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Choosing the Perfect Generator for Your RV Adventures - Kunes RV Blog

Published on May 18, 2023 by Kunes RV Team

Embarking on an RV adventure is an exhilarating experience, offering the freedom to explore the great outdoors while enjoying the comforts of home on wheels. However, to ensure a seamless journey, it’s crucial to choose the perfect generator that can power your RV’s electrical needs. From powering appliances to charging devices and providing lighting, a reliable generator is an essential companion for every RV enthusiast. In this article, we will guide you through the process of selecting the ideal generator for your RV adventure, considering factors such as power requirements, fuel efficiency, noise level, and portability. Get ready to make an informed decision and enjoy uninterrupted power wherever your travels take you!

Consider these factors when choosing an RV generator

  1. Power requirements: Determine your power needs by assessing the appliances and devices you plan to use in your RV. Calculate the total wattage requirement and ensure the generator you choose can handle that load.
  2. Generator type: Choose between portable and permanent generators. Portable generators offer flexibility but require manual setup, while permanent generators are more convenient but may require professional installation.
  3. Fuel type: Common options include gasoline, propane, and diesel. Consider availability, cost, and your preferences when selecting a generator with the appropriate fuel type.
  4. Power output: Consider the starting and running wattage of the generator. Ensure it can provide enough power to start appliances with high initial power requirements.
  5. Noise level: Look for generators specifically designed for RV use, as they are often quieter. Check the decibel rating and choose a generator that meets your noise preferences and campground regulations.
  6. Size and weight: Consider the portability of the generator. Ensure it is lightweight and compact enough to transport and store conveniently.
  7. Runtime and fuel efficiency: Check the generator’s runtime on a full tank and its fuel consumption rate. Opt for a model that offers a good balance between runtime and fuel efficiency.
  8. Safety features: Look for generators with safety features such as overload protection, low oil shutoff, and spark arrestors. These features enhance safety and protect both your RV and the generator itself.
  9. Brand reputation and warranty: Research reputable brands with positive reviews and good customer support. Choose a generator with a reliable warranty to ensure assistance in case of any issues.
  10. Budget: Set a budget based on your requirements and prioritize features that are most important to you within that budget.
  11. Exhaust and Ventilation: Determine if your RV’s ventilation system can accommodate the exhaust produced by the generator. Adequate ventilation is essential for safe operation.

It’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer’s specifications, user reviews, and seek advice from experienced RV owners or professionals to make an informed decision.

Can I Install a Permanent Generator in My RV?

If your RV is equipped with the necessary provisions to accommodate a generator, commonly known as being “Generator Ready,” then you can indeed install a permanent generator in your RV. However, if your RV does not have the required infrastructure for a permanent installation, opting for a portable generator is the more suitable choice. Portable generators offer flexibility and can be used outside the RV to provide power when needed. It’s important to assess your RV’s specifications and capabilities before deciding whether to go with a permanent or portable generator.

If your RV includes a Generator Compartment, it’s essential to take measurements of the compartment and compare them to the dimensions of the generator you intend to install. Confirm that the chosen generator will physically fit into the designated space within your RV. Afterward, it’s crucial to assess your power requirements. Calculate the total starting wattage needed by adding up the requirements of all the appliances you plan to run simultaneously.

Can You Run a Generator Inside an RV?

Running a generator inside an RV is highly discouraged and poses significant safety risks. Generators emit carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless and odorless gas that can be lethal when inhaled in high concentrations. It is crucial to understand that generators should always be operated outside the RV in a well-ventilated area to prevent CO buildup.

Running a generator inside an enclosed space like an RV can lead to CO poisoning, which can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and, in severe cases, loss of consciousness or death. Even with windows or vents partially open, it is not sufficient to ensure safe ventilation and prevent the buildup of CO.

It is important to follow safety guidelines and manufacturer recommendations when operating a generator. Always place the generator at a safe distance from the RV, ensuring proper ventilation and adhering to any specified clearances. Install carbon monoxide detectors inside the RV as an added safety measure.

If you require power inside the RV, consider alternative power sources such as shore power connections, solar panels, or battery systems specifically designed for indoor use. These options eliminate the risk of CO poisoning and provide a safe and reliable power supply.

Remember, the health and safety of everyone inside the RV should be the top priority, and running a generator inside is a dangerous practice that should be avoided at all times.

If you don’t already have a Carbon Monoxide detector installed in your RV, or if yours is outdated – check out Alarms, Detectors and Safety Products HERE!

What are Some Safety Issues with Generators?

