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Old 08-06-2014, 07:56 PM   #1
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Running 2 Portable Inverters in parallel vs Solar/extra batteries

After running out of battery power during a 2.5 day boondock during which we didn't use anything but the fridge (on gas) and the water pump, we are considering getting 2 relatively quiet 2000W portable inverters to run in parallel (as opposed to a much heavier and bulkier 3000W unit, plus for an extra $500.00 you get an additional 1000W).
Our dealer says that with a 30A plug attachment, we could boondock at 30A while the 2 inverters are running at full steam - and have 1 AC going He says a lot of people store them just inside the main door for easy removal.

2 questions:

1) does anyone have any practical experience doing this? Do you feel it is it a worthwhile investment in terms of money/time/weight/fuel (we'd probably boondock 5-6 times during the summer staying at USFS/State campgrounds)

2) Is there a way for a solar and/or battery set up that would achieve close to the same power output? (I'm guessing "no way"!) In another forum I think someone mentioned using 30V (?) batteries as opposed to a regular RV/marine batteries.

Thanks in advance all
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:22 PM   #2
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Yes, that is what I do. I have 2 Honda 2000's. In parallel, they have a 30a plug that will run one a/c unit. You can also run your microwave, just not at the same time.

I boon dock about the same amount. I couldn't justify the cost of solar vs the cost of the 2 generators. I know of someone who installed an elaborate solar system, only to have several days of clouds....he had to by a generator for backup. BTW, I use less than 10 gallons of fuel per year. I have a 6 gallon boat style tank that feeds fuel to both generators.

I run 4 -6 volt batteries that seem to do the trick for us. The generators run for an hour or 2 in the morning and evening to charge the batteries.

Hope that helps.

Ken
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:08 PM   #3
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I have a quote from Oregon Solar to do a beefy solar system on our RW and it was $14K!!! We have the generator, so I guess, for now, we will invest in a killer battery bank and this will allow us to run the generator less often. Once a day would be great, every OTHER day would be awesome! Can't use the air in situations like this, but maxxairs and ceiling fans are good!! DO love solar tho. Have it on our Lance truck camper and feel completely independent. It's BOMB. It uses two Odyssey batteries, and the power delivery from those is amazing. Feels just like ac current.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:14 PM   #4
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Yup, it's expensive. In my case, the cost of solar doesn't make sense when I only spend $40/yr for gas for the generators!
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:24 PM   #5
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I agree with you on the cost of fuel, EXCEPT there are many many times when running your generator would be frowned upon a great deal... And you just always have lots of battery with solar (at least it has been our experience). We have NOT used an inverter with one yet, so that is a whole other thing.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:31 PM   #6
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The open frame, contractor type are very loud. The Honda's and Yamaha's are fairly quiet, especially on their eco-mode. DW hates the noise so I know what you're talking about....still hard for me to justify the cost.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:38 PM   #7
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Yes, I know what you mean. We certainly cannot justify the cost either. We know that we will not be able to do much boondocking for a year or two, so hopefully the cost will come down a little by then. Meantime, we will just battery-up! The Marquis Gold genny isn't too bad, for the amount of power it gives.
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Old 08-07-2014, 12:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oregonbound View Post
After running out of battery power during a 2.5 day boondock during which we didn't use anything but the fridge (on gas) and the water pump, we are considering getting 2 relatively quiet 2000W portable inverters to run in parallel (as opposed to a much heavier and bulkier 3000W unit, plus for an extra $500.00 you get an additional 1000W).
How much, and how many, of your lights were on? These halogens suck battery juice faster than...well, pretty darn fast. When we have to limit generator use, we use electric candles. Yes, very romantic. In addition, we have golf cart batteries on board.
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Old 08-07-2014, 04:27 AM   #9
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I decided to go with a battery/inverter/solar solution rather than a generator because amount other reasons, I can have 110V power 24/7 even when there is a generator curfew.

