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Old 04-13-2021, 04:56 AM   #1
JimIrish7
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5th Wheel and traveling-7 weeks-BOON-DOCKING?

I am sure this has been asked many times. But, need to narrow things down as we prepare to leave at end of June for 7 weeks out West from Atlanta.

1. We are new to the 5th wheel and have had TT's before.
2. We have planned to stay at a number of sites without hookups this summer.
3. Have a MHC 281CK(just rec'd) that has a space for an on board generator but did not order one until I talked to people on the forum.
4. We would only boondock for 1-2 nights at a time perhaps 3 at the max. Would like to have at least 1 air conditioner work etc..
5. This MHC is only 32ft and only my wife and I are travelling.

Need some clear direction on which way to go?
a. buy a onboard generator and have someone install?
b. carry a honda 3000 or similar in the bed of the truck all summer?
c. other options etc.


Thanks for the help so we can make a decision.
Regards,
Jim
 
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Old 04-13-2021, 05:51 AM   #2
Daryles
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Another option might be a DC to DC charger.
I did a write up on my install.
https://www.montanaowners.com/forums...hlight=charger.
We are currently traveling and have completed a 4 day boondocking stay on Ocracoke Island on the OuterBanks NC. The weather was perfect. We actually did not have to use it. Our 400W solar panels and batteries got us through. In fact we ran out of water first. The morning we left the batteries were down to 20%. As we go up the East coast we are anticipating boondocking again in Maine for a week.
For running the air conditioner on a small generator, you may want to look into installing a Soft Start on the AC unit.
https://www.rvtravel.com/rv-electric...-hrdl-testing/
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Old 04-13-2021, 06:18 AM   #3
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The west is very big. It goes from sea level to above 10,000 feet. So, not knowing where you are headed, I will give you two scenarios. First, if you are headed to the SW (Arizona, Utah, New Mexico), you will face daytime temps over 100 degrees. One A/C will not do it, so you may want that big generator install. If you are going to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana you can face freezing temps year round at night. We have done well with two Honda 2000’s in parallel. Noise in the 58 db range, weight about 50 lbs. Also, above 5000 ft you lose 10% of your generator capability for every 1,000 feet of elevation. A DC-DC charger is great for charging batteries but won’t help your A/C issue. A soft start is a great idea. Navy showers (rinse, water off, soap, rinse, water off) will help. Enjoy one of the great opportunities out west. Lots of boondocking available.
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Old 04-13-2021, 06:24 AM   #4
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4. We would only boondock for 1-2 nights at a time perhaps 3 at the max. Would like to have at least 1 air conditioner work etc..
The primary variable here is where and how you are boondocking. The question of whether the the air conditioner will "work" is different from whether you can run the generator longer than the limited hours that it may be allowed to run or that it may be run with consideration for your neighbors.

There are vast stretches across the south (especially Texas) where you would need an air conditioner to run all night to sleep comfortably; while in the mountains of Colorado you might not need the AC at all, or only in the hottest park of the day when it would be reasonable to power it with a generator.

We traveled last Summer through Texas to New Mexico and Colorado in our 34' fifth wheel with a portable Honda on a rear carrier on the trailer. We planned our stops in Texas to have electric hook up, but in Colorado we were able to use our generator during the day as I have described above.

We do have the soft start on our main AC unit and our Honda is a 3000i (inverter) model. We would not want to have an onboard generator, but prefer this portable model.

My main message is: Have a realistic idea of the limitations of when, where, and how you can run your generator in the kind of boondocking site where you plan to stay.
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Old 04-13-2021, 07:00 AM   #5
JimIrish7
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Boon-docking

Thanks for the quick responses:

We are going to Dakotas, Glacier, Yellowstone, Arches, Zion and Rocky NP.

Is the easiest way to get a portable generator(carry it in the truck,buy gas before we boondock for 2 days etc) and if so, who would I have here in GA walk me through, help install whatever else we need it etc.? Camping stores etc. are booked out for months.

Really appreciate the thoughts?

