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Old 01-18-2019, 01:40 PM   #1
awheeler
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Solar or Dual Fuel Generator

We have not done any boon-docking, and would like to prepare for the possibility that we would. Which in your knowledgeable opinion is the better way to go: Dual Fuel Generator or Solar. In other words - which is more efficient in the long term? Not, in cost, but in providing electrical power over a longer period of time?

Also, for those of you who do a lot of boon-docking, how do you handle the waste water?

Anything specific I need to know about boon-docking?


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Old 01-18-2019, 01:52 PM   #2
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Don't boon dock. At least not yet.

Looking at pix from Quartzite. about half of the people there were not using Solar.
There is a honey truck that comes around if I remember right. is how they handle it.
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Old 01-18-2019, 01:55 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jeffba View Post
Don't boon dock. At least not yet.

Looking at pix from Quartzite. about half of the people there were not using Solar.
There is a honey truck that comes around if I remember right. is how they handle it.

Thank Jeffba! Where are you right now? We have some folks here in Corpus from Bastrop. That's not you is it?
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:10 PM   #4
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Waste water. How you handle it will depend on where you are. I go to a benchrest shooting match in Ohio. There will be a hundred or so campers from a horse trailer to a million dollar MH. There is about 20 acres of mowed land like a nice lawn. The owner has no objection to people dumping the grey tanks on the ground. It sinks in no problem. I have never had it but I would if needed. We camp at the Shirley Basin and Union Pass both in Wyoming. Both are miles away from anything. Dumping there wouldn’t hurt anything. Dumping on Union Pass might, or could attract a grisly bear so that might no be wise. Unless you were bear hunting and lazy. If the water sinks in I would say no problem if it just sets there that might be a problem.

We use a generator to keep our battery changed. We only need it a couple of hours a day. We are out hiking or fishing, just outside and don’t use that much electricity. We have an 400 watt inverter to run the TV and Dish an hour or so a day.
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Old 01-18-2019, 05:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by awheeler View Post
Thank Jeffba! Where are you right now? We have some folks here in Corpus from Bastrop. That's not you is it?
Nope still in Bastrop.

Called Work. You remember that don't you?
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Old 01-18-2019, 10:08 PM   #6
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A generator doesn't care about poor weather, shade trees, hail, snow, or nightfall.
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Old 01-19-2019, 05:53 AM   #7
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Hi Don,

Before you go boon docking the first questions you need to answer are:
• How long will I be boon docking?
• What can I live with and without? TV , Sat, AC, Micro……
• How long will you be owning your Monty?
Once you know or think you know you can start planning what you want to do.
I am thinking of setting up for boon docking also.

I already have 2 batteries. When I start I will start with adding batteries. Preferably AGMs (less off gassing and maintenance)
Second a generator. 2000 watt to just charge batteries or a second genny or something bigger to run AC. (still working on that)
DW’s thermostat runs hot so I need to plan for AC if I want to extend the BD season.

Then if we find we really like it then add Solar.

By doing it this way we cut the upfront expenses and if we change our minds it is easier to back out
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Old 01-19-2019, 08:23 AM   #8
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Either can be very effective if correctly installed with equipment sized to fit your needs. The battery banks and inverter size is dependent upon your usage. Living in the east with most dry camping opportunities being in heavily wooded national forest land, we chose the generator route. If we lived in the west with more open areas I'm sure I would have solar with small genny back up.

For your sanity and those camping around you, think of the genny as a means to charge your batteries not constantly power the unit for watching TV etc... You will need the same battery packs and inverter for either system, your just using a different charging system. Spend the extra money for a quiet inverter generator.

