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Old 05-13-2019, 05:45 PM   #1
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Default Generator or not for Roadtrek Agile SS

Hi, as (slightly) aging tent campers in our mid-late 50's, we are looking to become RVers. The Roadtrek Agile SS seems to meet our needs well. I've been looking at used ones and see that many earlier models have generators, later ones have the AGM or Lithium batteries with solar panels and VoltStart. And if I did not misread the used-ads, some have both.

Our camping will probably be include hot summer months and freezing winter months.

I would love to hear the pros and cons of generator vs. battery storage to help guide us to the specs that will help us the most. I'd like to get one that has the 2.1L engine and driver safety aids.

Thanks for any pointer/experiences/opinions!

Atle

PS - I'm an electrical engineer and not necessarily afraid of the battery option and what appears as common repairs needed to keep them going, but I'd rather camp than wrench!
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Old 05-13-2019, 06:48 PM   #2
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My wife and I are also tent campers. Last fall, we bought a 2015 Roadtrek Etrek with 9600 wh AGM's and no voltstart. It does have an under-hood generator that charges the batteries as we drive and a 240w solar panel that tops them off when we are stopped. It has no propane, the heat and hot water are diesel. The stovetop is electric induction.

We are in northern Minnesota and have camped in sub-zero weather with no problem. We did a winter trip and spent a week at Big Bend National Park in Texas at a campground with no water hookups or electricity. We haven't used the AC and don't really plan to in the future. When it got hot on that trip, the fan kept it within the comfort range. We did run the dashboard AC a couple times while driving.

My take is whether you need a separate generator depends on how you plan to use the RV. Our week in Big Bend included almost daily trips to trailheads. That recharged the batteries. If we had tried to stay the week without moving we might have had some problems. The downside of the generator is that you need to carry another fuel and they are noisy. They weren't allowed in the campground we stayed at in Big Bend

We have only rarely used either shore power or water. We just spent a couple days at an electric site and never bothered to plug in.

I would have preferred lithium when we bought, but have changed my mind. They have advantages but with weeks of sub-zero weather they are probably not that practical for winter camping in northern Minnesota, especially if you have no way to keep them warm. You can use them, but not charge them, below freezing. Whether you can use them at all in -20F is questionable.

So far, we have loved the no-hassle process. But we are looking to live out of our RV, not in it.
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Old 05-14-2019, 07:48 PM   #3
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Thank you for the input Ross!
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:35 PM   #4
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I have a 2013 Roadtrek RS that has the generator that I really donít use very much except to run the microwave when boondocking. I have also run it for maybe 10 hours in 6 years to use the AC when essential and we werenít plugged in to shore power. So, in practical use it has not been essential, and I rarely spend more than one night at a place without driving. So I have only used it once or twice to charge the 225Ah of batteries.

But Iíll tell you that I like the redundancy of having a propane system for cooking, heating, grilling and generating. If I needed to stay someplace for multiple nights without hookups and not enough sun for the 200W solar system I could. So it adds some flexibility to how I can use the RV. On the other hand it is one more thing to maintain.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:43 PM   #5
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Thank you Knit! I guess the one's I've seen for sale with generators rarely have more than a few dozen hours on the generators, so perhaps batteries are all we need... I'd love to hear other's input too!
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Old 05-15-2019, 01:43 PM   #6
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Our generator had very low hours when I pulled it out and sold it on our 07 Roadtrek 190. The hours were probably 95% exercising and the rest for occasional microwave runs. We have been very happy with using batteries to cover the microwave part and even an occasional hair drier.


As has been mentioned, the only real need for a generator is long hour AC running, and IMO batteries aren't quite there yet if you need that AC all the time in a hot climate. There is just too much charge replacement needed and I am not a big fan of using the van engine to charge for hours several times a day.


We decided very early on that we would never be able to use the generator for long term cooling with us in the van, it was just too noisy.



We still need to have the new, quiet, large continuous running for recharging, power source to be developed to handle the big power uses like AC.
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:18 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by booster View Post
Our generator had very low hours when I pulled it out and sold it on our 07 Roadtrek 190. ....

We decided very early on that we would never be able to use the generator for long term cooling with us in the van, it was just too noisy.

We still need to have the new, quiet, large continuous running for recharging, power source to be developed to handle the big power uses like AC.
So you ended up with an AGM or Li battery system for every day use in your current RV booster?
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atlebj View Post
So you ended up with an AGM or Li battery system for every day use in your current RV booster?

440ah of Lifeline AGM


Magnum MS2000 inverter/charger


300 watts solar Blue Sky controller



Dual alternators turned down to settable limits. Was 280 or 180 amps, now 180 and 120 amps


It all is working well together for the last 3 years or so.
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:29 PM   #9
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If I may ask booster, which RV do you have?
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Old 05-15-2019, 02:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atlebj View Post
If I may ask booster, which RV do you have?

07 Roadtrek 190 Popular.
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