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Petrol Generator VS Solar Generator

We are often asked, which of the following are better: solar power or petrol generators?

Advantages of Solar Generation 
  • Solar systems start to charge the moment the sun comes up in the morning, through until sunset, all year long.
  • If, for example, overnight, you have drained 40 amps from your batteries, and you want to put that same amount back into the batteries, the solar system will charge at about 15 amps in full sunshine and about two amps in overcast weather. Usually, the 40 amps will be replaced by mid-day, although this will vary depending on the cloud cover and the size of the solar system.
  • Well-designed, MPPT-type solar systems will do a three-stage (bulk-boost-float) charge almost daily.
  • A fitted solar system requires effort and will probably start charging before you have got out of bed.
  • A fitted system takes up little or no compartment space. Instead, it only uses some roof space.
  • No fuel required, free to run, no fumes, and no noise.
  • Requires little or no servicing aside from cleaning the panels once a year.
  • DOC sites love solar systems because there is no noise or fumes.
  • Make friends with your neighbors, even offer to charge their mobile phones.
Disadvantages of Solar Generators:
  • Instant 240 AC power is unavailable unless the system is fitted with an inverter. The inverter's capacity and batteries must be calculated by a competent technician or the batteries will be compromised. However, most appliances, like TVs, etc, are available in 12 or 24-volt, and laptop, iPad, and mobile phone chargers are available, so there is no real need for 240-volt AC.
  • Long periods of overcast weather can cause the state of charge of the batteries to be below desired levels. However, this rarely occurs if enough battery capacity is available, so it should not be a real problem.
Advantages of petrol generators (Cost of generator $1200, unfitted):
  • Generators produce 240-volt AC, as well as 12-volt DC. They deliver instant power, so for emergency applications they are very useful.
  • Highly inefficient appliances, which draw large amounts of power, can be run using generators.
Disadvantages of petrol generators:
  • Only charges while it is running
  • If, for example, you have drained 40 amps from your batteries overnight and want to put that same amount back into the batteries, you would have to run the generator for about 4 hours. This is because most AC chargers in caravans and motorhomes are rated at ten amps.
  • They usually only perform the bulk charge, not the three-stage charge.
  • Generators are heavy to lug around. It becomes a real problem since they usually have to be lifted out of a compartment before being used; most vehicles have a weight limit, and a generator and fuel quickly push the weight limit up.
  • The generator, fuel, and leads take up premium storage space. In a small environment, such as a caravan or motor home, such space is often extremely limited.
  • It requires flammable, carcinogenic fuel to power it. While the vehicle is in motion, the float in the car tends to bounce up and down, causing small amounts of fuel to leak out until the car eventually runs dry; the smell of the fuel is unpleasant and probably unhealthy.
  • Requires regular servicing.
  • DOC campsites do not allow generators to be used; these are the very sites that are not powered
  • Running a noisy generator spoils your neighbor's peace. We travel to tranquil sites for peace and to hear the birds and the waves, not to listen to noisy generators.

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