Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

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jfeaz
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Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby jfeaz » Fri Jan 22, 2016 6:15 pm

Does anyone have experience using a generator to recharge a deep cycle battery for camp or art illumination?

I need to illuminate an art project at say, 300 watts, and I've decided on a gas generator due to higher performance and lower cost, but if possible, I would like that generator to not be running all night, every night.

Is it possible to set up a generator with electric start to turn on automatically when a deep cycle battery gets too low and needs charging? What equipment would be needed?

Thanks for any advice!

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby jfeaz » Fri Jan 22, 2016 6:19 pm

Or, is there a type of generator that can start automatically when there's a demand on it? If so, is there a type of charging unit that can only deliver that demand when it needs to charge the battery?

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Jackass » Fri Jan 22, 2016 7:14 pm

I'm sure there is, probably not cheap and way overkill for a project this size. Get four 6V golfcart batteries, run them two at a time and swap with the other two. Do your recharging back at camp...or go solar?

Got a campmate in an RV that runs their A/C all night and day? Great! Just plug your charger into their rig and let the genny do it's thing. Like magic your batteries will be charged...
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Captain Goddammit
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri Jan 22, 2016 8:56 pm

Yes, that's ridiculous overkill. Just start your generator and plug your battery charger into it and charge your batteries.
It's not even a good idea to set things up too automatic. It's a harsh environment and machines need to be looked at and cared for. Set-and-forget leads to unchecked problems.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby BBadger » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:28 am

At our plug-and-play camp, we pride ourselves in having the generators spin up each time we -- and by "we" I mean our sherpas -- flip the light switches on in our incandescent-bulb-lit (for proper CRI color quality when popping zits) private bathrooms. It's also great for our 2000W hair driers. To avoid any annoying dimming while the generators start up, we connect them up to batteries too (a bank of computer uninterruptable power supplies). Only the proletariat can suffer anything less.

But really, we did have some batteries that were charged by generators, but only while the generators were being used for other sources of power. The batteries were good for stuff like swamp coolers or nighttime lighting when we didn't want a genny on.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:41 am

I'll add a bit: get a good generator, a Honda or Yamaha "inverter" super quiet one.
Then go ahead and run it all night. We do at my camp and no one notices.
Doing a battery setup for overnight will cost more than it's worth, for something of any real capacity. 300 watts for 8 or 10 hours overnight is a lot in battery terms. You'd need about four big deep cycle batteries, plus a very large charger to charge a bank that size by the time you shut the generator down again.
To get 300 watts from 12 volt batteries will take almost 20 amps, give or take due to inefficiencies in the system. Ten hours of that is 200 ah, Amp-Hours. Your typical "marine" deep cycle battery has about 100 amp-hour capacity, but that's misleading in a way because if you run it below about halfway down, the voltage will drop and things won't work right (ever use something when the batteries are low?) and you'll actually do damage to the batteries. So, you'd need four of them. Five or six would be better. And you'll need an inverter to convert the 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC like the generator makes.
A little 10 or 20 amp battery charger from the auto parts store won't cut it. It WILL charge that size battery bank back up, but not fast enough to be ready by the time you shut down again. You need an expensive big charger.

We actually have all this, my Mutant Vehicle has big batteries and a big inverter and we could plug the camp lights into it at night, and it has a very high current multiple-alternator charging system - but even already owning the gear it's more trouble than it's worth.

Just get a quiet, good quality generator. Don't buy a cheap loud one. You and everyone around you will hate it.
Look at the Yamaha Ef2000is or Honda EU2000i. Then just run it.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby jfeaz » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:23 pm

Thanks everyone. Does anyone have experience with the cheaper quiet inverter generators? The Honda and Yamaha are out of my price range.

This will be better anyway because my lights will be on a DC system and having the built in inverter will save me a purchase.

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby jfeaz » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:24 pm

Also, is it a big phenomenon for generators to be stolen from open playa art?

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby jfeaz » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:29 pm

jfeaz wrote:Thanks everyone. Does anyone have experience with the cheaper quiet inverter generators? The Honda and Yamaha are out of my price range.

This will be better anyway because my lights will be on a DC system and having the built in inverter will save me a purchase.


i mean, having a DC port.

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Jackass » Sat Jan 23, 2016 2:37 pm

You'll definitely want to chain it to something that is highly immobile.
Sooner or later, it will get real strange...

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:12 pm

jfeaz wrote:Thanks everyone. Does anyone have experience with the cheaper quiet inverter generators? The Honda and Yamaha are out of my price range.

This will be better anyway because my lights will be on a DC system and having the built in inverter will save me a purchase.


