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.
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 more so as it is about $500.), but it is also about 10 pounds LIGHTER than the Predator! Yep, at about 39 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. The parallel kit costs about 64.00. 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… (this generator is the updated model from what I purchased – mine, also a Wen has been VERY reliable and is about a year old at this time.)
***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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