Tom1200 HalfDork
9/10/18 8:26 p.m.

I use a 1990 Ford E250 Coachman class B as my tow vehicle.

I recently found a new 5000BTU AC unit and so the time has come to finally get a generator.

The van is set up generator ready; the on board Onan units are nice but are a minimum of $ a $5,000 Van. Also it seems the newer units are load and not the most reliable (Internet lore?)

A Honda portable can be had new for around $800-$900 they are quiet and while only 50lbs toting one around may get old. In theory you could mount one on board.

Harbor and loud. Will my fellow paddock residents learn to hate me because my generator is goin bwaaaaaaaaaaa half the day.

So what are people using?

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
9/10/18 8:33 p.m.

I read some crazy article recently that actually rated the latest generation of small HF generators as better than Honda. They're not bad like they were even 3-4 years ago. 

Toyman01 MegaDork
9/10/18 8:45 p.m.

This is what I run. It powers a 8K btu A/C and a portable refrigerator. It's pretty quiet, even with the A/C running. 

The Predator units from HF have come a long way. I had one of the early ones and they weren't as quiet as the Honda is, and the electronic throttle hunted constantly. It does still run and make power though. The new ones are supposed to be outstanding but I don't have any direct experience with them. 

pirate Reader
9/10/18 10:30 p.m.

I was at a NASCAR race and Honda had a tent set up in the vendor area selling various Honda  products. I was looking at the Honda generators and didn’t even realize the one I was looking at  was running it was so quiet. This was one in a crowded area but normal noise levels. A lot depends on your power requirements but you cannot go wrong with the Honda reliability however they are a bit more expensive. Your neighbors at event will appreciate your Honda choice. 

Tom1200 HalfDork
9/10/18 10:46 p.m.

The Honda sound level is 10db lower than the HF unit. That's hard to ignore.

toyman01........ I like the way you have it mounted. 

I'm planning on removing all the propane fueled stuff and going all electric. This may free up some storage space. 

ebonyandivory PowerDork
9/11/18 12:19 a.m.

Can you experiment with different mufflers?

pirate Reader
9/11/18 9:51 a.m.

The muffler certainly has a lot to do with it but the case the generator is housed in also contributes to the quietness. I have a onan gas generator in our motorhome and actually sits inside a insulated box and is very quiet.

Sonic UltraDork
9/11/18 10:04 a.m.

I have the Yamaha version of what Toyman posted.  Both are great units.  Mine starts first pull, is super quiet, easily portable.  From what I can remember of my research when I was buying was that the Yamaha was slightly cheaper with maybe 100w more power.  

sergio Reader
9/11/18 10:17 a.m.

I have a Yamaha 3000 watt one. Super quite and economical. Cost was about $1200 less than a 3000 watt Honda. This was 10 years ago when I bought it. 

8valve Reader
9/11/18 10:52 a.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

You can get a used Onan with an RV attached to it for $1500 sometimes...  there has got to be a way to score a good used generator for a reasonable price.. One would think.

Tom1200 HalfDork
9/11/18 7:19 p.m.

8valve on the surface that would seem like the ticket but the Class B units are the Onan 2800s  which are far less common. A buddy has offered me up the unit out of his beat up Class A he's have not hauled off but it's to big.


Curtis UltimaDork
9/12/18 11:37 a.m.

If you do a portable generator, be aware you may have heat issues if you install it in your generator compartment.  RV generators are designed for enclosed spaces, portables are not.

At camp we have a 5000w portable in an outside closet that probably measures 4x8' with an outside exhaust.  After running it for an hour it is significantly warm in that room.

grover HalfDork
9/12/18 11:43 a.m.

you could build a vented "quiet box" for an external generator.  That may help with sound and allow you to buy something other than an onan.  My Onan 4000 was dang near bulletproof though, bummer it won't fit.  Having an integrated genset is useful. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/12/18 12:25 p.m.

I've pondered this question for years. One issue I have with something like Toyman's set-up is refueling. I'd be more inclined to go that route if I could figure out some way to plumb it to the fuel tank of the van so it could run for long periods without having to manually refill it.  I want remote start as well, so I don't have to go outside and yank on a cord at 3AM after it runs out of gas.

