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Old 02-17-2018, 08:30 PM   #1
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Emergency Gen for recharging batterys

So I'm looking to mount a generator under the bus as an emergency backup in case my batteries get too low. I'm planning to get the aims inverter/charger that says it has an automatic gen start.

Few questions:
- Does this work with a champion duel fuel electric start gen.
- Can you keep the propane fuel switch on all the time so I never have to access the generator to start?
- Can the generator run where it is mounted under the bus?

Bonus question.
- Should the generator be mounted far from propane tank?

If the auto gen start doesn't really work with these portable generators, I will probably get a duel fuel pull start.

Thank you for the help!
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Old 02-18-2018, 09:43 AM   #2
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I looked at the Champion 3100 inverter dual fuel. It is not equipped to handle the auto start.

With a little tinkering you could put together a bit that would make it play. A little Arduino magic
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Old 02-18-2018, 08:33 PM   #3
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Are there any portable generators that accommodate the auto start feature?
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Old 02-19-2018, 11:52 AM   #4
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I have not been able to find one so far.
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Old 02-19-2018, 01:05 PM   #5
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Seems I have seen either some aftermarket kits or youtube hacks to accomplish remote starting. Don't know about "auto" starting.
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Old 02-19-2018, 02:35 PM   #6
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Seems I have seen either some aftermarket kits or youtube hacks to accomplish remote starting. Don't know about "auto" starting.
I saw some discussion of building an Arduino based auto start setup for the Honda EU2000i. No finished product just ideas. It looked fairly straightforward for someone handy with the Arduino.

Where is Christopher when you need him
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:44 AM   #7
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I saw some discussion of building an Arduino based auto start setup for the Honda EU2000i. No finished product just ideas. It looked fairly straightforward for someone handy with the Arduino.

Where is Christopher when you need him
Hmmm. Maybe my son can make one for a school project and get double duty out of it? I know he's using Arduinos now studying engineering at Northeastern. I'm sure we'd get a cheaper generator though.

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Old 02-20-2018, 09:35 AM   #8
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Hmmm. Maybe my son can make one for a school project and get double duty out of it? I know he's using Arduinos now studying engineering at Northeastern. I'm sure we'd get a cheaper generator though.

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If he pulled something off that would work nicely with the Champion and Honda inverter generators he may find a market for them.
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Old 02-20-2018, 09:54 AM   #9
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Definitely may have a market. Maybe I should get the electric start model in case someone figures it out!
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Old 02-27-2018, 08:26 PM   #10
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If he pulled something off that would work nicely with the Champion and Honda inverter generators he may find a market for them.
My son was really busy last week but he finally answered me about this. He said he didn't think Arduinos were "robust" (for lack of a better word) enough to do this reliably in a mobile situation even though you could make it do it in a controlled environment.

So yes, but no. He's using them in the project he's doing which is a new exhibit for the Boston Children's Museum I think. Pretty cool, but a more controlled environment. He got to practice all sorts of skills that will come in handy on the bus, too! Building a hinged box for storage like for under the bed, etc.

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Old 02-27-2018, 08:49 PM   #11
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I've been looking at something like this, dual fuel, remote control start, 3500 watts.
https://www.ebay.com/p/Gas-Propane-G...d=272984544995
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Old 02-27-2018, 09:29 PM   #12
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Adequate, but loud. You can change the muffler on those and get much quieter performance. Old motorcycle mufflers work good.
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Old 02-28-2018, 10:19 AM   #13
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Adequate, but loud. You can change the muffler on those and get much quieter performance. Old motorcycle mufflers work good.
Agree!!

Run that in any area with other campers around and you will definitely get the evil eye.

I have heard relatively good things about the Predator (HF) 3500 inverter generator.

Reasonably priced and MUCH quieter. May be worth considering.
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Old 02-28-2018, 11:45 AM   #14
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Agree!!

Run that in any area with other campers around and you will definitely get the evil eye.

I have heard relatively good things about the Predator (HF) 3500 inverter generator.

Reasonably priced and MUCH quieter. May be worth considering.
You can download a decibel meter app for your phone for free to check this and other loud things.

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Old 02-28-2018, 12:15 PM   #15
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I can't imagine the auto start being too hard to do up with some relays.

That's essentially all remote starts are after removing all the radio and bypass circuits...

The manual for the AIMS 3000W at first seems like the gen start is some fancy signaling, but then states that it's just a normally open relay, but doesn't specifiy if it's a momentary or constant on:
Quote:
Auto Gen Start
The inverter can be customized to start up a generator when the battery voltage goes low.

When the inverter goes to low battery alarm, it can send a signal to start a generator, and turn the generator off after battery charging is finished.

The auto gen start feature will only work with generators designed to work with this feature. There is an open/close contactor relay that will short circuit the positive and negative cable from a generator. The input DC voltage can vary, but the Max current the relay can carry is 16Amp.
Either way, we could work with that.

From the sound of the manual, it seems like it's a constant on relay, so it closes the contacts when it wants the generator to start, then opens them when it wants to kill it. You wouldn't want to hook this up to the start button as it would keep the starter engaged the whole time and burn it up in short order. We could use the inverter/charger relay to save on some circuitry, but I'd rather not, as it may make it more complex to troubleshoot later on.

