While generators are great and all, safety is important. Electronics can have a lot of things go wrong with them, and if you throw a combustion engine into the mix, more issues can arise.
Depending on if you have a portable or in-built generator, it can be dangerous to run your generator while driving. If you choose to do this, do it properly.
Here’s everything you need to know about running your RV generator while driving.
So there are two types of generators for RVs.
In-built generators are physically attached to your RV, usually by the fuel line and exhaust.
They’ll also often have their own little compartment, which is nice all on its own!
Portable generators run off of gasoline, liquid propane, or diesel, and these can be dangerous if not used properly. Built-ins are getting more common in recent years, while portables are the more affordable and truly common one you’ll see.
If you’re using a portable generator, use caution. Not only are generators extremely loud, but they release exhaust just like a fire or car engine. This means that you should avoid using your generator indoors or under a cover. This includes open garages or covers, as well as an RV with open windows.
Every year, people die from not taking carbon monoxide poisoning seriously. Some people bring the generator inside to prevent theft. Others leave it near the only open window in their RV and never wake up. The safety tips here are not to be ignored.
Here are all of the things you need to know to use a portable generator safely:
- Place all running generators at least ten feet away from open windows, more is always better.
- This means that you cannot safely run your portable generator while driving. Even if you placed it in the bed of the tow truck, you risk it sliding and getting seriously damaged.
- Make sure your built-in generator is hooked into your exhaust system before running it.
- This is the only reason that driving with a built-in on would be dangerous. If your exhaust is properly set up, you’ll be fine to run it.
- Have a functioning carbon monoxide detector with backup batteries. Listen to it when it’s going off, don’t ignore it for anything.
- Try to jerry-rig your portable generator onto your RV to run safely. Not only do certain local laws forbid this, but it can be dangerous to both yourself and others on the road.
- Run your portable generator inside your RV “just for a little bit,” driving or not.
- Place a running generator underneath your RV while resting. This can be very hazardous.
Why Would I Want To Run A Generator While Driving?
Everything in your RV takes power to run. This means that if you’re trying to run an AC or other power-hungry item, your RV’s battery likely won’t cut it.
If you’re in a particularly hot climate, for example, your RV’s basic AC likely won’t do the job – but your rooftop AC unit will. This means that you’ll need to be using your in-built generator or solar panels if you have them.
Using your generator while driving can also allow you to lessen the load on the RV’s battery in hills and rough terrain. If you find yourself struggling up hills, try pulling over and getting your generator running to help out.
You could also have food in a refrigerator or freezer you need to keep good. And your RV’s battery definitely can’t run a fridge and the vehicle at once.
So You’re Saying It’s Safe?
Yes, if you have a built-in generator. These things are a more modern appliance, but they’re really, really nice to have. They’re explicitly designed to allow you to be able to run a generator on your RV’s fuel and exhaust lines – safely.
And the best part is that if it’s attached to your fuel line, you don’t need to get out and refill it!
Unfortunately, portable generators are simply too dangerous and require too much preparation to be able to safely use while driving. While it is technically possible to create a makeshift exhaust vent for your generator, I don’t recommend it. Not only is that asking for something to go wrong, it’s really not worth it. If you find yourself struggling with this issue – it’s time to upgrade RVs.
What Are Alternatives?
You honestly only have one good alternative here, and it’s spendy upfront – solar panels. These guys are, admittedly, not a cheap and easy solution, but they pay off. Not only will you have power while driving (assuming you’re in the sun) but you won’t have to pour liquid gold (fuel) down the drain to make it work.
And while portable generators are cheap, that’s about their only draw. Yes, it’s nice to not have to drop thousands to charge your phone. But we’re talking about both an improvement to safety and quality of life with solar panels, so consider making the jump.
While portable generators are potentially dangerous to run while driving your RV, in-builts and solar panels are both safe alternatives. Regardless of what you have powering your RV, though, make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector – and extra batteries. These things cost less than $20 at all big box stores and will save your life.
Are Portable Generators Safe?
Yes, if used properly. Don’t put them anywhere that exhaust can build up, and pay attention to them if they make abnormal noise. If you do those two things, you’ll be fine running them.
Do Generators Make Noise?
Yes, unfortunately. While you can purchase quiet ones or soundproof your existing ones, it’s going to make noise no matter what. That’s the trade-off for having power.
Is Any Type Of Fuel Safer For Generators?
No. Some are better for the environment (liquid propane is the best), but they all have trade-offs. Diesel is expensive but it will provide more energy, while liquid propane is hard to find and expensive. Gas is just the “middle child” on costs and environmental damage.