Running a generator in an RV requires careful attention to safety considerations. Here are some key safety concerns to keep in mind:

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning: Generators emit carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that can be deadly if inhaled in high concentrations. Always place the generator outside the RV in a well-ventilated area, positioned away from windows, doors, and vents. Install and regularly test carbon monoxide detectors inside the RV to provide an early warning in case of a leak.
  • Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation to prevent the buildup of exhaust gases. Avoid running the generator near areas with restricted airflow, such as under awnings or near walls. Open windows and roof vents to improve airflow inside the RV and consider using exhaust extensions or deflectors to direct fumes away from occupied areas.
  • Fire Hazards: Generators produce heat and can pose a fire risk. Keep flammable materials, such as fuel containers and gasoline, stored away from the generator. Regularly inspect the generator and surrounding area for any signs of damage or wear that could increase the risk of a fire.
  • Electrical Safety: Follow proper electrical connection procedures when connecting the generator to the RV. Use appropriate cords, plugs, and adapters that are rated for the generator’s output and the RV’s power requirements. Avoid overloading the generator by exceeding its wattage capacity, as it can cause damage or pose a fire risk.
  • Generator Maintenance: Regularly maintain and service your generator according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. This includes checking oil levels, fuel filters, spark plugs, and other components. Neglecting maintenance can lead to inefficient operation, increased emissions, or potential malfunctions.
  • Grounding: Ensure that your generator is properly grounded to minimize the risk of electrical shock. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for grounding procedures and use grounding rods or other recommended methods as specified.
  • Noise Considerations: While not a direct safety concern, excessive generator noise can disturb both you and neighboring campers. Be mindful of noise regulations in campgrounds and use quieter generator models (like the Onan-Cummins Generators sold on RVPandA.com) or take sound-dampening measures when necessary if you buy a louder generator.

By being aware of these safety concerns and following proper precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of a generator while keeping yourself and others safe during your RV adventures.

Can I Run My RVs Generator During Rain or Storms?

Running an RV’s generator during rain or storms is not recommended due to safety concerns. Generators should be kept dry to prevent electrical hazards and potential damage. Here are a few reasons why it’s best to avoid running a generator in inclement weather:

  • Electrical Safety: Rain or storms can increase the risk of water coming into contact with electrical components, leading to electrical shocks or short circuits. This poses a significant safety hazard for both you and the generator.
  • Water Damage: Generators are not designed to be exposed to water. Rain or storms can cause water to seep into the generator’s internal parts, leading to corrosion, malfunction, and potential breakdowns. Water damage may also void the warranty of the generator.
  • Poor Ventilation: Running a generator in an enclosed space, such as during rain when windows and vents are closed, can result in inadequate ventilation. This can lead to a buildup of exhaust fumes, including carbon monoxide, which is highly dangerous when inhaled.

It is advisable to wait for the weather conditions to improve before operating the generator. If you require power during inclement weather, consider alternative power sources such as shore power connections or battery systems specifically designed for indoor use. Prioritize your safety and the longevity of your generator by avoiding its operation in rainy or stormy conditions.

Can I Run My RV Generator All Night?

Running an RV generator all night is generally not recommended for several reasons. First, generators produce noise, which can disturb your sleep and potentially disturb nearby campers or residents. Second, generators consume fuel, and running them continuously throughout the night can use more fuel than anticipated. Third, generators emit exhaust fumes that can be harmful if inhaled in an enclosed space or near open windows. Additionally, some campgrounds or residential areas may have specific rules or restrictions regarding generator use, including quiet hours during which generator operation may be prohibited. It’s advisable to check with the campground or local regulations to determine the specific guidelines for generator use in your area.


RVPandA Pro Tip: Check ahead with the campground(s) you are planning to visit about the decibel rating required for running a Generator at the campground, (should electrical service not be available). Most of the Onan-Cummins Generators that we sell are allowed by campground becuase they are quite quiet for Generators!

How Can I Reduce the Noise from my Generator at the Campground?

Heading out on a camping trip with your trusty generator provides the convenience and comfort of powering your RV appliances and electronics. However, the noise generated by the generator can be an unwelcome disturbance to both you and your fellow campers. Fortunately, there are effective methods to minimize and dampen the sound produced by your generator, allowing for a more peaceful camping experience. In this blog post, we will explore various practical tips and techniques to help you reduce the noise from your generator at the campground. By implementing these strategies, you can enjoy the benefits of your generator while maintaining a serene camping atmosphere for everyone around you. Let’s delve into the world of generator noise reduction and discover the solutions that best suit your needs.

