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Old 05-16-2005, 11:10 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
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Generators ~ Question

Hi folks
I am looking into buying a generator as a back up system for our bus (it will compliment a 240 watt solar pannel system).

I want to go with the less expensive models,because,well,..there cheaper.I was wondering though if anyone knows how loud they are,compared to the more expensive units. We were looking at a 3500 watt coleman for 400 bucks.

Would that be real loud??I have never heard what a generator sounds like when its going.

Also,does anyone have any ideas on how to safely mount a generator to a bus ?? Would we have to build,weld,bolt a platform,strap it,or what ??

Thanks ~ Pixie
Enchanted Gypsy ~ Travel Diaries
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Old 05-17-2005, 08:21 PM   #2
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It will sound like a lawn mower running. You might want to build a sound box for it. If it is air cooled you will need lots of ventalation to keep it cool.
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Old 05-17-2005, 11:42 PM   #3
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Location: Kansas
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I use a gas powered genny myself....

We tailgate with a 6000 watt job, but I can't think of the brand offhand. THey are loud, you're essentially running a lawnmower. We transport ours on a receiver hitch platform on the rear of the bus and it isn't noticable when you're driving, but when you stop you can definetely hear it. We just move it away from the Bus when we're tailgating - distance definetely helps! Also make sure that you're pointing your exhaust away from your bus.
66 Chevy Skoolie
Used for Tailgating to Kansas State University football games!
The seats are out (except for two facing each other) and replaced with matching couches.
7000 watt generator powering 2 6500 btu A/C's
Rebuilt 350 puts the power down.
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:32 AM   #4
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3500 watts is a big generator. At that size they are all pretty loud. If it's running a Briggs & Stratton (or similar) engine, it will be really loud. I know first-hand, my dad has one. One of my friends has a 3500 watt Honda and it's still loud (although not as bad as my dads). Do you really need 3500 watts? What things are you running?

Honda EU series generators are quiet but they aren't cheap. There are Chinese knock-off brands, such as Kipor, that cheaper. They are pretty new so no one has any long term experience with them but people who do have them are happy so far. Here's some posts on about them: ... 131645.cfm (loooong thread) ... 566627.cfm ... 210127.cfm

You could probably mount the generator under the bus. The construction of the generator would probably determine how to best mount it. Some have a tubular steel frame which would be easy to add brackets to so it could be either bolted to the frame or to the floor supports. With some of the smaller lightweight generators you could probably just store inside and just set it outside when you want to use it.

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Old 05-20-2005, 06:26 PM   #5
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Re: Generator

I recently aquired a mcouough (sp) that is powered by an ancient briggs and stratton engine. It is mounted to the rear bumper with angle iron and a small platform made of 2 by 12's. I then created a box made of lumber and insulated all the sides except the exhaust side with 2" styrofoam. I then attached heating vents. One for the intake, one for the exhaust. The "muffler" (I use that term loosely) is now suplimented with a wrapping of sheet metal with a couple steel wool scubbies located inside it to help with noise, which it does. This also move the engine's exhaust outake right to the edge of the box. So I lift the box off to start, fill gas, and turn off the geni and put it back on.

I don't plan on ever using it in a campground, but it does work as a backup suplimental power source. It's only noticable that it's running from added vibration when I am in the driver's seat and the bus is idleing.

I know it's not the fanciest of solutions, but it works well.

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Old 07-06-2005, 04:43 PM   #6
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People tend to buy too large a generator, and then lament the awful fuel consumption. You are better off charging your batteries with solar, since safely charging with a generator only puts about 5% of the heat energy content of the fuel (in BTUs) into the battery for future use. A Solar chgarge returns up to 60% of the suns captured energy to you for reuse during discharge.

The "Choke Point" it is neither the rate the charger provides power or the rate the generator provided power. Rather it is the inherent inability of the lead acid battery to handle temperatures much above 115 degrees F. without overheating and destructive sulaftion occurring.

While I do use some effective battery additives to remove sulfation damage, it is very unwise to overcharge or over-discharge and intentionally allow sulfation to grow

Trying to pump more power into a battery above these temperatures just exasperates and compounds the sulfation problem, by causing even more heating and more sulfation damage.

This is truly a situation where “less is better!”

Most people buy an oversized generator and then try to minimize the run time by getting the huge 100 amp battery charger option.

They then try to “force charge” and “fast charge” the battery banks, and end up causing lots of battery damage by their own impatience.

Then they complain about constant premature battery failures, all the while failing to ever understand the root-cause and effect of the battery failure mode!