First off the caveats:
1) Can't run the a/c, even 1, for a useful period of time even with the 400 amp hours of batteries I have.
2) It was expensive, but still less than what RW quoted for the 5500W Onan
Here's what I went with and why:

The batteries
I went with two 200Ah/12V Prismatic cell pack from lithiumpros.com out of Knoxville, TN. They are light weight and designed for Electric Vehicles so I know they can withstand the RV environment. This requires an Energy Management system, the E100, which comes with a nice video screen which displays the current draw or charge, state of charge, voltage of the pack and voltage for each individual cell. Nice piece of kit.
The Inverter
The Xantrex Freedom SW3012 12V 3000W Inverter/Charger seems to be a good fit for my application. Will do 3000W continuous, handle 6000W peaks, is stackable if I want to upgrade to 6000W continuous and has the option to do generator assist which will allow me to supply some of the power from a smaller generator and some from the batteries. I have not implemented the generator assist yet.

It supports the normal battery types, SLA, Gel, AGM but also has a custom option so I can tailor the charge method specifically for the batteries I have. Kevin at lithium pros helped me out with the specifics and so far so good.....

I installed the Xantrex System Control Panel inside on the wall going up the stairs to the FL area.
The Solar
I want solar but don't like the idea of mounting them on the roof. Although a roof mount system is usable while underway, my primary need is while I'm stationary. That said, I decided on two RenogyⓇ Foldable Solar Suitcase Battery Charger 100W. I installed charge wires to both the lithium side of the system and the 12V flood acid side. They are portable so I can position them for best performance depending on time of day, trees, blah blah blah. I also reworked it so I can either plug 1 into each side, or plug them both into 1 side effectively doubling the solar generation as needed. I also upgraded one of the 10amp solar chargers it came with to a Sunforce 60032 30 Amp Digital Charge Controller which will actually allow me to go up to 4 panels in line. During testing with 2 panels and a nice sunny day I was able to produce 10amps of solar power. With 10 good hours of sunlight in a day that means I can produce 100Ah of energy in a given day. Time will tell how much I consume and if I need to bump it to 3 or 4 panels.

Another really nice thing about this setup and I can use the two solar panels to trickle charge all my batteries while the RW isn't in use.

The backup
I've never actually owned a generator but have always like the Honda EU2000i. Quite, light weight, lots of places to get service if needed and has the companion option if I want to go that way.

The only place I found any type of meaningful discount was on www.electricgeneratordepot.com. $900 delivered, fedex ground. I did need to use it on the 3rd day unplugged at Oshkosh after 2 days of much cloud cover and rain. Charged up the 110V side of the system and used the 12V charger while it was running to also charge the 12V side. Limited the Xantrex to pull only 10Amps and it ran for about 3-4 hours. Good real world test, glad I had it and didn't mind using it given the situation.
Final thoughts
- I need to live with the system for a while to see if it meets my real world needs. So far, for powering the kitchen (coffee, tea, toast, micro, induction plate) as well as entertainment system and personal electronics (iPhone, iPad etc etc) it is working great.

- I need to take advantage of the dual alternators I have in my TV. They will produce a combined 384amps so I have plenty to spare while towing to help charge the lithium side of the setup. The flood acid side already charge via the normal 7 pin trailer connector but since the lithium batteries can handle a huge amount of charge current, I can't connect them to the same charge line.

- This does sound elaborate, I know but if it proves to work as designed it will be great for being off the grid, and is both less expensive and lighter weight than the 5500 Onan option.
Hope this helps and happy camping!
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Old 08-07-2014, 05:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNTBaker View Post
I have a quote from Oregon Solar to do a beefy solar system on our RW and it was $14K!!!
Are you talking about AM Solar? If not call them and talk. They do nothing but solar for RV's AND they can do installs at their Oregon facility. I bought my setup from them and installed it myself. Probably have $2k in my setup including 2 AGM Lifeline 6v batteries. I have 300 watts currently. It would run me another $1k to double that to 600w and that would pretty easily run the entire coach sans the AC units.

On edit, I actually installed everything myself but probably only have about 12 hours into it, it's pretty easy in a Redwood to install Solar.
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:14 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=ksaltman;33033]I decided to go with a battery/inverter/solar solution rather than a generator because amount other reasons, I can have 110V power 24/7 even when there is a generator curfew.