I wish the generator I want was $2500. The diesel generators installed under many Sprinter based RV's sells for about $7000.   Literally twice what I paid for my E-350 diesel conversion van. 

An alternative I've thought of is to get a small, 10HP air-cooled engine (with remote start ability) and double-belt it to a 250A alternator along with a R134a A/C compressor.  The compressor would get piped to a dedicated evaporator unit inside.  Mount under the van in a ducted enclosure to mitigate the noise with a fan to pull air through and also blow across the A/C condenser. 250A would provide plenty of power to charge batteries and run a few things through an inverter. So far, I haven't found a reason why this wouldn't work. 

Vigo UltimaDork
9/12/18 12:58 p.m.

I've done some thinking and research along these lines as well. If you look up/calculate the actual consumption for the common 5000btu 'small window units' they're taking about 500-600w while running, more at startup. That's well within the range of a fairly affordable inverter. There's a good chance that your stock alternator can keep up with this either at idle or with a high idle switch. 600w divided by ~12v = 50a. Fudge that up maybe 20% for the inefficiency of a cheap inverter and you're still at 60a. Lots of alternators can do this at idle, and pretty much all of them can do it off-idle.  So my question is, would you rather buy and deal with a generator, or just buy an inverter and leave your van idling? This probably depends on how long you plan to use the AC and a bunch of other things. If you're only going to use the AC while you're with the van, it's probably not a big deal to just run the van engine. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/12/18 1:49 p.m.

In reply to Vigo :

Umm... the van has A/C, so if just letting the engine idle was an option then a generator or inverter or separate A/C wouldn't be required at all. 

In my case, the engine in question is a 7.3 IDI.  Leaving it idling all night at a campsite is not an option. I'd wake up to 4 slashed tires.  

It's not that your idea won't work, it just isn't practical in most camping situations.

81cpcamaro Dork
9/12/18 2:49 p.m.

Yea, the IDI will wake the dead, I agree leaving it running isn't going to make any friends.

A engine running an alternator with an inverter is still going to be loud like a regular generator, probably best to just get a quiet generator.

SilvaDragon New Reader
9/12/18 4:56 p.m.

Was recently researching generators and came across this thing:

Crazy for around $300. There's an identical model for a few bucks more that's CARB if you're in CA. Reviews are generally good, but scan for yourself.


Vigo UltimaDork
9/12/18 11:19 p.m.

Sorry, the tow vehicle thing made me think was a racing paddock type of use. 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
9/13/18 5:16 a.m.

The sounds level of Hondas is definitely impressive. While I was at Watkins Glen last week, a work crew was doing water main work in front of our rental. They had a Honda EU3000 running with a low load and it's amazing how quiet 49db is. I was talking to one of the workers maybe 5 feet away from it and could barely tell it was running.  

81cpcamaro said:

Yea, the IDI will wake the dead, I agree leaving it running isn't going to make any friends.

A engine running an alternator with an inverter is still going to be loud like a regular generator, probably best to just get a quiet generator.

The problem is finding a quiet generator that runs on diesel from a remote tank and with remote start.

KevinSalyer None
9/19/18 3:12 a.m.

I have been contemplating the same thing for awhile now. I have a 5000 watt generator in the garage to run the house in an outage, but its overkill (and heavy to move) for camping. I have heard nothing but good things about the Honda Generators. They're quiet (no disturbing other campers in the woods) and run like 8-12 hours on a tank of gas. You'll have to look at the wattage for your A/C. My best guess would be to get the 3000 watt. Also, yamaha and cummins genset are good.

They do run quiet and are said to be every penny worth the extra money. You may not use it that often, but my opinion is that you would get what you pay for with one of the cheapers $200-$300 models.

Petrolburner Dork
9/19/18 12:46 p.m.

I would encourage a person to do it right the first time and just buy the Honda or Yamaha.  The resale will be far superior if you change your mind down the road and every time you start it with one pull and it quietly idles you will be smiling knowing you made the right choice.  You'll forget about the couple hundred bucks difference soon enough.  If it's not used weekly or at least monthly I'd definitely vote for the Honda.  Where do you get a carb rebuild kit or any other spare parts for the Predator?  HF doesn't carry anything, your only option is to return it for a new one.  Also, how do you feel about rewarding China's design rip off?  

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