Advise on buying a petrol generator - Click here to read more

Tuesday, 11 February 2014  |  Admin
Camping & Caravan Petrol Generators have increasingly become popular with caravan and camping enthusiasts alike, providing freedom and flexibility as well as offering a saving over alternative power supplied. However there still remains a stigma with regards to using a petrol generator and they can easily be dismissed without proper investigation.

The range and variation in leisure generator types and specification can be overwhelming and it would be impossible to review all the various models, however knowing the features each generator offers will certainly help you choose the right one for your needs.

But first you have to know what your particular needs are, sounds fairly simple right. The easy part should be to decide how much power you're going to need; lights, television, refrigerator, heating, laptops, mobile phone chargers, kids games consoles, the list is endless, isn't this supposed to be a holiday? You'll be surprised at just how power hungry we have become and how dependent on our electrical equipment we are, even on holiday.

Even when using a site mains hook up you have to consider how much power you are 'pulling' from the post. Generally hook ups are restricted to 16 amps or more often, 10 amps and cannot exceed the rating capacity of your mains hook up cable. So it's important to understand the power consumption of your camping equipment, and this explains why specific equipment is made especially for camping. For example a normal domestic kettle at home is typically in the 3kw (13 amp) range and will often have much higher initial 'spike' power consumption. Kettles designed specifically for camping are much lower rated at around 1kw (4 amp) putting less of a strain on your power limits.

It should be fairly straightforward to calculate on average, what equipment you will need to power and therefore your generator requirements. Write down a list of the equipment you will likely take with you and the power consumption. Total the list and you'll have an excellent average requirement, but remember you probably won't use all this kit all at the same time, so you'll have to adjust things into categories, for example unless you have the kettle on non stop (that's a lot of cups of tea) this would be an occasional use item. Whereas a heater with thermostat might be on for much longer periods and might be used while charging a phone or running your laptop.

Camping is about compromise and that's part of the fun. Maybe you may have to unplug the laptop while you boil the kettle, or turn off the heater while you use the toaster. These are realistic examples of how things are likely to affect the way you power your travel gadgets. Nothing stopping you using them just be realistic and, more importantly, aware of what you run and when you run them. Of course the same principles apply when using a leisure generator. You'll need to match the power expectations of your equipment to the output of the generator. The more power the greater the initial cost of purchase and the higher the running cost. Sure you could run all you gear on a HY3600SEi generator, but you'll pay for it in initial cost and petrol, not to mention the weight of transporting the equipment. Consider running a smaller generator and limiting the power requirements by turning off the heater while boiling the kettle for example.

What features to look for.

Power output is obviously a key consideration but there are many features which are sometimes overlooked.

For many camping and caravan users the noise output will be a major factor. For others noise may not be something to worry about. Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB) and generally from generator noise output is measured at an average distance of 7 metres. Many factors can impact on noise output, including: wind direction and strength which can carry the sound, buildings and natural structures like hedges and trees which will bounce the sound waves around and the background environment noise. Leisure generators generally have been designed to be sympathetic and low in terms of noise output.

How long a generator will run depends on a couple of factors. Fuel tank capacity being the obvious one, but making a tank too big has a detrimental effect on the size and weight of the generator design. Running time also depends on the engine efficiency and engine revs. Much like a car engine, running your generator at full power constantly puts a strain on the engine and increases the fuel consumption. Look for a generator with automatic throttle control, where the engine power is automatically adjusted to the supply needs. Running a Hyundai HY2000SEi generator at half power (1000 watts) will often be more fuel efficient that running the same generator at full power.

There's very little point in buying a leisure generator that is either too heavy for your needs or too large to store. Be realistic - do you have room to transport the generator, and more importantly can you lift it. Some leisure generators are really heavy 50-60kg is not uncommon for a large 3000-4000kw unit.

12V DC Output:
If your looking to directly charge your leisure battery you may want to look for a generator with a dedicated 12V DC output to do the job for you. 12 volt equipment can be super sensitive to petrol generators and you'll need to consider all the available options. Look in particular for an inverter type generator. All our Hyundai HY petrol generator are pure sine wave inverter generators. This means that the power supplied from the generator is very close to that you get from the mains at home, clean, constant and without material power fluctuations. That's very important for today high technology gadgets which can be easily damaged by power spikes or drops in voltages which are not regulated on some cheaper leisure generators.

If your likely to be powering sensitive electrical equipment like laptops, televisions, or even games consoles, you will almost certainly want a sine wave generator designed specifically for sensitive equipment. Computers and televisions do not like power fluctuations - know what your buying and why. if in doubt talk to the retailer who is supplying you, they should know the answers and be able to advise you, if they don't find a specialist retailer like who can guide you in the right direction.
Generators vary hugely in cost and offer many different unique selling points. Look for the features you need coupled with the power output you require and you'll be halfway to making the correct initial purchase. Many of our customers who had purchased smaller generators have since upgraded to larger models to accommodate their ever increasing power demands. Consider how your requirements may change over time and try and plan this into your initial purchase.
Many of today's modern generators can be retro fitted to run on LPG gas as well as petrol. This makes good sense if you're a caravan or motorhome user. Most towing cars and almost all motorhomes run on diesel fuel; so to run a petrol generator you will need to carry a jerry can with unleaded petrol ready to use. This can be an inconvenience having to re-fuel with both petrol for the generator and diesel for your vehicle. However most caravan and motorhome owners have a ready supply of LPG, often used to power fridges or cooking equipment and could therefore be used to run your leisure generator. LPG converted leisure generators run more economically and a shade quieter than when running on petrol. This makes the process much simpler and although this will increase the initial purchase cost depending on your circumstances, the conversion could pay for itself very quickly.
Converting your petrol leisure generator to run on LPG doesn't restrict it's use just to gas. Should you find yourself running low on LPG - which should be available on most camping sites throughout Europe - you can simply switch your generator back to run on petrol in a couple of minutes. Fill the tank with petrol and turn off the LPG regulator, it's all very easy.
Hopefully the above has given you food for thought and will help to point you in the right direction. Think about your particular needs and consider your own circumstances - this will help you make the right choice and ensure the generator you choose meets your needs.
Copyright 2014 - Darren Young - - All rights reserved.



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