Generators

You need a generator, but which one?

 

Types?

 

Inverter Generators are the most common generators for mobile boutiques.  The main advantage is they are quiet.  Usually Rated at 59-62 dB.  See Below for Decibel ratings.  They are also much better for critical electronics.  The one major downfall is that they are at least double the cost of a standard generator.  They are also more fuel efficient than standard generators.  Honda Inverters are some of the best in the business and quietest as low as 52 dB, but this comes at a cost.

 

Standard Generators are the most common generator available especially if you are looking at the second hand market.  They are cheap and there are a lot more options.  They are typically rated for 68-80 dB.

 

Quiet generators are standard generators, but usually with a housing around them.  Cummings Onan is one of the more popular generators used in tour buses, mobile police command stations, etc.  These are the most expensive choice and often they require a separate fuel tank depending on your installation situation.  They are available with 120 or 240 volt and are available in up to some of the largest sizes.

 

Watts?  What does that mean?

Generators are typically measured in watts, but also are rated for 120 v or 240 v.  Your air conditioner gives the value in current (amps).  Now what.

Do a little math.  Watts=Volts x Amps ; Volts=Watts/Amps; Amps=Watts/Volts

Ex:  I have a 3400 watt generator and it runs 120 volts.  How many things can I run?  Amps=3400/120=28.3 amps.

My 15,000 btu ac is 22 amps and 120 volts. How big of a generator do I need.  Watts=22*120=2640 watts

Honda has a calculator that helps you out and will pick a generator for you. Click play and then RV air conditioner as they most likely apply to your situation and then they often select their inverter generators.

 

Why does my generator have 2 Watt ratings?

Lets look at the Champion 100263.  This generator actually has 4 ratings.

It’s what we refer to as a 3400 watt generator.  Also listed is 3100, 3060, and 2790 watts.

All generators should have at least 2 ratings. The Champion has dual fuel capability, so it has 2 ratings for each fuel.

The larger number is starting watts and the lower is running watts.  Items such as air conditioners use more power when the pumps/compressors turn on, but once they are spinning they don’t need as much power.  The starting watts will help this situation with these short surges.  Normal operation then should be below your running watts.  So if you have calculated your watt requirements to be 3125 watts, this Champion 100263 is not big enough even though it is rated for 3400 watts.

So now for the Champion 100263.

When running on Gasoline it has 3400 Starting watts and 3100 running watts.

When running on propane it has 3060 starting watts and 2790 running watts.

 

120 Volt vs 240 Volt?

A home in the United States is wired for 240 volts.  Of these millions of homes, the vast majority only have 1-4 items that use 240 volts, with some having none.  These items are an electric stove, electric clothes dryer, central air conditioning, and hot tubs.  There are other less common items, such as welding machines, but these are far less common in homes and none of the items listed will probably be located in a mobile boutique or even an RV.  So why are many RVs and boutiques installed with 240 volts.  240 volts is actually just 2-120 volt lines.  Instead of having a 60 amp 120 volt line, you have a 30 amp 240 volt line which is 2-30 amp 120 volt lines.  The lower current is a little safer as it doesn’t heat up as much.  60 amps requires larger wires than 30 amps, so items to fit the larger wires tend to be more expensive and less available.

Now if I have a boutique with a 240 V power box and 2 air conditioners, I’m all good right?  No.  Since the 240 is actually two 120 lines, you have to make sure one air conditioner goes to each line or leg as electricians call them.  Both of the legs should have about equal power going through them.

 

Decibel Ratings or dB.

Noise is measured in decibels.  Unlike almost every other measurement you are used to, dB are measured with a logarithmic function, so it does not measure the actual sound levels, but it is a comparison of sound levels.

So 0 db is no sound.  If you enter a sound suppression room or reach the top of Mount Everest with no wind and no one around you, you may approach these values, but you will never experience zero noise in your lifetime.  A quiet nighttime in the country without crickets or owls will be about 30 dB.  A quiet library operates at 40 dB. An inverter generator at 60 db is compared to background music or normal conversation.  A regular generator operates at 70 dB.

10 decibel difference between inverter generators and standard generators doesn’t seem like much, but it is actually equal to 100%.  a 70 dB generator is twice as loud as a 60 dB generator.  an 80 dB generator is 4 times as loud as a 60 dB generator.

 

Where do I store it?

The most common locations are on the trailer tongue, in the boutique, in a special generator compartment, in the bed of the pickup you tow with.

Make sure you have enough space on your tongue and can still access stabilizers if you use them.  You may also need a custom box built to keep the generator protected especially if you live in the north where they put salt or brine on the road as that will hurt a generator pretty quickly.

If you put it in the boutique, remember it’s filled with gasoline, so make sure you have the lid on tight as you don’t want gas splashing on your inventory and you might want to have a piece of cardboard to put it on in case of oil leaks.  Lastly, you have to put it in and out of the boutique.  For reference; 2000 watts weigh 50 lbs, 3000 watts weight 90 lbs, and 7000 watts weight 250 lbs.  These are not light so have a plan on moving them when required.

If you have a generator compartment, make sure you know if it’s rated to run with the doors shut or open as the generator needs venting.  Also some generators still need to be pulled out, but generator slides are available.  Make sure you don’t have to slide it out into traffic.

Putting it in the pickup bed is only possible if you have a pickup.

 

OK, I think I understand.  What now?

You probably decided inverter generator. Check

You know your watt requirements. Multiply this by 80% or .0.8.  It is better to not overwork your generator plus over time you might add another item to your boutique and you don’t want to have to buy a new generator when you decide you need to also charge a phone.  Also generators degrade over time, so in a couple years, the generator’s rating may move from 3400 watts to only 3300 watts.  These values depend on how much the generator runs and if it’s run in the rain, high heat, nice conditions, if oil changes are done regularly, etc.

You’re running on 120 Volts. Most all generators have no issue with this.

You’re running on 240 volts.  You can find a generator rated at 240 volts, or buy two smaller generators with parallel capabilities to make it 240 volt.

You should be ready to make your choice.

 

Parallel Capability-Why?

 

The main advantage of parallel capability is moveability.

A 7,000 watt generator puts of similar power compared to two 3,400 watt generators.  People can move 100 lbs 2 times much easier than moving 240 lbs one time.

A 3,400 watt generator puts of similar power compared to two 2,000 watt generators.  People can move 50 lbs 2 times much easier than moving 100 lbs one time.

 

On the 3000 watt and up generators, the parallel capability sometimes allows use of 120 volts or 240 volts.  The Champion model, although using the 50Amp 240 volt plug, only a single one of the hot wires is used, so you have 50 amp 120volt circuit.

 

Also, only similar sized generators of the same brand can be wired parallel.  You can not parallel wire a 2000 watt generator to a 3400 watt generator.  You can not wire a 2000 watt champion generator to a 2000 watt Honda generator.  While these situations might work, they will cancel out any warranties offered by the companies and is not worth risking damage to your generators.

 

My Final Recommendations

$        2,000 Watt Generator-WEN 56200i

$$      2,000 Watt Generator-Honda EU2000i

$$$    add a second generator and parallel kit to make 4,000 watt at 120 volt.

$$       3,400 Watt Generator-Champion  100263

$$$    Add a second generator and Parallel Kit to make generator 6,800 watt at 120 (56.6 amps)

$$$   3,000 Watt Generator-Honda EU3000is

$$$$  7,000 Watt Generator-Honda EU7000is