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Gasoline generators are notoriously noisy (some are more quiet) and smelly. Many areas like US national parks have restrictions on the use of generators. Fuel cells are used in many space applications, they are perceived as clean and quiet.

Generators can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars, clean and quiet having value. If I had a budget of $10,000 (US) , could I purchase a fuel cell that would be appropriate for powering a RV/Camper/Trailer?

Why not solar?

Solar cells don't work well on cloudy days and under tree cover, Most (not all) campsites in the US that are primitive (without amenities like power) are under the heavy cover of an established forest.

  • Hi! Is that budget etched in stone, or would you still want to know about the possibility of using a fuel cell no matter what the cost? – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Sep 26 '16 at 23:00
  • @sue If $10,000 is not sufficient, go ahead post an answer that blows the budget. High end motor homes can run to more than a million US dollars, some in the several millions. – James Jenkins Sep 27 '16 at 9:53
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    You need to define how much power you need, I've seen people in Westfalias with just a small fridge to run and then there are the RVs that use a ton of electricity. For whats worth places like the fuelcellstore.com sell an 1kw for about 6300$ and to that youll have to add whatever accessory and electronic necessary to your particular installation. Otherwise look for a "WATT fuel cell" or Efoy (and there are others), they develop them for rvs-boats etc but I dont know the cost of their system Do they exist? Yes! Price? You need to contact them or find a dealer. – Erik vanDoren Sep 27 '16 at 13:17
  • Not sure what this question has become, with unlimited budgets almost everything is possible. The answer would be just a plain yes. Is it possible to narrow down the requirements so that one can give a reasonable answer? Even Efoy that sells this kind of stuff has online energy calculators so that one can pick the system that suits their needs efoy-comfort.com/energy-calculator and efoy-comfort.com/which-model#mobile-homes-h – Erik vanDoren Sep 28 '16 at 15:05
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    All - I've heavily pruned this comment thread due to rude behavior. I tried to keep those comments which contributed the most to the question. – Russell Steen Sep 29 '16 at 11:59
5

There are fuel cells with 12V output designed for this application, at least considering it as a battery charging task (random internet example at 100W). Methanol cells are more expensive but the fuel is easier to store.

Certainly they get much more expensive as the power output increases.

(Included for completeness)

Not an answer: LPG generators are supposed to be quiet if you have LPG on board. Whether they're sufficiently quiet is another matter, but don't forget you only need to charge a battery, not to run continuously.

Probably not an answer: 12V/300W wind turbines exist at around £750 (call it $1000). Normally they're used in conjunction with solar, and the same trees that block your sun would also block the wind.

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    is it 750 gbp, or 100 usd ? – njzk2 Sep 28 '16 at 18:19
  • @njzk2 typo: I meant to round to $1000 but missed a zero – Chris H Sep 29 '16 at 7:53
  • For most applications, solar is far more feasible than wind. – gerrit Sep 29 '16 at 15:02
  • @gerrit I agree, but wind is particularly useful in winter (when there's less sun) and at the coast. Hence many of the wind-turbine chargers being aimed at the marine market. Also "probably not an answer" – Chris H Sep 30 '16 at 9:42
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I'm not totally clear on your power requirements, but what about solar? For smaller applications there are companies like Goal Zero that provide camp-friendly, turn-key battery and solar panel applications.

If the RV is large you could probably contact a major solar installer to line the roof with panels and outfit it with the proper sized battery bank.

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    This does not really answer the question, I edited the question to expand on why solar is not a viable alternative for me. – James Jenkins Sep 27 '16 at 9:54
  • I guess its a trade off then of finding sun vs finding hydrogen :) – plast1k Sep 28 '16 at 12:50
  • The energy density of hydrogen is huge; a small tank would last ages compared to a battery. Also there are/were methanol fuel cells. – Chris H Sep 28 '16 at 13:14

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