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Amazon.com: Anker Portable Generator for Home Use, PowerHouse II 400, 300W/388.8Wh, 110V AC Outlet/60W USB-C Power Delivery Portable Power Station $299

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Created 02-26-2021 at 10:42 AM by bh805
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Joined Nov 2006
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#46
Quote from amb9800 :
Yeah in general, you want to avoid the DC -> AC / AC -> DC conversion process as much as possible, given the losses involved. Nowadays you can indeed find DC versions of a lot of appliances, and for any DC devices that normally rely on a wall wart (AC adapter), up to 100W, you can bypass the wall wart and use USB-C Power Delivery, which is a great standard allowing for negotiated 5/9/12/15/20V output (or custom voltages in between, using PPS) at up to 5A / 100W. A lot of devices (from phones, tablets, and laptops to even electric toothbrushes, screwdrivers, etc.) use USB-C PD now, so there's no work required there; for other DC devices, you can use a USB-C PD sink (which takes USB-C input and gives you a DC output at a certain set voltage). The r/UsbCHardware [reddit.com] subreddit is a good resource there.

In a van context, you'll probably still need an inverter, to handle any remaining AC appliances and to give you extra AC outlets for any new devices you happen to need to plug in, but if you design everything prioritizing DC, you can reduce your inverter usage and increase overall efficiency as a result. A lot of Sprinter-type RVs are outfitted with large battery banks + more solar to allow for more free usage of the larger appliances (e.g., A/C, induction cooktop, etc.).

Propane is of course much more energy-dense than current lithium batteries, but you find an increasing number of propane-free builds (due to the safety issues with propane and the need to periodically refill), made possible by a combination of electric appliances and, where you just need heat, tapping into the vehicle's primary fuel (e.g., diesel cabin heaters). In the near future we'll also start to see more fully-electric camper vans (i.e., EV van conversions), where you have an enormous battery that everything ties into (enabled by a combination of large solar + L3 EV fast charging).

MatKyne raises a valid point about the wire thickness required to carry high current levels - you can transmit huge loads over 120V AC with much thinner cabling vs. with 12V DC. That said, there are ways to address that on your longer runs in an RV. For instance, if you have a heavy-duty alternator up front charging your house battery pack in the center/rear of the van, that's a pretty long wiring run, normally 12V DC. One way to address that (which is happening in the auto industry more broadly as well) is to instead jump to 48V DC.
Thanks, very helpful & informative and just what I was looking for. This is all VERY preliminary, as I have no immediate plans of getting or building a camper, but maybe someday, and since there's often a long design process before undertaking a custom build, it never hurts to know as much as possible ahead of time. Ideally any camper I'd live in would be 100% DC, but I suppose it's nice to have some AC for whatever, and a modest inverter makes sense. You don't have to actually use it most of the time if you don't want to. AC's main benefit was always in long distance transmission, but DC is usually more efficient for most loads. A lot of people don't realize that many devices they use that plug into AC outlets actually work on DC internally, and use adapters to convert AC to DC. If one can avoid the efficiency loss in conversion, it's preferable, especially in a a van where every amp hour is precious.
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#47
Quote from KMan :
Thanks, very helpful & informative and just what I was looking for. This is all VERY preliminary, as I have no immediate plans of getting or building a camper, but maybe someday, and since there's often a long design process before undertaking a custom build, it never hurts to know as much as possible ahead of time. Ideally any camper I'd live in would be 100% DC, but I suppose it's nice to have some AC for whatever, and a modest inverter makes sense. You don't have to actually use it most of the time if you don't want to. AC's main benefit was always in long distance transmission, but DC is usually more efficient for most loads. A lot of people don't realize that many devices they use that plug into AC outlets actually work on DC internally, and use adapters to convert AC to DC. If one can avoid the efficiency loss in conversion, it's preferable, especially in a a van where every amp hour is precious.
I'm not sure if MatKyne's other point is being missed - plugging into shore power, assuming you are not planning complete off grid living, means your appliances can run off AC power natively. When plugged into shore power and your appliances are all DC, you will need an inverter to convert shore AC to DC. Also, heavier gauge wires foot for foot increases up front costs (even if incremental) and weight which saps already poor fuel consumption on RVs.
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#48
If you can plug a solar panel directly into it to generate power, I think there's a tenuous argument for calling products like this "generators". I.E. Just as you need the gasoline to make a gas generator work, you need a solar panel to make a "solar generator" work.
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#49
Kinda doesn't make sense that some people here seem to say a gas "generator" generates power but a solar "generator" doesn't. Depending on your definition, either they're both "generators" or neither are. Can't have it both ways.
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#50
Quote from bmnaik :
Even then, it is not actually generating power. In your example, its the solar panels which are the generators with this device simply storing the power.
This is a battery, no ifs ands or buts.
Quote from bmnaik :
Even then, it is not actually generating power. In your example, its the solar panels which are the generators with this device simply storing the power.
This is a battery, no ifs ands or buts.
If that's your line of reasoning a real generator isn't a generator either, it's merely a way to uncharge all the stored sunlight from the plants and algae that we dug up from the ground into power.
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#51
RVP has their 250W dual outlet model (RP-PB187) on sale for $189.
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#52
Quote from di2iftwood :
I'm not sure if MatKyne's other point is being missed - plugging into shore power, assuming you are not planning complete off grid living, means your appliances can run off AC power natively. When plugged into shore power and your appliances are all DC, you will need an inverter to convert shore AC to DC. Also, heavier gauge wires foot for foot increases up front costs (even if incremental) and weight which saps already poor fuel consumption on RVs.
Well, I would assume that if one was set up to use mostly DC devices when powered by solar and alternator then you'd use the same devices when hooked up to shore or home power. Where you get your power shouldn't affect what kind of power your devices use, I'd think, as they're still the same devices. I suppose though that one might have "luxury" devices that one would use mostly when connected to shore power, for which you'd need an inverter, but use mostly DC devices most often.