Jim
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Old 04-13-2021, 07:24 AM   #6
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My preference is to have two (Honda) 2200 watt generators. Most of the time one can easily handle the load. If one were to malfunction you have a spare. Then when things warm up the two can be paired up to handle an AC and then some.
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:44 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimIrish7 View Post
Thanks for the quick responses:

We are going to Dakotas, Glacier, Yellowstone, Arches, Zion and Rocky NP.

Is the easiest way to get a portable generator(carry it in the truck,buy gas before we boondock for 2 days etc) and if so, who would I have here in GA walk me through, help install whatever else we need it etc.? Camping stores etc. are booked out for months.

Really appreciate the thoughts?

Jim
Jim,

Recommend you consider a pair of 2000-2200 watt gennies with a parallel kit that you can carry in your pickup bed or store them in the rig. They are lighter and much easier to handle one at a time. You often will not need to run both. With soft start that can be added to your air one will get you by for a single air. If you have two a/c units you could run both if they have soft starts.

You could buy soft starts online and have a mobile tech install them. If you only plan to use one a/c skip the soft start and just use the paired gennies.
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:48 AM   #8
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My recommendation would be to have a 5500 installed prior to taking the trip. If you are going to camp off the grid for 2 or 3 days you will be having to conserve water and limit how full your holding tanks are getting, you certainly don't want to mess with either no generator or gassing up portable(s).
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:52 AM   #9
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5500?

Sorry is that a 5500 onan and who can do that given dealers around here are so slammed?
Will that run both air and do a need to order a soft start?
Jim
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Old 04-13-2021, 09:57 AM   #10
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About the AC

As told to us "anything over 27feet long needs 2 ac's".

We learned quickly they were right.
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:39 AM   #11
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Without solar, you will want to minimize your time in the hotter parts of the country during July & August like Zion, Arches and the Dakotas. I prefer a portable type generator over an on board Onan type. The Onan is convenient but its biggest drawback is it's consumption of propane. A 30 lbs bottle will only last 8 hours at best.

Portable gennies (2 Honda 2000is, or a 3k model like Honda or Predator) are easy to move, use less fuel, and work well. Yes, you will have to carry gas for them but that is usually easily found regardless of where you are.

Another question is what do you have for batteries? The standard one 12V one some dealers install will not be adequate unless you run the generator full time (which brings on other issues - fuel and noise).
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Old 04-13-2021, 10:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimIrish7 View Post
I am sure this has been asked many times. But, need to narrow things down as we prepare to leave at end of June for 7 weeks out West from Atlanta.

1. We are new to the 5th wheel and have had TT's before.
2. We have planned to stay at a number of sites without hookups this summer.
3. Have a MHC 281CK(just rec'd) that has a space for an on board generator but did not order one until I talked to people on the forum.
4. We would only boondock for 1-2 nights at a time perhaps 3 at the max. Would like to have at least 1 air conditioner work etc..
5. This MHC is only 32ft and only my wife and I are travelling.

Need some clear direction on which way to go?
a. buy a onboard generator and have someone install?
b. carry a honda 3000 or similar in the bed of the truck all summer?
c. other options etc.


Thanks for the help so we can make a decision.
Regards,
Jim
Another option is to run Micro Air Easy Starts on your A/C units, which would allow you to use one smaller generator to run everything, instead of having to buy 2 and hook them together. I can plug my rig into a standard 120 outlet and run an A/C unit with no problem at all. If I was to buy a generator that is portable I would buy something around the 3-3500 watt rating and have it be a dual fuel option. Oh and congratulations on getting a 5th wheel. From Robert
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:02 AM   #13
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First, these Montanas are NOT insulated well to stop from heating up. I don't think there is even insulation in the top of the slides, as they are only about 3 inches thick.

Two points. I agree with those about running the A/C. Pretty much anywhere in AZ/NM/UT you will need it. And unless you are in the mountains in those states, you will need it all night. I live in AZ and if you are lucky, it gets down to 90 at night.