Hold on... they haven't got a "built in inverter". The term "inverter" refers to the type of circuitry in the generator, but it is not a device that converts 12 volt DC power to 120 volt AC power. If you intend to use 12 volt batteries to power 120 volt AC things, you still need to buy an inverter for that.

If you want to run 12 volt DC stuff (like lights) off a generator, you will need a converter. That's a device that converts 120 volt AC - like the generator produces - to 12 volt DC power. Campers and RVs have these, that's how they run all their 12 volt things when you plug into shore power.

If you're going to run a generator, you're better off simply using 120 volt AC lights.

As for cost, everything you have suggested will cost you more than just getting a good generator. I'm not made of cash either, but after owning more than ten generators, I firmly believe you are money ahead and get the best value from a Honda EU2000. I had a pair of them for about twelve years, took them to BRC and ran them in the corrosive choking dust, used them at home during power outages, and they were still working perfectly with never anything more than a few spark plugs and carb cleaning (due to today's crappy gas gumming up). I sold them last year for $1400, then bought two new ones for $1798.
It cost $400 to own TWO of them for twelve years. I think that beats whatever junk you're considering. When you get the cheap ones, you usually end up eventually buying good ones, and then you've spent more than you would have if you got good stuff in the first place. Take advantage of my own expensive learning curve on this! You can resell them for most of your money back if you decide you don't want them.
Look on Craigslist for a deal on a used one, but the resale on them is usually high enough that buying new makes sense.
I believe the best deal available on new ones is online from Mayberrys. No tax or shipping either.
The Yamaha equivalent units are just as good, but I think the Honda has the best brand recognition and reputation, which is good for resale value.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Meat Hunter » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:18 pm

jfeaz,

I am trying to figure out exactly what you are trying to do. I think that you would like to run some lights and charge a battery -- on a pretty tight budget. Correct?

In my opinion, the easiest and least costly way for you to do these on a tight budget is to find the most inexpensive inverter generator and a battery charger that you can afford. With these two, you will have power for both 120v lights and power the battery charger. And, it will not be complicated a'tall.

With that being said and as others have said, the playa is a very harsh environment for anything mechanical or electric; even for top of the line equipment. You can most probably find you a small inverter generator for ~$400 and an automobile battery charger for ~$30.

I do not wish to discourage you. In fact, just the opposite. You have a plan and no one wishes to discourage you from experimenting, implementing your plan and having one fine and grand ol' time.

But please be mindful, if you need to choose the least expensive inverter generator and battery charger that you can find, do not expect them to last for years like top brands will. Even the best equipment can and have been known to falter on the playa. You will most probably do just fine with whatever level of generator and charger that you decide on.

We all have restrictions that we must live within. Good luck with your project. I say -- Go For It and do not be discouraged.

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some seeing eye
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby some seeing eye » Sat Jan 23, 2016 4:27 pm

The Captain hit the sledgehammer on the rebar.

Electric start generators are larger. The small reliable ones most people use for a small project are pull start. (if someone finds a 2kW electric start one that is quiet, let's hear about it!) A battery charge monitor that can trigger a generator start-stop, again let's hear about it. It would not be hard to build though.

The playa eats technical complexity and reliability for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night.

Best with your project though, there are some good suggestions above.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby jfeaz » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:08 pm

I'm dropping the battery idea, going with just starting the generator each evening. Don't care about electric start/automation anymore. I'm not going to consider the cheapest generators, looking for a balance in price and quality. What do you guys think of this one:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Westinghouse-WH2000iXLT-Inverter-Gas-Generator-2000W-120V-12V-DC-Light-Quiet-/271891122124?hash=item3f4df947cc:g:HJIAAOSwpdpVd0kS

Recognizable brand, good Amazon reviews. I buy the argument about long-term cost of ownership, but I don't have the cash for a $900 unit now. Still, don't want to get something that's garbage.

Still leaning to running DC lights through a converter connected to the generator. The only type of lighting I've found that's appropriate for the art is LED strip lighting. Haven't seen a good AC equivalent. I found an AC/DC converter that's capable of the 240W load. The only other device running on the generator will be 3W worth of DC path lighting to mark some boundary.

Any other advice?

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Meat Hunter » Sat Jan 23, 2016 5:34 pm

Before you pull the trigger on your generator, you might wish to take a look at a Champion brand generator.

A point to consider is how many "Brand Specific" service companies that are in your area. For sure, you are going to need new spark plugs and air filters and the end of each event and depending on the dust, you might wish to plan on changing the plug, filter and oil during the event.

