Question about solar generators.

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Remember, you can start with a power station and use it full time. If you outgrow it, you can sell and replace it with something bigger.

Or later when you've seen other setups in person, you might be ok with installing a full battery system with help. There are a lot that here that can help you at that point.

Bottom line. It'll work for you. Just size it right (or close), and have a way to charge it.
yeah its kinda what i was thinking even as a temporary thing.
Well, I was gassing the van up the other day and I realized something, this van has a 35 gallon tank, so , I can use my small gas can to fill the generator when needed, then use a simple handpump siphon to refill my gas can from the van's tank. I was like Duh, why did I not think of this before? So, I do not have to buy a larger can and, I also do not have to worry about having to go somewhere to fill up my small gas can when it is empty.

Have you tried siphoning from your van's gas tank? Most have a device that blocks siphoning hoses from entering the tank.

If you could siphon from the tank, a gas can wouldn't be necessary. Just siphon into the generator.

My solution, about seven years ago, was to install a fuel line inside the vent line into the tank. The vent line has no anti-siphon blockage. Most vehicle gas tanks don't allow air to escape. Think balloon. They do have check valves to allow air to enter while draining.

Not shown is a 1/4" fuel shutoff valve up top. To siphon, I blow into the line, which somewhat pressurizes the tank. Close the valve, place the line into the receiving whatever, open the valve and let the siphoning begin. One of the pictures shows the length of hose coiled behind the filler door.


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Some fuel injection systems have Shrader style test ports I believe that you might be able to modify to connect to to fill a fuel can easily using the vehicle’s electric pump.
Have you tried siphoning from your van's gas tank? Most have a device that blocks siphoning hoses from entering the tank...
No, have not tried that yet and was not aware of the anti-siphon device in the filler neck so, thank you. I just watched a YT video where a guy removes the inner part of the Shrader valve on the fuel rail of a 1998 Ram, slips a hose over it, and then removes the starter relay and shorts 2 of the terminals (87 and 30 I believe, I did this when troubleshooting my starter issues) and the fuel pump will pump the gas out into a can and when full, you just remove the jumper wire. It looks easy in that video but that is a truck engine and my Schrader valve is buried pretty deep in the engine bay area under the hood and not so easy to reach but, I may give it a try. Yes, I could siphon/pump directly to the generator but it only holds 1 gal. and I figured that would be too easy to overfill and, at least I would only have fill the can every 2nd generator fill ups instead of every time. Your method is genius and if I can't reach my Schrader valve without having to remove a bunch of stuff under the hood, I will use that method so, thank you very much for the info and the idea.
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Some fuel injection systems have Shrader style test ports I believe that you might be able to modify to connect to to fill a fuel can easily using the vehicle’s electric pump.
Yes, I just replied above about seeing a YT video of a guy doing just that on a 1998 Ram truck. There is a lot more room under a truck hood than under my van's and I may not be able to reach that valve very easily but, I am going to check to see if I can. That would be easier and faster having the fuel pump do the work and, easy to control as the flow will stop once I remove the jumper wire from the relay connector pins 87 and 30. If I can't reach it from under the hood and would have to remove the doghouse then, I will use the method Jasper suggested in his post above. Thanks for suggesting this idea as had I not stumbled across that YT video, I doubt I would have thought to try it this way.
The main thing you'll need regardless is a place to put that siphon or hose when not in use. Smelling gas fumes isn't a good trade-off for convenience.
The main thing you'll need regardless is a place to put that siphon or hose when not in use. Smelling gas fumes isn't a good trade-off for convenience.
I use clear tubing when transferring liquids like gasoline and, laying them in the sun/wind for and hour or less will evaporate the fuel remnants and odors. I recently did this using a hose to siphon the old gas out of my 49cc scooter tank and, that hose has been stored in my van now since I did that with no fumes (Disclaimer: At least that I can smell) at all. I know just how volatile gas fumes can be (don't ask how I know, ha ha) and I would never put anything that is still wet with gasoline into any enclosed area where electric motors with brushes could ignite the fumes. (electric seat motors for one example) If I had to refuel the generator and suddenly leave for some reason, I would just coil up the tubing and place it into a gallon ziplock freezer bag. You are right in pointing out that placing a hose still wet with gasoline, or any inflammable liquid, inside a van or RV would never be a good idea to do. Thanks for mentioning that.
For sure, a portable power station can be the sole source for supplying all the electrical needs in a van build. Using one simplifies the knowledge required to build DIY. In addition, it saves space, has flexibility (can be removed and used outside the vehicle), and comes with a warranty. The biggest downside was cost, but that is changing.

Power stations have a few AC and DC ports, but beyond minimalist builds, the the location or number may be insufficient. Appliances that are permanently installed like a rooftop fan or diesel heater, are typically hard wired. For these applications, a busbar can be installed and there are power stations that can accommodate such a connection.

There are a growing number of manufacturers entering this niche, but if you want a large system, there are only a few choices. Bluetti and EcoFlow make power stations that allow for the creation of massive battery banks. The best choice depends on your priories. Bluetti makes external batteries that can be used standalone. EcoFlow excels when it comes to charging speed.

Small and medium size power stations are easy to charge. With large stations, the right size for a battery bank is primarily a function of charging preferences. Specifically, the length of time you want to be able to go without charging and the charging sources you want to use.

I wanted a battery bank large enough for me to be able to go at least 3 days with minimal charging inconvenience. I frequent cities and towns, I’m rarely stationary for more than a day or two, and don’t have access to RV hookups while on the road. Generators are extremely cost effective, but unacceptable in my habitat. Solar is unreliable for much of the year. My van is my primary vehicle and the main method of charging is via the cigarette port, it's trickle charge (100W) is sufficient to keep it topped off so that I don't need to plug it in routinely. When I do plug in, I want to get charged and get going. That is one of the primary reasons why I choose EcoFlow over Bluetti. My Delta Pro charges at 1800W when plugged into 120V AC (and 3400W when plugged into an EV charging station, a feature I've found surprisingly convenient on road trips). I've also used alternator charging via a dedicated inverter connected to the starter battery, with mixed results.
I use a smaller power station as a power backup, just one night.

Because of the dynamics of solar a generator is a great backup for poor weather. The generator can quickly do the bulk of the charging leaving the ‘long tail’ to the solar. This is also why a stand alone generator is a bad idea. Having zero solar is a bad plan.

I don’t drive much so an alternator connection doesn’t make sense. If you are a daily driver they very much do make sense.
An all in one power station (“solar generator”) was the only sane choice for me because space in a minivan is at such a premium. I have two Ecoflow Delta 1300’s in my Toyota Sienna minivan powered by two 100 watt solar panels. The “live” Delta sits between the two front seats and is hidden underneath a custom center console I built. The backup Delta is stored in the back corner. If it’s sunny then I never need to swap out for the backup.

The HUGE advantage to the Delta 1300 when I bought them two years ago was that they were the only power stations out there that could be charged from 0 to 100% in 90 minutes. Most then and many now still require about 6-8 hours to charge. This is a really big deal when doing the van life thing. Worst case scenario, like days and days of no sun, I can plunk myself down in a Starbucks or a public library to recharge. Not a big deal for 90 minutes but kinda ridiculous if you’re sitting there for 6-8 hours.

Your biggest energy sucks will be the fridge / freezer and gaming stuff. Running off of 110 volts AC (like a house) uses a lot more energy than 12 volt DC. If you can get yourself a 12 volt gaming laptop (and a 12 volt monitor) then you’ll conserve energy.

Anyway, I like these Delta 1300’s so much that I will probably use them when I buy and build out my big van.