I’m currently in Port Matilda, Pa. trying out boondocking in Nittany Greyhound’s parking lot. My biggest concern is having AC for the dogs. I can handle the heat but I want them to be comfortable. Now there are many options here since I am at a greyhound rescue but I really want to use this experience to work out all the kinks so I can spend more time boondocking and save the $20-$50 per night to stay at an RV park.
I do have 2 solar panels but I don’t have an inverter yet. The inverter allows you to plug in appliances and use them. Even when I get an inverter, I have to designate which couple of plugs it will be connected to. I also have a 2000i Honda generator. Everyone, has told me that I should be able to run the AC with the generator. I’ve been on the road 2 months now and haven’t had an occasion to use my generator at all so this is the first time I’ve actually tried to put it to work.
This is where it gets a little complicated. I have a 50 amp electric cord on my trailer. To plug into a generator or a regular shore line outlet, I need a 15 amp plug. So I have adapters that step down the amps. First it steps down to a 30 amp then to a 20 or 15 amp. Once down to a 15 amp, I was able to hook to an extension cord and plug into an outlet in the barn. With this plug in, I can run my TV, fan, trailer fan and charge my laptop. My lights are 12 volt so they will run anyways. My fridge, stove and hot water can run on propane and I can run my microwave. So basically, I can run everything except my AC.
This is where the generator comes into play. The generator is 13.3 amps so well over the 11.2 amps that my AC draws. The biggest thing with central AC is the intial surge on start up so if there’s a problem that’s usually where it is. So I start the generator, make sure everything is turned off in the trailer, plug the trailer into the generator then go inside and start the AC. I have a surge guard on my trailer so when something’s plugged in it runs a self check looking for over loads, faulty wiring and any other problems before it allows the electric to come on. Once that’s done it beeps and I turn on the AC. It comes on fine and the generator output light is green. It runs fine for 5 minutes then the generator starts stuttering and cuts out. So in troubleshooting, I go through the start up process again and try it with just the fan on and it does the same thing runs for 5 minutes and cuts out.
I called a Honda generator place and they tell me that model had some recalls for wiring problems so I take it in. $30 later I find out it’s fine. Then they say well it’s probably the extension cord. They suggested I get a 10 guage heavy duty cord. So I go to Lowes and they only have a 100ft cord. I only need a foot. I go to an electrical supply store and it’s closed because it’s after 4. I pick up the generator and thought maybe they would have one, no such luck. Then I go to Home Depot and in explaining to the guy what I needed a light bulb goes on and I realize I already have what I need so back to the trailer I go. I change the adapters around and get to the 15 amp with heavy duty cord in the middle and try it again and again it cuts off after 5 min. So I call the store back and talk to Randy the service guy for like the 10 th time and tell him its still doing it. All along the way I’ve been calling my electrician friend Kurt to ask his advice too. He’s all the way in Illinois so he’s been giving me the best advice he can over the phone. Unfortunately, with electrical problems you usually need to be there to test the amps, current, wiring and other electrical stuff to figure out where the problem is originating from. He’s been a big help in helping me understand electricity in general though.
Now they are also a rental store so I ask him if I could borrow another 2000i for an hour to see if it’s my generator because then the warranty would cover it. He says he’s in service but I’d probably have to rent it for a half day so I asked if he could transfer me to the rental department. Of course, they just closed! I asked Randy if it turned out I needed a bigger generator would they take my brand new, never used generator in on trade and he says well you didn’t buy it here so no. It’s a $1,400 generator so I can’t just put it aside and buy an even more expensive one. When I got back and told Toni (the director of Nittany where I’m staying) she offers to call her electrician guy and he’s coming over today to see if he can figure it out.
I’m really starting to appreciate cloudy days. Toni has said the dogs can go in the kennel which is air conditioned if needed. So far the fans, the shady turn out yards and the cool nights have been sufficient but it’s nice to know that if I need to get them out of the heat I can. I really want to figure this out so I can be self sufficient where ever I might stay. It will open up a lot more opportunities and will save a lot of money. I’m also learning a lot along the way so it is a good experience and another part of the adventure.