Generators

We are seeing the occassional damaged charger caused by Generators with a poorly regulated output. Our surge spike kit will NOT protect against these. 
 
Please note that almost all generators are NOISY and unsociable. Many are also smelly and thirsty. We would not want to be next to another Motorhome that had one. 

Unless it was Honda EU10i running from LPG via the Motorhome Gas Barbeque point - http://www.justgenerators.co.uk/honda-eu10i-lpg-inverter-generator.html#.VVdi1cJ0z4g. 
These EU10i's have revolutionised mobile power. They are quiet, about twice as quiet as the competition and much more fuel efficient. 
Many of the so called silent Generators are really intrusive, very few get any where near the silence of the Honda Eu10i. 
Even it's supposedly 'quiet' big brother the Eu20i is much more noisy.


The Eu10i is a lot quieter, just 52db.

If you buy one of the rain Hoods, it drops the noise level down another notch :  http://www.bagsandcoversdirect.co.uk/view-product/1kw-Generator-Cover--Tent-With-Frame

The rain Hoods are also good for 'hiding' the generator, therefore a lower risk of theft.

When you compare the Honda's 52db to the Hyundai 1000i at 58db they seem pretty much on par until you remember that every increase of 3 dB represents a doubling of sound intensity. Making a 58db Hyundai Generater almost 3 times as noisy as a Honda Eu10i.

When using a Generator to charge batteries, ensure you have a quality mains charger in the Motorhome.
The right mains charger set-up can charge batteries twice as fast as the average. So a good mains charger will result in half the charging time, half the noise, lower fuel usage, etc. Adding an additional charger can also make a big difference if the habitation battery bank has more than one battery.

If you are charging the batteries when the ambient temperatures are low, then the batteries will charge faster if you have a good Temperature compensated mains charger, like a Victron. A battery can be charged at higher than the usual "14.4v" if the battery temperature is less than 15 degrees.
So if you go Skiing, visit the Northern Lights, tour Norway, etc attention to the charger unit can make a big difference to Generator running time.

 

If you are thinking of buying a Generator, look for  :
1. Efficiency -  some generators use a lot of fuel so can only run for a few hours at a time. Most generators are constant speed type, the Honda Eu range has the ability to adjust it's revs based on load giving almost 20% better fuel figures than some of the competition at low loads. This also means when it is only on a light load of charging the 12v batteries, it is running at low intensity so extra quiet. 
 
2. Efficiency - is also important from the point of noxious fumes. The most efficient generators usually also have the lowest emmisions, good for the environment but also great for you when you need the windows open when the generator is nearby. Some generators we have had the misfortune to be near have been very smelly.
 
 4. Long Life - That bargain generator might not seem the bargain you thought when either it expires prematurely or you need to get it serviced.
 
5. Long warranty - You can buy generators with a 5 year warranty. If the warranty is only 12 months, then even the manufacturer thinks it won't last!!
 
6. Resale - Quality generators normally have a much higher resale value.
 
7. Quality, Regulated, Steady Spike free 240v output - Whether it is Pure Sine Wave or Invertor technology it must be capable of powering a sensitive computer equipment without damaging it, otherwise your battery charger and other 230v equipment may not survive.
 
8. Reliability - You buy a generator to give you power where there is no other option. If it fails, the consequences can be much more than just frustration. 
A generator that shuts itself down when the oil level gets low to prevent permanent, costly damage is going to be more reliable for longer. Such features are normally only found on quality generators that cost slightly more but save big money in repair bills.
 
9. Running costs - Some generators have a higher oil consumption than others. Those with a high oil consumption tend to be more oderous, as well as costly to run, at £15 for 5 litres of Oil. They are also more likely to come to a premature end as they need to be topped up with oil more often, so there is a greater chance of missing a check and failure. The budget generators almost always fall into the higher oil consumption category. Avoid any 2 stroke generators, they are even more oderous than usual with very high oil consumption.
 
10. Generators and LPG - As well as being cheaper to run, LPG converted generators have a more pleasant exhaust odour and are quieter. However, I think the biggest advantage is that you no longer need to carry a smelly Petrol Can in the Motorhome along with the potential hazards. Additionally the generator will run as long as you have gas in the Motorhome bottle, no need to top up the generator petrol tank every 10 hours.
 


                                                                'Supercharger'

There is a product that is aimed at Motorhome owners that will allegedly charge up a Motorhome battery much more quickly than a Generator. It claims to have a 50amp output, with the option of a 95A version.

The advert claims this is superior to the '8.3amps 12v' produced by a Honda Eu20i, when no Motorhome owner would use the 12v output from a EU20i as it is too cumbersome to connect up. Most Motorhome owners would utilise the much more friendly 240v output and let the onboard Motorhome charger sort out the batteries. 

A Generator would almost always be connected via the mains 240v EHU socket, so give the full  20amps 14v from the Internal mains charger, plus 240v for Microwave, at the same time. 

The advert claims to charge up a Motorhome battery much more quickly with its 50A or 95A output when most Motorhome batteries are recommended to take only a 20A charge. A 50A Alternator, or worse a 95a version, is only going put in the usual 20A (max) charge that a battery will draw.   

So the arguments behind the speed of charging are significantly flawed, but the usability of the product is also questionable :  To connect the Supercharger 12v 'generator' to a Motorhome would require the unit to be located just outside the main door  with the battery leads running in through the open door and the battery Jump Lead style Clamps hooked onto the battery (often inside a bedbox in  the Motorhome). 

Even where batteries are in an outside locker, the tops of many batteries are often not accessable enough to safely clamp on Jump Lead style battery clamps, so in many instances, it just wouldn't be usable.

For a £450 unit that specifically targets Motorhome and Caravan owners it seems to be flawed and without half the benefits of a real Honda Generator.

It claims it is 'super quiet' yet has a very, very noisy 69db rating as opposed to the hushed 52db of the Honda eu10i. Remember that every increase of 3 dB represents a doubling of sound intensity. 

The weight is slightly lighter than a Eu10i but the stated Honda Eu10i weight includes a full fuel tank and it has  casing around it, the famous 'suitcase' shape.  

 

One of these units has the world famous reliable, service anywhere, Honda engine. One doesn't.

One has cast iron resale value making depreciation low. The other is likely to suffer high depreciation?

The Honda can give up to 8.3 hours running time on one tank of fuel, very fuel efficient. The other doesn't come close.

The reallity is that one of the smallest Generators going will act as your very own, a fully portable EHU, yet have enough 240v power available to charge at 30amps/12v without any of the compromises on Noise, fuel consumption, etc.



The below is a Mains 240v display that plugs into any Continental or UK 13A socket showing the mains voltage coming into the House or Motorhome. 

When we plugged this into a Motorhome 13A socket and then activated the Inverter, it read 286v explaining why every 240v device was failing when the Inverter was used. Just because an Inverter says it is 230v doesn't mean it is, some of the low budget, high wattage ones have a wide variation on the voltage dependent on the load.


These are volt meters great for showing the output from a generator or Inverter and can be found on eBay