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Old 12-09-2008, 09:29 PM   #1
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generator vs. battery power

how do i get power in side the bus do i put a generator on the bus and run that for power. or do i put some car batteries on the bus and some how get power from those im pretty much clueless when it comes to this can anyone help me?
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Old 12-09-2008, 10:29 PM   #2
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Re: generator vs. battery power

Look in the Tutorials and Howto section on the forum. There is a wealth of information.

Many people end up with a combination of generators and batteries, though car batteries are not the way to go. Deep cycle batteries are the way to go.

Some people only have enough battery power to last short times and rely more on generators. Some have huge battery banks that last them days/weeks.

Some people add solar panels and/or wind generators.

There are many options and you will pick up on a lot of information if you go browsing.

-Ray
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Old 12-19-2008, 08:08 AM   #3
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Re: generator vs. battery power

i know how you feel i'm having issues finding out the info i want as well.
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Old 12-20-2008, 09:22 PM   #4
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Re: generator vs. battery power

Here's a few things for starters:
Car batteries are designed to provide short bursts of very high current (such as when starting an engine) and don't do well in RV service where you draw less current for longer periods of time. "Deep Cycle" batteries are the ones you need.
If you want enough electricity for something like an air conditioner, you need a generator.
Which generator you need is a whole other debate. Quiet is WAY better than loud, and most will probably agree that although quiet tends to be expensive, it's worth it even on a tight budget. Generators do no good when they're too loud to want to turn them on.
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Old 12-21-2008, 12:18 AM   #5
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Re: generator vs. battery power

so if you wanted to run 3000 watts would it be better to run a generator while you drive, or have a bank of( i have no clue many) batteries?
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Old 12-21-2008, 03:31 AM   #6
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Re: generator vs. battery power

Basically it would be for tail gating type events and burning man. I just guessed on the amount of wattage I want to use.
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Old 12-21-2008, 08:57 AM   #7
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Re: generator vs. battery power

you can draw large amounts of power while driving the bus, especially if you add a 24 volt alternator just for charging "house" batteries.

then, depending on what you're running electrically, you can do all your tailgating using batteries with minimal effort/expense.

regular appliances in your house use 110 volts ac current. automotive appliances use 12 volts dc. That's a big difference. An inverter is used to change 12 volt (or 24 volt) dc current to 110 vol ac house current. You can plug all kinds of things into the inverter, like tv's laptops, dj equipment, phone chargers.

for burningman, in my opinion a generator is quite necessary. The amount of money required in solar or wind power generating devices makes a honda eu series geni seem pretty cheap. Also, there is no other generator to buy if you are going to the burn other than a honda eu series or equivalent. Not only are they super quiet, but they'll run 15 hours on a gallon of fuel. If you run your geni non stop for a week using $3/gallon fuel you will pay for the honda vs a cheap $500 geni in no time.

You could skip the inverter all together and just use a honda geni all the time to power the bus when tailgating. The disadvantage is that you always have to worrry abotu fuel, you have to manualy start the geni, it needs to be secured somewhere where it can't be easily stolen, etc etc.

i prefer to have a geni when necessary, but to also have at least a 2K watt inverter and a set of batteries. My favorite battery for this application is an 8D big truck battery or two. my 2nd choice is 6 volt golf cart batteries used in series. The perfect setup is to add a 2nd alternator to the engine that produces 24 volts. The alternator has to work much less hard to produce 2000 watts vs a 12 volt alternator.
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Old 12-21-2008, 09:29 AM   #8
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Re: generator vs. battery power

okay, your set up is closer to what my eventual goal will be for my bus. so my question is how many batteries do you use and how long do hey wind up lasting for?
cause i know if i'm driving with a couple friends and i spent a bunch of time fixing her up there is no way I'm letting them drive. so i'll want to crash a couple times and nap while they play halo 3.
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Old 12-21-2008, 02:37 PM   #9
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Re: generator vs. battery power

Quote:
Originally Posted by cucullen
Basically it would be for tail gating type events and burning man. I just guessed on the amount of wattage I want to use.
Before you can go much further you REALLY need to have a better idea of how much wattage you REALLY need. The best way to do that is with one of these:



It is called a kill-a-watt and you can get one in a million places, ebay, wherever. Here is one on amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/P3-Internation...9887341&sr=8-1

You plug it into an outlet then plug your various appliances into it and press the button to display watts and then you know exactly how much wattage each item uses. Add them up then make decisions about your power sources and needs.

A battery bank, even a large one, is not the way to go if you're going to actually need 3000 watts continuously. I'm willing to bet that by finding out your actual needs and going as minimalistic as possible you can trim that down quite a bit.

My personal setup includes both batteries and a generator. I will be adding to my battery bank and replacing my generator with a honda eu series. I am convinced they are the way to go. In the long run, fuel will be the biggest cost involved in a generator and the most fuel efficient generator will be the most economical in the long run, even if they're expensive up front.

Get a kill-a-watt meter. It's worth the money.

-Ray
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Old 12-21-2008, 11:30 PM   #10
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Re: generator vs. battery power

I use batteries, a 120vac generator, and a 12vdc generator, all depending on the conditions I'm going to be dealing with. There are advantages and disadvantages to every option as has been posted.

Ray_WA's post is absolutely 100% correct. You need to determine how many watts you're going to need to be able to supply at any given time. Then you will need to figure out how long you will need to supply that power. That will arm you with an amp-hour figure necessary to calculate your power needs. I think it will be surprising to you. A difficult lesson I learned a long time ago and I think many others on this site have learned is about energy conservation.

It's trendy to be green currently, but it's a whole different ball game when you NEED to be because of practical limitations. It certainly will get you thinking about alternatives. Point and case might be something as simple as coffee. Electric drip coffeemakers are a staple in most households and can be had for under $10 but on the road they aren't such a great, cheap option. Those suckers draw some serious wattage! You might soon find that a tea kettle on the propane fired stove using either freezedried coffee or a french press will be quicker and less taxing from an energy standpoint. You might even get a taste for iced or lukewarm coffee.

I don't mean to scare you. It's just a reality we all must face. I don't think what you're proposing is anything extreme. Heck, it pretty much describes my energy uses. If I was just running my lights (all fluorescent for reduced power usage ), my TV, my PS2, and my little surround sound system I think I could go for 2-3 days on battery power alone. But I also like to keep my food from spoiling which means a power hungry fridge.

Calculating the load you want to support can be a daunting task. If you were to give us more information about length of stays, exactly what you want to operate, etc (essentially your vision for the bus) then I think we can better help you estimate what you need.
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