Waste water management starts with the amount you put in those tanks. You need to change the way you use water. Use much less when showering, washing dishes and even using the restroom. This is also user dependent including size of holding tanks and how long you intend to be staying. Wife and I have often stayed for 10 to 12 days without dumping an ounce in our Wildcat. We're hoping to do the same in the new Montana but it has smaller tanks.
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Old 01-19-2019, 08:25 AM   #9
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you have to decide on a few things. how long? are you talking weeks? days? need a/c? need tv?



a 2000-2200 generator will do just fine for most things--not a/c. you don't have to do dual fuel, most don't. You can always add solar later.


water and dumping are always an issue too.
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Old 01-19-2019, 11:26 AM   #10
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I have an Onan generator and 200 watts solar with 4 six volt batteries, 1200 watt inverter. We usually boondock at Walmarts in transit to our destination. If we need to run the AC, microwave, or coffee maker generator is only option. I find that the solar/battery setup provides enough to run satellite dish, 43 or 24 inch flatscreen, lighting, and heater for a night. 200 watts is enough to charge batteries during day when traveling. I fished extension cords from inverter to entrainment center and bedrooom TV. When boondocking, unplug power strip from shore power outlet to extension cord outlet. Also installed old fashioned 12 hour mechanical timer on inverter (it doesn't draw any additional power to operate). Set it to go off after TV puts us to sleep so inverter shuts down and stops drawing current during the night.

The longest we've boondocked is 4 nights. The bathroom grey tank is usually full by that time. Black and galley tanks gets to 40% during that time. Installed Seelevel gauge, so it's fairly accurate. In preparation for longer boondocking, I installed a 12 volt water pump and abs drain clean out on grey tank. Put suction tube through clean out to bottom of grey tank (Installed filter and fishing weight on that end). I can transfer grey water to either black tank (using rinse connection to black tank) or route pump output tube through window to kitchen sink (galley grey tank).
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffba View Post
Nope still in Bastrop.

Called Work. You remember that don't you?

Oh nooooo! W_O_R_K is a four letter word!
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:29 PM   #12
awheeler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffba View Post
Hi Don,

Before you go boon docking the first questions you need to answer are:
• How long will I be boon docking?
• What can I live with and without? TV , Sat, AC, Micro……
• How long will you be owning your Monty?
Once you know or think you know you can start planning what you want to do.
I am thinking of setting up for boon docking also.

I already have 2 batteries. When I start I will start with adding batteries. Preferably AGMs (less off gassing and maintenance)
Second a generator. 2000 watt to just charge batteries or a second genny or something bigger to run AC. (still working on that)
DW’s thermostat runs hot so I need to plan for AC if I want to extend the BD season.

Then if we find we really like it then add Solar.

By doing it this way we cut the upfront expenses and if we change our minds it is easier to back out

These are all great things to think about and this is the way we would proceed. Thanks for your insight.
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:32 PM   #13
awheeler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffba View Post
Hi Don,

Before you go boon docking the first questions you need to answer are:
• How long will I be boon docking?
• What can I live with and without? TV , Sat, AC, Micro……
• How long will you be owning your Monty?
Once you know or think you know you can start planning what you want to do.
I am thinking of setting up for boon docking also.

I already have 2 batteries. When I start I will start with adding batteries. Preferably AGMs (less off gassing and maintenance)
Second a generator. 2000 watt to just charge batteries or a second genny or something bigger to run AC. (still working on that)
DW’s thermostat runs hot so I need to plan for AC if I want to extend the BD season.

Then if we find we really like it then add Solar.

By doing it this way we cut the upfront expenses and if we change our minds it is easier to back out
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hblick48 View Post
I have an Onan generator and 200 watts solar with 4 six volt batteries, 1200 watt inverter. We usually boondock at Walmarts in transit to our destination. If we need to run the AC, microwave, or coffee maker generator is only option. I find that the solar/battery setup provides enough to run satellite dish, 43 or 24 inch flatscreen, lighting, and heater for a night. 200 watts is enough to charge batteries during day when traveling. I fished extension cords from inverter to entrainment center and bedrooom TV. When boondocking, unplug power strip from shore power outlet to extension cord outlet. Also installed old fashioned 12 hour mechanical timer on inverter (it doesn't draw any additional power to operate). Set it to go off after TV puts us to sleep so inverter shuts down and stops drawing current during the night.