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby GreyCoyote » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:15 pm

I totally get where the OP is coming from in reference to the high price of the Honda/Yamaha gensets. After all, paying almost a grand for something that amounts to a 45 lb extension cord is pretty steep. That being said, you need to look down the road and see if a quality unit would make more sense. Burningman isnt necessarily the end of the game.

As I write this, one of our campers is getting snowed-under in Newcastle, Delaware. Last year he took my advice and got a EU2000 and brought it to the burn (saved our ass, too!). He's currently got it configured for back-up when (not if) the grid drops. It will start with one pull in 20F weather. Or at 4000 feet in a dust storm. Quality counts.

I guess what I'm saying is this: think down the road and consider not only the total cost of ownership, but the total benefit of having a bulletproof, one-pull genny in your kit. Can you use it elsewhere besides the burn? What value could it bring to your life?

If indeed the rewards are minimal, then get the cheaper unit. But if you are like many of us, the Honda/Yamaha quality will serve you well and may be worth the $$$.

I will tell this as a parting shot: nobody who has owned a Honda EU2000i will look you in the eye and express any regrets. There is a reason these units command a premium. If you can swing the $$$, you wont be disappointed! :D
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby jfeaz » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:17 pm

Thanks for that. Which one I actually buy aside, what's the best way to go about protecting it from the weather and thieves? Another reason to buy a cheaper one is that this is for open playa art, not my camp.

Meaning that, it'll be more vulnerable to buttwads and a cheaper one would be a smaller loss if stolen.

Also, regarding security, my project doesn't have any rigid structures the generator can be chained to. The best thing I can think of right now is chaining it to some deep rebar staples. But how much of a deterrent is that? Everyone on the playa knows how to pull out rebar.

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby GreyCoyote » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:30 pm

Take a search engine moment and google "FIGJAM lag screws". Want to make a connection to terra firma on the playa? This is it. And properly done, NO HUMAN CAN PULL THEM OUT. Or a group of humans. You need an impact wrench. :shock:

Once you have an anchor like this, the odds of having your genny stolen is basically nil. It doesnt matter if you have a Honda or a P.O.S Chinese knock-off, it has the same odds of winding-up stolen.

FWIW, an 18 inch x 1/2 inch lag, properly driven into the playa, has more than 2000 lbs of pull-out resistance. Unless your thief brought a big wrench or an impact driver, that genny isnt going anywhere soon unless someone can figure a way to break the chain or cable.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Jan 23, 2016 6:37 pm

Don't be a fool. That "Westinghouse" generator is Chinese shit with a name slapped on it.
I'm telling you, for a little more $$ now you'll be happy for many years. For a little less, you'll buy a piece of crap that you can't get parts for and has no factory support. Check carefully into that so-called "Westinghouse" and you'll see. It's Chinese junk.
You can spend some money on a good set, or waste money on junk.
Generators are one place where you just can't buy the cheap junk without being sorry. I'd say keep checking Craigslist, a used Honda beats the crap out of a new Chinese shitbox.

You haven't said where you are but in CA, Craigslist has EU2000s being offered for $650-$700.

But hey, if you get a Chinese fake, maybe you'l get lucky and it'll get stolen.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Meat Hunter » Sat Jan 23, 2016 7:02 pm

The Captain and Grey are so very-very correct.

Like them, I also have a Honda generator and it has never failed me in anyway what-so-ever. Yup. It did cost me more in the beginning. I have been using mine for more than 8 years and in ways that I did not envision when I purchased it.

If you can swing a Honda 2000i, you will never regret it.

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby some seeing eye » Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:36 pm

For open playa art, get in touch with the Artery by email and join BM art specific-discussion groups. There is sometimes vandalism and thievery. Experienced art installation crews can advise. They also know illumination and power.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby BBadger » Sun Jan 24, 2016 12:07 am

I did have some friends who bought one of those Generac iX2000 generators from Costco to run some stuff for their slice of the camp. The Generac is louder than Hondas or Yamahas, use more fuel, and also heavier. They're also half the price of a Honda. It didn't seem too loud, but we also kept it away from the personal spaces. It met the needs of those camp mates that year, but it felt like a one-off purchase. The Hondas in our camp have gone to BM and regionals many, many years -- more times than many camp-mates -- which is a testament to their quality and durability.

I'd personally just save up and get the Honda if you intend on longer-term use of the generator, but something like the Generac might be okay for a one-or-two-off generator. Note that you can't buy it in California.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby maladroit » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:09 pm

I've run one of the $400 (refurbished) Champion generators out there for a few years with no problems. It has been operated next to an EU2000i and is as quiet.

