in the cold… literally. Finding the correct size of generator for your RV can be quite tricky. Generators come in all sizes ranging from just one-thousand watts going all the way up to fifteen-thousand watts or higher. It can be a bit overwhelming trying to determine what sized of product you need. To help with this we created a ‘RV Generator Sizing Guide,’ that can be found by clicking here. It is a bit of a long read but it should answer any outstanding questions you have when it comes to sizing your generator.

Conclusion

Alright folks well I think we have covered nearly everything there is when it comes to RVs and generators. I do hope that this article was helpful and was able to answer some of your outstanding questions. If you see anything that we missed please reach out to us and we will get this article updated. Lastly, please note that this article is intended to give advice and informational value only. We here at ToughAssTools are not liable for any damage when it comes to using generators rather it be personal, injury, or property.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools

Question

There is nothing quite like driving across the country, seeing an interesting spot, and then setting up camp. There is a lot of freedom that comes with RVing and overall it can be a great past time. I have been on plenty of these trips before but have yet to purchase an RV. I am hoping here in the next ten years when the kids are older the wife and I can start having our own adventures. When that time comes we will need to be prepared with a power source.

Not all RV parks will have power provided. Or, like in the example above, perhaps we do not stop at a park but decide to rough it by setting up camp in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps it is in the middle of summer and the cabin is sweltering. Having an air conditioner could make things much more comfortable. Or, I want some cold beer from the fridge. When these situations arise there is a need for a power source. Now some RVs do come with built in generators, but not all. If you discover that you do NOT have a built in then it is now time to purchase a generator for your RV adventures.

The question though is which one should you purchase? What size do you need? In this article we will take an in-depth look at the various sizes of generators out there as well as what size you will need for your situation. Along with that we will also take a look at the various features and considerations that have to be made before you purchase your generator.

Considerations

Before we get into determining the right size generator for your needs we first need to discuss the various considerations that should be taken into account. There are many types of generators on the market today and to be honest it can be a little overwhelming with just how many options there are out there. Hopefully after this section you have a little bit better idea on exactly what you are looking for.

The first major factor is if you want a permanent generator that is built into your RV or if you want a standard portable generator. There are pros and cons to both options here. In the case of a permanent generator you are most likely replacing an existing generator that was built into your RV. In these instances your best bet is go through a dealer to ensure that you are buying the right unit. If not you run the risk of purchasing a generator that is too bulky to fit in the compartment or that is not compatible with your recreational vehicle. These permanent generators also have a built-in transfer switch that allows you to easily switch the power over to the generator at the flip of a switch. This makes it very easy to get power going.

The downside of these permanent generators is that they can be expensive, especially if you go through a dealer. Dealers are notorious for high mark-up. So, if you have your heart set on replacing a permanent generator try to see if you can get the part number, make, model from the dealer and then see if you can purchase it somewhere else either online or through an aftermarket parts company. The other con here is rather obvious. The unit is permanent. In other words you will not be able to use it for other applications like you would with a standard portable generator.

Portable generators are great for those of you who wish to either save money or who wish to go with a dual use scenario. Say for example you want a generator with you when you’re RVing but you also want one on hand in case power goes out in your home. Or, you also go camping and need a power source. A portable generator will accomplish these goals. You will also notice that they can be much cheaper then the permanent generator option. The downside here is that you will have to lug the portable unit around with you when you are RVing. In most cases these units are NOT light and can be rather bulky.

It is not just about permanent and portable generators. There are other considerations as well. Another major one is the overall noise that the generator produces. This can be a big deal as generators decibel volume level can range from fifty all the way to one-hundred. That is like a the sound of rain falling all the way to a lawn mower running nearby. Quite the difference there. You will notice that when looking at generators they have a decibel rating. Pay attention to this. To gauge each generators noise level I like to use this decibel chart. It gives you a clear impression on what to expect before purchasing.

One thing you will notice is that when you are looking at decibel levels there are generators marketed as ‘super quiet.’ These generators are known as ‘Inverter Generators.’ These generators are built differently then your standard units. You see a standard generator has two major sections: The engine and the alternator. The engine creates power by burning fuel. That power is fed to the alternator which converts the power to AC electricity. You now have the ability to plug-in your appliances/electronics. An inverter generator operates in a similar fashion only the engine and the alternator work together and actually share some of the same components. This means that there are fewer components in this machine which makes for an overall quieter noise level.

Inverter generators also produce what’s known as ‘Clean Power.’ A standard generator produces ‘Dirty Power.’ What this means is that the standard generator’s power production can fluctuate and is not a constant stream of electricity. The power provided to your electronics is directly tied to the performance of the generator’s engine. So, if the engine stalls, stutters, or does not perform exactly how it should then you can have variables in your power source which can in turn damage your electronics or appliances. An inverter generator on the other hand produces power FIRST as DC and then converts that DC power over to AC through regularly scheduled intervals. This provides you with a consistent power source, or ‘Clean Power.’