To reduce the noise of your generator at a campground, consider the following tips:

  1. Distance and Placement: Position your generator as far away from your camping area and neighboring campsites as possible. The farther it is, the less the noise will be perceived. Also, try to place it behind barriers like trees or rocks to create a natural sound buffer.
  2. Sound Enclosures: Construct or purchase a sound enclosure or baffle to surround your generator. These enclosures are designed to dampen noise and direct it upward rather than outward. Ensure proper ventilation and cooling for the generator when using an enclosure.
  3. Soundproofing Materials: Use sound-absorbing materials like foam panels or blankets to cover the generator. Wrap the enclosure or parts of the generator that produce the most noise. This can help absorb and dampen the sound waves.
  4. Generator Silencers/Mufflers: Consider installing an aftermarket generator silencer or muffler. These devices are specifically designed to reduce exhaust noise. Check compatibility with your generator model and ensure proper installation.
  5. Generator Placement: Place the generator on a soft, insulated surface like a rubber mat or foam pads. This helps absorb vibrations that contribute to noise transmission.
  6. Time of Operation: Be considerate of quiet hours in the campground and limit generator use to necessary times. Use battery-powered alternatives or propane appliances when feasible to reduce reliance on the generator.
  7. Landscaping: Surround your camping area with dense vegetation or natural barriers like bushes or shrubs. These can act as sound-absorbing barriers and help minimize noise transmission.
  8. Generator Type: Consider using an inverter generator, which is generally quieter than conventional generators. They are designed to produce cleaner power and operate at lower noise levels.

Remember to follow campground rules and regulations regarding generator use, noise limits, and quiet hours. Be mindful of your fellow campers and strive to create an enjoyable and peaceful camping environment for everyone.

Can I Run Air Conditioning from an RV Generator?

Yes, you can run air conditioners off a generator in your RV. However, it’s important to ensure that your generator has sufficient capacity to handle the power requirements of your air conditioner(s). Air conditioners typically consume a significant amount of power, and you’ll need a generator with adequate wattage to handle the starting and running load of the AC unit(s).

Consult the specifications of your air conditioner(s) to determine their power requirements in terms of wattage. Then, ensure that your generator can supply enough power to meet those requirements. It’s recommended to choose a generator with a higher wattage rating than the total power consumption of your AC units to allow for any additional power needs and to avoid overloading the generator.

Keep in mind that running air conditioners continuously on a generator will consume fuel at a faster rate. You may need to monitor your fuel levels and plan for refueling accordingly. Additionally, consider the noise and exhaust emissions from the generator, as these factors may impact your comfort and the environment.

It’s always a good idea to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for both your RV and generator to ensure proper operation and avoid any potential issues.

Do I Need a 30amp or 50amp Generator?

The choice between a 30-amp or 50-amp generator for your RV depends on the electrical system and power requirements of your specific RV. Here’s a breakdown to help you determine which option is suitable for your needs:

  1. 30-Amp Generator:
    • RVs with a 30-amp electrical system typically have a single air conditioner unit and fewer power-hungry appliances.
    • A 30-amp generator provides a maximum power output of around 3,600 watts, sufficient for most basic RV power needs.
    • It can handle lower to moderate power demands and is commonly found in smaller or older RVs.
    • Example: with a 30-Amp Generator, there should be enough power to run one A/C Unit, refrigerator, and an electric water heater.
  2. 50-Amp Generator:
    • RVs with a 50-amp electrical system often have multiple air conditioner units, large appliances, and more power-hungry devices.
    • A 50-amp generator provides a maximum power output of around 12,000 watts, offering greater capacity for high-demand power requirements.
    • It can handle heavy power loads and is commonly found in larger, newer RVs or those with more advanced electrical setups.

To determine which generator you need, check your RV’s electrical system specifications. The RV’s power distribution panel or owner’s manual should indicate whether it is a 30-amp or 50-amp system. Ensure that the generator you choose matches the electrical system of your RV.

It’s important to note that you can use a generator with a higher amp rating (e.g., a 50-amp generator for a 30-amp RV) as long as you utilize the appropriate adapters and connectors. However, using a generator with a lower amp rating than your RV’s electrical system may limit the number of appliances you can power simultaneously.

Always consult your RV manufacturer’s guidelines or an electrician if you are unsure about the electrical system and power requirements of your RV. They can provide specific recommendations based on your RV’s configuration and your power needs.

How Long Can You Run an RV Generator Continuously?

The continuous runtime of an RV generator can vary depending on several factors, including the generator’s capacity, fuel capacity, and load demands. RV generators are typically designed to be able to run continuously for an extended period, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Fuel capacity: The runtime of an RV generator is limited by the amount of fuel it can hold. Generators usually have a specified fuel consumption rate, expressed in gallons per hour (GPH) or liters per hour (LPH). To estimate the runtime, divide the fuel capacity by the fuel consumption rate. For example, if your generator has a 10-gallon fuel tank and a fuel consumption rate of 0.5 GPH, the estimated runtime would be around 20 hours (10 gallons ÷ 0.5 GPH = 20 hours).
  2. Load demands: The power load placed on the generator affects its runtime. Running high-demand appliances, such as air conditioners, microwaves, or electric heaters, will consume more power and deplete the fuel supply faster. It’s essential to consider the power requirements of your appliances and the generator’s capacity to ensure a balanced load and optimize runtime.
  3. Maintenance intervals: Some generator models may recommend periodic shutdowns for maintenance purposes. It’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding maintenance intervals to ensure the generator’s longevity and reliability.

