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Old 05-02-2008, 08:04 PM   #1
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No one home in Austin?

I've got three calls in to them within a week and was told today things were jammed because of one firing and two who quit. So since it looks like it might be a while, here is my question:
I met a full time boondocker who was taking his SMB to Austin for the addition of a Honda 2000 generator and the box to put it in. He needed it to support running his dash air conditioner (no Starcool) and his TV during the ultra warm nights coming up and it got me thinking. I've always been concerned about my van because while it does have one solar panel, I have no access to shore power. I live with my mom in a 5th floor condo and there is only one outlet I've found on the grounds and it would be difficult to use it without being discovered, even at night. Cameras.
I wonder whether extra solar or a generator for my van would be wise. My only limitation, other than money, is both my shoulders are wrecked and I don't know how much strength it takes to yank that generator to life.
Any opinions?
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:18 PM   #2
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First off you can't run a dash AC off a generator. There is no such animal.

Second, you must have a good ground to shore power- at least my setup won't charge without a proper ground (which cost me rewiring the garage at a rental house- previously we'd been going in through the window).. point being you're illicit plug may not work anyway.

Third- you're not living in the van, you're not running down there making toast, apart from keeping the batteries topped off (which your solar panel should do) there is no reason to shore power that I can see. Now if you're about to go on a trip and want to make sure you have full house batts, since the alternator won't charge them fully you might want to plug in 24 to 48 hours previous to leaving- but unless you're boondocking for a week and want to sqeeze that extra 6 hours out of the fridge, I wouldn't think it absolutely necessary.

If you do, there are a wide array of colored extension cords at Lowes- although you should try to go as short as possible, or better yet not use an extension cord (advice I'm frequently ignoring) and remember- "What electricity? Oh, it never even occured to me that this was separate, I guess I just figured it was all one big pool in the building or something. Gee, I'm sorry. So, is it OK if I leave it plugged in one more day?"

Always easier to get forgiveness than permission.
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:19 PM   #3
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Joanna, It is unclear from your post why you need the extra power. Are you using the van while living at the condo? The solar system should be more than enough to keep you batteries topped up while the van is parked as long as the panels are not covered.

John
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:50 PM   #4
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Well, my time here on the island is punctuated by drives back and forth to the Bay Area; one way takes 5 days if I don't stop to look at anything interesting. I would be thrilled to think I didn't need more energy than what one solar panel offers to make these drives without hooking up. In the future, I'd like to stay out longer, but that won't be for a while since I have obligations that keep me tethered.

I thought I remember reading somewhere among these posts that it was necessary to hook up to shore power at least every couple of weeks. Am I wrong?

Thanks for everyone's help.
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Old 05-02-2008, 09:02 PM   #5
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We visited SMB Austin today and it is definitely busier than I have seen it in the past. I did not notice a shortage of bodies though. We did notice two folks in for work..... one looked like a fulltimer with a nice Sprinter setup.... and the other was one of two Class C's that Sportsmobile has done. VERY INTERESTING !

We are setting up our SMB for solar (with maybe more solar) and to be able to carry a generator.

As someone else asked, your energy needs will play a big role in how you power items and how fast you might drain batteries and need to recharge.


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Old 05-02-2008, 09:29 PM   #6
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Jage, what kind of special cord do I need? I measured the stealth 3 prong plug-in site and it's 50' from the outlet to the van.
I do use the van during the day, as a daily driver and also for fun on the beach, then the long drives and camping to California. I would like to use the Starcool while boondocking. Doesn't that require a generator?
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Old 05-02-2008, 09:41 PM   #7
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Joanna,

If you want to use the Starcool when not hooked to shore power you do need a generator.

If you are using you SMB as a daily driver your solar panel and alternator will keep your bateries charged. Also on your cross country trip this should also be the case.

John
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Old 05-02-2008, 10:20 PM   #8
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John, do you know how hard it is to start the generator?
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Old 05-02-2008, 10:37 PM   #9
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Joanna,

The small generator that I have is like starting a small lawn mower. Most good generators should start on the first or second pull.

John
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Old 05-03-2008, 08:04 AM   #10
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There is no special extension cord- the thicker the better, but the problem is there is a lot of draw and the longer you go the more resistance in the cord which means heat and possible problems. Thicker cord is better at this sort of thing but anyway I was referring to camoflauge (green, white, grey) to match the landscape where you're plugging in.

Well, there is probably some specialty 1" thick jobby at the RV superstore or something... Still 50' is a long way. You're plugging in at your own risk at that distance.

Apart from not having Starcool one of the reasons I don't have a generator is that I can't lift the Honda 2000 without hurting my back. It's fairly light as generators go, but still too much for me. Something to think about if you're worried about pull starting.
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