Inverter or generator?

TrailCreek

Active Member
We considered adding a generator to our 2017 Landmark 365 Newport but after reading the installation manual we cancelled the order and decided to go with a 3000 watt hybrid inverter and 6 x 100 amp Battleborn batteries. The generator required isolating one of our two propane tank to avoid several catastrophic dangers with other gas appliances. That meant the run time and inconvenience of filling the tank every day or two, no matter if totally empty or not, was wasteful and a PITA.

Our goal was to run the front AC or heat pump and allow our pets to ride in a more comfortable location, the bedroom and front bath. Two cats stuck in the truck was not good for them or us. One has the ability to serenade for 5-6 hours, our normal travel time. Now, both have their favorite safe spot where they like to travel, and the inverter plus AC/heat pump keeps them comfortably cool or warm.

We put the system in the space under the stairs / bedroom and only lost 3" of basement space. The inverter required a custom aluminum bracket to keep the very heavy inverter in place. Upside is the generator compartment is still grill and cleaning supply storage.

The only negative was a miss-communication from the supplier that initially had us using 1/0 cable. Wires got too hot and the battery monitor would shut the system down. We replaced the 1/0 with 4/0 cables and everything works great. We can get 6+- hours of operation, depending upon outside temperature. That covers our normal travel day and the batteries charge overnight when we are at the park.
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carl.swoyer

Well-known member
We considered adding a generator to our 2017 Landmark 365 Newport but after reading the installation manual we cancelled the order and decided to go with a 3000 watt hybrid inverter and 6 x 100 amp Battleborn batteries. The generator required isolating one of our two propane tank to avoid several catastrophic dangers with other gas appliances. That meant the run time and inconvenience of filling the tank every day or two, no matter if totally empty or not, was wasteful and a PITA.

Our goal was to run the front AC or heat pump and allow our pets to ride in a more comfortable location, the bedroom and front bath. Two cats stuck in the truck was not good for them or us. One has the ability to serenade for 5-6 hours, our normal travel time. Now, both have their favorite safe spot where they like to travel, and the inverter plus AC/heat pump keeps them comfortably cool or warm.

We put the system in the space under the stairs / bedroom and only lost 3" of basement space. The inverter required a custom aluminum bracket to keep the very heavy inverter in place. Upside is the generator compartment is still grill and cleaning supply storage.

The only negative was a miss-communication from the supplier that initially had us using 1/0 cable. Wires got too hot and the battery monitor would shut the system down. We replaced the 1/0 with 4/0 cables and everything works great. We can get 6+- hours of operation, depending upon outside temperature. That covers our normal travel day and the batteries charge overnight when we are at the park.
e38908ac7888687bf66bb7e2bf09248b.jpg


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Just an FYI

"Wires got too hot and the battery monitor would shut the system down"

I don't believe the magnum is intended to run the ac because of battery over temp risk?

I installed an Onan 5500 and had a splice made for the lp.
It allows me to keep both tanks in line and I'm able to get the lp to the Onan before the regulator. I also leave one tank in the off position so I know when one tank is empty. This setup allows me to have the ability to charge without shore power. I have stopped on hot days and fired up the generator an turn on the AC while traveling down the road.
I do plan on adding the auto gen start which will help me keep the cabin air suitable for the cat while traveling. It will come on at a set temperature the shut itself off once the desired temperature is reached.

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TrailCreek

Active Member
I went through Battleborn, the manufacturer and they specified the inverter and battery bank combo to specifically run the AC/Heat pump for the duration. We haven't used ig in 100 degree days, but the cables had to be the problem. Several sources show 4/0 for our load size so that is hopefully the overall solution.

As for propane gen on your main system, the instructions specifically said to not put it on the main systems as it could pull supply from a heater, water heater, or other appliance trying to run and possibly cause an explosion. You can probably find it on the cummings website.

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porthole

Retired
The only negative was a miss-communication from the supplier that initially had us using 1/0 cable. Wires got too hot and the battery monitor would shut the system down. We replaced the 1/0 with 4/0 cables and everything works great. We can get 6+- hours of operation, depending upon outside temperature. That covers our normal travel day and the batteries charge overnight when we are at the park.
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In the scheme of things, the wire size would be the last place to skimp, I'm surprised the vendor would suggest 1/0 at all. That inverter has the potential to pull 400 amps and it charges at 125 amps.

What size AC are you running with it a 13K or 15K? DO you have a soft/ easy start on the AC?

I have the same inverter and batteries. Moving one of the AC units to the inverter load side is on my list but with only 6 batteries I don't think it will be sufficient considering the current amount of loads we are running off the inverter.

That is a great inverter.

BTW, you mentioned temperature - what are you measuring, using the Magnum battery temp sensor through the remote panel?
Battleborn batteries should not be using the temp sensor (it is used for temperature compensation).

And since your vendor gave you bad scoop on the wire - what are you using for the charge profile? The Magnum remote doesn't have a LiFEPO4 specific profile. I did hear from Sensata (parent company) that there should be an update sometime this year for the remote.
 