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Jan 24, 2016 5:24 pm

If you consider how long I ran those Hondas and how much they still sold for, the Hondas are cheaper than the off-brands.
But if you're still going to buy one, Maladroit made the rightest choice possible - get the Champion. Definitely not the "Westinghouse".
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby NoAngel » Sun Jan 31, 2016 8:01 am

I'll echo what others have said about forking over the extra cash for a EU2000i in lieu of a cheep knockoff. You'll never be sorry about the purchase and it will hold it's value. Find one used and sell it after the burn if you need to.

You also might consider taking a look around for a used Honda EM 650, Honda EX 1000, or older Yamaha EF1000. I see them frequently on CL in the $250-$300 range. They're a little more noisy than a EU1000, and lack an auto throttle, but they're built well and can take a lot of abuse. I had an EM 650 that I still regret selling.

Another brand to look out for is Kipor. They're not super common in the US but I occasionally see one pop up used on CL. They're not sought after like the Honda's and they're usually very cheep. I can't comment on their smaller units but I've run a camp off of a KGE 3500ti (Now the KGE3000ti) for nine of the last ten years without fail (Finally got a Honda EU6500 for 2015 :-) ). Some of the engine parts are compatible with the EU3000i by the way.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby mattcamp » Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:29 am

We're on our third year using the little $500 Ryobi 2200w generators from HD... they've been pretty much rock solid, even when I forgot to empty the gas out of them one year.

Usually they fail to start about once per burn which only requires a brief splash of Seafoam or MIB and they fire right back up again.

We have two and we're totally happy with them so far... we're adding the extended run dual-generator fuel kit this year so they only need to be refueled every 3 days or so (and can be safely refilled while running).

edit: Also, they're as quiet as an eu2000i.

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:11 pm

You get what you pay for. The Ryobi is a Chinese unit, and as far as I can tell, no engine parts are available. The engine is considered disposable.
Chinese sets are generally rated optimistically. I doubt it will actually make 1800 continuous watts or hold a 2200 watt surge, the Chinese ones never really produce what they claim.
The Japanese sets are generally underrated, and will actually make all the power they claim if not more.

It'll work. But I still wouldn't buy it. I'll spend less money in the long run for a better set. Win-win.
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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby trilobyte » Wed Feb 10, 2016 7:48 pm

At best, I'd say that the quietest the Ryobi gets is about as loud as you can make a Honda run (turn off the eco-filter and have it fully loaded).
Ryobi's place in the marketplace is pretty much as others have stated, it's the deep discounted brand made overseas using the least expensive materials and least expensive labor costs. I use some Ryobi cordless power tools at camp, largely because I'm looking for cheap cordless stuff for putting together/taking apart camp. It's not a heavy workload, so I go cheap.

I don't know that I would do that for a generator, but that's my personal preference. I've been in camps and worked on projects that have used all makes and models. The Honda whisper quiet really impressed me 12 or 13 years ago when I first saw and used them, and that's the brand my gf and I picked when we got one for our camp... no regrets.

If you're looking at 300 watts per hour for your light art installation on the playa, I would recommend checking the main site's resources page and possibly reaching out to the ARTery (once the form for project registration opens) and inquiring about a black rock solar rental option. In the last few years, my understanding is that BRS has had some rental gear available for playa projects.

If you do go the route of a generator at a playa installation, you will want to design a battle-hardened baffle for it. You not only want to minimize noise, but you need to shelter it from winds, and you want to make sure it's securely anchored. Winds and the effects of dust on a generator in the city are one thing, but out on the open playa it can be much more significant.

Good luck!

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby maladroit » Wed Feb 10, 2016 8:42 pm

Don't forget to put some courtesy lights on your generator box, too. Of the various options of what you could accidentally bump into at night on the playa, generators are pretty far down in the ratings.

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Re: Generator to recharge deep cycle battery

Postby aaronrodg » Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:09 am

Your DC output on your generator is best for emergency or short term charging, i.e. providing your car battery a trickle charge. Anything more is a potential risk to your batteries.

The best way to charge your battery is to run a proper 240-volt or 120-volt battery charger off the generator’s AC output. This will recharge the battery much faster and accurately. Also, most chargers regulate themselves down, so as charge builds in the battery, the charger won’t be pushing the same amount of amps.

So as an backup or alternative to your solar set up to charge your camping/caravan/motorhome battery packs, portable inverter generators are a great option from westinghouse generators, especially as you can also run your appliances on 240v straight from the generator also. But just remember, when charging your battery packs off a generator, use a quality battery charger plugged into your 240v outlets instead of the generator’s DC outlets.


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