The longest we've boondocked is 4 nights. The bathroom grey tank is usually full by that time. Black and galley tanks gets to 40% during that time. Installed Seelevel gauge, so it's fairly accurate. In preparation for longer boondocking, I installed a 12 volt water pump and abs drain clean out on grey tank. Put suction tube through clean out to bottom of grey tank (Installed filter and fishing weight on that end). I can transfer grey water to either black tank (using rinse connection to black tank) or route pump output tube through window to kitchen sink (galley grey tank).

Thanks for your insight! Lot's to think about.
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Old 01-19-2019, 04:37 PM   #14
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Don & Ann,

You will likely want some of each. It would take a very large battery bank and solar setup to do solar only.

I recommend this order in setting up:
1. Assess expected needs
2. Battery bank based on your expected usage
3. Inverter to run some things off the batteries without turning on the genny
4. Genny to recharge your battery bank - size based on needs. Two 2000 or 2400 units give you lots of options
5. Solar

While you can get along without solar its really nice not listening to your genny run.
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Old 01-19-2019, 04:39 PM   #15
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I don’t now how long you plan to camp at a time, but since we installed solar several years ago, we haven’t used the generator once. Our system will allow tv use, but no A/C or microwave, and DC and propane take care of our needs nicely. As far as waste water, if you are frugal, you should be able to go a week or 10 days with your holding tanks. Beyond that, you could use Bluboys, and dump when you get back to civilization.

Boondocking just requires a different mindset. Once you adapt, you’ll love it. Good luck!
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Old 01-19-2019, 04:52 PM   #16
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Just a thought on solar, you can get a tax credit on solar installs. Certain rules apply. This year is the last year to get a 30% tax credit on the cost. Next year it drops to 26% then 22% in 2021 the credit goes away for non-commercial installs after that...... Food for thought.
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Old 01-27-2019, 04:23 PM   #17
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There are plenty of youtube videos, and web pages on boondocking.
Do as much research as you can before you go and there won't be too many surprises.

Solar takes a bit of planning. How long will you be boondocking?
What do you intend to run with electricity?
What time of year is it?
etc...
If you just want to boondock for a long weekend, a small solar kit that sets up in a couple minutes and costs under $200 might keep your batteries up for an extra day or two.
But if you are going to be off grid for a month or more, you have to do some planning on how many panels, how big of a battery bank do you need, if you need an inverter and what size, etc...

I suggest going with a generator first, then look at solar.
There are times when you may have to fire up a generator even if you have solar due to extended cloud cover, or higher than expected electrical use.
The latter could happen even if you have to run your heater a lot due to an unexpected cold front, and even running a microwave off of an inverter will draw quite a bit of electricity.
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Old 02-01-2019, 09:34 AM   #18
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Just a couple of thoughts...

Something important I think everybody missed is the fact that your model rv has a residential fridge which will be drawing power 24/7. Depending on your battery setup, you can go maybe 2 days before having to recharge your batteries. (assuming you did not use anything else in the rv). You may need a constant source of power to boondock with your 3791rd. Solar will provide that, but as stated before, no microwave or a/c. To be honest, you will probably be best served by having both solar and generator.


As far as dual fuel generators go, less output on propane and cost more. You can get 2 2000 watt inverter generators and parallel kit from harbor freight for about $1000. Very portable and easy to use for that extra needed power.
JMHO
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:58 AM   #19
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Heh chief, everything you say is true enough, but as long as you are mentioning cons of the dual fuel especially with propane, you should mention a couple of pros...
1. propane is clean and won't gum up your genny.
2. it burns better at altitude than gas does.
3. if gas is not available or you run out, you can switch fuels if your rig already has propane available for other things like a WH or furnace.

in the interest of full disclosure. A case can be made for both single and dual fuel gennies... YMMV as they say.
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Old 02-01-2019, 11:57 AM   #20
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Heh chief, everything you say is true enough, but as long as you are mentioning cons of the dual fuel especially with propane, you should mention a couple of pros...
1. propane is clean and won't gum up your genny.
2. it burns better at altitude than gas does.
3. if gas is not available or you run out, you can switch fuels if your rig already has propane available for other things like a WH or furnace.

in the interest of full disclosure. A case can be made for both single and dual fuel gennies... YMMV as they say.
Fair enough.
Knowing the pros and cons help in better decision making.
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