TrailCreek

Active Member
When I said misunderstanding on the wire size, I ordered some battery jumpers with the system, they sent 1/0, I made the assumption (wrongly) that I shouldn't need to figure out the wire size as they sent 1/0 with my order, for the system specified.

We power a 15k heat pump, soft starts on all three AC's

We have the inverter with dual pass through on both legs, configured to handle loads on either leg but with the 3,000 watt limitation when on battery.

We are using the Magnum Battery Monitor through the Magnum Advanced Remote Control as it was specified by Dragonfly with the batteries and inverter. Not sure if that is a problem or why. It was what cut the power when the 1/0 wires got the system overheated, then restarted it when the temp dropped to acceptable levels. Still, we had to upgrade wires to be functional and safe.

Dragonfly walked me through the set up and profile for the 6 Battleborn batteries. I am not technical enough to explain the profile here but the charging rate, minimum voltage, other parameters were all set manually.

I will be calling them today to go over a programming concern, due to my ignorance, to be sure I have everything set right after the wire swap.
 

Silverado23

Iowa Chapter Leaders
Now just add the solar panels to the roof and charge controller roof and you'll be all set to boondock or extend your driving trips easily.
 

jbeletti

Director of Owners Interests, Heartland RVs
Staff member
@TrailCreek - I like your setup. I too have 600 AH of BB batteries and I too run my main (15k) AC from inverted battery power. I'm using a Victron 3k MultiPlus inverter. In full sun, with 1080 watts of solar pulling in about 800+ watts during this test, I ran the AC continuously for 4 hours and drew the battery bank down to 35% SOC. Pretty sure I could have gone another hour. And that was running continuously - with no on/off cycling. Love the flexibility it gives us on travel days.
 

porthole

Retired
@TrailCreek - I like your setup. I too have 600 AH of BB batteries and I too run my main (15k) AC from inverted battery power. I'm using a Victron 3k MultiPlus inverter. In full sun, with 1080 watts of solar pulling in about 800+ watts during this test, I ran the AC continuously for 4 hours and drew the battery bank down to 35% SOC. Pretty sure I could have gone another hour. And that was running continuously - with no on/off cycling. Love the flexibility it gives us on travel days.

H'mmm. This gets me thinking some more. There are days I have turned on the generator an hour out and ran the AC's. Not the best way to cool down the RV with all the slides in - discharges and returns mostly covered,

Last week we made a stop at the local Costco, 95 miles from home. We put Baylee in the camper (95 degree day, traveled about 3 hours prior), ran the generator and turned on all 3 AC's (slides in). When we came back out 45 minutes later the trailer was quite cool, 72 degrees.

I have been considering moving the main AC to the inverter sub panel. Now I'll have to experiment and see which of the 3 does the best cooling job with the slides in.

Do you have an easy start or similar?
 

TrailCreek

Active Member
I am interested in what your thermostat was set to and outdoor temp when it ran continuously.

We use the front 15kw heat pump with soft start set to 80 (of three AC's), covering the bedroom and bathroom. Closing the rest of the RV off has allowed the AC to cycle, even in higher temps. Traveling early, stopping early, our goal is 5-6 hours. It may require solar to get that duration in the current high temps, but solar has been a lower priority. We wanted the inverter system, and a urethane spray roof from rvroof.com first.

Maybe it's time for solar. We have a 2 week run from WA to IN coming up soon, then IN to FL a few weeks later. All will be in higher temperature zones so it will be a good test. Boondocking is not an objective since we work from home and need all three AC's to run at one time during the day when parked. The plan was to use batteries to let our kitties "stay home" on the road. They hate truck travel, making travel days so much fun.

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TrailCreek

Active Member
@porthole what runtime do you get from one ?# propane tank? Just currious as that and dealing with short fills was the deciding factor on inverter versus gen. I can't do both due to weight concerns.

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jbeletti

Director of Owners Interests, Heartland RVs
Staff member
H'mmm. This gets me thinking some more. There are days I have turned on the generator an hour out and ran the AC's. Not the best way to cool down the RV with all the slides in - discharges and returns mostly covered,

Last week we made a stop at the local Costco, 95 miles from home. We put Baylee in the camper (95 degree day, traveled about 3 hours prior), ran the generator and turned on all 3 AC's (slides in). When we came back out 45 minutes later the trailer was quite cool, 72 degrees.

I have been considering moving the main AC to the inverter sub panel. Now I'll have to experiment and see which of the 3 does the best cooling job with the slides in.

Do you have an easy start or similar?
Duane - yes, I have the Micro Air Easy Start on my main (15k) AC. In my system, all branch circuits on L1 are inverted. The only items on L2 are AC#2 (bedroom), Water Heater (AC heating) and 1/2 of CheapHeat.

Heating and cooling the tiny trailer with a single slide is pretty easy while underway. And for underway hearing, in my layout, no heat vents are covered when the slide is in.

