You've bought a camping inverter generator with built-in 12-volt outlets. But how do you go about charging 12V batteries from your generator? Here's a quick rundown of what you need to know.
Let's get straight to point: camping generators may have a 12-volt output on them, but when it comes to the crunch, they are not designed to fully charge your batteries directly. There are two main reasons why:
First, the chances are your generator's DC outlet is limited to a current of about 8 amps maximum. So any battery will take a while to fully charge.
Secondly, the voltage of the DC output isn't regulated - it varies according to the generator's RPM. This is fine if the generator is running a low load, but not if it's running a medium to high load. Also, the generator won't cut back the charge when the battery is nearly full, so you can't risk leaving it charging for too long.
The bottom line: Your DC output on your generator is best for emergency or short term charging, i.e. providing your car battery a trickle charge. Anything more is a potential risk to your batteries.
So What's the Solution?
The best way to charge your battery is to run a proper 240-volt battery charger off the generator's AC output. This will recharge the battery much faster and accurately. Also, most chargers regulate themselves down, so as charge builds in the battery, the charger won't be pushing the same amount of amps.
So as a backup or alternative to your solar set up to charge your camping/caravan/motorhome battery packs, portable inverter generators are a great option, especially as you can also run your appliances on 240v straight from the generator also. But just remember, when charging your battery packs off a generator, use a quality battery charger plugged into your 240v outlets instead of the generator's DC outlets.
You can read more about battery chargers in our "Battery Chargers for 4x4, Off-Road and Camping" blog. You can also watch the below video from our friends at Enerdrive (who make excellent AC to DC Battery Chargers for hard wired installations) demonstrating their ePower chargers:
If you're looking for a plug & play option, you can simply plug a good quality smart charger into the AC outlet of the generator and connect the 12V charging cables to the positive and negative terminals of the battery. Try to find a battery charger that comes complete with the charging cables, for example the Victron Blue IP65 Smart Charger 12/15 + DC connector.
For a full range of quality battery chargers, check out our site HERE which includes options from leading brands such as Enerdrive, Victron, C-Tek, Projecta, BMPRO and more.
For camping inverter generators, check out the expert selections or explore the full range at My Generator. The most popular model for charging your camping battery packs (via a battery charger) is the Yamaha 2200w Inverter Generator Pack. This model while remaining lightweight and compact, still has enough power to run rooftop air conditioners and other appliances in your caravan.
Shop our full range of Inverter Generators here!
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.