@Van_Dweller - Yes I am saying that solar is more reliable and affordable than a generator. I would say that for anything that doesn’t have moving parts. Running one 365x24/7 would bankrupt anyone. Our generator being one of the most efficient on the market still hogs down a gallon of gas (at whatever it’s rated for - 25% - 50% load) every 12 hours. $99 plus a possible $3.50 per gallon would pay for your solar in less than half a year if you ran it that much. That’s with an ultra efficient generator that can’t run an AC unit and is only working at 50%.
The solar doesn’t need to work 24/7. You just need ample storage just as you do with a generator.
You also do state often that your are a city dweller. Do you really run your generator in the middle of a city or town and not offend the people living there? Forgive me but I do not see how that is possible.
As far as the solar on a rainy or cloudy day is also dependent on the number of panels you have. We have 3 panels that produce about 60v and an amp or two in full sun. When that is paired down to 12v it significantly increases the amps (insert math here). It’s the same in clouds and rain. The more panels the more sensitive and capable on overcast days is the way that I understand it as you are increasing the voltage with every panel you add.
The fact is every corner we’ve cut by buying cheaper non promoted items has eventually cost us money in the long run.
Our fridge - bought a cheap one off Amazon. 1/3 of the price, a third of the quality. We have a dometic now. Should have just bought it in the first place.
Our power - while we do have all three, generator, solar and an isolator, in hind sight we should have done solar first as we’ve come to realize we basically don’t need the other options. We’ve contemplated putting our generator into storage though that’s a death sentence for it. Not to mention most of the other van dwelling, plant based hippies we’ve met in our travels so far always appeared so offended and confounded when we fired it up.
Our throne - buckets, dog bags, kitty litter, shovels, DIY composting toilets. None of these are solid options. Sure they work (not the DIY toilet, don’t try that at home), but spending the money on a nature’s head is 100% worth it. You’ll never meet that quality or satisfaction that it is made with and brings to the table. Not to mention spending money on all the others was a complete waste. Literally and figuratively.
Our van - 84 tin top, then an 83 xplorer, now a 19 promaster. We should have just spent the money and got something practical and not something cool or hip that just consistently needed repairs. Waking up every day wondering if your house will start or not is stressful to say the least. Especially if you really want to log miles and capture views and experiences. Sure it’s fine to buy an old clunker if you don’t ever plan on going anywhere. Most of those unfortunately are not going to be able to pull 40k miles a year for very long.
Point is if you buy cheap things, you get cheap things. On a budget or not that is simply the way it is. Sorry to say, but I think anyone hoping to get into “vanlife” for under 10k is in for a rude awakening and not going to have the glorious adventure they think they will. I’m not a promoter, I do not or will not ever start a blog or what ever it is in an attempt to monetize my life style. These were my errors and maybe I’m wrong, but telling someone to buy a cheap $99 generator and a cheap $29 battery charger is poor advice.