What we'd end up doing is using a couple relays:
  • 12V power will feed into one side of the Aims start connector, the other side going to our relays.
  • Relay #1 will be a standard automotive relay. One side of the coil (pin 86) is fed from the above mentioned Aims start connecter while the other side gets grounded (pin 85). The normally open (N.O.) contacts (pins 87 and 30) will connect between the on/off switch on the generator.
    • May need an additional relay (or a double pole) in certain situations; I was looking at the biggest HF inverter generator and it has a seperate off/on/start and start switches...
  • Relay #2 will be a momentary relay that no matter how long the coil is energized, the N.O. contacts only close for a second or so (just long enough to start the generator). The coil is fed identically to Relay #1, while the N.O. contacts between the start button switch on generator.

Basically, that should start the generator when the Aims closes its relay, then turns off the generator when it opens it again.

I don't think it's the case, but if the Aims start relay is a momentary contact (which would allude to it also closing the contact again when it wants to kill the gen), it doesn't specify how long it stays on for. This means it probably wouldn't be suitable to hook directly up to the start button on the genset since if it only stayed on for like 1/2 a second, the generator might not start, and if it stayed on for 5 seconds, the starter might burn up if the engine starts immediately, then spins up to 3600RPM with the starter still engaged for a bit. I'd want to get a latching relay and put it in just like the setup above.

...What I can't believe is that this isn't a widely available thing like cheap motor controls are from China. It's super simple and just requires a few connections inside the generator that may not even void the warranty (especially if they use screw terminals for the switches). If it's not, it's something I could easily put together once I get mine up and running (very soon).
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Old 02-28-2018, 12:20 PM   #16
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I got curious about quiet running LP generators (want to avoid having to carry three fuels on our bus) and stumbled upon this Sportsman 2200 Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator. It only has two reviews, which were pretty high, so I'm going to have to do some more digging to find out whether this is a worthwhile investment.

EDIT:

May have already talked myself out of it with this Champion DUAL-FUEL 3100 Watt Peak Generator.
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Old 02-28-2018, 01:12 PM   #17
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I got curious about quiet running LP generators (want to avoid having to carry three fuels on our bus) and stumbled upon this Sportsman 2200 Watt Dual Fuel Inverter Generator. It only has two reviews, which were pretty high, so I'm going to have to do some more digging to find out whether this is a worthwhile investment.

EDIT:

May have already talked myself out of it with this Champion DUAL-FUEL 3100 Watt Peak Generator.
I am not familiar with that manufacturer. Champion offers a 2800/3100 watt dual fuel that is well reviewed and liked by RVers. I have seen at least one member here using one. Perhaps they will chime in.

I really prefer a diesel generator but budget may dictate the Champion for my bus.
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Old 02-28-2018, 01:17 PM   #18
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I am not familiar with that manufacturer. Champion offers a 2800/3100 watt dual fuel that is well reviewed and liked by RVers. I have seen at least one member here using one. Perhaps they will chime in.

I really prefer a diesel generator but budget may dictate the Champion for my bus.
Yeah, I was reading on here and some RV blogs that Champion's equipment is solid. If diesel generators were quiet and affordable, that's the way I'd be looking, but this happens to fit the bill a bit better in both regards.
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Old 02-28-2018, 01:22 PM   #19
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Yeah, I was reading on here and some RV blogs that Champion's equipment is solid. If diesel generators were quiet and affordable, that's the way I'd be looking, but this happens to fit the bill a bit better in both regards.
Yup. When it comes to diesel generators affordable is not part of the equation.

They can be extremely quite though. 1800 rpm, liquid cooled and in a well built enclosure they can be quieter under load than my EU3000i.
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Old 03-01-2018, 03:25 AM   #20
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Almost all of the manufacturers (affordable ones, at least) are using Chinese manufactured Honda clone engines, just like the cheap ATVs/mopeds. Many of them are made in the same factories... The differences, much like electronics (remember, both real and bootleg iPhones, sd cards, etc. are made in China), are with the quality control processes and the warranty the company label slapped on provides.

So if youíre not going to save up for a ďname brandĒ (i.e. Honda, Onan, etc.), then Iíd focus on these. An advantage of buying from some place like Harbor Freight (and to a lesser extent, Northern Tool), and opting for the extended warranty is that they are literally everywhere. If it conks out on you, rip er out and exchange at the nearest store. Iíve read HFís warranty exchanges are super simple, rivaling the old Craftsman warranty.

If youíre going to buy online, Iíd buy from a retailer like Amazon (making sure itís sold by Amazon), Home Depot, Loweís, Walmart, etc. that have an easy return policy and allow you to return/exchange in store. Obviously Amazon is excluded from in-store (unless they start letting us return stuff to Whole Foods... imagine carting a generator in to customer service!), but they have a decent return policy. If itís DOA, they pay return shipping with no questions asked... thatís almost never a thing, and imagine how much it will cost to ship a decent sized generator across the country (that many retailers will have you pay, then they will determine if itís really broken and decide to charge a restocking fee that you may have zero recourse against other than to pay shipping back to you again... buyer beware!).

Iíve also been looking into the dual fuel (or propane only) generators to avoid carrying three fuels. The cheapest diesel inverter generators Iíve seen cost about $1500 (I think at Northern Tool?) and are very temping if I could scrounge up the money... but since that generator cost a good chunk of what some of us spent on our bus, the biggest reason to go with propane is that the carb wonít get gummed up from sitting for long periods (think: backup generators).

Now if youíre a true DIYer, there are instrucables to convert a gas engines to propane... so if you find a decently priced used generator that works, or already have one, this is an option.
Sorry for the long post, but Iím also researching this stuff, and want to share my research with you.
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