I broke down and finally purchased a generator… here’s why –

I’ve been “full timing” since the Autumn of 2011. One of my first purchases was a Renogy Solar Suitcase – a system designed to provide “juice” to the batteries (I use 2 Trojan 105 6v batteries in series) to enable “off grid” stays in “dry” (no hookup) campgrounds.

My first Renogy system was a 100 watt solar suitcase, but when the 200 watt system (I call it a system because it includes a weather-proof solar controller) became available, I opted to sell my 100 watt and replace it with the 200 watt.

My camper with the 200 watt Renogy Solar Suitcase sitting by its side during a recent stay at Tough Creek Campground

With Solar Power who needs a Generator?

YOU do! (And so did I!) Here’s what I’ve learned…

Many of the best campsites are surrounded by trees. I ran into this issue last September in Evans CG in Eastern Washington. The shade from those trees limited the ability of my trusty (and HIGHLY reliable) solar panels to do their job. Combine that with some cloud cover, and I quickly found myself in a situation where my batteries were slowly draining day to day. Since I was not willing to risk damaging my batteries due to over-draining, after a few days, I headed back to a campsite with electrical hookups.

On my recent early Spring outing to Tough Creek Campground, I knew the forecast had significant cloud cover likely and decided that a generator would be that added “insurance” to guarantee I would not over-use my battery power and to provide just a hint of modern conveniences when desired. So… it was time to consider a generator, but WHY NOW?

Why Generators Make MORE sense than ever before…

In preparation for my stay at Tough Creek earlier this month (April 2019), I opted to take action on getting a generator. This is NOT the first time I’ve considered buying one. So… why now?

As a rv consultant for the past few years, the common wisdom for customers who wanted a generator was to recommend the Yamaha or Honda 2000 watt generators. Yamaha has since had issues, but the Honda’s remain a solid product – with two BIG drawbacks (in my view)… The Honda 2000 watt generator will cost you about $1000. and weighs 48 pounds. I don’t know about you, but lugging a 48 pound generator around is NOT my idea of fun and $1000. is a barrier for many folks.

Enter the “Predator” by Harbor Freight in 2018. The 2000 watt predator for UNDER $500. represented a price break that makes the financial barrier MUCH lower than when Honda was “the” model to get. Are you sacrificing anything for HALF the cost? From what I’ve read, the Predator is just as reliable as the Honda. BUT… the Predator is still a “heavy weight.” So… for me, I had limited interest.

The Wen Generator is a Game Changer

Why? Well, the 2000 watt Wen is priced just as aggressively as the Predator (if not moreso as it is WELL under $500.), but it is also about 10 pounds LIGHTER than the Predator! Yep, at about 38 pounds for the Wen, a price well under $500. and strong reviews, I decided it was time to “pull the trigger” and get one.

Before you ask… YES, it can be paralleled with another Wen to generate enough power to run the A/C in your camper. For me, I’m happy to know I have a reliable source of power to charge my batteries, run my slides in/out, and operate my landing gear, regardless of the weather conditions!

Additional benefits I discovered while using my new Wen include…

  • While its running, the fridge can run on AC and as such uses less propane
  • It is QUIET (as quiet as the Predator or Honda)
  • I can use my microwave (mine is a 1500 watt model, so, I had to run the microwave at 70% power – still quite functional)
  • I can run lights (and TV/Computer) in the evening “guilt free” (that is – I’m not concerned about over draining the batteries) – when it comes time to go to sleep, I shut off the generator, and the only significant power draw overnight is the furnace.

In all cases, upon awakening and checking my batteries in the morning, they were quite healthy.

Bottom Line on Generators…

I wanted and expected just a few things from a generator –

  • Be there when I need it (and reliable enough to run)
  • Be light enough to carry and deploy it
  • Be powerful enough to run most of the electrical systems in my camper
  • Be cost efficient enough so its not going to cost me an arm and a leg

The 2000 watt Wen “fits the bill” in each of the above requirements. Here is an Amazon link where you can explore it further…

***As a full timer, I’ve created a list of accessories and tools I find helpful to have. Here is that LIST***

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8 thoughts on “I broke down and finally purchased a generator… here’s why –”

  1. Love all the info and also have been contemplating purchasing one for the same reasons.
    I see the model you choose does not have an RV Plug on it. Is there a reason for this?

    • The “rv plug” you refer to is a 30A or 50A receptacle. I have (if you follow my video closely) a 30A to 15A adapter so I can plug from the main port on the side of my camper to the standard 110v (15A) receptacle on the generator. The reality is with 1 generator, you can only run 15A max inside your camper. If you parallel this gen with another, the parallel kit can include a 30A receptacle. If you want a 30A receptacle directly built into the generator, its likely to be a much higher powered model and much more expensive.

  2. I did the same as you, but I went with Generac for just under $500 each and the parrallel kit was $150.
    Contray to what customer service says, any inverter generator can be parralleled with another.
    Honda has their unique cable but, Generac’s cable just plugs into the regular 20 amp plug.
    Honda also has an “a” and “b” generator which you need both to be able to connect together.

    • sounds like a plan, however if its the generac 6866 model, it weighs 8 pounds more than the Wen… for me that would be a big deal.

  3. I got a Champion 2800 (3100w peak) quiet inverter generator from Costco for $750. It has the 30 amp RV receptacle and will run the AC just fine.

    • William, the Champion 2800 is 84 pounds (38# for the Wen) – this would be an immediate knock-out for me and MOST folks as I’m NOT lifting 84 pound anythings!! As to price… I could have about 2 Wen’s for what the Champion 2800 sells for… and each is still lightweight and very movable! Also, if I need a/c, I’ll get to 110 volt “shore power” or go to a higher elevation! Al

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