For you, for cooling while underway, if your ACs have a chill grate, consider opening it on the AC you desire and letting the cool air fall down between the slides. Unless the dogs stay in the bedroom, then open the chill grate on that AC.

Let us know what you end up doing. Always fun to share experiences and learn from each other.
 

jbeletti

Director of Owners Interests, Heartland RVs
Staff member
I am interested in what your thermostat was set to and outdoor temp when it ran continuously.

We use the front 15kw heat pump with soft start set to 80 (of three AC's), covering the bedroom and bathroom. Closing the rest of the RV off has allowed the AC to cycle, even in higher temps. Traveling early, stopping early, our goal is 5-6 hours. It may require solar to get that duration in the current high temps, but solar has been a lower priority. We wanted the inverter system, and a urethane spray roof from rvroof.com first.

Maybe it's time for solar. We have a 2 week run from WA to IN coming up soon, then IN to FL a few weeks later. All will be in higher temperature zones so it will be a good test. Boondocking is not an objective since we work from home and need all three AC's to run at one time during the day when parked. The plan was to use batteries to let our kitties "stay home" on the road. They hate truck travel, making travel days so much fun.

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I set it as low as it would go. Forget what that was - maybe 60F.

Like you, boondocking is not a priority for us either but having a large supply (600AH) of DC power when not grid-connected is nice. We have many travel days and with the dogs, we eat lunch during an extended (up to an hour) break mid-day. Being comfortable (HVAC) and being able to use any AC appliance (induction cooktop, Keurig coffee maker, sandwich maker, microwave, toaster, TV etc.) is so nice.

That said, we do a small about of driveway surfing / moochdocking when it makes sense, to see friends and family at their homes. Sometimes we can plug into a 15A outlet on their homes, garages or barns, sometimes no grid power. For night or two, it can work. With my Victron inverter, I can easily change the amount of shore current to draw (from 7.5A to 50A). I usually start at 15A when plugged into a regular outlet at someone's home. Less than 15A if I know there's something they're powering too (beer fridge, deep freeze etc). Even a constant small charge current is helpful.
 

TrailCreek

Active Member
I plan to bring the Honda 2000 inverter on the next trip and wire an extension cord to the generator input. That way we can add a little piwer when traveling or stopped.

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porthole

Retired
@porthole what runtime do you get from one ?# propane tank? Just currious as that and dealing with short fills was the deciding factor on inverter versus gen. I can't do both due to weight concerns.

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We have a 8KW diesel generator with a custom built 28 gallon tank. Run time really isn't an issue. The diesel burns on average .4-.8 gph depending on load. Our use has found it to be on the lower side
 
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TrailCreek

Active Member
@porthole, your last reply had me wondering what your generator and diesel tank weighs with the tank full. Weight was my concern with adding the 3,000 inverter and 6 batteries. We have a 37 gallon bed tank for the truck and using 4,000 hitch weight (close to actual) we came close to maxing out our truck's load rating. I never considered a diesel generator, a much better option than propane and dealing with refills. The only concerns I'd have with adding your setup to our Newport would be weight on the 5'er, and the truck.

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porthole

Retired
@porthole, your last reply had me wondering what your generator and diesel tank weighs with the tank full. Weight was my concern with adding the 3,000 inverter and 6 batteries. We have a 37 gallon bed tank for the truck and using 4,000 hitch weight (close to actual) we came close to maxing out our truck's load rating. I never considered a diesel generator, a much better option than propane and dealing with refills. The only concerns I'd have with adding your setup to our Newport would be weight on the 5'er, and the truck.

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Generator dry weight is 420
Tank was not weighed but I would guess 30 pounds or so
Roughly 25 gallons of diesel at 175 pounds
Ancillary parts, probably another 20 pounds

My tank was custom made, 6' long and is mounted under the basement as far forward as possible.
Since building mine there is at least one commercial tank that can be mounted in the frame rails just about anywhere under the trailer you can access.

The diesel gen is not for everyone, but it works for us.

We also have a 3000 hybrid inverter with 6 LiFEPO4's. The 6 LiFEPO4's were about half the weight of the four 6 volt FLA's that I took out.

Actually trying to get the cost on the diesel generator was one of the reasons we canceled our Newport. After 3 months the dealer still had no answer, and they were around the corner from Onan in Elkhart.
If planning on a diesel gen it's best to have the trailer built around it since the firebox is larger.

If I was to do it again - not sure, but I would consider larger panels (320 versus 200), 2 of the 3000 hybrid inverters and 10 more batteries. Would still be around the same cost of what we did so far. Then a small portable gen for those times ..........

I did briefly consider the battery versus generator when we were ordering 4 years ago but the Lithium market was small and relatively new at the time, a bit of a chance back then.
 

TrailCreek

Active Member
This trip is a 6,000 RT to do some remodeling on my son's house. Weight of tools played in to the weight factor. I am considering another Magnum Energy inverter plus 6 more batteries when we get back to home base and a normal payload.

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