Overall inverter generators are a better product. The only downside there is with them is that they can cost significantly more. So, if you are on a budget and noise level/clean power is not a concern then go ahead and get the standard generator model. However, if you want to spend the extra money to get the premium product then opt for the inverter generator model.

Ok folks, a few more points of consideration before we get onto sizing. The next one is the overall weight and dimensions of the generator. As I had mentioned earlier, if you are going with the permanent option then you need to ensure that it will fit in your RV’s compartment. If not then you are going to have a bad time! However, if you are going the portable generator route then you need to ensure that the unit is not TOO big. After all, you need to be able to transport it back and forth. If it is a larger unit then look to see if it has wheels on it to make transportation easier. Also note that inverter generators are lighter then standard models, so there is another feather in the cap of inverters…

Last point to mention here is the fuel type your generator uses. There are variety of options here such as diesel, gasoline, liquid propane (LP), and even solar. There are pros and cons for each type of fuel source here. The most recommended fuel type is diesel. This is because it burns cleaner then gasoline and can actually produce more for your dollar then propane. Chances are your RV also takes diesel so you’ll be looking for diesel pumps in the first place. However, if you are not comfortable with diesel then propane and gasoline will get the job done. Personally, I am not a fan of the solar units as they are inconsistent. They may be great for short camping trips but I want a generator that is going to be reliable.

Generator Size

Now that we have considerations out of the way we can begin to focus on sizing your generator for your recreational vehicle. When I say size I am not talking dimensions or weight of the unit but the amount of watts that the generator can produce. The more appliances and electronics you want plugged into your generator then the higher the watts you are going to need. Generators can range from a few thousand watts all the way up to twelve or thirteen-thousand watts. You may even be able to find some larger then that in standby models.

The best way to determine exactly what size you need is to add up all the watts of the appliances and electronics that you plan to plug-in. Most appliances will have the wattage that they require. However, if you find that some do not then they are most likely displaying their amps. You can calculate the watts using this amperage number. All you need to do is take the amp number times the volt number. The volt number is the type of connection the appliance uses. For example, a coffee maker plugs into your standard one-hundred and twenty volt outlet. So, let’s say a coffee maker uses five amps. Five amps times one-hundred and twenty volts equals six-hundred watts.

Before you start adding up all of the that you will require we need to understand the difference between surge/starting watts versus running watts. You see in some cases, especially on larger appliances, they will need an extra boost of power to turn on. This is known as starting/surge watts. After the appliance has been turned on the surge watts go down and transition into running watts. The point here is that if you have enough running watts but do NOT have enough starting watts then you will not be able to run your appliances using your generator. Some example appliances that will have surge watts are air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers. Basically anything that is going to have a compressor.

Alright, so now that you know how to find the wattage required for each of your electronics or appliances add them all up and see exactly how much wattage you need. In every instance it is best that you physically add up everything you want to power yourself. I can give you some estimates here but every situation is different and only you know what you are dealing with. That being said, lets take a look at some average wattage usages.

In nearly every case the air conditioner will require the most wattage out of everything in your RV. These things are power hogs and also come with a high amount of starting watts due to the compressor needing to start up. Just like generators, air conditioners come in a variety of sizes. For example, a five-thousand BTU unit will need between one-thousand to fifteen-hundred watts of power (This includes surge watts). A ten-thousand BTU air conditioner will need between fifteen-hundred to twenty-five hundred watts. Lastly, a fifteen-thousand BTU air conditioner will require between three-thousand to thirty-five-hundred watts.

Besides air conditioners some other estimates that we can provide to you are:

  • Hair Dryers – 600-900 watts
  • Electric Grill – 1,200 – 1,800 watts
  • Electric Heater – 1,200 – 1,800 watts
  • Microwave – 1,000 – 1,300 watts
  • Mini Refrigerator – 700 – 1,200 watts
  • Coffee Maker – 500 – 800 watts

In every instance it is best to overshoot the wattage you think you need by around twenty to twenty-five percent. This gives you assurance that you have enough power and also gives you a little bit extra juice in case something else comes up. Let’s do some basic math here to determine what sized generator we need. We need to power a five-thousand BTU air conditioner at fifteen-hundred watts, a refrigerator/freezer at twelve-hundred watts, a coffee maker at seven-hundred watts, and a microwave at one-thousand watts. So, all in we need forty-four hundred watts. If we add another twenty percent then we need a generator that can produce between five-thousand to six-thousand watts.

If that is too much and we only want to spend our money on a four-thousand watt generator then we can shrink some of our list. Perhaps we can hold off on using the microwave which will cut a thousand watts out of our calculation. Another example we can do, which I am not quite a fan of, is to play around with the surge watts. What I mean here is to find the exact surge watts and running watts on some of your appliances. So, if the air conditioner requires fifteen-hundred surge watts but ONLY one-thousand running watts then you could technically plug-in the air conditioner first, wait about a minute, and then plug-in the other appliances. By doing it this way you use fifteen-hundred watts at time of plug-in but afterwards you are only using one-thousand watts.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the above method as there is a lot of finagling just to get power to all of your appliances. The best option here is to just buy exactly what you need or to buy above that and give yourself that twenty percent buffer. Ultimately though, the choice is up to you.