But my question was whether it's possible and common to have only DC devices without truly "roughing it". I think that most folks assume that you HAVE to have AC to power common devices, and don't realize that many if not most of the "AC" devices they use today are actually DC internally and convert the AC they're plugged into to DC, losing some efficiency in the process. Laptops, phones, tablets, TVs, lights, etc., are all DC internally, and with the proper adapters (that are much more energy-efficient) don't need AC. Heaters, water heaters, stoves, etc., can all be powered with propane, gas or diesel. Even high-power devices like hot pots, coffee makers, induction ranges and microwave ovens can run off DC, with the proper wiring.

If you're using a given AC device because it makes the most sense, I get it. But if you're only using it because you're used to AC-only devices and in your mind power means AC, then maybe you need to rethink power when off the grid. DC-AC and then AC-DC conversion is inefficient, losing 30% or more power. If you're running off of solar most of the time and have more than enough power for your needs, then such inefficiency isn't really a problem since solar power is essentially free after the sunk costs of installation. But if you often use costly alternator, shore or home power, or your solar setup is often borderline depending on the location, season and weather and because you don't have enough panels on the roof, then this would be an obvious way to deal with such issues. Plus I thought that living off the grid was living differently and not duplicating the fixed home experience.
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#53
Quote from liedel :
If that's your line of reasoning a real generator isn't a generator either, it's merely a way to uncharge all the stored sunlight from the plants and algae that we dug up from the ground into power.
If that's the case then name a "true" generator. Only nuclear would qualify for that as it actually does create energy, from matter, per e=mc2. All other forms of energy "generation" merely transform one form of energy, be it wind, water, chemical, mechanical, heat or solar, into electrical energy. And yet we've been calling devices that transform certain kinds of energy into electrical energy using electromagnetism generators, alternators and dynamos for around 200 years. Hell, even nuclear doesn't "generate" electricity. It generates heat, which spins turbines, which spin dynamos, which output electricity. Ultimately, it's all semantics and what we choose to call things.
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#54
Quote from KMan :
If that's the case then name a "true" generator. Only nuclear would qualify for that as it actually does create energy, from matter, per e=mc2. All other forms of energy "generation" merely transform one form of energy, be it wind, water, chemical, mechanical, heat or solar, into electrical energy. And yet we've been calling devices that transform certain kinds of energy into electrical energy using electromagnetism generators, alternators and dynamos for around 200 years. Hell, even nuclear doesn't "generate" electricity. It generates heat, which spins turbines, which spin dynamos, which output electricity. Ultimately, it's all semantics and what we choose to call things.
Couldn't have said it better, I agree.
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#55
This seems cheaper than building your own 32 Ah battery using 18650s? I believe you would need at least 30 batteries, inverter and then charge controller?
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#56
USB type-C port did not work both charging/out put PD power to device.
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#57
Why not just buy a deep cycle marine battery and a car inverter? Way cheaper and way more amps than this turd of a battery. Let's be honest....it's just a battery with some Chinese crap on top.
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#58
They should stop calling these a generator, stick with calling them the almost as bad "powerstation". Or try Batterystations, there they can have that name to use.
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#59
Quote from KMan :
If that's the case then name a "true" generator. Only nuclear would qualify for that as it actually does create energy, from matter, per e=mc2. All other forms of energy "generation" merely transform one form of energy, be it wind, water, chemical, mechanical, heat or solar, into electrical energy. And yet we've been calling devices that transform certain kinds of energy into electrical energy using electromagnetism generators, alternators and dynamos for around 200 years. Hell, even nuclear doesn't "generate" electricity. It generates heat, which spins turbines, which spin dynamos, which output electricity. Ultimately, it's all semantics and what we choose to call things.
Because generators produce a useable voltage from a different input. Often mechanical.
If you put electricity in and later withdraw it as electricity, that is a storage device.
Often called a battery.
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#60
With the recent drops in battery prices, this is not a good deal.

At max of 300W draw, it's good for charging a laptop/phone a bunch of times, but not much else. These "power stations" also charge very slowly.

It's better to buy the components separately (battery and inverter), pay a little more, get way more battery capacity, and a real inverter.

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