So in order to use the genny, you either need to be very strong - i checked and the 3000 weighs 140 lb (shipping wt anyway). Or get a 30 Amp extension cable and put the 50 and 30 together and just hook up to the 3000 in the truck bed.
I have stayed in Buena vista in CO that is around 8000 ft elevation. I would still need AC during the day time.
The northern states should be managable and beautiful.

p.s. off topic, but the Big Horns (WY) are my favorite area. Many boondocking places around there - some campgrounds with reservations and some dirt roads you can just park. Be wary of highway 14A on the west side, - it is called Oh My God hill for good reason. 10 miles of 10% and 8 miles of 8%. Not for the weak of heart. Oh, while exploring a dirt road there were a couple of campers parked. Withing 1/4 miles was a moose grazing!!!! Those are hard to find.
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Old 04-13-2021, 11:20 AM   #14
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If you get the on board generator you won't have to worry is someone is going to steal it out of your truck. You also don't have to put the generator in and out of the truck.
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Old 04-13-2021, 12:06 PM   #15
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All good info to your decision making ... without getting into the physical lifting abilities demanded by the outboard generator, fuel consumption needs to be estimated. I've had the Honda solution, keeping the individual weight within tolerable lifting, and went with (a not cheap) fuel extender system - you need extra fuel cans anyways, so why not have them with an auto feed such that you don't have to go out in the elements to refuel? I've had the 5500 Onan gas, with a large fuel tank strung below the second bay door on the front. Still carried a 5 gallon gas can just-in-case. This meant propane was never an issue. My new Montana has the 5500 Onan running off propane, and it is a consumer! Limits my desire to run much if off grid for multiple days. Also carry a separate 20 gallon propane tank (mostly for BBQ), and what's called a "steak saver" adaptor with a three-pack of the little green canisters.

As others have said above, there are plus/minus factors to each of the major three choices. Given what I've read from you, I'd throw my vote to the twin Honda's, but be sure to get the fuel extenders and carry a spare to even them. No installation necessary, generators, twinning cables, and plug adaptors all available at CW, least expensive solution, no noise/vibration within the unit, etc. Fuel extenders from Amazon and easy to hook up yourself.

BTW, we've seriously paired back on our off-the-grid camping, so our solar/inverter system with upgraded batteries and propane generator were acceptable to us.
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Old 04-13-2021, 04:00 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by skippydoo View Post
About the AC

As told to us "anything over 27feet long needs 2 ac's".

We learned quickly they were right.
Cindy,

All depends on when and where you camp. We stay low in the winter and high in the summer requiring very little a/c. Even when its hot (100+) we use 2 to start cooling and then can taper off to one.
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Old 04-13-2021, 05:12 PM   #17
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In our planning, we take seasonal temperatures into account. On our current road trip, we went to Florida first then started working our way northward as temps warmed. No need for AC. Actually had to run the furnace a few nights. We will end up in Maine by July. If the boarder opens, pop over to Nova Scotia. Then work our way back down to the rally in Goshen by September. We have planned several trips that way. Not always possible but ...
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Old 04-13-2021, 06:12 PM   #18
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I’m a boondocker. I have 2 generators a 2000 watt Predator from Harbor Freight and a 3000 watt Honda. The Honda is a great generator but the Predator is also. If I were buying another generator it would be a HarborFreight 3500 watt Predator. $850 verses $2000 plus and the Harbor Freight I has 500 more watts it’s not even a contest. I have a receptacle in the front of my camper and a short extension cord to hook it up. The Honda rides in the front of the bed of my truck. My last choice would be a installed generator. I have a Onan in my motor home. It’s a microquiet 4000. That is half right. It is small, quiet no, but for $3000 no thanks.
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Old 04-13-2021, 06:26 PM   #19
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Predator-

Just one 3500 predator? Learning alot on this topic all..... and much appreciated.
Thanks
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Old 04-13-2021, 06:46 PM   #20
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Just one 3500 predator? Learning alot on this topic all..... and much appreciated.
Thanks

You could get two but that is a lot to carry with you. They weigh a hundred pounds each so itís not a lot of weight and they would easily run your camper. If you live near a Harbor Freight you can find them returned for about $700. But even at $850 they are less than one Honda. If you camp at much altitude you loose 3.6 % power of any internal combustion engine per 1000 except for turbo charged engines. They have 3000 running watts each so at 8000 feet you would still have 4200 watt. That is more than a 5500 Onan.
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