While RV generators can typically run continuously for extended periods, it’s recommended to take breaks to allow for maintenance, refueling, and to prevent excessive wear and tear. Additionally, some campgrounds or residential areas may have specific rules or quiet hours that may limit generator use during certain times.

Consult your specific generator’s manual for detailed information on its continuous runtime capabilities, maintenance requirements, and any other manufacturer-recommended guidelines

What is the Estimated Lifespan of an RV Generator?

The estimated lifespan of an RV generator can vary depending on several factors, including the brand, model, maintenance, and usage patterns. On average, a well-maintained and properly used RV generator can last anywhere from 1,500 to 5,000 hours of runtime. However, some generators may last even longer with regular maintenance and servicing.

It’s important to note that the lifespan of a generator can be affected by factors such as operating conditions, maintenance frequency, fuel quality, and load capacity. Generators that are subjected to heavy loads, continuous use, or harsh operating environments may have a shorter lifespan compared to those used more sporadically or under lighter loads.

Regular maintenance plays a significant role in prolonging the lifespan of an RV generator. Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, including oil changes, filter replacements, and spark plug inspections, can help optimize the generator’s performance and extend its lifespan.

It’s advisable to consult the specific manufacturer’s guidelines and recommendations for the generator model you own or plan to purchase. Additionally, seeking professional servicing and inspections can provide further insights into the condition and potential lifespan of your RV generator.

How Often Should I Service My RV Generator and Can I Service it Myself?

The frequency of servicing your RV generator depends on several factors, including the manufacturer’s recommendations, the number of hours the generator has been used, and the operating conditions. As a general guideline, it’s advisable to service your RV generator at least once a year or every 100 to 200 hours of operation, whichever comes first. However, it’s best to consult the specific maintenance schedule outlined in the generator’s owner’s manual for accurate guidance.

Performing maintenance on your RV generator yourself can save you money and ensure that it’s in good working condition. Here are some general steps to follow, but keep in mind that these instructions are not specific to any particular generator model, so always refer to your generator’s manual for detailed instructions:

  1. Read the owner’s manual: Familiarize yourself with the specific maintenance requirements and procedures outlined in the manual.
  2. Gather necessary tools and supplies: Prepare the tools and supplies recommended in the manual, such as wrenches, screwdrivers, oil, filters, and spark plugs.
  3. Change the oil and filters: Follow the instructions in the manual to drain the old oil and replace it with fresh oil. Also, replace the oil filter and any other applicable filters.
  4. Inspect and clean the air filter: Check the air filter for dirt or debris and clean or replace it as needed. A clean air filter ensures proper airflow and engine performance.
  5. Check the spark plugs: Inspect the spark plugs for wear, corrosion, or fouling. Clean or replace them as necessary to maintain optimal ignition.
  6. Inspect the fuel system: Check the fuel lines, connections, and fuel filter for any signs of damage or clogging. Replace any faulty components.
  7. Inspect the battery: Examine the battery terminals for corrosion and clean them if needed. Ensure the battery is securely fastened and in good condition.
  8. Test the generator: Start the generator and verify that it runs smoothly and produces the expected power output. Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations.
  9. Check other components: Inspect belts, hoses, and electrical connections for signs of wear or damage. Replace or repair as necessary.

Remember, these steps provide a general overview, and it’s crucial to refer to your specific generator’s manual for accurate instructions and any additional maintenance tasks specific to your model. If you are uncertain or uncomfortable performing the maintenance yourself, it’s recommended to seek assistance from a qualified RV service technician or generator professional.

If you aren’t comfortable servicing your RV Generator on your own, take it to a professoinal for service. If you are around the Wisconsin, Illinois or Northern Minnesota area – a Kunes RVPandA location will be glad to service your Generator. Don’t forget to call ahead for a service appointment!

Shop now for all of your RV Generator Needs at RVPandA.com and when you spend $100 or more, you can enjoy FREE Shipping! RV PandA makes RV living easy, so you can enjoy more of the great outdoors!  Please note: some exclusions apply for ‘free shipping’. Products weighing over 70 pounds and/or oversized packages do not qualify for FREE shipping. For a shipping estimate for oversized or overweight items, please contact us at traveling@rvpanda.com and include the product title and part number (as applicable), and the zip code where you’d like it shipped to in the email so we can provide a shipping estimate.

Do you have a suggestion for the folks at RV PandA for a future blog? Let them know by emailing traveling@rvpanda.com

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