It seems easier to just over-rely on quick charges in the short term. The result is extremely costly repeated battery failures.

In would be really neat if Honda would add to the line of electronic inverter generators a some very tiny (100, 250, 500 watts) electric auto-start, fuel-sipping battery charging versions that incorporated the new ultra-capacitors so that the run time could be different than the charge time. They could then charge batteries, and power RVs properly, at a slow but steady charge rate that would not overheat the batteries, or conversely use too much fuel for long run cycles when battery charging.

These ultra-small generators would produce full power long enough to charge the ultra-capacitors fully then shut down the engine. Then ultra-capacitors would continue to run the generator’s built-in inverter to charge the batteries without need for the engine to run. Only when the ultra-capacitors ran low again, would the engine need to run occasionally to recharge the ultra-capacitors.
So the batteries would charge at a slow steady pace, from generator power just like they do from solar power. This would avoid too-high battery temperatures and battery damage and water loss from overcharging .

The Honda Engine would run sparsely, only when needed with huge attendant gas savings. And the RV lighting loads could float without constant battery charge-discharge cycles, thus greatly extending battery life from cycling as well.
Such a new Honda Generator could also be water cooled and the waste heat could then be employed for winter space heating, or heat adsorption chillers and year round domestic hot water heating.
Such a new Honda Ultra-Capacitor Ultra-RV Generator set would be well suited for RV’s 18 wheeler Condos, busses, trains and boats, disaster relief all manner of portable domicile applications.
RVers would be very wise to begin to demand such an efficient new battery charging generator product line from Honda and its dealers.

Meanwhile, there is nothing to stop you from extending your battery life and dramatically reducing battery recharge generator run times and fuel consumption.
The ultracapacitors are a COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) product now!

I do not sell them, but I do recommend them and have just begun to use them, and plan to use many more in the future.

You can check out the new ultra-capacitors at:
and enter No 103 to see:
Ultra-capacitor banks from Maxwell Technologies (MC2600) rated at 16Volts DC. The cells are 2.6 VDC 2600 Farads each.

The cost is dropping rapidly and will soon rival/augment a good deep cycle battery system.

The rapid advances in the nanotechnology of reticulated graphite plates is creating a huge drop in cost and increase in capacity. Ultra-capacitors do not suffer from the temperature and charge acceptance of Lead acid batteries and someday may even replace them.

Even now, they can augment them and in a year or two they should become far more cost effective in doing so.

115 degrees F is generally considered the upper limit on battery temperature to avoid sulfation problems. I agree that it is way low for practical use, especially in the desert where ambient temperatures alone are often that high.
There is just so little margin for Ohmic heating from charging currents!
That is a principle reason for delivering a slow ad steady charge with solar cells or ultra-capacitor generators instead of trying to get all the charge suddenly into a balky electro-chemical cell.

Ridiculous as 115 degrees F may seem, that is the temperature where the knee of the sulfation curve lies.
So remember that millions of sulfated batteries are needlessly replaced every year from overcharging induced sulfation. If a $$350.00 ultra-capacitor (even at today’s prices) (with a 20 year life span) saves a $1000.00 bank of deep cycle batteries and extends their life to 10 years instead of 2 years, the savings become $4000.00-$350.00 for a net savings of $3650.00 over ten years. Note that battery changing labor not included, so the savings over ten years could be far greater.

Even at today’s prices, an ultra-capacitors combined with a battery bank to reduce ohmic heating and early battery demise is rapidly becoming a bargain.

While some folks might object that a larger generator might be required to run air conditioning, that issue is best addressed with a separate larger generator dedicated to cooling demand that runs only occasionally to save fuel. How do you make the Ac generator run rarely?
Most conventional RVs are poorly insulated energy hogs. a little more efficient insulation is far cheaper than continuous, endless fuel buys in the long run. If you are doing a RV conversion buy the best insulation you can!
Still, it is very hard to pack 18 inches of fiberglass in th walls to get to around R-30-R-40!
Since wall thickness subtracts from living space, super insulation becomes highly desirable.
Welcome to the space age!
Such insulation exists!
it is the fireproof, non-toxic NASA super-insulation called polyimide foam.
I do not sell it, but I do highly recommend it. It is not cheap, but is so much better it is a real bargain since only one thin inch gives up to an R-value of R-60!
you can find one spec sheet at:

Ever dollar spent on such efficient insulation will pay back hundreds of times over in extra living space and dramatically lower AC generator run times.

Best Regards
The only "stupid" question is the one never asked.
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