First off the caveats:
1) Can't run the a/c, even 1, for a useful period of time even with the 400 amp hours of batteries I have.
2) It was expensive, but still less than what RW quoted for the 5500W Onan
Here's what I went with and why:

The batteries
I went with two 200Ah/12V Prismatic cell pack from lithiumpros.com out of Knoxville, TN. They are light weight and designed for Electric Vehicles so I know they can withstand the RV environment. This requires an Energy Management system, the E100, which comes with a nice video screen which displays the current draw or charge, state of charge, voltage of the pack and voltage for each individual cell. Nice piece of kit.
The Inverter
The Xantrex Freedom SW3012 12V 3000W Inverter/Charger seems to be a good fit for my application. Will do 3000W continuous, handle 6000W peaks, is stackable if I want to upgrade to 6000W continuous and has the option to do generator assist which will allow me to supply some of the power from a smaller generator and some from the batteries. I have not implemented the generator assist yet.

It supports the normal battery types, SLA, Gel, AGM but also has a custom option so I can tailor the charge method specifically for the batteries I have. Kevin at lithium pros helped me out with the specifics and so far so good.....

I installed the Xantrex System Control Panel inside on the wall going up the stairs to the FL area.
The Solar
I want solar but don't like the idea of mounting them on the roof. Although a roof mount system is usable while underway, my primary need is while I'm stationary. That said, I decided on two RenogyⓇ Foldable Solar Suitcase Battery Charger 100W. I installed charge wires to both the lithium side of the system and the 12V flood acid side. They are portable so I can position them for best performance depending on time of day, trees, blah blah blah. I also reworked it so I can either plug 1 into each side, or plug them both into 1 side effectively doubling the solar generation as needed. I also upgraded one of the 10amp solar chargers it came with to a Sunforce 60032 30 Amp Digital Charge Controller which will actually allow me to go up to 4 panels in line. During testing with 2 panels and a nice sunny day I was able to produce 10amps of solar power. With 10 good hours of sunlight in a day that means I can produce 100Ah of energy in a given day. Time will tell how much I consume and if I need to bump it to 3 or 4 panels.

Another really nice thing about this setup and I can use the two solar panels to trickle charge all my batteries while the RW isn't in use.

The backup
I've never actually owned a generator but have always like the Honda EU2000i. Quite, light weight, lots of places to get service if needed and has the companion option if I want to go that way.

The only place I found any type of meaningful discount was on www.electricgeneratordepot.com. $900 delivered, fedex ground. I did need to use it on the 3rd day unplugged at Oshkosh after 2 days of much cloud cover and rain. Charged up the 110V side of the system and used the 12V charger while it was running to also charge the 12V side. Limited the Xantrex to pull only 10Amps and it ran for about 3-4 hours. Good real world test, glad I had it and didn't mind using it given the situation.
Final thoughts
- I need to live with the system for a while to see if it meets my real world needs. So far, for powering the kitchen (coffee, tea, toast, micro, induction plate) as well as entertainment system and personal electronics (iPhone, iPad etc etc) it is working great.

- I need to take advantage of the dual alternators I have in my TV. They will produce a combined 384amps so I have plenty to spare while towing to help charge the lithium side of the setup. The flood acid side already charge via the normal 7 pin trailer connector but since the lithium batteries can handle a huge amount of charge current, I can't connect them to the same charge line.

- This does sound elaborate, I know but if it proves to work as designed it will be great for being off the grid, and is both less expensive and lighter weight than the 5500 Onan option.
Hope this helps and happy camping![/Q]

Thanks for the detailed response....much appreciated. I'm quite challenged in this area but how is the Xantrex powered? Gas?
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Old 08-07-2014, 11:22 PM   #12
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The Xantrex is both a charger and an inverter. In charge mode it uses a 30amp shore power connection to charge the batteries. While it is using shore power to charge the batteries it will also provide power to the coach just list normal shore power. It can also get power in charge mode from the Honda generator if I want but only at a 10amp rate.

In inverter mode it draws power from the batteries and provides power to the coach just like a generator
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