Generators – Decision Time

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Recently we did a comparison test between 4 different portable generators in order to determine which one would be best suited to the average caravanner or camper. That test highlighted a few things to me about using a generator in the real world not the least of which was the physical exertion involved in physically handling a 20 to 30KG generator in a camping environment.

For a bit of a history lesson, my first generator was a Honda EX-350 which was only used as a backup to charge the camper battery and perhaps to run mobile phone chargers. Other than that I didn’t really use it all that much. When we bought the Lifestyle camper, we had more power requirements that put a lot of demand on its batteries. We purchased a new generator capable of powering a proper 15 amp battery charger. That generator was a Black Ridge BRG-800. I got it on special from Super Cheap Auto for around $400. That was pretty good back then. When we upgraded to a caravan, the Black Ridge was not powerful enough to run the air-conditioner, so it was shelved for a new model. It’s this point that I have had a rethink over.

Everyone that buys a generator for their caravan are obsessed with it being able to run their air conditioner when free camping, and many have problems buying one that actually works. The ubiquitous Honda EU-20i, which most caravanners purchase, seems to struggle for many and work for some. Many others will buy a cheap Chinese generator from eBay and again, the sometimes struggle. There are a few reasons for this however I wonder how many RVers have actually asked themselves how often they really thing they will be running a generator while away from 240 volt mains power.

I did give this some thought especially when lugging around 4 generators during the aforementioned test. You see, even at 20kgs, the Honda and others like it, are quite heavy and when you have to carry them over rough ground, like that found at most free camps, it’s a real chore. Then there's the question of where to store these things. You have to have a box big enough for them to fit and you have to be able to easily lift the generator out and put it back again when you’re finished. Its hard work especially in the heat and dust of the outback. Finally there’s the weight of these things and with the focus on getting our caravans under weight restrictions, being able to save 10 or more kilos can make a significant difference.

The Black Ridge running the battery charger in the Roadstar during a winter weekend at Sheepyard Flat.

So, for us, I really cannot see us requiring a generator that can run the air-conditioned. I think we would rather just acclimatise to the conditions. With that in mind, the Black Ridge, weighing only 15kgs, is much easier to store and carry around and it has sufficient capacity to run a 25 amp battery charger. It will suffice for our requirements and that’s why we have brought it out of the garage and its back in the caravan for good.

Safe Travels everyone

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