We finally broke down and purchased generators for our Airstream. Even though we have a solar panel on the roof that usually keeps our batteries topped off, we sometimes need a little more power for some situations when boondocking/dry camping. We don’t like the sound of generators in campgrounds, but there are times when generator power is necessary, like it or not.
Here are some examples:
- Sometimes we boondock in warm places with our dogs. If we need to run an errand or go on a hiking trail they aren’t allowed on, it can get very, very hot inside of our trailer for them. Since we can’t run our air conditioner off of the trailer batteries, we need generator power. Okay, okay, sometimes it’s too hot for us too!
- If the weather is cold and we run the heater a lot, our solar can’t always keep the batteries charged up enough and again we need a generator. The heater in a travel trailer is a real energy hog by the way.
- I also carry a pancake air compressor capable of filling the high-pressure tires on our truck and Airstream. It needs electricity to fill the air tank and our trailer batteries don’t have enough power, so again, we need a generator. Those little portable compressor/battery jump start units, which most folks have, work great on cars but don’t last long with higher pressure demands.
After way too much research, my generator of choice was the Yamaha EF2000iSv2. I could have gone with the equivalent Honda model, EU200i, and would be very happy. Both perform the same, are really quiet (for generators) and are backed by the two best, in my opinion, companies that make this type of generator. Both are inverter generators, meaning they produce very clean power. If you need to power sensitive electronics, like a computer, you want the clean power an inverter generator produces to avoid possible damage.
The Yamaha is a 2000w peak power generator that puts out 1600w of clean power. It can generate 2000w for a brief period of time to account for the startup of a heavy-duty electric motor. One of these generators won’t run our Airstream air conditioner though, so I got two and run them in parallel. In this configuration, 4000w peak can be briefly generated with up to 3200w being constantly generated. That’s more than enough for the air conditioner and a few other things.
Each of the Yamaha’s weighs 44lbs., so I can easily move them in and out of the truck. I could have gotten one bigger generator for our needs but it would have weighed at least 150lbs, probably more, and I didn’t grow up on muscle beach. I don’t have to run them in parallel. If I need power for something smallish, I can just fire up one. I use them individually around the house all of the time, mostly when doing yard work.
There are some features on the Yamaha that are not available on the Honda, as of this writing, and that’s what sold me. First, the Yamaha has a fuel gauge and the Honda does not. While the fuel gauge may seem like a small deal, it comes in very handy when you’re trying to avoid overfilling the gas tank or need to know how much fuel is left in the tank after a few hours of running. Second, the Yamaha allows me to shut off the fuel feed and run the carburetor dry. Gas does go bad and can gum up the engine if it’s in there too long. Third, the Yamaha also has an “extended” engine life rating at 500 hours vs Honda’s 250 hour rating. This means that you shouldn’t see internal engine components wear as soon. Fourth, Yamaha also has a slightly larger fuel tank and gets nearly an hour longer run time on a 1/4 load. For extra credit, they also give you a battery charging cable. Either generator is a good choice, I just liked some options on the Yamaha the Honda didn’t have. Oh yes, I’d advise a magnetic oil dipstick no matter what generator you buy. These things attract tiny metal shavings found in all generators and can help prolong the generator engine life. I’ve put them in our generators and have removed lots of metal shavings.
The Yamaha and Honda’s are about the same price and will cost around $1800.00 total if you get two to run in parallel. This may seem a little costly, especially when there are other brands that are much, much cheaper, but in this case you get what you pay for.
You’ll know when you need a generator for sure. When you are in the market for a generator, do your homework before you buy and determine what your needs really are. Perhaps one of the less expensive models will serve you just fine, they just didn’t seem right for us long-term.