Conclusion

Ok folks, well I believe we have covered nearly everything there is to cover when it comes to sizing a generator for your motor home. As you can see by reading this article there are a lot of considerations and factors that have to be taken into account before purchasing a generator. In most cases though you will find that with RV generators you are safe if you buy a generator between three-thousand to five-thousand watts. There are always exceptions and you should check your own wattage numbers, but you should be fine with these suggested wattage amounts.

To get you started we have a few portable generators we recommend for RV usage. The first is this four-thousand watt model from Champion. It is an inverter generator so it will run very quiet at only sixty-four decibels. It also comes in at only eighty pounds. That is a light weight generator. Lastly, it has a three year warranty to assure you that if something does go wrong you are covered. Just note that this is an inverter model so it will be more expensive.

The other model we will recommend to you is the Durostar DS400S portable generator. This model produces right around the same amount of power as the previous unit but it is about half the price. The reason for this is that this is NOT an inverter generator. It will be louder, bulkier, and produce ‘dirty energy’ rather then ‘clean energy.’ If you are on a budget then get this model, otherwise I am going to steer you towards the inverter model.

I hope that this article was helpful to you and that you were able to find what you are looking for. Generators can be a complicated business and hopefully we were able to clear some things up. Lastly, please note that this article is intended to give advice and informational value only. We here at ToughAssTools are not liable for any damage when it comes to using generators rather it be personal, injury, or property.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools

Question

There is no better way to unwind after a hard week at the office then taking the family out in the wilderness for some camping. Depending on your preference there are quite a few ways to go camping. Some of you may have an RV or camper to take with you. Others may like to rough it a bit and only bring a tent and some supplies. My personal favorite is sleeping in the back of your truck or SUV. No need to setup a tent that way.

Regardless of how you go camping one thing is certain. In today’s world many folks will need a power source during these outings to nature. It could be for their phone or laptop. Or, perhaps you do have an RV and would like to have the air conditioning running while you sleep. Whatever the reason is many people will pack a generator with them during their camping trips. The problem though with generators is the noise.

Any of you who have been around generators know exactly what I am talking about. A standard diesel generator can cause noise levels ranging from seventy all the way up to one-hundred decibels. To put that noise volume in perspective that ranges between a vacuum cleaner running or as loud as a lawn mower running nearby. Both noises can be extremely intrusive when camping and trying to enjoy the serenity of nature.

So, the question is, how can you get around this noise pollution but still provide generator to your electronics? There is a solution here, but before I tell you I first want to alert you that these types of generators are expensive. They can be quite a bit more expensive then your standard generators. SO, if you want that peace and quiet then you are going to have to pay for it. Just keep that in mind.

There is a different kind of generator known as an inverter generator. These types of generators have a noise volume ranging between fifty to sixty decibels. That is the equivalent of the sound of rain falling or the dishwasher running in your kitchen. Both noises are MUCH less then the standard generators. This is accomplished because the standard generator is made up of two distinct machines. You have the engine and then you have the alternator. Each of these work independently from each other. The engine produces power and then passes that power over to the alternator to be converted into alternating current (AC).

An inverter generator works in a similar fashion, the difference is that the engine and the alternator work in tandem with each other and even leverage some of the same components. This results in a much quieter operating volume. It also leads to an overall more efficient design which will result in a longer runtime. Because these inverter generators share some of the same components you will find that the overall size and girth of the unit is much lessened as well. This makes the generator easier to transport and move around.

Here at ToughAssTools.com we recommend this inverter generator model from Champion. It provides thirty-four hundred watts of power and operates at a volume at only fifty-nine decibels. Again, that is the equivalent of a dishwasher running nearby. It has an expected runtime of seven and a half-hours which is more then enough time to sleep through the night either with your air conditioner on or with your phone charging. You also qualify for a three year warranty when purchasing this unit. Overall it is a great buy, but if you are unsure then follow the link I provided to Amazon and check out the hundreds of reviews on the product.

Conclusion

So folks, in wrapping of this article there are a few takeaways. The first is that the quietest generator to take with you on camping are what’s known as inverter generators. These generators operate very quietly compared to other standard models on the market today. The downside though is that these inverter generators can cost significantly more then the standard models we are used to. Like many things, it all boils down to cost and your budget. Do you want to pay for that extra quiet? Or, will you make due with the roar of a standard generator? Or, perhaps, you will truly rough it and opt to not bring any power providing machines and enjoy nature they way God intended? Either way, it is up to you.

Lastly, please note that this article is intended to give advice and informational value only. We here at ToughAssTools are not liable for any damage when it comes to using generators rather it be personal, injury, or property.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

ToughAssTools